Things have calmed down some at the hospital -- the galas and exams are all over, docs are deciding on research projects and the interns have all gotten their white coats. Awkwardly, there's one waiting for Heather too, and that brings back all of Smash's guilt over her death. Derek asks Smash to be on his service, having realized that he was probably too harsh on him the first time around, but the very idea of it is too much for Smash to handle and he finally rudely quits and goes to work with Cristina. He brings an idea with him of how to treat a patient with a supposedly inoperable heart tumor. He suggests that they fill it with glue the same way one might a particular type of brain tumor and even though it's never been done, Cristina decides to try it out. It works and that's groundbreaking, but a little of the fun is taken out of it when the patient is sad that his life has been saved since he and his wife spent their life savings and maxed out their credit cards doing crazy things all over the globe when they thought he was going to die. She's having a weird day in general because Owen invited Emma to observe Arizona doing a surgery, and when the two women finally have a conversation Cristina realizes that he hasn't told Emma that Cristina is his ex-wife. And on top of that, Mere has no real interest in interacting with her since she's still offended about what went down with the heart/liver transplant and says that Cristina wasn't there for her and didn't support her because she only supports decisions that are the same ones she would make for herself. Basically, Cristina is left feeling totally invisible and empty.
Mere, on the other hand, is actually doing pretty well -- she's trying to figure out what research she wants to do so she can submit her funding request before the deadline. One idea she has turns out to be really similar to something her mom was working on, so Mere immediately tosses that idea, but by the end of the day she realizes that it could actually be really awesome and interesting. She's also given a nudge by Richard, who sends an intern to get one of Ellis' journals for Mere to read. Mere decides to pick up where her mom left off and expand the idea -- something to do with 3D printing and veins -- and then Derek tells her he's going to lighten his schedule and stick to more research so that he can spend more time with the kids and Mere can throw herself into the project.
He was working on his own research project with Callie, a project she started with Arizona in mind, using the brain to stimulate virtual limbs. During one session Derek realizes that their test subject has a brain tumor that is basically inoperable, but when he tells the guy they have to stop the project he tells Derek that he has to try and remove it or he's not going to let Derek take the research probes out of his brain. Callie has been avoiding the patient and the project all day, and Derek finally calls her on not wanting to talk to the guy because she'd probably change her mind and stay on. And while that's true, she shoots back that Derek should back her up for needing to do what she can to adjust to the new state of her life and marriage, which is to start fresh. However, when she finally does sit down with the guy she's inspired by his tragic past and how he's doing all he can to help people with whatever is left of his life. The guy does die during surgery, but they save his brain (at his request) so that they can keep studying it and she decides to stay on after all -- this time for herself rather than Arizona.
Arizona, meanwhile, is not doing so well -- it turns out she DID wind up making out with Leah for a while, and Leah is already completely and utterly excited and hung up on her. Arizona asks Alex's advice without naming names, and he just happens to mention that Leah gets too attached too quickly, so Arizona has to go tell her point-blank that the night together was a mistake and can never happen again. Leah is mortified and admits that she doesn’t open up to many people so when she does she tends to get overinvested, but apologizes and agrees to back off. Unfortunately, though, Arizona gets sad and lonely in the middle of the night, and sends a text she probably shouldn't.
Princess is the intern assigned to Richard today, and he drives her really hard as she tries to figure out what is wrong with him. She gets frustrated and basically just throws stuff at the wall to see what sticks. But when Richard keeps pushing, she finally figures out what's wrong with an excited yell, which she quickly dials down because it's something to do with his pancreas that isn't a good thing at all. But he seems okay with it and congratulates her that he finally feels like he's in good hands. It's good for her to have a professional victory because her personal life is falling apart in that Alex is completely ignoring her. It turns out he's been sneaking off to see his dad play at a bar, and after one gig Alex buys him a drink. They talk some and after a lot of, "My dad taught me to play a little when I was a kid," and "I taught my kid to play and golly I miss him," type talk, James convinces Alex to pick up a guitar and jam for a little while. It's all going well until James offers to show Alex a picture of his son, who he hasn't seen in years, and the picture he shows… is of a totally different kid than Alex. Alex is so disgusted that his dad has just repeated his own history that he blows up and eventually punches him, and when he does so, recognition finally seems to dawn in James' eyes. When Alex gets home, Princess confronts him and asks if he's been cheating, and Alex blows up at her for sticking her nose into the situation with his dad and making him curious to meet.
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Derek takes over voiceover duties this week, talking about brain mapping. As he has his morning coffee and watches Zola draw, he tells us that the brain has millions of connections that first seem to be random, but that it turns out they are anything but. We see how the brain works when she reaches for his mug and he tells her it is hot so she pulls her hand away. He then connects some dots that she had drawn so that they form a zigzag. She's a child genius!
At work, he looks at what appears to be a small chip of some sort, and Callie is grinning at whatever medical marvel this happens to be. Derek then implants this piece into a dude's brain, and his voiceover turns into a speech he is giving to some other doctors frantically writing notes to not miss any brilliant gem from The Derek Shepherd. He tells them that the connections determine everything we do and who we are. The patient whose brain now houses the chip is a quadriplegic named Mickey, and when Derek instructs him to make a fist, Mickey thinks about it and then a computer-generated hand on the screen in front of him forms into a fist. Derek and Smash are watching a screen that is showing them Mickey's brain activity as he does this. Mickey is super good-natured and happily makes his virtual hand do a "hang loose" gesture, to everyone's delight. He's bummed, though, that Callie seems to be missing. Derek got a text from her but his attention is mostly on the brain monitor as he notices that one lobe doesn't have a whole lot going on. Smash asks if it could be a bad connection and while Derek hopes so, he orders an MRI. He then also hands Smash a red coffee mug and asks him to put it in the diaper bag with his other stuff.
But when Smash gets to the locker room, he finds Leah, Princess and Stephanie already there, giddy that they all actually have lab coats there with their names on them. Leah is also giddy about her secret relationship, which she mentions but then quickly tells everyone that she wishes she could tell them what's going on but she can't. No one is actually listening to her, and their attention is quickly diverted when Smash realizes that there is a lab coat there for Heather. He freaks and runs out, and the girls again all wonder what's wrong with him and if maybe he failed his intern exam, since he didn't go out and celebrate with them when it was over. Of course, then he wouldn't have a lab coat, and obviously it has something to do with Heather even if they don't know what it is, but the girls are all going to play idiots who are baffled by social cues this week. Steph tells Leah about him kissing her and Leah uses this as another excuse to mention her secret tryst. Still, no one is actually interested in her news despite how desperately Leah wishes they were.