Izzie is still making wedding plans, but she's getting weaker and sicker despite her joy at how dapper Derek looks in his morning coat. She then has something even bigger to deal with -- her mother Sharon Lawrence shows up and proves to be a handful, even though she's a well-meaning one. Her mom is convinced the cancer can't be that serious and when Izzie tries to tell her just how serious things are, she winds up comforting her mom and assuring her everything will be okay rather than the other way around. Bailey fesses up to being the one to call her, and then gives her mom false news about Izzie's cancer so that she'll be comfortable going home. Unfortunately, the real cancer update is that more mets have been growing and Izzie needs more aggressive surgery. Alex is stepping up to the plate admirably and hangs out with Izzie being every inch the sweet supportive boyfriend until she is wheeled into surgery. Presumably she makes it out of this one since she's in the next-on talking about possibly having a tumor.
Callie is having a hard time dealing with her family completely ignoring her now. Cristina and Mark both tell her to just lie and say she broke up with Arizona, pointing out that it's not her family's business who she dates. Arizona even admits she would be okay with it if that's what Callie chose to do. But Callie has been spending the day treating a girl who was living in a tree to try and save its being cut down -- she was bulldozed out and broke all of her limbs. Her older sister, Kellie Martin, comes to visit and thinks she's a nut who needs to stop trying to save trees, but Callie points out that she's really brave to stand up for what she believes. Kellie comes around and helps her sister, and Callie decides that she can't deny who she is just to make things easier, that her family should love her as she is and if they can't, then that's that. Mark is impressed with her standing up for herself and it winds up inspiring him to take a big step in his own personal life.
Thatcher is back, 29 days sober, and he's in the making amends stage of his recovery. Richard helps him out by paging Lexie and Mere to his office where Thatcher reads them an apology that he has written. Mere hears him out but then just wishes him luck and takes her leave, while it seems Lexie is back on the road to having a relationship with him. She wants to introduce Mark to her father but Mark insists that parents don't like him and declines. After spending the day with Callie, though, he decides to sack up and goes to the restaurant to support his girlfriend and meet her father, and he's rewarded with Lexie looking happier than we've seen her in I can't remember how long.
Cristina, meanwhile, is having a much less rosy day with Hunt. He will barely speak to her, and she gets angrier and angrier as he dotes on George during surgery to treat a man who was shot 17 times. He'll only speak to Cristina in short sentences, and she's finally pushed over the edge when they are leaving the hospital and he tells her, "Take care, now." She yells at him for his behavior until he cracks and shows her a list that he made with Dr. Amy of the acceptable three-word phrases he can use with Cristina to keep him from saying the one three-word phrase he really wants to say, since that would be totally unfair of him as he's such a mess. Cristina seems to understand more but is pretty shattered and tells him to "Take care, now," as she leaves, crying.
And so, back to the Richard and Thatcher of it all. Mere is not happy about what happened with Thatcher, but even less happy that the Chief helped orchestrate the meeting. When the previously-mentioned shot-17-times guy is brought in, and it turns out his six-year-old daughter is the one who shot him, something in her snaps. The girl's mother acts really strangely, insisting the little girl didn't mean to do it and that the man loves them both, so everyone realizes that Dad has been beating the two of them. That, and the fact that the girl asks very clearly how he could not die since she shot him so many times, seems to show that she totally DID mean it. Right before Dad goes into surgery, Mom insists that they have to go see him so that her daughter can apologize in case he dies, so Mere steps in and stands up to the mom, insisting that the daughter not be made to apologize to her shitty, abusive dad. When Richard pulls her aside to reprimand her, she yells at him for giving her special treatment and acting like he's family when he's very much not, and she demands to be treated like any other resident, so he yells back that if she speaks to the family again she'll be suspended. Mere tells Derek she doesn't want Richard at the wedding, so Derek goes to tell him and winds up having a heart-to-heart in which he points out that Richard totally and completely treats Meredith like she's family. They are interrupted when Mere goes and apologizes to the mother, but begs her to stand up for her daughter and not let her life be defined by what happened today. She then goes to pack her things for the suspension, but the Chief visits her to admit that he saw that Ellis was neglecting Mere and he never stood up for her. He apologizes sincerely, and she cries and rests her head on his shoulder in what seems to be the start of some forgiveness. She later packs up her mom's journals to give to Richard, and tells Derek that he can come to the wedding after all.
Party in Izzie's room! The gang is all there eating meats on skewers, and they each report that it tastes like chicken. Izzie is unhappy (surprise!) because she is trying to get them to help her set the menu, and no one will give her any good feedback. She can't eat herself since she is having surgery later, as long as the mets have shrunk -- let me tell you, as someone who has had a couple of late-day surgeries, how there is absolutely no way someone would put platters of food in their room and watch other people eating while they couldn't. I would start salivating at television commercials for Hamburger Helper, and couldn't even fathom inviting people to eat actual food in front of me. But Izzie wants to post the menu to the wedding website she's made for Derek and Mere, so there they all are with the food. Mere is aghast to learn there's a website but she's cut off from her whining by Derek coming out of the bathroom/changing room in his morning coat and ascot. His outfit looks remarkably like what my father wore at my parents' wedding, in a good way. He and his newly-cut hair look skeptical but Izzie is ecstatic at the result. Mere's voice drifts over the action: "Remember when we were little, and we would accidentally bite a kid on the playground?" Well, no. I wasn't a biter. Everyone wishes Izzie luck and leaves, but before he exits Alex helpfully declares that another skewer tastes like pork. "Our teacher would go, say you're sorry. And you would say it but you wouldn't mean it." Izzie gives Bailey a look that guilts her into trying some of the chicken herself.
"Because the stupid kid we bit totally deserves it." The analogy doesn't totally work for Cristina and Owen -- they just have to do with the overall Big Lesson about apologies. But nonetheless, this leads us to see Cristina looking at her clipboard so she accidentally runs into Owen. When she realized that it's him they have an awkward moment until he blurts out, "Take care, now," and walks away. Cristina is livid, which isn't necessarily the right time for Callie to announce she doesn't have the rent, but she does anyway. Cristina just repeats what Owen said and Arizona answers that it's more than Callie has heard from her family. Every single family member is now ignoring her, and while she knew her dad had a lot of power, she wasn't imagining this. Arizona comforts her by saying it will take time, but Cristina just matter-of-factly asks why Callie doesn't just say she broke up with her girlfriend, since it isn't her family's business anyway. Callie chews this over in her head and asks if Cristina really thinks she should do it; Cristina really thinks she should pay her rent. But she's still distracted and leaves with her own, "Take care, now!" Mere: "After the playground days are over, you can't just say it, you have to mean it."