It's been nearly six months since the shooting, so a documentary film crew comes to make a special on how the hospital and the doctors who were working that fateful day are doing. The entire episode is seen as if we're watching the creatively-named Seattle Medical documentary special. They of course just happened to be there filming at the same time that there was a groundbreaking surgery happening: Derek, Mark, Owen and Callie are doing a double arm transplant. As Callie and Lexie are tending to the donor, they realize that there's potential disaster in the form of a small tattoo on one of the guy's forearms. But the recipient and his wife have no problem with it -- they want to do everything they can to help make this work -- and so the surgery goes on. The men are all busy tooting their own horns as they lead up to the surgery but it turns out to be Callie who saves the day when there's a complication reattaching one of the arms, and the surgery winds up a success. It's a nice bonus in what is a hard day for Callie, as Arizona has won a grant she applied for two years previously that will send her to Africa to help the tiny humans who don't have access to top-notch medical care. Callie's totally hurt and angry that Arizona is planning to go without her, even though Arizona is trying to convince Callie and herself that this is bigger than just one person. Eventually, though, they work it out and decide to go together, which might go to explain why they have had such pithy storylines this season -- it's easier to let them go on their African adventure/Jessica Capshaw's maternity leave without having to tie up some huge crazy story first.
Bailey gets to see her survival buddy, Mary, for the first time since the shooting; Mary has come back to have the colostomy reversal that she was scheduled to have that fateful day six months earlier. Mary and her husband are as cute and in love as ever, and Bailey is thrilled to see her and much more emotional than she would normally ever be with a patient. The surgery goes perfectly... but then, Mary never wakes up. Finally, four weeks later, her husband has to make the decision to turn off her life support, and the tragedy isn't lost on anyone that she survived the shooting but then wound up being one of the tiny percentage of people who dies after routine surgery.
Cristina tries to hold it together and act like everything is fine for the cameras but during an interview with Meredith she finally breaks down, trying to convince everyone that she's not really a hero for what she did. Meredith stands up for her and says that she is a hero and that not many surgeons would be able to do what she did, but Cristina can't stand hearing that and forces her to stop. At a follow-up interview, Cristina manages to finally admit that what she has learned is that being a hero has its price. The other person who is still not doing well is Jackson, who gets trapped in a hallway with a patient for a little while, and who goes a little bit nuts with panic -- he nearly breaks the guy's ribs doing too much CPR and, once he's been freed, he throws a cart down the hall in frustration. So it seems they are going to stick to his being a basket case, but at least start to give us a reason why, what with his friends dying and his helping out Cristina while she had a gun to her head and all that.
The person who is unexpectedly flourishing, though, is Alex. Ever since helping the ballet dancer keep his leg, he has been working with Arizona in pediatrics and seems to have a flair for it, even though he tries to convince us he doesn't actually like the kids and it's just all about the medicine. Of course in reality he's totally awesome and seems to really care about his 9-year-old patient who needs a new trachea. It seems like a death sentence, since there is no such thing as an artificial trachea but Alex can't seem to stand the idea of her dying, and winds up figuring out his own medical breakthrough -- they use the girl's own cells to grow her a new trachea that they can then transplant. It's pretty freaking awesome, and I'm very happy they've brought back rakishly charming Alex rather than petulant, hurtful asshole Alex. Now all we need is to get Cristina at least in the direction of the road to recovery (and maybe bring back hot anesthesiologist Dr. Warren back to comfort Bailey after Mary's death) and we're in pretty good shape!
This week starts off a little differently -- there's no voiceover, and man, did I not realize how tired I am of the voiceovers until we mercifully didn't have to listen to one. Instead we hear a radio announce that a car hit a motorcyclist who is being brought in unresponsive with head trauma. A nurse is listening and the expression on her face is kind of priceless -- I think she's supposed to be concentrating but she looks almost scared of the radio. Isn't this what happens many times a day at a hospital? We're treated to really shaky hand-held camera work and then a chyron introduces Dr. Hunt, Trauma Surgeon. Mere and Cristina are also introduced and Mere explains that they are on trauma rotation, they assess patients as they come in... all this stuff we all know since we've been watching this show for seven seasons now. From the hallway the camera films them at work on the patient in an exam room, and his face his blurred but we're still treated to what amounts to his brain leaking out of his head. Cristina is still very timid but trying not to show that on camera, so she explains that in all the chaos, sometimes the best thing is to know when to just get out of the way.
Derek watches from the hall as he gets his own introductory chyron and he explains that once they stabilize the guy he'll go in to assess the damage. Honestly, anyone can probably see that there's not much to assess at this point -- I think even my cats could tell that there's not much to be done when half his brain is on the floor, as Cristina delicately puts it. Owen says he's brain dead and Derek excuses himself to go in and ask if he's a donor.
After the donor has been patched up as best they can and moved to his own room, Mark joins the other two docs and they go over his blood type, skin type, age, size and gender, and announce, "We got our guy!" all excited like little boys the day a new Call of Duty game is released. Mark tells the cameraman that they picked a good night to start filming, and that this will be fun. Well, fun for everyone other than Ol' Leaky Brain, I'd say.
It will be far more fun for a guy named Zack, who is getting settled in to his own hospital room with his wife Nora (played by the always awesome Amanda Foreman). Nothing appears to be wrong with Zack but the camera is keeping a very obviously purposeful tight shot. Nora ties on his gown and they cheer for Transplant Day, and then as the camera pulls back Zack announces, "Gonna get me some arms!" and we see that both of his have been amputated above the elbow.