In this episode of Grey's Anatomy, board member Larry Jennings (Mitch Pileggi) and the Chief start an investigation when a burn victim (guest star Erinn Hayes) dies unexpectedly in the ER. As the men suss out which resident is responsible, each doctor tells a different piece of the story. By the episode's end, the mystery is solved and yet another surgeon scrubs out of Seattle Grace for good. So who was to blame? Let's find out.
Meredith's voice-over calmly explains that the best doctors are the ones that can always change their perspectives, adjust their point of view to see new possibilities. Thus begins a frenetic, high-energy episode that is sometimes gripping, but mostly just confusing. Because there's no way to adequately capture the drama as it was presented in this fractured, Rashomon-inspired narrative structure, I'm going to lay out the bare bones of the story line, and then touch on some of the memorable moments outside the Cathy Becker death.
A hotel fire results in multiple traumas, which turns the Seattle Grace ER into an absolute zoo. One burn victim shrieks in agony, a firefighter who couldn't rescue him (Coach's Dauber!) rambles unintelligibly and another patient has an ax in his chest. So, Cathy Becker's leg and chest burns seem like a cake walk. But because of her lower-priority injuries, she gets passed along from one doctor to the next.
Yang takes the chart, but Reed and April do the initial exam (though April is sidetracked by the guy with the ax). When Becker complains of pain, Yang orders morphine. Shortly thereafter, Becker's lung collapses, and Lexie and Dr. Avery get a chest tube in to resolve the issue. Then, Becker's airway closes off, but neither Dr. Denman nor Dr. Adamson can intubate her because there's too much swelling. In comes Dr. Karev who slits open her throat and starts her on a ventilator. Before you know it, she's crashing, all of her organs are shutting down and there's blood in her oxygen tube. She dies, and Dr. Shepherd walks into a room full of seven doctors unwilling to take responsibility for the patient's death.
Through a series of interviews with the residents involved, the Chief slowly puts the puzzle together, especially when Dr. Adamson plays tattle-tale. Dr. Kepner never looked in Becker's throat, and therefore, the soot from the fire cause the swelling. Had she noticed, Kepner would have intubated immediately, but she didn't and now the patient with the most minimal injuries at the beginning of the night is the one who's dead. Although the Chief knows Kepner is a good doctor, he shows her the door.
And now, some other thoughts:
* I loved Arizona telling Lexie to get it together, though I don't think I could have watched someone slice into a young boy's raw, exposed skin without having a similar freakout. It was difficult to watch even from my couch. And the wailing didn't help. Still, Arizona's caring bitchiness is a quality I really enjoy. And I was glad Lexie did get it together. She seemed like a mini-Meredith once she got past the emotions.
* It was crushing to see the little boy in the waiting room be reunited with his dad, not knowing that they were both about to find out that their wife and mother had died.
* I feel like the firefighter's guilt over not saving Evan, the wailing burn victim, didn't really go anywhere. I understood his remorse and the fact that he didn't consider himself the hero the men in his crew did. But still, I didn't feel much from that final shot of all the firefighters.
* Alex on the phone with Izzie: Zzzzz. We know she's coming back, and I'd rather not be distracted by Alex's unreturned phone calls in an already-jam-packed episode.
* Yang's line to Meredith, "We need more us-es," was a hilarious exclamation of her frustration with the doctors from Mercy West. But I was proud to see her, the usually heatless one, come to April's defense when everyone, her friends included, were bashing her amateur mistake. "Did you make any mistakes today?" she asks, which shuts everyone up.
* In an episode that relies so heavily on the narrative device, I was surprised and happy that the hour's real emotional punch came from a quiet scene once all the smoke had cleared. Derek, with a few words, shreds the Chief and his recent leadership style. He says the merger has bred chaos, and the Chief has allowed it. A doctor may not have found soot in the patient's throat, but it's clear that Derek holds the Chief responsible for Becker's death.
What did you think of the episode?