Derek announces that surgery is not an option as Archer has eight cysts in his brain, any one of which could burst during surgery and kill him. Derek consults with the best doctors and they all agree the case is hopeless.
“I need to believe that you can do this, that you can save my brother. I need you to be a God, just today,” Addison begs him.
Callie finds Addison in the chapel, trying to pray. “You’re an amazing doctor, you save babies. God knows who you are,” Callie assures Addison.
Sam, Naomi’s ex and a fellow doctor at the Wellness Center in LA, urges Derek to consider treating the cysts one by one. Derek decides it’s doable and talks a reluctant Archer into having the surgery.
A middle-aged man has been keeping the fact that he has colorectal cancer from his daughter. To complicate matters, the daughter, Beth, was formerly engaged to Owen and both Owen and Cristina are treating the patient. Owen tells Cristina it’s okay to ask questions about his ex-fiancee, but she declines. Beth thought he was still in Iraq and is shocked to find out that even Owen’s mother doesn’t know he’s back. She realizes her father is seriously ill when he starts spitting up blood. Owen rushes the father into surgery and afterward, tells the daughter that there was a lot of dead tissue he couldn’t save. She demands to know why Owen broke up with her via a two-line email. Instead, he tells her the truth about her father’s cancer. Owen confesses to Cristina that he’s been keeping up the pretense that he’s still in Iraq to spare his mother the pain of seeing the son she sent to war “gone.” “I don’t want her to look at me the way Beth does,” he tells Cristina, saying, “You’re the only one that sees me.”
Izzie comes up with a project to reignite the interns’ interest in medicine. Sadie is having a hard time with the “fun” challenges, while Lexie breezes through and wins the big prize: Scrubbing in on Derek’s craniotomy. After witnessing Sadie’s difficulty with the challenge, George offers to help. She tells him she doesn’t need a tutor, but he points out that by now she should be able to diagnose whether a patient needs surgery. “They think you can,” he tells her. “Sadie, you can hurt someone,” he yells after her as she walks away.
George tells Sadie she needs to inform the Chief that she’s in over her head, or else he will. She quits, telling Meredith, “I’d rather be a quitter than a cheater,” revealing that she cheated on her entrance exam as she’s “not book smart” and had expected to learn as she went. She wants Meredith to go back to Europe with her and relive their glory days, but Meredith refuses: “I don’t want to sleep my way through Europe any more. I want to be here.”
Meanwhile, seeing all of Derek’s old friends and hearing about how he sang and played guitar at his wedding to Addison makes Meredith realize there’s a side of Derek she doesn’t know at all.
A pregnant patient with an aneurysm, whose surgery was delayed due to the Archer emergency, begs Derek to do her surgery tonight, rather than make her wait until the next morning. There’s a complication during the craniotomy but Derek, with Lexie’s help, solves the problem.
Mark congratulates Lexie on winning the contest. Addison sees them talking and, picking up on their flirtiness, introduces herself to Lexie. When Derek joins them, Addison is about to comment on the new couple until Mark abruptly changes the subject.
Addison and Mark hit Joe’s and she says she’s no longer sad about past relationships. “Seeing Archer in the OR just changed my perspective.” She wants to know when Mark’s going to tell Derek about Lexie and he says, “I’m working on it.”
Derek walks in, to loud cheers. “You were a god, today. You slew dragons and you walked on water,” Addison tells him. Surrounded by their old friends, they sing the song that Derek composed for Addison, which can’t help but be bittersweet for the former couple.
Back at the hospital, the pregnant patient starts seizing and Alex shouts, “Page Shephard. Now!”
Richard probes Derek for good news as they await Addison, Naomi, and Archer in the ambulance. Surrounded in foil, Izzie tells Alex she’s making a game for the interns.
“Gather to the Chapel,” Liam Finn
Bailey, Richard, Naomi, Sam and Callie watch Addison sitting in the chapel. Callie shows Addison how to pray.
“Roll It,” Shontelle
Izzie is brainstorming for a prize with Alex. Richard leaves surgery and sees the interns cross the finish line. He tells them their prize. Owen tells Beth.
“Winter Song,” Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson
Owen tells Beth about her dad. Meredith and Cristina consider how much they don’t know Derek and Owen. George offers help to Sadie. Owen pulls Cristina into an on-call room. Owen pleads with Cristina.
“Happy Ending,” Slow Runner
Mark tries to apologize for telling Addison about the proposal. Derek arrives and Sam, Naomi and Addison sing his wedding song.
Writer’s Blog by Joan Rater & Tony Phelan on 02.12.09
Here’s how the episode came to be. Life was simple. Tony and I were scheduled to write it. We were excited. We had some ideas. Some fine ideas. Like I said, life was simple. And then Shonda came in the writers’ room one day all excited and talking a mile a minute about an awesome idea she just had. And when Shonda is all excited with ideas pouring out of her it’s infectious and you find yourself getting all excited and agreeing with her that yes, it would be really cool to have Addison’s brother, Archer get some really bad brain condition that Derek has to fix so he has to come to Seattle Grace. And of course Addison would come and her friend Naomi would have to come and then Sam, Naomi’s ex-husband and one of Derek’s old friends would show up and be like, “I don’t know why I’m here, but I’m here” and how cool would it be to have Derek’s whole past come into the hospital right at the point where he’s ready to move into the future with Meredith and oh, how about a scene where they meet Meredith and it’s all awkward and it’s gonna be awesome and before you know it Shonda has left the room to tell casting and production about the super cool cross over episode we’re doing with Private Practice and we were left in the writer’s room going, WAIT, we’re writing a cross over episode???
I’ll admit, I panicked a little. Because we had this cool opportunity that you don’t get too often for two shows to kind of meet, and have an impact on one another and I wanted to do it justice. And I thought that the thing we really can do with this cross over is show another side of Derek, I just wasn’t sure what that side was. So we started to talk about it. We always imagined that Derek and Addison met in med school in gross anatomy class and basically fell in love over a cadaver. I know, romantic, right? But for them I’m sure it was. And we decided that Derek and Addison were probably the first of any of their friends to get married and it was probably an amazing wedding and then someone in the room told a story about this wedding they went to once where the guy sang a song he had written for his wife about how they met and fell in love. Now, ten years later, whenever anyone who was at that wedding sees this couple, they demand that the song be sung. Hearing this story I suddenly knew that Derek had to be that guy. Because I love that guy. And because it tells you so much about this group of friends, who all remember the song. They all thought Derek and Addison would be together forever and now here they are, ten years later, divorced. And Naomi is divorced. And Archer is maybe going to die. And so they need the song, they want the song, they want to go back ten years, when it was all so hopeful and happy and no one was dying.
Now here’s the thing – they don’t really want to go back. Derek and Addison don’t want to go back to being together, that’s not the point. The point is …. It’s like when you look at a picture of yourself from ten years ago and you can’t believe how much you’ve changed. And you don’t really want to go back there, because you like your life and everything and you certainly don’t want the bad haircut back or the ugly bridesmaid’s dress, but you look at yourself and your old friends in the picture and you realize you haven’t spoken to that friend in years, that person you used to speak to every day, EVERY DAY, and you suddenly, desperately miss that person and have no idea how you got to the point where you don’t even know where they live. THAT is the feeling we wanted this episode to have. So we needed a song that would help give us that feeling.
A word about the song – Krista Vernoff wrote it. In like 20 minutes. I had written a bunch of lyrics about Derek and Addison meeting over the cadaver but it didn’t have music and it didn’t evoke that FEELING of bittersweet nostalgia that I knew it should, so I called Krista and asked her to give it a try because she’s actually a songwriter and she called about 20 minutes later and sang me the song over the phone and I cried. And then the day we shot the scene I cried watching it because the actors were so great and it had been such an amazing week, having Kate Walsh back. And while at first it was weird seeing Addison with Naomi and Sam because it was like, Wait a minute here. You’ve moved on and made new friends? What about us? What about the fun we used to have? But then when I saw the chemistry that the Private Practice people have together I was able to get over myself a little and be like, okay, fine, you can have your new big hit show and your new fabulous friends, I’ll be happy for you, I guess.
Anyway, we don’t often talk about how we come up with the stuff for our episodes … so here’s a couple more things. You know the scene where Addison tells Derek she’s had to make him small and put him in a tiny box just to get through the day? The idea for that scene came from Shonda and it came before we even knew what the episode was about. All we knew was that Derek was going to operate on Archer. We also knew we wanted a moment before Derek went into the OR where he was having a moment of doubt. So the tiny box scene came out of that discussion.
What else? Izzie and the Intern Bowl. At the beginning of each season we do tons and tons of research. We research medical stories, but we also spend a lot of time talking to doctors and residents about their training. How they learn to cut and sew and suture and diagnose and all the other non surgical stuff they have to do. Anyway, in our research we heard about a residency program that had what they called a Surgical Olympics, with events and prizes and we knew it would be a perfect story for us. And it felt like this was the right place to put it, that it would be Izzie’s idea because she’s been so involved with the interns and she’s at a place where she needs to believe in them. Because in the last episode she had them run all sorts of tests on her and they came out normal and Izzie really wants to believe she’s fine (even though deep down she knows she’s not, did you see her hands shaking?) so the Intern Bowl is Izzie’s way of proving to herself that the interns don’t suck, that she’s fine, that Denny was wrong. And instead of proving that, the Intern Bowl showed that Sadie is a fraud. She cheated and bribed her way through school and basically showed up at Seattle Grace thinking her old friend Meredith would help her get through residency. But she didn’t take into account the fact that Meredith has changed. She’s happy and in love and good at being a surgeon. She’s not the same girl who drank and slept her way through Europe. It’s a bittersweet moment when Sadie and Meredith stand together at the end, both aware how much they’ve changed.
Which brings me to Owen and Cristina. Owen clearly has a lot of damage. He’s seen a lot and been changed by all the trauma he’s lived through. He is not the same man he was before. And Beth (his ex fiancée) wants to believe he can be that man. She wants to believe that if he comes home they can go back to the way they were. As for Cristina, even though she believes that Owen is dark and damaged, she’s not looking away. And the fact that she sees him, really sees him, is like a lifeline to him.
We have spoken to several war veterans about what it’s like to come back. It’s really important to us that we get this right, that we don’t shy away from the difficulty people have who come back from war. And part of that difficulty is that people who knew them still think of them as the person they were before they left even though fundamentally they may have changed. And this episode is where Owen’s past comes back to smack him in the face and really make him see how much he’s changed.
Oh, one more thing – Meredith and Derek. One thing I sort of love about this episode is that although Addison is back in the hospital, Meredith is fine. She and Derek are solid and it’s not that weird for her to see Addison. It’s weird for all of Addison’s friends, but I think it shows what a good solid place the Mer/Der relationship is in that she’s not freaking out about Addison, she’s having more of a reaction to seeing Derek with his past. He had a whole life before her. I liked exploring the idea that you never really know a person. On the one hand, that can be scary and make you feel left out, but on the other, it makes life interesting … there’s always more to someone than meets the eye. And on that note … I think I’ll stop my rambling and go to bed. After writing this, I’m kind of in the mood to look at old pictures but that usually ends up in me calling old friends. Old friends who may not appreciate the call because they’re probably sleeping. On the other hand, they are old friends so they’re more likely to forgive me.