Owen believed his friend Teddy could be the teacher to help Cristina advance her surgical skills. For Cristina, an opportunity to stretch her cardio wings again was just what the doctor ordered, except this gift came with a hefty price tag. It turned out Teddy had come to Seattle to reconnect with Owen, hoping for more than the platonic friendship they’d previously shared. Teddy’s confession found Owen caught between his love for Cristina and pride at her professional advancement and a friend who had changed the game unexpectedly. The mid-season series of episodes became a shell game of who knew what when, combining Cristina’s ever present struggle to balance love and career with unanticipated reminders for Owen of his Iraq war experience courtesy of Teddy’s arrival.
Events came to a head quickly as Cristina misinterpreted Owen’s uneasy interactions with Teddy, causing Owen to pull Teddy aside to clarify the situation. Remembering Dr. Wyatt’s admonition about healing through talking about his time in Iraq, Owen allowed that while he’d once had feelings for Teddy the reality of his post-war life was that he’s in love with Cristina. Owen also found his words when confronted by Cristina’s fears about their relationship. Upon hearing Cristina say, ‘I’m insensitive sometimes but I’m not oblivious. I don’t want you to be with me because you feel like you owe me something. I mean you two went through war…’ Owen realized his actions left Cristina doubting his love for her and her place in his life. He responded by taking Cristina into his arms and passionately kissing her, telling her, ‘I’m with you. I’m with you because I want to be. I’m with you because I love you.’
The professional vs. personal paradigm soon shifted again after Teddy assigned Cristina a solo cardio surgery. While overjoyed at the opportunity, Cristina struggled to connect with her emotionally needy and indecisive patient. Owen’s cautious optimism shifted to concern as Teddy denied Cristina’s requests for assistance in the operating room as her patient spiraled. Teddy later agreed it was possible she’d let her feelings impact her behavior and decided to withdraw from her contract. Distraught at the loss of yet another teacher, Cristina was even more ill prepared when Teddy admitted her love for Owen as the reason she was leaving. In a moment of gut-wrenching fear attached to her own long-standing conflict between love vs. career and how to balance the two, Cristina offered to trade Owen, horrifying both herself and Teddy.
As Cristina struggled to believe she would relinquish the person she loved for the thing she loved, she turned to the people with whom she had the most history – Meredith, Alex, and Izzie – to help clarify her thought process. Even given her friends’ input Cristina fell into old traps, believing herself capable of only sustaining her career given her relationship history. But after finding out what happened, Owen challenged Cristina to believe there was also room in her life for him. Shocked at Owen’s willingness to stand by her Cristina had no choice but to believe him when Owen declared what he viewed as an unalterable truth, ‘People do matter. I matter. We…We matter.’ Just like that, the argument Cristina had been having with herself all day became moot as she realized balancing love and career was indeed possible with Owen by her side.
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Meanwhile, Teddy continued to be confused and angered by the distance in her friendship with Owen. Upon encountering Owen in a surgical scrub room the only safe topics seemed to be their respective surgeries. Sad that small talk had become the only conversational option with someone she once considered her best friend, Teddy reminded Owen they used to be able to talk about everything. Owen struggled to find the right words, eventually providing Teddy a light bulb moment when he said ‘It feels like I’m cheating on (Cristina) when I talk to you,’ and countered that he missed their friendship too. The vehemence of Owen’s statement seemed to illustrate for Teddy how very seriously he took his relationship with Cristina. Seemingly having realized the only way to retain even a semblance of their previous friendship was to attempt to accept Cristina’s place in Owen’s life, Teddy proclaimed she was unringing the bell as a way to close the door on her romantic fantasy and embrace what life in Seattle had to offer.
The most immediate result of Teddy’s decision is that she and Cristina were able to concentrate on the work at hand and became friendly workplace comrades. Cristina further displayed her burgeoning emotional maturity when she told Owen he didn’t have to deny his friendship with Teddy out of loyalty to their relationship, ‘You know, you can be her friend too. I never asked you not to be. You decided that all on your own.’ Cognizant of the gift of trust she’s just provided to him, Owen thanked Cristina with a tender kiss. Yet once inside the hospital we saw Teddy dreamily watch Owen working on a patient which encouraged Arizona Robbins, head of pediatric surgery and girlfriend of Cristina’s roommate Callie, to invite Teddy to girls’ night to provide Teddy with ‘friends who aren’t Owen Hunt.’ Meanwhile, Owen followed Cristina’s lead and attempted to reinvigorate his friendship with Teddy by inviting her to dinner with he and Cristina and later, a beer to celebrate an innovative surgery which she performed with Cristina. To support unringing the bell, Teddy heeded Arizona’s advice and instead chose to go out with the girls. And Owen is left wondering if a friendship with Teddy is really possible now that those words are out there and their lives are so different.
At Arizona’s continued urging Teddy sought further diversions and against her better judgment she accepted a date with Mark Sloan, head of plastic surgery. While Arizona primed Teddy to expect simply a passionate interlude, Mark is offended, claiming he has depth and wanted to get to know her. Aware of Mark’s romantic reputation, Owen warned Mark to treat Teddy well, prompting Meredith to accuse Owen of jealousy. Meredith further stated her intent to keep her eye on Owen should he threaten Cristina’s hard won happiness.
The middle section of the season saw further opportunities for growth for both Owen and Cristina, primarily through challenging Cristina’s long-held beliefs about love vs. career and how to balance those two essential segments of her life. As the season wound down we segued to an examination of Owen’s delineation of his life into Before and After, which hinged on the ambush which claimed the lives of everyone in his platoon and found him discharged from the army. As we sped toward the Season Finale, Owen would have to figure out how to deepen his relationship with Cristina while trying to regain a friendship with Teddy and also keep Meredith Grey off his back.
Next we’ll discuss 6.18-6.24 and summarize the season before it’s released on DVD September 14th and Season 7 starts airing September 23rd.