you think it may require more effort than you have left in you to give, what do you do when
the proverbial finish line is in sight? The fifth year of residency, this final hurdle culminating in
medical licensing board exams, can both taunt you and seem like your saving grace all at the
And what if when you've finally reached this professional jumping off point, relationships you
never thought yourself capable of both enrich and complicate your life? The man you dated
has moved in and is now your husband; the colleagues you viewed as competition are now
relied upon friends and all of those relationships test you in ways your medical world has never
prepared you to fully step into while also showing you that your career goals just aren’t enough
by themselves anymore.
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hurting the people you love in the process, not knowing initially how to talk about it or fix it. What
tools would you have to rely upon when all you feel you know how to be is a surgeon, when you
now face situations in which scalpels and suture kits won't help heal the wound? When you must
now navigate different kinds of teamwork and communication in and out of the operating room
and your decisions in both places now put your relationships and your professional aspirations in
jeopardy, how would you recover?
It turns out, the heart is the key to unlocking the mind as we learn from Richard Webber, former
Chief of Surgery of Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital in an early season 8 episode. This tough
lesson to learn - how to connect your cerebral response to your emotions and liberate yourself in
the process - is the path upon which most characters are set into this season of Grey's Anatomy,
none more so than the remaining three original residents whom we first met as interns seven
Alex Karev finds himself the most hated man on staff after sharing with hospital administration
his knowledge of Meredith Grey's actions in her husband Derek Shepherd's clinical trial.
Meredith's switching of medications in Derek's trial shuts it down and puts her job, their
marriage, and their preliminary custody of the baby they're adopting in jeopardy.
At the same time, Cristina Yang and her husband Owen Hunt find themselves facing a dilemma
when they each have very strong opposing feelings upon finding out she's unexpectedly
pregnant, which temporarily separates them and leaves them pondering the future of their
marriage. Owen has, for the first time in their relationship, found Cristina unreachable when
she schedules an abortion appointment without discussing it with him. And Cristina fears her
marriage with Owen may be contingent upon going through with the pregnancy and worries that
Owen considers her 'unforgivable' for not wanting to have a baby.
As they face their own hearts, the love they share and how miserable they are apart, yet how
stymied they feel in trying to resolve their situation, Owen and Cristina step onto a path of
miscommunication that will plague them well into mid-season. Cristina wishes she wanted the
family Owen does, 'because then this would be easy. I would be happy, I'd have Owen, and my
life wouldn't be a mess.' Meanwhile Owen, shut down and withdrawn, is unable to respond to
Cristina's attempts to reach out to him, and instead expends his energy helping Derek work on
his new house until a traumatic patient situation presents itself.
When a sinkhole opens up in a Seattle street, Owen is called to assist a man who would not
leave his wife at the accident site when paramedics attempt to evacuate him. When this man
is asked to amputate his wife's leg to free her and potentially save her life, Owen finds in this
couple’s struggle to face painful circumstances together a mirror for his experiences with
Cristina. This knowledge paired with Owen hearing Cristina has been unable to go through with
the abortion on her own, that even though she wants to have the procedure she has struggled to
follow through on the decision because she loves him, provides Owen with some signs of hope
for their marriage and propels him to Cristina's side.
At the end of a long day we finally see Owen and Cristina weighing their options together. And
as has been their way, we once again see them step back into their shared future with minimal
conversation, simply an acknowledgment that life without each other is unacceptable. The
loving looks they share through the tears in their eyes during the ensuing abortion appointment
combined with their studied contemplation of the decision they are stepping into together makes
plain the depth of their bond and their reliance upon it, even in this heartbreaking situation.
And it is in the way they step into this situation together that sets the stage for Owen and Cristina
to struggle further yet ultimately also learn to see each other more clearly for that struggle. As
the season progresses we see Cristina and Owen wanting to move past their situation without
going through it, doing what Owen suggested to his patient couples may do in order to move
through conflict, ‘maybe you both just decide to forget, move on, pretend it never happened.’
And in trying to follow that adage, we see Owen and Cristina struggling, sometimes together and
sometimes privately, often not sharing their thoughts or pain with each other for a variety of self-
protective reasons. Several of their colleagues follow suit.
Richard Webber is initially unable to accept that his wife Adele's deepening Alzheimer's disease
is no longer something he can manage on his own, even when Adele is found wandering the
streets of Seattle . Jackson Avery and Lexie Grey find their relationship lacking as both are
keenly aware she still has feelings for her former boyfriend Mark Sloan who is now Jackson ’s
mentor, yet neither of the pair seem to feel capable of discussing the situation. And Miranda
Bailey steels her resolve not to fall back on old ties when Ben, a former boyfriend, steps up his
attempts to win her back. Just as Owen and Cristina have done, their colleagues step around the
confusing situations life has set in their path, neglect communicating about decisions made and
yet to be made until they are forced to face those situations and themselves with lessons along
Instead of being able to find their words in the early part of the season, Owen and Cristina
concentrate on trying to regain a sense of normalcy in their relationship. Their attempts to
communicate vary between forced civility and well wishes on both Cristina’s first solo cardio
surgery and Owen’s new professional challenge as he steps into being Chief of Surgery
after Richard Webber resigns. After one such attempt at talking with Owen, Cristina haltingly
expresses her concerns to Meredith, ‘How do I bring it up? I mean, does he even want me to
bring it up? And what is there to talk about ‘cause it’s done. I can’t undo it, it’s done.’
Later on at home a tentative peace is found via the leveling factor of a shared case of food
poisoning which leaves Owen and Cristina laid low on the floor of their bathroom, laughing
together about their predicament and, in the process, regaining some of their ease with each
other. They both seem grateful to have reconnected and pleased to be finding the threads of a
way to move forward within their line of sight. As the episode’s voiceover says, ‘We see a path
forward, we see a path and we take it even when we have no idea where we’re going.’
Cristina and Owen’s professional lives continue to get ever more complicated as well. And
considering the shared basis of their lives in many ways consists of their reliance upon their love
and their understanding of each others’ careers as surgeons, that their struggle to communicate
makes it difficult for Owen and Cristina to lean upon each other during this time of transition
lends an even more overt bittersweet quality to their situation.
Owen walks an awkward professional tightrope between stepping into his promotion to Chief
and now supervising his friends and colleagues while familiarizing himself with the baffling array
of paperwork it requires him to interpret and act upon. At the same time Cristina seems stalled
by the back to basics approach her teacher Teddy Altman has urged upon her to shore up her
surgical foundation. Instead of displaying her usual professional zeal, Cristina has become a
play by the rules, color inside the lines kind of surgeon, clinging tenaciously to her zero bad
outcome operating room record rather than participating in cutting edge procedures.
As they continue to be uncertain how to talk about the recent troubles in their marriage, Cristina
and Owen do have access to one aspect of their bond which is always available to them,
their intense, almost chemical, physical attraction. Seemingly a way to stay connected while
protecting the fragility of their emotional relationship, we see even this consistent aspect of
their marriage under duress after a work day spent teasingly texting each other in between
indulging in a few romantic interludes. Dr. Webber calls Owen to task for his behavior, reminding
him 'You're the Chief now. Act like it.'
When Owen tells Cristina 'we can't do this anymore' one can see in an instant the fear that
comes into her expression, as if she is worried he might mean something more dire than what
his comment goes on to refer to, 'we can't be having sex all over the hospital.' Once Owen
suggests they get dinner it becomes clear they both are at a loss as they imagine sitting across
a restaurant table from each other with nothing to do but eat and try to talk. When Cristina
suggests they simply go home and have sex there Owen quickly agrees. As this episode's
voiceover drives home, 'it's not always easy to speak your mind. So you shut your mouth…and
find other ways to make yourself happy.'
As tensions continue to simmer amongst the staff we see Owen trying to draw the surgical
service together by establishing a hospital league softball team. It is an interesting contrast to
see this team of professionals who are quite capable in an operating room be so bungling on the
Alongside Owen's somewhat outside the box attempt at a lesson in teamwork for his friends and
colleagues, we see Cristina settle a bit into her own skin as a member of a surgical team via an
emergency consult on Callie's service. Cristina's behavior garners her a graduation nod from
Teddy, including a promise from her teacher that she will attempt to get Cristina access to some
of the surgeries on her wish list.
We see the true depth of the benefits of being on a team begin to reach Cristina as she watches
Owen deliver a time-out pep talk on the field. The Seattle Grace Mercy West team is losing to
Seattle Presbyterian, a potential bad outcome, yet such a thing is eminently survivable as long
as you have a team to support you. Her love for her husband and pride in his impromptu words
are evident as Cristina watches Owen speak eloquently and from the heart.
'I just want to say how proud I am of all of you. You are an incredible team. I've watched you
work together, solve problems together, I've watched you teach each other and learn from each
other. You step up when you need to and you do more than anyone asks you to do. You're the
finest team I've ever been a part of. ... As doctors you're pretty great and I'm proud just to get to
lead you. And you're all here so I just wanted to tell you.'
When Cristina leans over to tell Owen 'you're a good Chief' in the bleachers after the game you
can see the love and gratitude on his face as he leans in to kiss her. For this night, they are able
to connect heart and mind, let go of the recent hurts and stresses they've experienced with each
other and just be together.
And as midseason approaches, we see personal and professional intersect in a huge way for
Owen and Cristina. Owen is put to the test as Chief of Surgery and Cristina's husband when
Teddy's husband Henry is brought in for surgery. Owen asks for Teddy's help with an emergent
trauma case and in exchange Teddy asks for Cristina to be Henry's surgeon. Owen defends
Cristina when Teddy calls her a surgical machine but goes along with asking Cristina to operate
on Henry, including Teddy's suggestion to obscure Henry's identity from Cristina given the
inherent pressure of operating on her mentor's husband.
After tragedy strikes in Cristina's OR we see Owen take in her horrified reactions as he pulls
her close. Cristina clings to him while Owen comforts her, reminding us that while the intensity
of their conflicts remains, so too does their bond, their love, their need for each other. Yet the
tragedy continues as Teddy is still operating while unaware of Henry’s death. The burden upon
Owen is now plain as he tries to find words to convince Teddy to exit the OR so he can share
this sad news, which is then compounded when Teddy requests Cristina’s assistance with her
There are no easy answers when a patient remains in jeopardy, so Owen does the only thing he
can when he asks an emotionally spent Cristina to work with Teddy. As Owen says to Cristina
in the stairwell, ‘If that patient dies on the table this will all have been for nothing. This has to be
worth something.’ Cristina, who initially protests, her emotional exhaustion clear at the prospect
of operating next to her boss who doesn’t know about her husband’s death, eventually responds
to Owen’s request as they both see the veracity of his words.
The toll of this night’s surgical endeavors is apparent upon Owen and Cristina’s relationship
and on Teddy’s friendship with each of them. Owen, concerned about the weight of Cristina’s
guilt, tries to encourage his wife to take care of herself while trying to reach out to his friend too.
Meanwhile, Cristina’s guilt compels her to provide seemingly endless iterations of the steps of
Henry’s surgery to Teddy to help her process her loss. And Teddy, irate with Owen for keeping
the news of Henry’s death from her, refuses to speak to him, flouting his authority as Chief at
Interestingly enough, while Cristina’s usually intense approach to surgery has dampened
somewhat this season out of fear of bad outcomes, perhaps both in her career and in her
marriage, Teddy takes on Cristina’s former mantle as surgery junkie rather than deal with her
own issues. Teddy seeks refuge in the operating room, throwing herself into work and bringing
Cristina along with her, providing the antithesis of the teamwork lesson Teddy sought to teach
Cristina earlier in the season.
This turn of events further serves to put Cristina and Owen on a collision course to be forced
to deal with their marital issues when Teddy engineers a surgery against Owen’s expressed
wishes. Having cited the number of back-to-back surgical hours Cristina and Teddy have logged
in the previous 48 hours, he orders them to take a break. Instead, Teddy schedules yet one
more surgery with Cristina in tow. Teddy wants to disappear into surgery to prove she has the
ability to bring order to people’s lives while disavowing the chaos in her own life – ironically
echoing Owen’s own approach to stepping into being Chief and the reason Cristina herself
became a surgeon.
As much as Owen initially understands their approach his patience wears thin as his hurt rises to
the surface. We soon see his resolve crumbling as he too is hurting, he too is missing both the
stability and support of his marriage with Cristina and his friendship with Teddy, he too is facing
grief at what was, as he says, ‘an impossible situation’ the night of Henry’s surgery. And his grief
over this situation brings up what he has long tried to bury, his grief at stepping into that abortion
appointment with Cristina and saying goodbye to the family he imagined having with her.
Owen’s resulting anger when Teddy and Cristina go against his wishes and do the surgery
anyway precipitates Owen’s own emotions finally rising to the surface. His long suppressed
emotions, a combination of anger, sadness, fear, regret, and longing, all seep out of him in a
gripping and heart-wrenching scene which takes place in the kitchen at Meredith and Derek’s
house, painfully enough during a combined birthday party for Zola and a celebration of Richard
Webber’s 10,000 surgery.
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When Owen tells Cristina she is banned, perhaps permanently, from Teddy’s service, Cristina
becomes angry, lashing out at his decision which she tells him began with ‘your call to put Henry
on my table, and then you had me lie to Teddy just like you did…your decisions, you want to
be chief, these are the consequences.’ What begins as a fight over Cristina’s operating room
behavior quickly morphs into a dissection of Owen and Cristina’s marriage, driven by Owen’s
expression of his disappointment in her behavior in both situations.
Owen counters with ‘it was not one surgery…this was every choice we’ve made…this was a life
I envisioned for myself, this was not just one surgery.’ Owen’s defeated, haunted look makes
it clear the intent of his message which brings Cristina up short. As tears fill her eyes Cristina
pleads with Owen, ‘Yes, it was a horrible situation but it’s over…is it too much to ask we just
try to forget it?’ Ironically, Cristina has intuitively done just what Owen described to his patient
in the premiere episode, what he himself tried to do. Yet as both Cristina and Owen learn this
night, feelings suppressed will eventually find their way to the surface with the potential to leave
us shell-shocked and uncertain how to recover. Owen can no longer contain his feelings once
they’ve been allowed out, making his pain abundantly clear when he responds ‘You killed our
baby, you don’t ever forget that.’ And it is as if the air has been sucked from the room.
As Owen and Cristina stand facing each other finally in this intense and draining scene, facing
the night's events straight on, we are reminded how challenging life can be; how healing
sometimes involves reopening the wound, allowing it to heal through further examination and
treatment. This process of finally facing their thoughts and feelings after bottling them up for so
long also shows Cristina and Owen that you can only go past something for so long before you
need to go through it. Yet there is hope to be found in this situation because they’re finally talking
about what needs to be said, finally feeling their feelings, no longer trying to run from what you
can never outrun, yourself.
As an early season voice over from Meredith attests, such challenges show us what matters to
us. Also, that the only way through the pain of life is to experience it, feel it, and let it ebb as we
find ways to once again step into the arms of the one who loves us.
Do you have what it takes? If your marriage is in trouble, can you weather the storm? When the
ground gives way and your world collapses, maybe you just need to have faith and trust that you
can survive this together. Maybe you just need to hold on tight and no matter what, don't let go.
End of Part 1 Written by Ella1967 videos by Coforever
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