We initially saw Cristina gathered together with friends Meredith Grey and Alex Karev as they waited for the early morning call which would announce whether she had been nominated for the Harper Avery Award. When the phone did indeed ring we saw an old-school roommate freak out moment while Cristina tried to sound appropriately gracious to the person on the other end of the phone. For the most part, Cristina tried to keep her emotional response under wraps throughout the day, stating her focus was on work to be done rather than getting caught up in professional accolades. Naturally enough, that meant all colleagues, patients, and fellow researchers wanted to talk to her about all day was her nomination.
As the day unfolded, Cristina and Owen continued to try to treat three children who had all been stricken by similar serious cardiac symptoms. They enlisted the help of Arizona Robbins and her pediatric surgical skills as the situation grew increasingly dire. As the family began to lose hope, Cristina turned to an out of the box treatment option currently only being tested for use in animals. Her frustration was evident when her initial contact with the lead researcher turned into a discussion of her nomination. As their patient began to crash, Owen took up the charge and approached the FDA to approve the treatment option for use in humans. In a sweet turn of events, Owen name dropped Cristina as a last ditch effort to break the administrative stalemate and the FDA representative instantly clamored to support the now prestigious Dr. Yang's efforts. The pride on Owen's face was sweet to behold as he was able to provide her with the treatment option upon which they all pinned their hopes for their patient courtesy of her own inimitable talent.
Once he'd delivered this news Owen swung into action to get the research mechanism delivered to Seattle in time to save their patient's life. As he rallied their colleagues to troubleshoot travel arrangements for an implantable medical device, Owen wore his chiefly authority well, utilizing every available resource to support their efforts on behalf of this family. At the same time, the strain on Cristina's shoulders was heavy as she stepped into the operating room and readied herself for this all or nothing surgery. The whirlwind of interest in Cristina as a result of her nomination threatened to turn this surgery into a circus as the gallery filled to more than its full capacity. Her frustration was subtly clear in her quiet yet steely request for the intercom to be turned off to allow her to focus strictly on their patient in front of her. When the surgery was successful you could feel both Owen and Cristina breathe a sigh of relief as they could deliver what finally felt like a piece of good news to this family.
Normally such a good treatment result would be enough of a pat on the back, however there was a more meaningful exchange yet to be seen between Owen and Cristina. At the end of the episode we saw them revisit their secret hospital hiding place - the vent - which Owen first showed to Cristina shortly after they met and where she later first told him she loved him. While there were several attempts at celebration throughout this episode, none was more meaningful ultimately than the quiet, emotionally intimate conversation and toast Owen and Cristina shared in this scene. It was here that Cristina let down her emotional guard and shared her excitement with Owen. For his part,Owen matched her excitement, asserting that she's destined to win the award before toasting her with champagne he'd brought along. Whatever the official status of their relationship, Owen and Cristina remain connected, in love, focused upon each other and, as much I may hate to use an over-used phrase, they are still very clearly each others' person.
While the initial structure of the episode centered upon the excitement of Cristina having been nominated for a much vaunted award for surgical innovation, the nomination grew to be the filter through which each character viewed themselves and the status of their lives.
Elsewhere in the hospital: Alex reached out to a surgeon in private practice to ask about joining his medical group; Miranda Bailey's efforts to treat an immune-deficient child reached an impasse which put her in an unexpected surgical situation which, in turn, spurred her genome research; Richard Webber continued to mentor the residents who played a manic game of Swap Monkey with each other for the best surgeries; Derek Shepherd and Callie Torres attempts to move their research forward had a surprising impact on Callie's marriage to Arizona; Derek's professional journey with Callie allowed him to hone in on Meredith's jealous rage at Cristina's nomination even as Meredith herself participated in a kidney transplant from one HIV+ patient to another; and Jackson Avery and April Kepner continued to struggle with finding themselves married to a person very different than themselves.