I think the most important realization of the episode in regards to Cristina and Owen — or rather, Cristina — is that she is defeated. In the season 6 premiere, they went through the five stages of grief. Well, when faced with distressing news such as a job merger, you have similar stages of emotions you go through. With Cristina, we have seen paranoia, bargaining, aggression/anger, depression, and (somewhat) acceptance. It’s very similar to the classic stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Because in a way, she is grieving. She’s grieving over having job security. But beyond that, she’s being forced to recognize her place within the hospital, and it’s not good — since Burke left, she has not had a cardiothoracic surgeon capable of teaching her in the way that she needs to be taught. And the culmination of feeling like she doesn’t belong anymore, since the revolving door for the Head of Cardio position began, has caught up to her.
Where having general surgeries with the very rare heart surgery was enough, this job merger made her finally realize that it really is not. She needs more. But she didn’t see all this because she had been dealing with personal issues: Izzie’s cancer and her relationship with Owen allowed her to push those feelings aside. But now that Izzie’s better and her relationship with Owen has become more stable, she’s left with this major hybrid of a professional and personal struggle and can finally deal with it head on.
So, Owen is not to blame for being clueless about this because she has not let it be seen until now. She herself did not know she truly felt this way until now. And in the episode, Owen gets the first hint that this is not about the merger or the surgeries, it’s more. I hope to see it explored further in the following episodes. But before I get ahead of myself, let me go about this as I’ve always done — by scenes.
In the first scene where Owen takes Jackson’s advice, I know some naysayers have deemed this a jerk move. But I caught a glimpse of what OSU_Amy wrote, and I agree with her 100 percent. It’s a good idea. This is not a personal issue, it’s a professional one — one that could benefit the patients they see. Zones allow for more efficient treatment. Yes, I want Owen to support Cristina, but it’d be irresponsible to do it at the expense of proper patient care. Although, Owen, in his busy state, totally misses the glare that Cristina sends his way. It reminds me a bit of “Wish You Were Here” when Cristina tries to talk to him as they’re coming out of the cafeteria and he tells her that he’s busy. I think Owen is not quite capable of multitasking or being aware of Cristina’s emotions when he’s got a lot on his plate professionally. But I chalk this up to his characterization as the most professional of the bunch, which is a trait we often admire until it conflicts with our desire to see him be unprofessional in regards to Cristina. Still, we later see that he isn’t completely blind to it when she yells at him, causing him to stop. And his professionalism never gets in the way of talking to her in the manner that a man would talk to the woman he loves rather than a mere colleague or subordinate.
Although Cristina is through and through a cardio goddess in the making, she is still a superstar and badass at other surgeries — as proven when she took care of her patient in record time, having stolen the charts from Jackson. She was quick and dirty — a lesson she probably picked up from the preacher of said method, Owen. (On a side note: Jackson really seems to be characterized as a combination of Cristina and Owen. No wonder Owen likes him and the writers made him paired up with Cristina.) It was a brief but definite thrill to see Cristina be so great, especially since she’d been so down earlier in Meredith’s room — where we first caught a glimpse of Cristina breaking down.
In the Cristina/Owen scene I mentioned earlier, we finally see Owen starting to catch on. However, at first, he still doesn’t get it and gives the surgery to Jackson. Professionally, he is absolutely correct. Jackson found the problem, so it’s only fair that he can follow it through. However, on the boyfriend front, I’m sure most of us would have preferred that he’d given it to Cristina. I wouldn’t have wanted him to wait for Cristina to get there and find the problem — that’s once again, very inappropriate patient care — but you can tell that he’s still treating her reaction to this whole merger situation as just normal, somewhat irrational (in the sense that it’s more than necessary in her case) panicking over job security. “He was here, you weren’t.” It’s the simple truth. Maybe not the best thing to say to a woman who’s going through a lot emotionally, but Owen is known for being honest.
And Cristina snaps, yelling, “Dr. Hunt!” in the middle of the ER. The words were “Dr. Hunt,” but the tone was more of a “Owen [insert middle name here] Hunt.” The tone used when someone is in big trouble, and Owen is. She’s had enough. What I love about this scene is that Owen responds completely without anger. He doesn’t snap back. He simply asks, “What?” He’s confused (as we already know) as to what he has done to warrant such an outburst. And what I loved more was that he stops and comes over to talk to her. He comes to her. In a symbolic sense, that’s a good sign: him coming to be by her side. (Okay, Judy Doll moment, but I find it a comforting thought.) But you know that if it’d been anyone else who’d yelled after him in that same manner, they would have gotten their head ripped off. It’s certainly not the way a resident is supposed to speak to an attending.
At first, she responds in anger and frustration, which is expected. There goes yet another surgery. And it didn’t help that Jackson flashed her a smirk as he wheeled away the patient. Owen replies to her mini-tirade with, “It’s one surgery.” It really is just a surgery — a surgery that Cristina later admits she doesn’t care about — and I think it’s important that Owen said that because it makes her see as well that he’s right. It’s just one surgery. These feelings that are welling up inside of her have nothing to do with the fact Owen favored Jackson with the surgery instead of her. It’s more. Which is why after she takes a huge breath, she doesn’t yell some more or keep up the angry tirade. Instead, she sighs and says in an obviously resigned manner, “Nevermind.” And I think it’s this instant that Owen knows that something is wrong. Anger, he can accept and expect from her. Defeat? He can’t. Because defeat means that she is beyond sadness, she’s given up.
Now, if this had been some epic romance film, Owen would’ve gone after her. But alas, there’s a patient in need of surgery, and we can’t deny the guy the pure badassness of Owen’s surgical prowess. But Owen’s facial expression was soft and concerned. He’s got that searching glance as though he’s trying to figure out what’s going on but can’t get an accurate read on her. He had what angelamermaid has deemed “wolf puppy eyes.” He knows. And like I said, I’m hoping we see this realization and subsequent follow-through in the next few episodes.
Perhaps they could’ve expanded this scene, but it worked better this way. For Cristina to explain to Owen exactly what is going on with her, she’d have to bring up Burke. Thus, it makes it more of a fitting conversation to have with Meredith. Yes, I would have loved to see her turn to him and tell him all that she later tells Meredith, but he wouldn’t understand it as well because he doesn’t know about Burke or her past in the hospital. This was not the time or place for her and Owen to have the Burke discussion. But I really think that they will have it sooner than later. (And considering the fact that Mark was completely AWOL in this episode, meaning no Mark/Lexie, I’m thankful that our couple got any screen time together. And such an important moment as well.)
When Cristina cries, you can’t help but be heartbroken for her. Because if she’s crying, something is majorly wrong. She’s a tough one, but if something can defeat her defenses, then we should take note of it. And in this case, it’s reminiscent of the feeling she had in season 4 where she felt like a ghost. She’s not “seen” and “nothing is happening to [her].” Cristina is lost in the woods, and no one can teach her in the way she hungers to be taught. Cristina admits that she misses Burke. And like I (and many others) had predicted (see, you should listen to us — most of the time), it was said solely in reference to his role as her teacher. He provided her the opportunity to hold hearts in her hands and taught her how to fix them — literally. Figuratively? He broke hers, and it’s with Owen’s help that hers began to mend. Cristina is lost in the woods, and this time, I wouldn’t mind Bailey ordering Owen to “go to the woods” and retrieve her. But hopefully, he can do that all on his own.
But I can’t just talk about Cristina because Meredith was a huge part of this scene. My second favorite relationship on this show is Meredith and Cristina; and it’s in scenes like these that really cements it. Meredith has grown up and has proven to be a true “person” to Cristina. Ignoring their fight in season 5, Meredith has been there for Cristina. In this episode, she proved just how much she loves her. She asks Derek for reports on Cristina. And what I loved about that Derek/Meredith scene was that Meredith aligns herself with Cristina: if Cristina has the “dark and twisties,” then so does she. They come as a pair more often than not. Derek has long since accepted it, and Owen has yet to see it come between him and Cristina (e.g. Meredith hasn’t crawled into their bed while Owen’s sleeping). And in the scene with Cristina, Meredith is so supportive. She painfully tries to hand Cristina a box of tissues, she listens to and consoles her friend, and she knows how to handle her when she’s upset — which is just inviting her onto her bed, holding her, and letting her calm down as they watch “It Happened One Night” (I love Clark Gable, by the way).
There are probably only two people that Cristina truly loves in this world: Meredith is one of them. (Just in case you couldn’t tell, Owen is the other.) And this is why Cristina willingly crawls into bed with Meredith and lets her hold her. Remember, they aren’t the hugging type. But yet, they do. Cristina really lets these two people she loves see her at her most vulnerable — and in a way, it makes them special because if Cristina, whose known for her high standards, thinks so highly of them, then they must be worthy.
In the last scene with the remaining three of the original five interns, it really hits you how things have changed. Alex is heartbroken, and now he also is lost. But I appreciate the slightly humorous note the episode ended on as Meredith encourages Cristina to go hug Alex (two mostly anti-hugging people) and Alex takes an inadvertent step back as Cristina stands to heed Meredith’s request. Just that Cristina would even think to hug Alex really shows how closely knit that these three have become and probably will become to a higher degree.