Warning: This post is ridiculously long because there was just so much stuff to discuss. Read at your own risk!
Holy shit. Please excuse my French (though, in French, it’d be something more like “putain fais chier” — now, really, excuse my French) but those were the two most uttered words last night from Cristina and Owen fans alike. Even all us self-professed spoiler whores did not see this coming. We got the hint from Shonda that there was “so much Cristina and Owen sex,” but holy cow, I didn’t realize that we had been such good Coconuts or inmates to get Christmas in February. Thank you, Santa Shonda and Stacy McKee (who, by the way, is a total Cristina/Owen fan and thus an honorary coconut).
Not only was there an abundance of hot, hot sex (as the title of this blog alludes to), but there was a major step in the right direction for Cristina and Owen as a couple. Kevin McKidd kept his promise: Cristina and Owen are a stronger couple because of this “love” triangle. In this episode, Cristina and Owen’s relationship really exemplified the title theme of love and trust — and of course, insanely hot sexual chemistry that set millions of television sets on fire. Not to mention the libidos of women across the country (perhaps even world) who tuned in for this aptly rated S episode (and that’s S for Seriously Hot Sex).
But I digress. Let’s see if I can stop re-watching these scenes long enough to actually put in some analysis instead of mere drooling, sighing, or squeeing…
First scene up is definitely not helping me refrain from doing any of the above actions. Yep, I never knew that five seconds of seeing two people just panting and kissing could be so hot. And that didn’t even involve seeing what was going on from the neck below. In fact, it’s probably because of the fact the rest was left to our very active imaginations that it is just that darn hot. The sweat on Owen’s brow, the faint shudder that runs through Cristina’s body – subtle suggestions of what we can only assume to be some of the damn good sex these two are having. Though, I would not have said no to an extended version. But let’s hope that we get that on the DVD, as Krista Vernoff and Stacy McKee mentioned in the podcast. Let’s just say, DVD sales would skyrocket based off the sales to us avid coconuts alone.
So while everyone else is concerned about what the repercussions are of Derek becoming the interim Chief, our couple is busy with the wumpity wump. And though it’s hot, as I’ve said repeatedly already, it does start to suggest that some serious avoidance is going on. Think back to Dr. Wyatt’s remarks in the beginning of this season. Talk, not sex. And until the very end, these two are avoiding discussing the situation in favor of physical activity. But later, we seem them showing signs that they did remember Dr. Wyatt’s lesson.
In the background, Derek’s voiceover talks about how it’s hard for surgeons to trust, how the only instincts that surgeons can count on is their own. It’s understandable how that would be true. These people literally hold other people’s lives in their hands every day. They have to trust in themselves and their own capabilities. It comes with the job description to need to be in control. To be a person that others can count on, not necessarily the other way around. It’s a tough job. No wonder these characters have such a hard time with relationships, considering the fact that fully committed relationships are about the assimilation of two identities into one collective one. And I don’t mean codependence, but more in the sense that the pair becomes a fused unit.
In the case of Cristina and Owen, Cristina doesn’t really completely trust Owen. Yes, she loves him – she’s said so numerous times, and I believe her. But trust him? Not fully. I believe this is why she thought that Owen would even think of choosing Teddy over her in “Holidaze.” This is why it is such a surprise that Owen would stick by her even when she “traded him of.” And it’s not like Cristina doesn’t have reasons not to trust the man she’s in love with. The last time she fell in love, the man left and caused significant emotional (and in a way, even professional) damage. Meanwhile, Owen trusts Cristina to a much higher degree in that he has opened himself to her, whether it was by choice or not. In order to get through the healing process together, Owen had to put his trust in Cristina. During the therapy scene with Dr. Wyatt, he lets Dr. Wyatt know that she can say anything in front of Cristina about him. I wouldn’t say that there are no secrets between them, but Owen is more forthcoming than Cristina when it comes to his past. Even when he had just come back from the war and wasn’t yet in a relationship with Cristina, he trusted her enough to tell her what had happened to him. She was probably the first person he told about the RPG ambush outside of the necessary military personnel. Since the moment he met her, Owen felt a connection to her – even when he tried to fight it. And now that he can’t live without it, it’s no wonder that he’s trying so hard to keep that connection alive.
Owen is not perfect, nor does anyone ever claim him to be. So, his method in dealing with the Cristina and Teddy situation is not exactly the best way one should approach it. In other words, brushing off Teddy and screwing Cristina into submission is not the way to go. But he’s so worried, as we see later, that he’s losing Cristina, that this is the only way he can think of reacting. He’s in a sort of panic, so he instinctively goes for the physical. As the writers mentioned in the blog and in the podcast, Owen knows that he can count on their chemistry. And boy, do these two have chemistry. He’s not secure in the emotional, so he almost overemphasizes the physical to compensate. And he severs his ties with Teddy because he thinks that having any sort of genial relationship with Teddy will jeopardize his relationship with Cristina. In “Holidaze,” during the scene in the ER when Cristina realizes that Owen is looking at Teddy and not her, Owen knew that he had hurt Cristina and that infuriated him. He was mad at himself, and he was mad at Teddy. So, in his clumsy way, Owen is making sure that Cristina won’t have reason to think that Owen has feelings for Teddy again by purposely alienating Teddy. It’s why he is so adamant that he loves Cristina. It’s as though he feels the need to keep saying it because he doesn’t think she believes it, especially having made the mistake of asking Teddy to come here in the first place and creating this whole mess.
The first interaction with Owen and Teddy shows this. In the last episode, he had met Teddy for drinks, but this was before he was aware that Teddy had essentially made Cristina choose him or her. Prior to this, I’m sure that Owen was still holding out hope that the three of them could get along, that Teddy would get the idea that Owen was with Cristina now and move on. In Owen’s mind, Teddy dragged Cristina deeper into this mess. A mess that Owen inadvertently created through his good intentions. A mess that Owen was trying desperately to keep Cristina from getting pulled further into. Make no mistake, Owen is insanely protective of Cristina. Savior complex, remember? So, it’s no wonder that he’s angry at Teddy and trying to distance himself from her as well.
The look of surprise on Teddy’s face after Owen brushes her off is twofold. First, she still thinks that they’re friends since he did meet her for drinks after all (and probably got her a cab home). Second, she believes that she still may have a chance with Owen in a romantic sense especially after she revealed to Owen that Cristina had given him up. But not only does Owen address her curtly, he walks away from her and stands next right behind Cristina. Teddy is still operating under the assumption that Cristina and Owen’s relationship is new and not serious. In the podcast, Krista and Stacy discuss Teddy’s views on this relationship, suggesting that Teddy doesn’t consider these two as serious as Beth and Owen were. This is why she thought it appropriate to take a shot and see if things could work out between her and Owen. Teddy probably considers Cristina a rebound girl. And it’s somewhat understandable why she would think that way. She didn’t see these two together throughout Owen’s battle with PTSD. She doesn’t even know that Owen has PTSD. All she sees is the physical aspect of the relationship, not the emotional. Of course, Cristina and Owen tend to keep the emotional side of their relationship extremely private. I doubt any of the other characters would have known just how deeply these two were invested in each other had they not witnessed Cristina and Owen trying to get through his PTSD together.
In the little snippets we catch of Cristina and Owen throughout Derek’s speech, you can definitely tell that these two are a couple, which could not be said for most of season five. Before, Cristina and Owen’s interactions among their colleagues were fairly professional. There was a rare occasion where there was a hint that they were together. The most obvious public display was in “Now or Never” when Owen and Cristina kissed on the bridge, where anyone could see them. But throughout season six, we’ve seen more and more touches that allude to them being a “real” couple – as defined by Owen in “Goodbye.” This scene demonstrates this. When Owen stands behind Cristina, you can see that his hand comes to touch her at the small of her back. Plus, he stands right behind her, well within her personal space – a sign of familiarity. For example, Cristina would never let Jackson get that close to her if she had a choice. There’s also the moment when the camera is focused on Mark as he watches Lexie join the crowd that you can see in the background that Owen’s hands are on Cristina’s shoulders. Definitely not a touch of an attending and a resident. Add in the constant glances that Owen gives Cristina during the speech (first of amusement when Cristina makes fun of Derek, then of discomfort or concern when Richard Webber appears) with the final, most obvious of intimate display (Owen whispering something – a possible “meet me in the vent later” – into Cristina’s ear so that it almost looks like they’re kissing followed by a guiding hand on her shoulder as they walk away together smiling) and you’ve got one jealous and hurt Teddy.
Teddy, who now knows that Cristina didn’t give up Owen (and vice versa), replaces Cristina with Jackson because the last thing she needs is to be reminded constantly that Owen didn’t choose her. As she tells Cristina later, “I can’t today, Cristina, okay? I just… I can’t.” Not the most professional of moves, yes. And I’m sure it didn’t help many fans like her any better. But I don’t blame her for doing it. She is caught between genuinely liking and respecting Cristina and hating her for being the woman Owen loves. For all intents and purposes, Cristina and Teddy would make a great cardio goddess team if it weren’t for the fact that they loved the same man. It also doesn’t help that Teddy doesn’t really see why Owen loves Cristina, considering the fact that Cristina was willing to give Owen up for Teddy. Judging from Teddy’s drunken confession, she doesn’t think that Cristina deserves Owen. Sure, she values Cristina professionally; but she doesn’t think Cristina is really worthy of Owen’s love. Just as she didn’t think that Beth was worthy of Owen either. But it’s less of Teddy thinking that she’s a better woman than Cristina and thus more deserving. In my opinion, I believe that Teddy thinks that she loves Owen more than Cristina does.
And now onto the vent scene. You can sense how antsy Owen is from the constant pacing and glances at the door. And it’s not the excited kind, either. No smile, just this look of intensity. Owen means business. He’s going to show Cristina just how right she was to choose him. He’s going to make Cristina forget all about Teddy. So, when Cristina comes in talking about how Teddy is blackballing her, he kisses her senseless to make her stop talking about Teddy. You can hear Cristina’s first muffled sound of surprise, followed by the customary, faint moans of pleasure. Yep, these two sure are noisy kissers. Gotta love it.
And how hot was it when Owen stops the kiss to whisper in this gruff, almost Batman-like voice (the newer incarnations with Christian Bale), “I don’t want to talk about Teddy. Do you want to talk about Teddy?” Followed by Cristina’s soft “no.” Hot, hot, hot. And the soft whispers turn into this rough and ready, slam against the wall sex that just oozes of urgency. No wonder Cristina was so caught up with passion that she ends up getting a lovely vent burn on her butt. She probably didn’t even realize it until afterwards. Once again, it’s left to our imaginations what happened next, but you can bet it was insanely hot. So hot that it couldn’t be aired on ABC.
We see Owen briefly with Mark as he overhears the shouting match between Derek and Richard and then with Teddy when he gives her the same brush off he once gave Cristina in “Wish You Were Here.” I wonder if it would have made Teddy feel better had she known that he’s treated Cristina in the same way. Granted, Owen sought Cristina out later and he wasn’t being intentionally rude. Just professional. In this case, he’s purposely being blunt. As I said, he’s severing his ties with Teddy because he is afraid of doing any damage to his relationship with Cristina.
“Hot cross buns.” How hilarious is this scene? I have to admit that when I first saw Cristina limping into the ER, I thought she was suffering from something other than a burn. More along the lines of a different sex injury that results from too much sex. You catch my drift? But in reality, Cristina is suffering from “hot cross buns,” as coined by Alex. Not only do we get a hint of what went on in the vent room, but we see some lighthearted interaction between the residents, most importantly, the “twisted sisters.” What a great friend Meredith is for dressing Cristina’s wounds. (Side note: it seems Meredith knows about the vent since she didn’t react in any way when Cristina mentions that it’s a vent mark, not a grate burn.) And how typical of Alex to ignore Cristina’s desire for privacy by pulling aside the curtain to check out Cristina’s ass. (Love the collective “Alex!” that Cristina and Meredith give while Alex grins, casually eating his apple.) This scene was such a classic, funny Grey’s moment. Lately, it’s been rare that we got such a lighthearted moment for Cristina – or the characters in general.
But underneath the humor, more is revealed about Cristina and Owen’s relationship. Thanks to her sessions with Dr. Wyatt, it seems Cristina has learned to see through Owen’s physical acts. In this case, she sees beyond the “caveman-like” behavior that’s “vaguely disturbing” but “mostly hot” (similar to the “slightly stalker-y” but “romantic” comment) to the truth that Owen is probably still a tad upset about her offering him to Teddy. Look at that, our Cristina is growing up emotionally.
After the brief brush off mentioned before, we get a hilarious bromance scene. Owen shows what a good friend he is when we learn that he got Derek a miniature basketball set while Mark, Derek’s longtime friend, got him nothing. It just goes to show how different Mark and Owen are, and why Owen is becoming a better friend for Derek. It’s interesting that this time around, the twisted sisters are with men that actually consider each other friends. Burke and Derek weren’t ever really friends. They tolerated each other because of their partners, but they were competitors first. With Derek and Owen, there’s a real camaraderie, especially since Derek was there to offer help when he saw that Owen was going through a difficult situation. Also, we see Derek turning to Owen when he was going through the dilemma in regards to the Chief rather than Mark, who tends to be more self-absorbed (as he shows in this scene).
The three men together are comedic gold. Mark behaves as his usual self, not even listening to the fact that Derek is struggling on his first day. No, all he wants to talk about is his own situation and gossip. Oh, and how if he had bought Derek a present, it would have been better. (Reminds me a bit of men comparing a certain appendage in the locker room.) On the other hand, Owen proves consistent in not listening to gossip when he just learns that Mark slept with Derek’s ex-wife. I don’t think he’s realized that the redheaded woman that came in was Derek’s ex-wife since the two have yet to meet. (Sorry, Riss, I know you want that to happen.) Derek shows maturity in telling Mark that certain things aren’t his story to tell. It’s great to see him all grown up. I have to admit, I’m really liking Meredith and Derek more and more as time goes by. Their earlier characterizations were too immature for me – the constant on and off, indecision, and petty fights. Married Meredith and Derek are much, much better. I like them.
Anyways, the hilarity continues when Owen tries to pass off his hickey has a “birthmark.” Nice try, Owen. He’s a terrible liar, which is not a bad thing. He’s shown to be a very honest person, so it’s no wonder that the couple times he’s tried to lie, he failed miserably. The first that comes to mind, other than this one, is when he lied to the Chief about Derek using the OR to operate on Isaac. Didn’t work then and didn’t work now. Birthmark, indeed.
And then, Owen, always being the consummate gentleman who doesn’t kiss and tell, merely says that he and Cristina are “getting along.” More like getting it on. For a guy who’s about keeping his personal life private, he doesn’t hide his hickey all that well. (Guess he’s too manly to borrow some concealer from Cristina and cover it up.) Of course, he didn’t do anything to hide the scratches on his neck in “Elevator Love Letter” either. Perhaps he thinks that people would just not notice or ask him about it. But it’s Mark and Derek. They’re his new guy friends. Of course they’re going to point it out and make fun of him for it. Or in Mark’s case, be a bit jealous of how well things are going for Owen and Cristina. But unlike Mark, Owen doesn’t reveal much about his personal life. While Mark openly discusses the fact that Lexie slept with Alex, Owen deflects.
Now, it is a bit of a puzzle as to why Owen’s hickey appears here and didn’t appear in the other two scenes between the vent room frolicking and this one. Although one can chalk this up to shoddy continuity-keeping, I would rather pretend that Cristina and Owen had a little something-something that we didn’t see where Cristina paid Owen back for the mark on her butt with a little “branding” of her own. Turnabout is fair play, after all.
It’s interesting that the writers had Mark say that Owen and Cristina are better than him and Lexie. Not to offend the Mark and Lexie fans, but Mark and Lexie are the only couple who are not in love. The few times that either of them spoke about love for the other, it was in jest or with uncertainty. So, in a way, Owen and Cristina are better than Mark and Lexie. Cristina and Owen are in love, they are committed, and there is no doubt that they are meant to be together in either of their minds. Yes, they have their problems (as we see), but they are willing to work through it.
What’s more interesting is the fact that the writers had Derek and Mark say that Cristina and Owen are better and more suitable together than Burke and Cristina were. Now, I will admit that I love Cristina with Owen infinitely more than I liked Cristina with Burke, so I am biased. But I do appreciate the Burke and Cristina relationship for what it did for Cristina in the sense of growth. And those two were the reason why I first tuned into this show in the first place. I didn’t get hooked until Owen appeared, but Burke and Cristina definitely got me to tune in.
The funniest put-down I’ve ever heard comes when Derek calls Burke and Yang too “monosyllabic.” It has no meaning, but it is perfect. They weren’t boring – far from it. But Cristina and Burke just ended up in a place where it just didn’t seem like they belonged together anymore. With any healthy relationship, there has to be a balance. And as reaffirmed later, from Cristina’s perspective, the Burke and Cristina relationship was too one-sided. It always seemed like Cristina had to be the one to change in order to accommodate Burke. But it’s no surprise that Derek and Mark prefer Owen over Burke. Owen is their friend – something that Burke never became. So, in their book, Owen is way better in general. In all honesty, it’s not even about Cristina since neither of them really gets Cristina. Sure, Derek is married to the other twisted sister, but he and Cristina aren’t really buddies. Cristina is a mystery to them, just further showing how private of a person Cristina is – a rare trait that both Owen and Cristina share.
Speaking of women being mysteries. Taking a step back from the actual episode and into the general scope of these three men’s relationships, one must note the different stages that these men are at. In Derek’s case, he knows Meredith. He’s had six seasons to get to know her – through the drowning, the dirty mistress phase, the dysfunctional family, and so on. And now, these two are finally married and solid. Next is Owen who doesn’t really know Cristina as well as he’d like to (which comes out later in that epic scene at the end of the episode) but desperately wants to. He is trying to understand Cristina – and he knows some, but he’s missing a lot of her past. But the main thing is that Owen is making an effort. Unlike Mark, who isn’t even trying to understand Lexie or why she would sleep with Alex. He’s just angry. He can’t see beyond his own pain and troubles. In other words, Mark still has some growing up to do.
And Mark also has to learn some discretion. It is to no surprise of anyone that Mark spills the beans about Cristina having been engaged to Burke. I’m so glad that the writers decided to have Owen not realize the extent of Burke and Cristina’s relationship until now. We deserved to see the Burke talk, and it was better than I imagined. More on that later because…
…we have to discuss just how hot round three was. Holy shit. You know, I’m pretty surprised that we got this on ABC. Here I thought that we wouldn’t get something as graphic as the “Elevator Love Letter” love scene again since it’s rare that we get the full-on love scenes. Can you blame me? It took our couple nineteen episodes before they first consummated their relationship. Guess they’re seriously making up for lost time. I believe Cristina and Owen set the record for most sex (that we’ve seen) in one episode. Seriously. This was almost pornographic. And trust me, I’m not complaining at all. (Does that make me disturbed or a pervert?)
The breathing, the kissing, the touching all over – all good. The skin. Holy shit. (Yeah, I’m going to be saying that a few times.) I’m not going to go into too much detail since that would seriously start getting towards the rated mature side, so let’s leave it at it was mind-blowing hot. And I love that Owen keeps kissing whatever part of Cristina he can get his lips on while she’s trying to reach for her pager. He just can’t get enough of her. And that’s the way it should be. Not to mention how sexy it was when he kissed her shoulder then her lips. Pretty close to the back of the neck, wouldn’t you say? And we know that Owen loves the back of Cristina’s neck.
Okay, focus back here. Let’s get down to the underlying meaning of all this. When Teddy first interrupted Cristina and Owen’s on-call room romp in “Holidaze,” many of us were anticipating a time when Cristina would ignore Teddy’s page in favor of Owen. And in this episode, we got that. Although Owen was asking Cristina to stay more for insecurity’s sake than horniness, the important thing is that Cristina stays. She’s choosing Owen over Teddy as some sort of compensation for having made the opposite choice before. And Owen’s not making it easy to say no. He’s asking so prettily, so seductively. As the writer’s blog mentions, he’s desperate to keep her and love her. He’s not intentionally manipulating her. And also, it’s not like he’s not ordering her to stay. He’s giving her a choice, saying “please” and trying to tempt her to stay by caressing her skin and giving her a pleading look. Granted, he’s making it extremely hard to not stay, but it’s still a choice. He’s hurting, and Cristina knows it. She knows that if she chooses Teddy, it will hurt him again.
And I don’t think that Owen would have asked Cristina to stay if she had been on Teddy’s service. He knows that Jackson is on Teddy’s service, so it’s not like Teddy is lacking help. In this moment, both Teddy and Owen want Cristina. It isn’t a matter of need, it’s a matter of wanting. There’s a difference. Owen would never put his own personal issues before a patient’s safety. He’s not that type of person. He trusts Jackson to be capable to help Teddy, and he’s right – Jackson does fine. So, it’s not like Owen is asking Cristina to make the irresponsible choice. Teddy doesn’t need Cristina to have a successful surgery. No, Owen’s asking Cristina to choose him. (But not in so many words as when Meredith asked Derek to choose her, pick her, love her.)
On a lighter note, I found it amusing that Cristina just drops the pager as the lovemaking commences. That’s right, Cristina, screw the pager and get back to the, well, screwing.
When Cristina and Owen finally emerge from the third round of insanely hot sex, we get the confrontation between the couple and Teddy. This marks the first time that the three have interacted since all the cards have been put on the table. It is ironic that Teddy is getting angry at Cristina for being unprofessional when Teddy herself has been behaving unprofessionally. It’s a tad hypocritical. Though not completely because Teddy did page Cristina after all regardless of her personal issues with her.
And once again, Owen’s good intentions go awry. Owen tries to shoulder the blame for Cristina not answering the page by giving some lie (he really does stink at lying) about how he had a “trauma thing” (more like a “trauma” in his pants) because he won’t have Cristina being berated for something that isn’t her fault. Note that he says, “This wasn’t Cristina’s fault” not “Dr. Yang.” There is no longer any pretense that they’re merely colleagues, and Owen inadvertently makes it obvious that he’s defending Cristina as her boyfriend, not as her attending. Anyways, Owen ends up further enflaming the situation because Teddy sees right through him. She knows what they were doing, and it makes things worse –between all three of them.
All the sex and tension finally culminates in the epic scene at the end of the episode where Cristina and Owen finally face the issue head-on and talk about what is really going on. From a logistical standpoint, the viewer instantly gets the sense that something important is about to happen because there is no longer any music. No music is needed to add to the drama and power of this scene. Sandra Oh performs superbly, and Kevin McKidd definitely is part of why this scene is epic. These two actors just blow me away time and time again.
Back to the world of the show, we finally get the Burke talk. We got hints of it coming before, but I couldn’t quite believe that it came true. “I’m trying to understand you.” Owen expresses a similar frustration that Burke had. Cristina is hard to read most of the time, and she doesn’t give a lot of herself away easily. But while Burke tried to make Cristina into something that she wasn’t, Owen is asking Cristina to let him in and get to know her more. I wouldn’t go as far to say that he doesn’t know her, as he claims during their argument – he does. And it’s also not entirely true that Cristina doesn’t give him anything. She gives him her present and her future, but she doesn’t give him her past. When Owen replies to Cristina’s comment about how Burke is irrelevant with, “Oh, yeah, like I’ll be in three years’ time,” Cristina pauses what she’s doing. It’s a low blow, and he knows it. She expects him to know better than to think that. She loves him – and it’s the forty years (and more) kind.
Owen so desperately wants to know her. He says it himself: “I’ll try anything.” But while Cristina knows of the skeletons in Owen’s closet, Owen really doesn’t have an idea of hers – the major one being Burke. And Owen believes that if she tells him, they can move forward. He doesn’t want their relationship to reach a dead end. He’s really in it to the end – the end being a long, long time from now. But that can’t happen if he doesn’t feel like Cristina trusts him enough to open herself up to him about her past. And having been engaged and nearly wed is a major thing that had to have had consequences.
I honestly like that they’re arguing. It wouldn’t do if Cristina felt unable to yell back or call Owen out. The thing about Owen is that he is not too proud to admit when he’s wrong. He admits that maybe he was trying to screw her into submission, but it was all so that he could maintain their connection. He’s being more vocal about his feelings, and it’s admirable. Both he and Cristina, as we know, aren’t the talkative type. So, it has to be pretty damn important if they’re forcing themselves to open up and discuss what they’re feeling.
“I’m trying to love you. Why won’t you let me?” As Riss kindly reminded me, this is the same line that Burke once said to Cristina. And perhaps this is why Cristina finally talks about what she went through with Burke. Now, I’m no expert on the Burke and Cristina relationship since I have not re-watched the earlier seasons in a while, but I don’t think it’s as important as to how accurate Cristina describes the history as how Cristina feels about what happened. And what Cristina feels is that Burke took pieces of her and molded her into the type of woman Burke wanted her to be – a woman that was no longer Cristina Yang.
“Me, Cristina Yang.” She’s used this phrase before. Back in “Now or Never,” Cristina told Owen, “I love you… Me, Cristina Yang.” Pretty significant, don’t you think? That she admitted at the time that she, the real Cristina Yang, loved Owen. She wasn’t some version of herself that Owen made her to be. She was just her, Cristina Yang – and she loved him. And still loves him, “more than [she] loved Burke.” Now, I know that his line probably angered the Burke and Cristina fans out there, but I don’t think it was necessarily a dig at Burke. Personally, I think that with the growth that happened post-Burke, she became more capable of love in the same way that Meredith did. Do I think she could have gotten to the point where she could love Owen more than she loved Burke if it hadn’t been for Burke in the first place? Honestly, no. Burke was a crucial part of Cristina’s development into a loving partner for Owen, where she has become so entwined with Owen that it “scares the crap out of [her].”
And neither does Cristina downplay her love for Burke. It was real. She even admits that she would’ve have married him – even then, even when she felt like she was having to be someone she was not. And that speaks volumes. Make no mistake, Cristina loved Burke. It’s an indisputable fact. She would not have done the things she did if she didn’t love him. But her love for Burke is not the same as the love she feels for Owen. (And one also has to be thinking that if she was willing to marry Burke – a man who took all these pieces from her, doesn’t that make her more likely to marry Owen – a man who is trying to love her for her? Just saying. It’s a nice thought.)
The matter-of-fact way she says that she loves Owen is a far cry from the first time she awkwardly uttered those three little words to him. She’s so candid about her love for Owen, which is a huge step for her. It’s not even a big deal – it’s just a fact. She loves Owen. It’s as simple as that. But it’s something that Owen needs to hear because when Cristina chose Teddy, she stirred up doubts within him.
What’s even more amazing about this scene is that even though Cristina is making herself vulnerable and opening herself up, she’s taking such a strong stance. “You took a piece of me, and I let you… And that will never happen again.” She is telling him that she loves him, but he isn’t allowed to chip away at her identity. She won’t go down that path again, especially since the way back was excruciatingly painful. (Although, I do want to point out that I believe Owen had a major role in helping her return to her “former glory” – to borrow a couple words from Derek’s speech.) He never asks her to be anyone other than herself. I’ve said repeatedly how Owen adores all her quirks. Sure, they sometimes make him cringe and he doesn’t always agree with her, but he doesn’t ever make her feel like she has to be anyone other than who she is. That doesn’t mean that she hasn’t changed as a person. Cristina has, as all people do. But it wasn’t in a manner where she felt she was going against the grain of who she is. Not only that, but Owen himself has changed since being with Cristina. In both cases, the change stems from wanting to be a better partner or person, originating from their own desire to do so.
I love that Owen takes Cristina’s hand. After a day of sexual contact, this is a step back from the physical and a sign of the emotional. He’s trying to comfort her. It’s perfect that he doesn’t try to kiss her or hold her. Just a small touch that shows that he understands now. That he won’t take a piece of her or make her feel that way again. I don’t think that was ever Owen’s intention. The last thing in the world he wants to do is to hurt her. I’m sure it pained him to know that he did. Every time he’s inadvertently hurt her, Owen feels complete wretched and tries to remedy the situation. From the “hot and cold” incident to “Wish You Were Here” to the ER incident with Teddy in “Holidaze.” He’s a creature of habit. He can’t stand knowing that he’s hurt her in some way. And this is the biggest one of them all: making her feel the same hurt that Burke inflicted. You just know that he’s going to be extra careful with her feelings because of this.
Now that Owen finally “knows” Cristina in the way that he wants, it can only mean that they will be a stronger couple. She let him into her innermost layer of being, and Owen is not the one to take that for granted. If anything, I think it would make him love her even more, if that is possible. The more he learns about Cristina, the more Owen falls for her. She’s such an amazing woman – how couldn’t he fall in love with her? At this moment, Owen knows Cristina on the same level – if not beyond – as Meredith does. If there was ever a doubt that Owen would continue to stick with her, I think that this scene eradicates it. Like Shonda says, we should stop worrying about Cristina and Owen. They’re solid. Sure, they’ll have their obstacles and whatnot (this is still Grey’s Anatomy after all), but nothing that these two can’t face together.