Cristina and Owen are moving out! And hopefully, it will be a faster transition than Meredith and Derek’s. (How is the dream house construction going?) At least Owen and Cristina have a head start since they’re not building from the ground up. And I have a feeling that we’ll see them move into it this season. (And, if the writers love us, someone will slide down that pole. Maybe in celebration of Cristina’s healing? That would be the ultimate double hitter of awesomeness. Yes, Riss, I used a baseball term…I think.)
There wasn’t too much Cristina and Owen in this episode, but the tapeworm patient’s storyline was clearly a not-so-subtle parallel for Cristina’s current struggle with her loss of who she was. And to keep from sounding repetitive, I’m simply going to summarize that entire plot instead of going scene by scene.
But first, Cristina and Owen are house hunting. For the spoiler junkies, we already knew that they were looking into a converted firehouse with a fireman’s pole that was mentioned not once but twice. (Seriously, someone needs to slide down it. Why else would they build that set?) Owen is super excited about the prospect of renovating the rundown place while Cristina is…not. Like Pete Nowalk says in the writers’ blog, there are two categories of people: people who like to buy fixer-uppers and people who don’t. Obviously, Owen’s the former and Cristina the latter. While Owen is going on about how they can knock out the wall to create more light, Cristina is silently poking at the blinds and causing something to break off. We always knew that Cristina wasn’t really the type to care about housing. As long as it’s habitable and got a roof, she’s fine. She doesn’t care about decorating or where things should go. She leaves that in the hands of others: her mother decorated the first apartment we saw her in; then she moved in with Burke and didn’t bring anything of hers; Izzie found her post-Burke apartment; and Callie decorated it. And I suspect that the current house hunting has been more of Owen’s job with Cristina going along for the ride.
It is also in this first scene that we get another Owen expression for the books as he tells the realtor that they’ll have to think about it. It’s a combination of apology and embarrassment as Cristina is clearly not at all impressed (or interested) in this find. I love how he ducks his head and gives the realtor a brief sidelong glance as he follows Cristina off screen. And I like how he’s not upset or frustrated with Cristina at all. He smiles as he tells her, “I kinda need you to care.” The tone is more encouraging and more of a “join me on this” rather than an annoyed “why don’t you feel the same way I do” – an attitude that I often got from Burke. (The most infamous one being, “I love you. What the hell is the matter with you that you won’t just let me?”) It’s a big deal and a big decision – buying your (first) home together. This could be the home that you build memories in, maybe even raise a family. My parents still live in the first house they bought together, and it’s the home I have grown up in since I was four. This isn’t some apartment that they’re going to rent together; it’s a house that they will invest a lot of time and money into – a house that they will design together. Cristina and Owen’s dream house. (Although, it’s more Owen’s dream at the moment.)
Okay, how many people let out a happy squeal when Cristina said to Meredith, “House hunting with my husband”? I did! I’m still floating on cloud nine over the fact that they’re husband and wife. I love the constant reminders that these two are married: whether it’s seeing the flash of Owen’s wedding band or hearing them reference each other as their spouse. They’re like (non-painful) pinches that tell us, No, you’re not dreaming it up. Cristina and Owen are really married. (I hope it hasn’t gotten old yet. I hope we never get tired of saying it.)
I love how it’s not even a big deal. And it’s only when Meredith points it out that we really get the sense at the progress Cristina has made. Meredith is going to a fertility clinic because she and Derek want a baby, and Cristina has a husband. These are not the dark and twisty sisters of seasons one and two who were afraid of serious, long-term commitments with men. They were not the type to think into the future, but that’s what they’re doing now. “Baby steps. Whatev,” Cristina replies to Meredith. See? It’s an easy transition to start calling Owen her husband. For me, it was always weird thinking of Owen as Cristina’s boyfriend because they seemed more than that. “Boyfriend” describes a whole range of relationships, from your first “boyfriend” in elementary school (i.e. the boy who would give you their snack one minute then tug on your hair the next) to someone you’re involved with who’s not your husband or domestic partner. Call me biased, but “husband” and “wife” suit them.
And then multiple trauma cases come in, and Cristina isn’t even the least bit eager to go to the pit. It provides a huge contrast to last season in episode four, where Cristina was almost jonesing (like an addict) for a trauma case. In fact, she was trying to steal one from Izzie (except Owen wouldn’t give it to her because he didn’t want to play favorites and wanted to give Izzie a chance). It’s saddening how much has changed since then. At this point, Owen wouldn’t hesitate to play favorites and give Cristina a surgery – if he thought that she would actually come inside the OR. But she won’t. (I have faith that she will overcome her fears. This season is about rebirth and healing after all.)
Brief interlude of Owen doing compressions on a guy’s chest whilst being wheeled away. Hurray for a scene of Owen being a badass doctor!
It seems like Bailey is letting go of her stance on not getting too involved with her residents from last season (after losing George). I think that the shooting taught her that we should value our bonds with others because we don’t know when we could lose them. Sure, she’s more passive about it in this episode, starting with the clear signs of just how heavily Cristina’s struggles are weighing on her she exhibits in the Chief’s office when he suggests that they replace with Denny Duquette clinic with a geriatric wing (but we know how much Shonda loves Denny, so I think it’s safe); but you can see that she’s doing her best to help without pushing Cristina too far. (Like later, when Bailey allows Cristina to decide whether or not she wants to scrub in or watch.) Just as how Owen’s problems became Cristina’s problems after they became a “real” couple in the season six premiere, Cristina’s problems have become everyone’s problems because they are all connected to her. Not only that, but we’ve seen many of the other characters stepping in to try and do their part in helping her get back to who she was: Owen, Meredith, Derek, Bailey, and Teddy.
(Property of Team JayZee)”]And Cristina has her fellow residents to lift her spirits, even if it’s temporary. She gets giggly when Meredith lies to Lexie about her morning appointment, saying she went to the dentist. She offers up that her patient has worms when the boys come in asking what they’re talking about (which reminded me of her muttering some nonsense when Izzie asked their opinion on the chicken for Meredith and Derek’s wedding). She makes a face at Jackson when he claims he has it under control with Altman. I love that the Fab Six 2.0 has these group scenes together. We didn’t have this camaraderie in season six, where things were competitive and hostile. And they’re back in the tunnel, which is a plus.
Owen pages Cristina to tell her about another house that’s on the market. (Note how she stops short at the doorway, refusing to come inside.) Let’s take a moment to realize that Owen is publicly discussing his private life. Sure, it’s not like house hunting is all that personal, but it’s pretty different from the person he was in the early days of joining the Seattle Grace staff. He stayed far away from the rumor mill, he kept his relationship with Cristina mostly separate from his professional life, and he tried to keep from getting involved in other people’s personal lives. But now? He finds out that the anesthesiologist’s sister’s house is on sale, he’s discussing house hunting with his wife in the middle of surgery in front of everyone, and he’s so enmeshed with Meredith and Derek (because of Cristina) that he is considering moving to a place that’s near their house. So, you see, they’ve both come a long way. And though it’s never been much of a dilemma for Owen, he is demonstrating a priority in personal over professional life. And that’s why he tells Cristina that he also paged her to see if she wanted to scrub in on this unique trauma surgery in a questioning tone that places no pressure on her. He doesn’t want to force her into doing anything she doesn’t want to. (An attitude we see pop up later when Cristina buys the firehouse.) It’s so sweet and gentle. Le sigh.
“I was dead inside.” The patient says it now, but it echoes back to “Shock to the System” when Cristina tells Meredith how she’s dead inside and how Owen married a corpse. Yep, ladies and gents, we’ve got the first anvil. And none too subtle, either. Though, at first, I thought this was strictly about surgery. Little did I know, it was going to be a springboard for Cristina to show how much she loves Owen. (No complaints here in being wrong!) “And now I know what I’m meant to do with my life. And everything else – all my quirks, my fears, the fact that people find me strange – none of it matters because I know who I am.” And he asks her to save his worms. (Which she tries to do because she understands what he’s going through. Not with the worms, obviously.)
Cristina doesn’t really know who she is right now. But that’s the point. She is lost, and her beliefs about her identity have been shattered. At this moment, the one role she is one hundred percent clear about is being Owen’s wife. He’s her lifeline at the moment. She doesn’t have surgery to count on, and that’s new for her. Surgery has been the one thing she’s been able to turn to for comfort when everything else had gone to hell. “Mama needs to cut.” On the day when she and Burke were supposed to married, she didn’t feel like herself until she was able to cut. Now, she can barely step into an OR room or pick up a scalpel. And she now goes to Owen first when she feels like things are spinning out of control and she can’t handle it. She pages him to the on-call room when she’s overwhelmed with Derek’s pushing in “Superfreak” and tells him that she can’t sleep when he’s not there. She opts to go house hunting with him instead of rounds with Bailey – something she never would’ve missed before. Sandra Oh talked about how Cristina will learn how to consistently choose her marriage when interviewed in the beginning of the season, and we are seeing that. It’s largely because her marriage is one of the only things she is sure about these days. And though I’m glad to see Cristina and Owen’s bond so strong, I can’t help but feel heartbroken for her whenever she shies away from the thing she used to love so much. These episodes are really exploring the idea of Cristina without surgery, and it’s quite gripping. Who knew that Dr. Campbell’s warning of a day when Cristina would not have surgery would come so soon? Hopefully, it’s going to be a while before Cristina will permanently retire her scalpel.
I really loved the scene between Cristina and Meredith toward the end where Meredith asks Cristina to draw her blood so that she can be tested for Alzheimer’s. The two of them are making huge headway in this episode alone, going way beyond “baby steps.” But life can’t always be taken one baby step at a time, or we wouldn’t get far. Sometimes, you have to take a leap of faith and live with whatever happens next. It’s interesting how Derek doesn’t want to know while Meredith does. It boils down to this very interesting question: If you had a degenerative or fatal disease (e.g. early onset Alzheimer’s or Huntington’s), would you want to know ahead of time? Valid arguments could be made for both sides.
“Why would you want to put yourself through this again?” Cristina asks when the patient talks about continuing his “research” on the worms. “Because I love what I do…more than anything… You don’t find something you love that much and let it go. You hold onto it, throw yourself in deeper.” Now, as I said earlier, I thought this would be some sort of motivation for Cristina to do something surgical or medical. Because she loves surgery and she’s been letting it go. And she needs to hold onto it and throw herself in deeper even though she knows it’s going to be a rough road. She needs to lean into the fear. The same could be said about her marriage to Owen. She fell for another attending even though the last time she did, things didn’t end up so well. And the last time she was engaged, it didn’t end in a marriage. And yet, she began a relationship with Owen and married him. Even though she’d been so badly burned by love before. Why? Because she found someone she loved and couldn’t let it go. And when he was going through the worse of his PTSD struggles, she held on tighter and threw herself in deeper. And while she may not be ready to move forward in getting back to surgery, she can certainly do so in her marriage to Owen by buying the house that he loves.
Pete Nowalk summarizes Cristina’s mentality in the writers’ blog:
Still, she buys the firehouse…for Owen. This tells us a lot about where she’s at mentally. She’s lost when it comes to surgery but not with her marriage. Instead she’s throwing herself in deeper. It’s what the worm guy said – when you love something you hold on to it. For Cristina, that’s Owen. She’s becoming a fixer upper person for him. So maybe it’s nurture after all.
I don’t know about you all, but I was staring at the clock and getting disheartened over the prospect of not getting another Cristina and Owen scene. Then lo and behold, in the last few moments before the ending title, we see Owen climbing the stairs of the firehouse to find Cristina waiting with champagne, Chinese takeout, and sleeping bags. “Welcome home!” (Love how Cristina sticks out her tongue in concentration as she pours champagne into the clear plastic cups.) Owen smiles but is hesitant to join in on the celebration.
“I don’t know what to say…” Even though Owen is getting what he wants, he’s more concerned about Cristina’s well-being and the reasoning behind why she did it. He doesn’t want to feel like he coerced her into doing something against her will, even if it fulfills one of his dreams. (What guy doesn’t want a fireman’s pole in their house? Seriously. The possibilities are endless.) I love how we clearly see that Owen’s first priority is Cristina. He would give up surgery for her (see deleted scene from season six), and he would give up his dream house for her. Basically, he would pretty give up anything so long as he could have her in his life. And Cristina? She’s choosing Owen. “I don’t care where we live. I really don’t, but you do. You love this place. And I love you.” Yes, we got an “I love you” and a kiss in the same episode. These two must be setting a record with the “I love you” declarations.
The way Owen moves in to kiss Cristina reminds me of their wedding day. It shouts of how much he loves her and how grateful he is to have her as his wife. The kiss also reminds me of when Cristina kissed Owen after his “we matter” speech. They both do this little shake of the head before they grab the other person and kiss them. And once again, there’s this sense of “I can’t believe I’m so lucky to have someone like you” type of feeling. I think Cristina and Owen’s relationship provides a stark contrast in stability to where she stands in her career. The angst isn’t about them, it’s about Cristina. And Owen is being the counterpart to it, trying to ease her suffering. It really is the opposite of the roles they played in season five. Not only does it give Cristina a great story arc, it also helps redeem Owen from his mistakes last season.
And in the background of this last scene, we’ve got Meredith’s voiceover and a song with some pretty noteworthy lyrics playing (“Further” by Correatown). First, the voiceover: “We face our greatest fears. For better or worse, we find ways to become more than our biology. The risk, of course, is that we can change too much – to the point we don’t recognize ourselves. Finding our way back can be difficult. There’s no compass, no map. We just have to close our eyes, take a step, and hope to God we’ll get there.” Cristina can’t recognize herself right now because she’s never not been sure about wanting to be a brilliant surgeon. In her traumatized state, she is not clear whether she wants it anymore. But change isn’t always a bad thing, and she has this opportunity to experience life without her previous, single-minded focus on furthering her career. And you know what? She’s learning that surgery isn’t everything. Yes, it brings her happiness, but being with Owen brings her happiness, too. Owen’s insistence that “people do matter” is proving true. He matters to her, so she holds onto him.
Second, the singer repeats: “We have so much love/But we need so much more.” Cristina and Owen do have so much love. We can clearly see it. But for Cristina’s life to be whole, she needs to find her love for surgery again because it’s such a huge part of who she is. And Owen is going to play a vital role in helping her find her way; I can foresee that now. Kevin McKidd promised that Owen would be extremely supportive of Cristina this season, and his words are definitely coming into fruition. He’s been taking care of her in these past few episodes, beginning with their first scene together of this season when he proposes and promises that she would never have to be alone again. And then coming after her when she runs off to Meredith’s and reiterating that promise to never go anywhere without her. And spending all night at home so that she can sleep and not feel afraid. It’s going a long way in making me forget the snafus of season six, and I’m hoping that the writers continue to write Cristina and Owen in the way they have been so far this season.
Next week, it seems like Cristina is going to have a difficult time with the training exercise of being the attendings for the day. I don’t know if we’ll get a Cristina and Owen scene; but if we get just one moment of him being there for her (especially since Cristina will need it), I’ll be over the moon. (Although, I’m still floating pretty high up here on cloud nine, so I don’t think it’d be too high of a jump.)
So, readers, how long do you think it’ll take for Cristina and Owen to move into their new home? Who will be the first one to slide down the fireman’s pole? And what did you think the worm patient’s moral of the day mean for Cristina (and Owen)? Let me know in the comments section!