Grey's Anatomy is one of those shows that balances emotion with humour, and 'Heart-Shaped Box' is a good example of when that works. It was a bit more plot-focused than the last couple of episodes, and ended on a horrible moment, but still kept things zippy and threw in plenty of moments to smile at.
We open with Meredith worrying about talking to the judge about Zola - and Derek distracting her with sex. After all, all they can do is speak from the heart, right? And that's the only introductory bit we really get - we're straight to the hospital after that.
Cristina and Teddy are involved in a "freaking cool" operation - they're removing a heart and keeping it beating in a box. Not like a transplant where you stick it on ice and hope for the best, oh no. It's actually still beating. It's all a little weird, but Teddy and Cristina seem impressed - as does Henry, who's watching from the gallery. But the guy that was supposed to get the heart dies before they can get it to him. The heart's "all dressed up, no place to go", as Cristina says.
All is not lost, though - Teddy's found a transplant patient, but it'll be a few hours before they arrive, so Cristina will have to babysit the heart. In the meantime, she can figure out which surgeries she wants to put on her wish list. Cristina's struggling with that, actually - she wants to do everything! How could she pick? But Webber shows up to marvel at the heart and starts spouting annoyingly vague things like the heart is the "key" and Cristina needs to "unlock your mind". I'm with Cristina: "What are you talking about?"
Elsewhere, Bailey announces that Meredith is going to be looking after a very special patient today, and she wants to be kept updated at all times. Who's the patient, I hear you cry? Well, it's none other than George O'Malley's mother Louise, who's thrilled to see Meredith. She just had surgery at another hospital (because of all the problems her family has had with Seattle Grace - ouch), but she's not so well. Meredith promises to look after her, but to be honest, Louise is more excited that Meredith's all grown up and her doctor.
You know what Grey's Anatomy is really good at? Awkward scenes. And we get a cracker when Callie runs into Meredith and Louise. It's all insanely cringeworthy, especially when Callie introduces her wife Arizona as, um, "Dr. Robbins." Ouch. But when Callie goes to apologise to Arizona, she discovers that her spouse is ridiculously cool and doesn't mind that Callie's not coming out to her "dead ex-husband's super-Catholic mum". Phew.
Later, Cristina is still trying to write her list, but the talk is all about George. Alex asks why they're talking about "that creep" but is soon admonished - and ends up being laughed at as the doctors remember the "heart in the elevator" incident. Embarrassing. But it's also helpful for Cristina, who suddenly has a flash of inspiration. Heart in a box! Heart in an elevator! Webber is a genius! No-one knows what she's talking about, but she seems happy.
In fact, she's soon reading out surgeries from her list to the heart and either crossing them off or keeping them. When Jackson arrives, she explains that this heart is a miracle - how on Earth is it beating outside the body? And once you see the miracle, you change your perspective. Turns out if a surgery is half as cool as this she'll keep it on the list - otherwise, it's not worth her time. And when Webber stops by later, he's definitely impressed with her new selections. He's even made a list of his own. Cute, right?
But let's head back to Meredith, who's figured out that doctors at another hospital botched Louise's surgery. Bailey's still annoyed with her, though, so instead of congratulating her she starts having a go at Meredith. Rude. Anyway, Meredith goes to prep Louise, but discovers that she's more interested in why Callie was wearing a wedding ring. Meredith admits that Callie has remarried, and seems happy, but leaves out the whole "being wed to a woman" thing. So Louise continues talking about how proud she is of all of them, and asks if Meredith will perform her surgery.
Out in the hall, Meredith runs into Callie and explains that she had to say Callie had remarried. And she adds something else, too - she thinks Callie should be there holding Louise's hand when she wakes up. Then it's time for the surgery, but Bailey says she's not comfortable with that. Still, Meredith's good at the old guilt trip, and after talking about how useless she feels when it comes to Zola's court hearing, Bailey agrees to let her take charge.
In fact, when they get in the OR, Bailey begins talking about how you raise children to do the right thing but watching them destroy themselves to do it is maddening. She's talking about George, but really she's talking about Meredith, of course. And then she advises Meredith on what to wear to court. See? They're friends really.
The surgery's a success, and when Louise wakes up, Callie's there holding her hand. But after saying everything went well, she immediately starts burbling that she's married a woman and has a baby. Sara Ramirez is great at doing awkward, and this is perfect - she can't stop talking. Soon, she realises she's making Louise cry... but they're happy tears! Louise is thrilled that Callie's a mum and asks to see a picture. The pair end up weeping together, and if you didn't join in you have a heart of STONE.
What else is going on in the episode? Well, Lexie and Derek are treating a patient, Justine (played by the magnificent Alfre Woodard). Justine has some aneurysms, but she's refusing to go into surgery until she's finished her novel. She has her readers to think about, after all.
Meanwhile, Derek has come up with a plan - he's going to look for patients who have been turned down for treatment and help them out. He's all about the word "yes" now. Lexie's very excited, but when she reveals that Justine is planning to leave the hospital, Derek is not so impressed. He announces that Lexie has to get her to say yes to surgery - otherwise, she won't be able to help out with the other patients.
She goes to see Justine and tries to persuade her to agree to surgery, but Justine explains that she has to give her readers closure. If Lexie really wants to help, she can type the novel while Justine dictates. And, of course, it's not long before Lexie is poring over the previous books in the series and getting far too involved.
Derek is not impressed that Lexie is spending all her time typing (or "hosting a book club", as he puts it), but she's adamant that this is the best plan. So Justine carries on dictating, but soon Lexie interrupts - she doesn't think Justine's heroine is choosing the right man. As they argue, though, it all goes wrong - one of Justine's aneurysms blows and she's rushed to surgery.
Derek is furious, of course - they could have avoided this. And anyway, what business is it of Lexie's how Justine finishes her book? But Lexie points out that Derek is doing exactly the same thing by hoping to change the story of hopeless patients. Clever line, Lexie. Derek, by the way, is not going to give up on his "hopeless patients" plan, even though Owen is nervous about it (and Derek's mortality rates). He explains that he thinks he can change their story and he owes it to them to try. Owen thinks that's arrogant - Derek says he has a reputation for that...
Lexie's arguing about the romantic interests in Justine's book, of course, because things with Jackson aren't too great. Yes, she's in her own little love triangle, and Jackson's noticed her longing glances at Mark. In fact, he's gone all cold on her - and on Mark.
Mark's planning to do a really exciting surgery with Jackson, but Jackson hands it over to Alex instead - he can't be with Mark. Mark's upset that Jackson broke up the "plastics posse" (yes, really) but Jackson unconvincingly claims that he's too busy with a paper. Mark's not fooled, though, and goes to ask Derek for advice - he thinks he's losing Jackson. Unfortunately for Mark, this just turns into an opportunity for Derek to relentlessly mock his friend - it sounds like Mark and Jackson are dating! Tee hee!
Jackson's struggling, too - he goes to watch Mark's exciting surgery from the gallery. Webber leans over, kind of creepily, and tells him he's a fool. He's lost! He's adrift! You know what he needs? He needs to see a heart in a box. So Jackson goes to look at it, and sure enough, he has an epiphany...
He goes to see Lexie and explains that he missed a surgery he was excited about because of Lexie and Mark - their thing isn't going anywhere any time soon. And he's not going to give up on plastics. So something has to budge - and it's Lexie. Jackson announces that he's breaking up with her, and asks if there's any reason why he shouldn't pick Mark over her. And, naturally, Lexie remains silent. Jackson's okay, though - he goes for a cute little make-up session with Mark (awkward handshake and everything).
Lexie takes it harder, and when she goes to check up on Justine she asks how her heroine could end up with one guy over the other. Justine explains that the heroine isn't in love with the right man - she has to choose the other. Lexie begins sobbing that she should love the right man, and Justine - who's just had brain surgery, for goodness' sake - has to comfort her. She offers to dictate more of the novel, and Lexie nods pathetically.
What else is going on? Well, Alex is nervous when Polly Preston - one of April's, like, IDOLS - comes to Seattle Grace. Turns out she's applying for a paeds fellowship, and Alex is soon staring jealously at her as she eats lunch and giggles with Arizona. But that night in the bar, Alex hears Polly complaining about her day on the phone - turns out Arizona just kept going on about some guy who saved kids in Africa. Alex's smug smile? Kind of amazing. Oh, and he also admits that George wasn't a creep at all - but talking about him reminds him of Izzie. Sad.
But that shockingly emotional ending that I mentioned earlier? It surprisingly came from one of the smaller storylines in the episode - Henry and Teddy. Henry's inspired when he sees Teddy carrying out surgery, and after they have an "intimate moment" in the on call room, he reveals he's thinking about going to medical school. Yeah, Teddy doesn't look too impressed.
In fact, when he brings it up again later, she ends up complaining that he's just decided to do this all of a sudden, and anyway, she doesn't want to spend ten years married to a medical student. Henry's annoyed that she just wants him to follow her around looking cute and explains that he's got his life back - he doesn't want to waste it.
Anyway, it's all left a bit acrimonious, so when Teddy gets home she wants to make up. She finds Henry in the kitchen and asks if that was their first real fight. But soon she notices that Henry's being sick in the sink - and when he turns round, it's clear he's throwing up blood. Teddy is terrified, you can tell, but she stares at him and tells him he's going to be okay. It was a surprising ending... and I, for one, am waiting to see if Teddy's right. Will Henry be okay?
What did you think of the episode? Leave your comments below!