“Grey’s Anatomy mini-cap: “What a Difference a Day Makes”

This is Grey’s Anatomy‘s 100th episode. After years of hook-ups, break-ups, pining, fighting, quips, angst, and an endless parade of faceless patients with life-threatening illnesses, gaping wounds, and one, literally, without a face — the show has decided to mark its centennial installment by closing the loop on the fitful love lives of those kooky doctors at Seattle Grace. For now. No one’s allowed more that two weeks’ worth of happy. It’s in the TV writer’s handbook.

Izzie may be on death’s doorstep with a brain like Swiss cheese, but she still has enough of her faculties to muse about the auspicious moments in life: the big days, and the small days that turn out to be big ones. Those are the best days. Like the day you realized the real reason you liked that popular girl so, so much.

Cristina finds Callie drooling on a couch in the residents’ lounge.

Nice socks.

Cristina’s annoyed because she also slept in the hospital, thinking Callie and Arizona wanted some apartment privacy. Callie says the date didn’t go as planned, so, no, there were no embarrassing moans or cries of, “talk dirty in Spanish, baby,” to overhear.

Meredith arrives at work, all chipper and peppy. Cristina attempts to be chipper and peppy, too, in that super annoying way maids of honor have been known to do. Every cell in Cristina’s cynical body is against it, so she’s relieved when Meredith tells her to drop the act — she’s not Bridezilla; Izzie is.

Izzie is giddy as all get out about the ceremony, the flower arrangements, the cocktail hour and the ice sculpture. Meredith says she’s happy about the marriage, not the wedding. But just in case the bride is actually masking her wedding jitters with phony upbeat calm, Cristina offer to shave off Meredith’s eyebrows, as if that’s helpful. Straight women are weird.

In the ER, Callie and the others have their hands full when a carload of seriously injured college kids arrive by ambulance, after being flattened by a truck on their way to graduation. Callie’s running the show, directing the gurneys here and there, assigning George, Lexie and Alex to patients, and screaming for Owen, who’s nowhere to be found. I love a woman who takes charge.

Actually, Owen is upstairs with Cristina, telling her that the ceiling fan in her bedroom makes him want to choke her because the blades remind him of helicopters. I’d choke someone, too, except I’ve never been in combat. I just hate ceiling fans.

Callie is up to her blinding white eye teeth in blood and guts when Arizona bops by to talk about last night. Oblivious to the chaos swirling around them, Arizona wants to know why Callie didn’t seem to enjoy dining at Seattle’s most exclusive restaurant, and how come they didn’t end the evening all naked and sweaty? Callie doesn’t have time to process because people are coding all over the place, but this doesn’t seem to compute with an anxious Arizona. Apparently, the concept of Life and Death is relative to a lesbian after one bad date.

Upstairs, Izzie has a date with an MRI scanner after telling Derek she still sees dead people — Denny is back and we all know what that means. No, not weird hallucinogenic sex. It means there’s still a tumor hiding somewhere in her brain.

Elsewhere, Meredith has a date with a colon. Fun! The Chief tells her she’s getting a wedding gift from Derek for the girl who has everything: her first solo surgery. Anyone can buy flowers. A few might lavish you with fancy clothes and trips. Some might be handy and build you something special.

But if you find someone who gifts you with diseased organs, that’s the one you should marry. If you’re me.

Meredith is psyched, until she realized the Chief is going to watch. He’s the worst kind of backseat surgeon: a cheerleader who second-guesses you while breathing down the back of your neck with his stinky old man breath.

David, one of the college kids, doesn’t make it. After George and Lexie try too long to save him, Owen tells them to call it and move on; reminding them that running a trauma is about knowing when to do what, and how to get the most out of your time. Meanwhile, the class valedictorian is crying because she never did sleep with David, the guy she could have fallen for.

“I was going to do school, and then I was going to do life,” she says to Alex, “I should have had sex with David when I had the chance.”

If life is what happens while you’re busy making plans, then sex is what happens while you’re busy making the Dean’s List. Thankfully, this was not my problem in college. Mine was more the opposite. Who’s sorry now, smarty-pants?

Arizona tries to talk to Callie yet again. She can’t let it go (she’s gay) and wants to know what’s wrong with their relationship (she’s a lesbian).

Arizona: You said you were tired, exhausted. But you can’t be that exhausted if you’re working in the ER on your day off.
Callie: I rallied.
Arizona: You rallied.
Callie: Yeah.
Arizona: You’re lying.
Callie: No, I’m, not lying. I love the ER. [the phone rings] Can you hold please?
Arizona: You love the ER?
Callie: Mm hmm. Can’t enough of it. It’s fun.

Callie won’t even look at her. Arizona walks away, exasperated.

Mark: You should tell her.
Callie: Suck it, Mark.

One by one, the college kids drop like flies: one bleeds out all over George’s shoes, Cristina loses one who never really had a chance, and one comes in D.O.A., evidenced by the fact you could use her abdomen as a punch bowl.

But none of that matters to Arizona, who swings around for a third time — a lesbian’s idea of mild curiosity. Callie rolls her eyes in that “Oh, it’s you again” way. Arizona starts to babble, Alice Pieszecki-style.

Arizona: So, the ER is fun, but I’m not? … But you can get enough of me? I mean, is that what you’re saying? I mean, do you just want to end this? Because there are women that are lining up for me. I’m hot. And if you want out, then you should just have the guts to say so. I can take it. Maybe this was just a fling that’s run its course. Maybe it’s over.

Callie says, “Maybe it is,” and sits down, her ears bleeding. Arizona is speechless. Guess she can’t take it after all.

If Arizona thinks that’s the bad news, then she hasn’t been over on the other side of the hospital, where Derek and Bailey have been monitoring Izzie’s head, and found the part of her brain that conjures up Denny. The tumor is in a bad neighborhood and Derek can’t go there: it’s inoperable.

In other bad news: all the college kids are dead, except for the valedictorian, which is good news for her, I suppose. It’s a half full-half empty kind of thing. Callie lies on a gurney, exhausted from working and more so, having Arizona stop by every 15 minutes to harangue her about their relationship.

Right on time, Arizona is back for Round 4. Having had all day to obsess about things, Arizona has convinced herself of the following: A) Callie ordered a salad at a fancy eatery, which clearly means she’s over the whole thing and is ready to sleep with other girl surgeons, and B) working in the ER is so much easier when you haven’t been up all night having sex so loudly, it drives your roommates away.

Finally, Callie snaps and tells her the truth. Since getting cut off by her dad, she can’t afford anything fun, let alone food for the month.

“I thought that last night would be the night, for us, ya know? Our night. But you wanted to go to a fancy restaurant and I can’t do that,” she says, defeated.

Arizona finally gets it. she offers to stay in and have sandwiches because even though she doesn’t like sandwiches, she likes “the girl who has the sandwiches.”

Aw. Turns out they both hate sandwiches and decide their relationship will be built on pizza. Anything based on crust, tomato sauce and cheese has a great chance at working out.

The day is over. Six kids died, but one lived. Good job, everyone! George feels like a failure, but Owen tells him it’s not about being a hero, it’s about being where you’re needed. Arizona now knows it’s not about being fancy, it’s about being together. and Meredith and Derek are as happy as can be, because they’ve decided to give Izzie and Alex their wedding, lock, stock and white poufy dress shaped like a barrel. Some people will do anything to avoid being the center of attention.

Never mind that all the guests are there for Meredith and Derek, Izzie glows as she walks down the aisle. With no vows written, Alex paraphrases the valedictorian’s commencement speech, telling Izzie today is the day he becomes accountable to someone other than himself, the day his life begins.

Afterwards, everyone forgoes the chicken or prime rib dinner, bad DJ, and open bar known as a wedding reception, and heads home. Cristina takes a hammer to her ceiling fan. Meredith and Derek celebrate not getting married by getting busy on the floor in front of a fire. Callie and Arizona eat naked pizza in bed. And Izzie shaves her head and tells Denny to beat it.

Sometimes, the big days really are big days.

Next week: It’s a two-hour season finale. Izzie starts hanging with other cancer patients while Mark and Lexie take it to the next level. Owen and George reassess their place at Seattle Grace. Bailey gets accepted as a pediatric fellow, but she’s not as happy as she should be.