'Grey's Anatomy': Sorry seems to be the hardest word

Ellenpompeo_greysanatomy_s3_240 The line between standing up for ourselves and alienating everyone around us is a difficult one. But sometimes a person just has to take that chance if they're going to be who they are. Which sounds awfully existential for a television medical drama -- but it's definitely one of the main points of tonight's "Grey's Anatomy."

I'm putting the menu choices and the spoilers up on Meredith and Derek's wedding web site...


A child takes charge: Six-year-old Maddy has shot her father 17 times. Her mother insists she's sorry and didn't mean to hurt him. Then Maddy asks Meredith why her father won't die -- but before you worry we have a tiny sociopath here, the little girl was fighting back -- she was being abused, her mother was being abused, and she tried to stop it.

As her father heads into surgery, where Owen and George nearly lose him but for some miracle substance Owen pours into the wounds, Maddy's mother wants her to go and apologize to her father. Which is more than Meredith can take. No, she will not apologize -- she's stronger than you, and she stood up to him, Meredith says. Meredith is positively Doug Ross in this story, in addition to being a walking, talking advertisement for the effectiveness of therapy. It was almost thrilling, the same way it used to be to watch George Clooney take up arms to defend helpless kids on "ER" -- great stuff. The confrontation leaves everyone's mouths hanging open, and the Chief threatens to throw Meredith out because what she just did further abused a battered woman.

But he's using his Chief/Daddy tone, and Meredith calls BS, telling him he can't talk to her that way. She complains to Derek that the Chief won't respect the boundaries she's trying to set, and she doesn't want him at the wedding. Bless Derek, he sides with her and sets the Chief straight -- he may not be Meredith's father, but he behaves toward her like she's family, not an employee.

Jamespickens_greysanatomy_s3_240 After the mother learns her husband will survive, Meredith apologizes -- but pleads with her not to let this be her daughter's story. Her daughter's story shouldn't be that she shot her father 17 times to protect her mother -- who went back to him. You have to change your story while you still can, she says. In the end, the woman takes Maddy and tells her husband they're leaving.

But Meredith and the Chief have the most extraordinary scene. Earlier, he'd paged her and Lexie to his office to see their father, who's newly out of rehab, sober, and wants to make amends -- and she's rightfully upset. Finally Richard apologizes for the role he played -- and didn't play -- in her life. He saw how Ellis neglected Meredith and drove Thatcher away, and he didn't stand up for her. He let himself off the hook. But now he's genuinely sorry, and she forgives him. 

Izzie and her mom: Izzie's about to head in for surgery, and trying to be as normal as possible, until Sharon Lawrence breezes in, (looking great, by the way) playing the proverbial trashy mom and flirting with Alex. Izzie clearly loves her mother but finds her exasperating -- particularly when she calls her psychic to make sure Izzie will be OK. It boils down to the fact that she really doesn't understand Izzie's illness, and when Izzie tries to explain, the look of panic and anguish that crosses her face is real and wrenching.

Katherineheigl_greysanatomy_s3_240 Izzie goes for her scan, and tells Bailey that it's got to be good news or her mother will never leave. She also can't figure out who told her mother she was sick -- until Bailey cracks and admits she called. She's a great mom, Izzie says -- she's just...limited. Bailey comes back with the results, telling them how successful treatment has been. But Bailey's a terrible liar. Some of the mets have shrunk, but there are some new ones too. And despite that, she refuses to let Izzie give up, firmly declaring that she's going to operate and get out what she can, and they'll go from there.


The rest:
  • Up a tree: Callie and Mark's patient, "Willow," is an environmental activist who's been living up a tree until the developers bulldozed it, and she's broken every bone in her body. Her lawyer sister (Kelli Martin) has little patience for Willow's principled stand, but after Willow crashes and nearly dies, her sister files a $10 million lawsuit to go after the developers who consciously decided to bulldoze the tree her baby sister had been living in. Oh, and there's lots of discussion of a crap bucket.
  • Small talk: Cristina's enraged that Owen's manner toward her is matter of fact and that he's giving George all the good experience in surgery. Worse, she can't understand how he can say things like "Take care now" without even acknowledging what went on between them -- until he tells her that the lame series of niceities that he's been spouting are what he and his therapist agreed he should stick to. I still feel bad for Owen, but I think Kevin McKidd's struggle with his fragile state and his humanity is wonderful to watch.
  • Silent treatment: Callie's hurt and upset by her family's silence, having apparently taken her father's side. While both Cristina and Mark advise her to lie to them and say she and Arizona broke up, Callie just can't, and decides to live on her own terms.
  • Greys reconcile: After their scene in the Chief's office, Lexie forgives Thatcher, and over Mark's protests that he's too old (How old is Sloan supposed to be, anyway? Eric Dane's only in his mid-30s.) and that fathers don't like him, Lexie gets him to go out to dinner and meet her father.

What did you think? Did the Chief have it coming or what? Do you think Izzie did the right thing with her mom? Would you have chosen the chicken skewers for your wedding?