"Break on Through"
Written by Zoanne Clack; directed by David Paymer

Meredith’s voiceover of the week is all about crossing the line. George and Izzie arrive at Seattle Grace to find the nurses picketing (see “Tell Me Sweet Little Lies”) and refusing to go back to work until they have fair wages and fair hours. Izzie says that she and George need to cross the picket line because they took an oath to help people, but George says that his mom is a teacher and his dad is a truck driver, and they would be horrified if they knew he’d crossed a picket line. Cristina arrives, wondering if any blood has been shed yet, and agrees with Izzie about going inside. She heads in first, trying not to care when the nurses throw things at her. Izzie follows her, hurling insults at Olivia along the way. George decides to stay put. As Meredith voices over that you cross the line at your own risk, she visits Ellis at the nursing home and learns that Webber has been visiting as well. In fact, Webber is there right now, reminiscing with Ellis, who declares that one day she’ll be the first female chief of surgery. Meredith wonders in voiceover why the bigger lines are always more tempting to cross. As Patricia tries to get the temp nurses on the same page, Derek and Burke complain about the situation to each other, then to Webber. Webber tells them that they need an additional $2 million a year to pay for the necessary new nurses.

Alex, Izzie, and Cristina wait to meet their substitute resident, wondering who will be replacing Bailey while she’s out on maternity leave (see “Tell Me Sweet Little Lies”). They’re not thrilled to learn that the replacement is Sydney Heron (Kali Rocha, AKA Halfrek), who likes hugs and is basically the antithesis of Bailey. Cristina informs her that George is missing because he’s with the picketers, but Sydney likes that he’s standing up for what he believes in. As the interns head off for their various assignments, Addison approaches Izzie and asks her to join her. Despite still being upset about what happened in “Owner of a Lonely Heart”, Izzie is thrilled to go with her because it means getting away from Sydney. In the pit, Alex and Cristina meet their patient, Claire, who has a rash but doesn’t want to stop making out with her new husband. Meredith is walking down a hall when she hears an older woman named Grace call out for someone named Lenny. Meredith goes in to check on her and calls for a nurse when Grace has trouble breathing. On the picket line, Olivia tells George that he can go inside if he wants, but George doesn’t want to leave, even if it means he could lose his place in the intern program. He even picks up a sign, which reads, “Proud to be a nurse.”

A temp nurse named Angela joins Meredith but isn’t much help. Meredith manages to stabilize the patient anyway. Izzie and Addison’s patient is a teenaged girl named Cheyenne who is pregnant with a baby who has a mass on its neck. The mass is obstructing her spine and airway, so Addison wants to perform an exit surgery - the baby is half delivered via C-section, the mass is removed while the umbilical cord still keeps the baby alive, and then the baby is delivered all the way. Cheyenne’s mother is worried about how much the procedure will cost, but Addison tells her that Cheyenne’s doctor at her clinic is a former student of hers, so they’ve got it all figured out. After Addison leaves, Izzie assures Cheyenne’s mother that the hospital gets to write off the surgery and the procedure makes Addison look good, so it’s not charity. Izzie is familiar with the location where Cheyenne’s mother works, and she encourages her to leave so she can get to work on time. Meredith finds Webber and tells him that she saw Ellis that morning; she doesn’t let on that she saw him with her. Cristina draws a line on Claire’s leg so they can see if the rash crosses it; if it doesn’t, she’ll just need IV antibiotics. If it does cross the line, she may need a muscle biopsy. Claire is worried because she and her husband, Wade, are supposed to run a 3K the next day. The also climbed Mt. Rainier the day before. Sydney is impressed. Alex thinks Claire just has a skin infection, but Cristina notices that the rash is already spreading over the line.

Meredith and Derek run into each other, and he assures her that Doc is fine (see “Tell Me Sweet Little Lies”). Addison joins them and encourages Meredith to come over and visit Doc. Meredith just walks away. On the picket line, Debbie, Olivia, and a scrub nurse named Tyler talk amongst themselves, then approach George to ask him to go inside and check on some of their patients, since they can’t. Cristina and Alex both want to probe Claire’s wound at Sydney’s suggestion, but it’s Alex who wins the honors when he butters Sydney up by saying he wants to try her method of “healing with love.” Sydney thinks Cristina needs to learn how to share. The examination turns up the fact that Claire has necrotizing fasciitis - flesh-eating bacteria. Patricia discovers that Meredith has intubated Grace and is about to tell her why that’s wrong when Grace’s friends Agnes, Eleanor, and Ruth show up to blast Meredith. It turns out that Grace has a DNR and wasn’t supposed to be resuscitated. The friends tell Meredith about Grace’s daughter Alice (a lesbian) and her sister Rose (who died of something they can’t remember). “May she rest in peace,” Ruth says of Grace’s late sisters, then her late husband Lenny. Agnes is upset that Grace can’t cross over and be with her husband because of Meredith. Webber spots George and tries to give him assignments, but George tells him he’s not really there (expressing over and over that he means no disrespect).

Cristina informs Wade that Claire’s leg is going to have to be amputated. Sydney speaks up that it’s not the only option, and Alex joins in, saying that they can try to cut out the infection. Of course, this means that Claire will have to give up her adventurous lifestyle. After they leave, Cristina asks Alex if he thinks this is a good idea. He tells her he thinks it’s a cooler operation. Addison, Derek, and Izzie talk to Cheyenne about her surgery, telling her that without complications, she should be able to take the baby home at the end of the week. Izzie sees that Cheyenne is reading Shakespeare for an English class, though now that the baby is coming early, she won’t be able to go to school anymore. Izzie asks what plans Cheyenne has made for the baby, but Cheyenne hasn’t solidified anything yet. She notes that nine months go fast, and Izzie agrees. During Claire’s surgery, Cristina questions Sydney and Alex’s decision, and Sydney tells her to try to be compassionate. She wonders why Cristina can’t be more like Alex, who’s fighting to save Claire’s leg. Cristina excuses herself and finds Burke, telling him that she thinks Sydney is killing Claire. Burke ducks into the OR but Sydney quickly figures out that he’s there to check up on her because Cristina tattled. She announces that she’s going to do everything she can to save Claire’s leg, but if she can’t, she’ll amputate it. She adds that while Cristina isn’t good with compassion, maybe she’ll get a chance to impress Sydney with her bone-saw skills.

Agnes, Ruth, and Eleanor talk to Webber about Grace, telling him that she really wants to be with Lenny. Meredith reminds them that if she takes out Grace’s breathing tube, she’ll die. That’s obviously the point, and they’re in favor. Webber says that they need someone with Grace’s power of attorney, so the friends tell him to call Alice. Too bad she’s in Oregon. Webber tells Meredith that if Alice shows up and confirms that Grace is DNR, Meredith has to kill her. George and the nurses gather at the ECB, where Cristina, Meredith, Izzie, and Alex are discussing Sydney and Grace. Izzie suddenly decides to go back to the hospital. Cristina doesn’t think it should be a problem that Meredith has to kill Grace because it’s what Grace wants, and basically Meredith will be performing an act of compassion. George asks Joe for another round, and Alex tells Joe to give “Nurse O’Malley” a drink on him. George overhears and fills the other nurses in. One retaliates by spilling a drink on Cristina. The two groups start fighting, even after Joe points out that if they all beat each other up, there won’t be anyone left to provide them with medical care. Finally Meredith pulls Cristina away, and George goes back to join the nurses, since they’re his ride.

Izzie goes back to see Cheyenne and tells her that she grew up in the same town where Cheyenne lives. She then pulls out a picture of a little girl and tells Cheyenne it’s her daughter, Hannah. She’s 11 and lives with her adoptive parents; Izzie got pregnant at 16 and wanted to give her a better life, so she gave Hannah up for adoption. Cheyenne says that she loves her baby, but Izzie points out that when she’s an adult and working as much as their mothers do, she won’t have time to read her baby Shakespeare. Cristina arrives home to find Burke playing a trumpet. She tells him that Claire’s leg wasn’t amputated and he blasts her for making him question a colleague in her OR. He never understood until now what the problem was with an intern dating an attending. The next morning, George ducks out of the picket line to give Meredith some notes on patients. He then tells Izzie that doctors rarely thank nurses, and many don’t even know their names. Alice and her girlfriend arrive and Meredith takes them to see Grace. Cheyenne’s mother shows up and blasts Izzie for encouraging Cheyenne to give her baby up. Izzie says she just talked to Cheyenne, but her mother thinks she crossed the line. She accuses Izzie of acting superior because she’s a doctor. Izzie replies that Cheyenne is capable of having more than her life says she can, and Izzie might just be right about the things she said to her.

Sydney visits Claire to let her know that she should be okay. Claire thanks her for saving her leg, giving Sydney an opportunity to tell Cristina she’s ready for her apology. Alice, her girlfriend, and Grace’s friends gather in Grace’s room to be with her when Meredith takes out her breathing tube. Webber offers to do the job for Meredith, but Meredith thinks she needs to undo what she did. Cristina finds Burke in a supply closet and tells him that Sydney wants her to apologize. Burke says that Cristina made him cross the line, then notes that it’s his fault, not hers - he’s supposed to be her teacher, but he responded to the situation like her boyfriend. Cristina says that she’s not used to being wrong. Burke tells her that she’s an intern, and second-guessing a resident isn’t her job. Meredith and Webber wait outside Grace’s room and Meredith finally announces that she saw Webber at the nursing home. She asks why he keeps it a secret, but he’s not sure. Meredith wonders if Ellis is lonely; Webber thinks she is. As Addison, Derek, and Izzie deliver Cheyenne’s baby, Grace finally passes away. “May she rest in peace,” says Ruth. Meredith hurries out of the room and into a closet, where she starts crying so hard she can barely breathe. Derek finds her there and she tells him that she doesn’t want Ellis to die alone. He holds her until she feels better, and though they look like they might kiss, they don’t.

Cheyenne asks Izzie if she ever wished she’d kept her baby. Izzie says no, adding that if Cheyenne wants to, she can name her baby. She herself named her daughter Sarah. Meredith tells Webber that she thinks he should keep visiting Ellis because she’s more alive when he’s around. Cristina prepares to apologize to Sydney, but Burke tells her she has to. Cristina finally does so and Sydney asks her if she wants to “hug it out.” Alex is amused and thinks she should go for it. Webber and Patricia watch the nurses picketing on TV and he wonders where he’ll get the money to hire more. Patricia notes that he’s been trying to get money for a surgery robot, and though it would bring in huge business, the hospital wouldn’t be able to handle that business without more nurses. As Meredith voices over that we can’t stop ourselves from crossing lines, the nurses celebrate their victory, Addison and Derek lie in bed together, and Izzie and Meredith get in bed with George. “We don’t know everything about each other,” Izzie says, but no one wants to talk. Meredith voices over that once you make it back over the line, “you find safety in numbers.” Since no one is talking, George asks if anyone wants to have sex.



MEMORABLE QUOTES: Olivia: “Change your own bed pan, Stevens!”
Izzie: “Yeah, enjoy your syphilis, Olivia!”

Webber: “That’s $2 million a year we don’t have.”
Derek: “Have you checked under the couch? I always find spare change under the cushions. Okay, I’m silencing myself.”

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