"I Am a Tree"
Written by Krista Vernoff; directed by Jeff Melman

Meredith voices over about neurons firing in our brains and how we don’t have control over many of them. Meredith and Derek are in an elevator together at a hospital, standing very close together. Meredith voices over that our bodies follow their impulses, which makes it harder for people to control their impulses. In the kitchen at home, Izzie has made a ton of muffins and tells herself to stop. She doesn’t listen. Cristina stops by Burke’s hospital room and strips down to her underwear, then climbs on top of him. His parents, Mama (Diahann Carroll) and Mr. Burke, choose that moment to walk in. “Is this a new service the hospital is providing?” Mama asks. Cristina hurries out of the room and blasts Tyler the scrub nurse for not watching the door like he promised. He tells her that he was called away to a code. She asks him to return the $20 she gave him, but he’s already spent it buying coffee for the code team to celebrate saving a life. Meredith overhears (telling Cristina that everyone knows what happened) and calls her a “dirty, dirty stripper.” Cristina tells her she’s one to talk, since she’s sleeping with two men. Meredith argues that she isn’t sleeping with Derek or Finn until she chooses which one she wants to be with. If she hasn’t made up her mind by the end of the day, she’s going to just flip a coin. “Oh, and somehow I’m the dirty stripper,” Cristina replies. Bailey approaches and asks, “You two have time to round, or are you too busy getting naked on hospital property?”

A badly dressed Addison stops by Webber’s office (where he spent the night) and asks if she can have the day off to drink. She has no mothers to take care of today, and she thinks it’s because God knows she needs a day off to drink. Webber asks if she wants to talk or keep being glib. Addison asks why he’s staying in his office, and he tells her that marriage is hard. In that case, she’s glad hers is basically over. The interns’ first patient is Ms. Seabury, who, despite being scheduled for surgery for lung cancer that afternoon, is happily eating a bunch of cakes in bed. She’d like to push the surgery back a day, but Bailey reminds her that her cancer is very aggressive and surgery is her best chance of beating it. Ms. Seabury giggles over the irony of getting lung cancer when not only has she never smoked a cigarette, she’s also never drunk alcohol and hasn’t had any desserts for ten years. Outside the room, Bailey tells George to push back the surgery, get Ms. Seabury a psych consult, and make sure she doesn’t receive any more food deliveries. The interns then band together to ask Bailey to talk to Webber about Izzie, who is currently baking up a storm rather than using her skills as a surgeon. Bailey tells them all to stop talking. The interns’ next patient is Benjamin, who is about to undergo brain surgery for a tumor that affects his impulse control and makes him say everything he thinks. His sister Ruth is often the focus of his rants. Benjamin says Cristina looks “pinched and annoyed,” then asks Derek if Meredith is his girlfriend.

In the hallway, Bailey tells the interns that she’s proud of them and that they reflect on her well. She asks Meredith to keep her clothes on long enough to take care of Benjamin’s labs, then sends Alex to the pit, relieving him of working with Addison, since she has the day off. Before Bailey can continue, she spots Meredith’s panties on the bulletin board (see “Time Has Come Today”) and demands to know where they came from. She’s pretty sure they’re either Meredith or Cristina’s, but Callie, seeing how horrified the two are, claims them as hers. Bailey gives the interns their assignments, warning them not to make her regret letting them loose in the hospital. George interprets this to mean, “Check with you before we cut any wires or steal any hearts.” After Bailey walks off, Cristina notes that the Nazi is back. Too bad she says this just as Mama approaches. She lectures Cristina about being glib with the term “Nazi,” and instead of telling Mama that she’s actually Jewish, Cristina says that she’ll be more careful in the future. She’s almost saved when Derek comes over to meet Mama, but Mama wants to borrow Cristina and have a cup of coffee with her. Derek says Meredith can cover for Cristina, and Cristina tries to protest that Meredith has to do charts for Bailey, who’s “on the warpath. Oh, not a German warpath. It’s a hospital warpath.” In the end, Cristina has no choice but to agree to have coffee with Mama.

Meredith and Derek meet up in an exam room and she reminds him that he’s married but told her he loves her. Normally she would like hearing that and wound find the bulletin-board thing funny (he doesn’t know what she’s talking about), but since Derek is married, that means Meredith is a homewrecker. He reminds her that he doesn’t want to pressure her, then tells her that no matter what she decides, he’s going to end things with Addison today. His home was already wrecked before Meredith came into the picture, but now he’s not going to try to fix it anymore. The two are about to kiss when they’re once again interrupted by Callie. Derek runs out and Callie returns Meredith’s panties to her, suggesting that the two of them get a hotel room. Cristina rushes to Burke’s room and tells him that Mama wants to have coffee with her. She laments that Mama thinks she’s a racist stripper, which cracks Burke up. He thinks Cristina will love Mama when she gets to know her, since everyone loves Mama. Cristina orders Burke to save her from this, and after she leaves, Burke and his father share a laugh. Derek stops by Webber’s office and asks if he’s seen Addison. Webber replies that Addison asked for the day off because of something having to do with someone’s panties in Derek’s jacket. He chastises Derek for letting Addison find them, noting that he knows a thing or two about affairs, including affairs with women named Grey. Derek replies that Meredith isn’t an affair - he and Addison are over and he’s going to end it.

Meredith draws blood from Benjamin, who tells Ruth that he doesn’t think he wants the surgery after all. She tells him he has to have it. Benjamin tells Meredith she’s pretty but looks tired and may want to change her hair conditioner. Ruth tells Benjamin he’s being rude (the tumor prevents him from realizing that), but Meredith says he’s right, and it’s refreshing. Benjamin asks if she’s slept with Derek, but Meredith says she hasn’t - at least not today. “I would,” Benjamin says. “He’s hot, and arrogant, in a way that’s still sexy. I would totally have sex with him if I could. Looks like you could. So what’s the hold-up?” George finds Camille and stands very close to her, and though she thinks he’s trying to seduce her, he really just wants to know about the panties. He’s wondering how she has panties that he’s never seen that wound up on the board. Callie correctly guesses that he’s jealous. Before George can deny it too much, he’s distracted by Ms. Seabury racing someone in wheelchairs. After he runs off after them, Meredith promises Callie that she’ll tell George the truth, but Callie would rather have a little fun with jealous George. On the way to greet a patient coming in via ambulance, Alex asks Callie how she and George wound up together, and Callie responds by asking how Alex got to be a surgeon. Bailey admonishes Alex not to ask Callie about her personal life since she outranks him. Alex turns on her, asking her why she won’t talk to Izzie.

The patient arrives, and he’s a 14-year-old boy named Marley who was street lugeing, hit a car, and landed on a pile of tree trimmings. He is now impaled by part of a tree. His father, Mr. Hernandez, has little sympathy and blames his son for being an idiot. He’s in the way of the gurney, so Alex shoves him into a wall, leaving Mr. Hernandez with a bloody nose. Bailey yells at Alex for pushing someone and warns that he’ll never get physical with a patient on her watch ever again. He will also not question her authority or defend his “girlfriend” for killing a man. All Alex replies is, “She’s not my girlfriend.” Mama and Cristina have coffee together and Mama brags that Burke was at the top of his class at Tulane. Cristina mentions that she herself was at the top of her class at Stanford. Mama asks if she’s planning to pursue something less time-consuming than surgery after she and Burke are married. She’s sure Cristina will want to marry Burke, adding that he’s the best thing she’s ever done in her life and the most important thing to her. Burke saves Cristina by showing up and giving his mother a chance to berate him for being out of bed. After he leaves to get a chair, Mama blasts Cristina for being selfish and getting Burke out of bed to come save her from discomfort. She thinks that Burke and Cristina won’t last much longer because Cristina is selfish and Burke is giving, which is a bad combination.

Marley undergoes surgery as Cristina, Meredith, George, and a bunch of other people watch from the gallery. George is fascinated by the operation, which is happening around the tree, but Cristina just wants to complain about Mama, who she says rivals her own mother (see “Deny, Deny, Deny”). Meredith misses the old Cristina, who was less angry. Cristina vows to call Mama sexist the next time she looks at her wrong. Meredith encourages her to tell the truth, since she now thinks everyone should follow his or her instincts. Cristina misses the old Meredith, who was trashier and less idyllic. George asks if most women have two sets of panties, but the women ignore him as Meredith announces that she’s made up her mind - she’s going to be with Derek. Cristina just wants Benjamin back, which is fine with Meredith, since it’s her day to go home and check on Izzie. George is paged to see Ms. Seabury, who was caught stealing chocolates from the hospital gift shop and is now planning to leave the hospital. George tries to stop her, but Ms. Seabury doesn’t like that she only has a 60 percent chance of recovering. She’s been repressed and stifled her whole life and now wants to claim it rather than lie around in a hospital bed. Even though this means she’ll die, at least she’ll have lived first.

Meredith arrives at home and finds the kitchen full of muffins but no Izzie in sight. Finn arrives, having brought lunch for Izzie, since food was the only thing that really helped him after he lost his wife. Suddenly Meredith doesn’t seem to think that breaking up with him is a good idea after all. Finn says that he doesn’t want to pressure her about making a decision, but he wants to make it clear that he’s not that sensitive. He then kisses her, making her decision even harder. At the hospital, Bailey ducks out of surgery long enough to tell Mr. Hernandez that despite some major injuries, Marley is still alive. Izzie takes baskets of muffins to Joe at the ECB and he gently accepts them. A drunk Addison arrives and asks if Izzie knew about “the slutty sex [her] slutty friend had with [her] super slutty husband.” Izzie suggests that she have a muffin, but Addison thinks she’s beyond help. She takes one anyway as Izzie tells Joe not to let Addison drive. As Cristina looks on from outside the room, Mama and Burke chat happily. Meredith arrives (with muffins) and Cristina complains that Mama is always around. Meredith tells her about Finn bringing Izzie lunch, which means he’s a better guy than she thought, which means now she wants to end things with Derek. Cristina wants to focus on herself, even as she says that she’s not selfish. Meredith spots George flirting with a nurse and he tells her that he’s young and has a life to live. She figures he’s still jealous.

In his room, Benjamin asks Cristina over and over if she has a boyfriend until she answers that she does. He tells her that if he had a boyfriend, he wouldn’t be as angry as Cristina is. She complains that her boyfriend’s mother called her selfish, and Benjamin asks if it’s true, since she does seem a little self-obsessed. Cristina replies that surgeons have to be self-obsessed to a point, and Burke gets that, though Mama doesn’t. Benjamin says that he had a boyfriend who stayed with him even after he was diagnosed with his tumor, but his boyfriend’s mother wasn’t happening because Benjamin’s honesty offended her. Eventually, his boyfriend left him and now only Ruth is with him. Later, Cristina and Derek scrub in for Benjamin’s surgery as Cristina asks if his personality will go back to normal after the tumor is removed. Derek is only concerned about him surviving the surgery; if he regains his personality, that’s just a bonus. As Benjamin’s surgery begins, Marley’s continues and Alex takes more potshots at Bailey for ignoring Izzie. While the doctors start removing the tree from Marley, both surgeries start to go downhill. Later, at the ECB, a drunken, muffin-eating Addison tells Bailey that she’s decided to just get fat until she decides what to do next. Then she gets sad over the idea of her marriage ending because of a pair of panties. Joe tells her the cab she told him to call at 10 is there. Also in the bar, Ms. Seabury tries a bunch of different drinks and flirts a little with an amused Alex.

Elsewhere in the ECB, George plays darts while making eyes at a woman he almost impales with one. Meredith tells him that Callie is so hot she’s “almost dirty hot” and he should go find her and have some sex. As he runs off to oblige, Cristina arrives and complains that while George gets to have sex, she can’t get five minutes alone with Burke. Meredith announces that since the day is over, she’s going to flip a coin. She does so, but Cristina doesn’t think she should make such a big decision like this. Meredith wants to be more like Benjamin and follows her impulses. Cristina informs her that Benjamin didn’t survive his surgery. He also wasn’t impulsive - he was sick and brain damaged. Meredith puts her coin away. Bailey spots Mr. Hernandez drinking at the bar and reminds him that Marley is going to be okay. Mr. Hernandez laments letting his son go off with friends and not stopping him from doing something so dangerous. He says that as parents, it’s their job to control their kids. Before his divorce, he never would have bought Marley his luge or go off on his own - he went soft when Marley needed him to be a father. Ms. Seabury tells Alex that she wishes she’d been sluttier when she was younger because she never had any fun. Her ex-husband had lots of fun with other women, and she wonders why men can do that and not be called sluts. After determining that Alex is single, Ms. Seabury tells him she’s going to the bathroom and he’s free to join her and help with “fulfilling the wish of a potentially dying woman.” He takes her up on the offer.

In her basement lair, Callie dances around in her underwear and is caught by Webber. Back at the ECB, Finn and Derek join Meredith, who tells them she likes them both. She thought she had a decision to make, but now she thinks she should take some time to consider her options. She wants to date both guys for a while, and she hopes they’re both okay with that. After Meredith walks away, Finn and Derek note that they’re still up for the challenge. Callie and Webber have coffee in her lair and he tells her that he respects her decision to live in the hospital, since it means her job means a lot to her. However, he can’t let her do it anymore because it breaks too many rules. Callie replies that she has to leave but he’s allowed to spend the night in his office. He tells her that he’ll follow his own rules and throw himself out as well. George chooses this moment to arrive with flowers and talk about jealousy and panties. He gets the wrong idea about Callie and Webber and quickly leaves. At the ECB, Ms. Seabury emerges from the bathroom and tells Joe she’s heading back to the hospital to beat her cancer. Alex emerges soon after, also very happy. He runs into Bailey and tells her that she was right - he shouldn’t be getting physical with patients. As Meredith voices over more about bodies being slaves to impulses, Cristina goes back to Burke’s room, where he’s telling his mother that he’s not sure his hand will get better. As Meredith says that what we can control makes us human, Cristina tells Burke and Mama that she just wanted to see if they needed anything before she headed home. “Hang in there,” Burke’s father tells her as she leaves.

Callie finds George outside the hospital and tells him that the panties on the board weren’t hers. She adds that he’s very hot when he’s jealous. He notices her suitcase and asks her why she has it. Meredith voices over that after the moment has passed, when can clean up our messes. Meredith, George, and Callie arrive at home to find Izzie making even more muffins. She tells them to leave her alone, then sees that Bailey is with them. As the others leave, Bailey tells Izzie that she went soft after she had her son, even though she swore she wouldn’t. She stopped teaching the interns, but they were at the point where they needed a teacher the most. Izzie says that Bailey couldn’t have stopped her, but Bailey disagrees - Izzie couldn’t have stopped herself, but Bailey could have stopped her. She’s partly to blame for what happened with Denny because she went soft. She wants Izzie to come back to the hospital and talk to Webber about getting her job back. “Enough muffins,” Bailey announces, taking Izzie’s spoon away from her. While Meredith voices over about letting go of what was, Derek goes to the hotel room where Addison is staying and apologizes for the panty fiasco, telling her she deserves better. “Our marriage is over,” he says, admitting that it’s his fault and it’s sad. Addison is probably not that sad, since it appears that she’s just had a romp in the sack with the man in her bathroom: Mark (see “Yesterday”). Derek takes a sip of Addison’s champagne and remarks, “I feel much better now.”


THE TITLE IS A SONG BY…: Guided by Voices

MEMORABLE QUOTES: Cristina: “I told you to guard the door.”
Tyler: “I had a code blue.”
Cristina: “I had parents walk in.”
Tyler: “We saved the guy’s life.”
Cristina: “Whatever. I want my 20 bucks back.”
Tyler: “Sorry. It bought everyone coffee to celebrate saving the guy’s life.”
Cristina: “I want my 20 bucks back!”
Meredith: “You know it’s not Tyler’s fault you’re a dirty, dirty stripper.”

Alex: “So, you and O’Malley, huh? How’d that happen?”
Callie: “I don’t know. You’re a surgeon, how’d that happen?”

“I miss dirty stripper Cristina. She was fun. A lot less angry.” - Meredith

“I miss philandering whore Meredith. She was trashy and much less idyllic.” - Cristina

“I - I took off all my clothes this morning. That’s not selfish.” - Cristina

Addison: “Joe, I’m desirable, right?”
Joe: “I have a boyfriend.”

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