The Writer's Perspective: "Life During Wartime"

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Grey's Anatomy writer Mark Wilding, who authored last night's episode, has posted his thoughts on "Life During Wartime" on the writers' blog.

Here's what he had to say about Major Hunt, Anatomy Jane, pigs and more ...


First things first. No animals were harmed in the filming of "Life During Wartime."  None. I know ABC ran that thing before the show that told you that, but I figured you should hear it from me too. Those four pigs were entirely and utterly fake. Fake, fake, fake.

... I thought we were pretty evenhanded in dealing with the issue of animal testing. I heard from both sides as we were shooting the episode (boy, did I hear). Compelling arguments were made on BOTH sides - including one surgeon who told me that a day after learning to do open heart surgery on a pig, she used the same technique on a human being THE NEXT DAY. She told me point blank, without a doubt in her mind, that if she hadn’t learned that procedure there’s no way she would have saved that person’s life.

Hunt, Owen

At any rate, I thought it was a cool way to bring back Major Owen Hunt. 

Even if people at Seattle Grace were appalled by what he did, his goal in the wet lab was to teach people. And to teach them the best way he knows how.

Teaching, incidentally, is one of our major themes this year.

See one, do one, teach one. You want to move up from being the number 12 hospital in the country, you’ve gotta fight that fight on all fronts. Be it operating on pigs, hiring better doctors or doing a better job with the doctors who are already here.

Anyway, I think we came to understand Owen’s attitude toward the pigs at the end of the episode when he tells Cristina about losing all his army buddies in the RPG attack. If you’ve seen 19 of your friends die in one day, it tends to make other things in your life not seem quite as important or dramatic.

My wife really doesn’t care what Owen (Kevin McKidd) does or doesn’t do to pigs. She’s just glad to see him back at Seattle Grace. REALLY, REALLY GLAD. 

Much like Cristina, she just thinks he’s cool and sexy as hell (I’m not either of those things so I just make up lame excuses why she can’t visit the set and meet him - he’s a leper, he’s got TB, he’s allergic to blondes – whatever will keep her at bay). At any rate, he and Cristina make for a really interesting couple – even if he didn’t remember her name!

Speaking of names, I loved Meredith remembering the silly names she gave Anatomy Jane’s organs. But if unearthing Anatomy Jane brings out Meredith’s playful side, it does just the opposite for the Chief.

He, like Owen, is fighting his own set of demons.

Always lurking somewhere in the back of his mind is the fact that his behavior as a young man somehow destroyed Meredith’s life. She never had the army Tori Begler has.  She never had people looking out for her.

People who could protect her from life’s vicissitudes. So when that doll suddenly re-appears, so does the Chief’s guilt. I don’t know if that’s something he’ll ever be able to resolve because I don’t think those kinds of things are easily resolved, even in real life. There are some things you just can’t forgive yourself for.  In my wife’s case, it’s her attraction to Kevin McKidd.

I’m sure, at some point in her life, she’ll feel very, very guilty about that.

As for some of our other couples, I can never get enough of Izzie and Alex.  He’s trying to be a good boyfriend and going about it in a typical Alex way.  So that when Owen tells Derek and Mark that he wants to know what he did wrong with the scalp patient, Alex is all ears.

As well as he knows Izzie, in many ways she’s still a foreign country to him. She has different customs and ways. You can either dismiss those customs and ways or try to learn to do things differently.  In much the same way, Callie and Erica have yet to ... calibrate. If that’s the word.

They’re moving at different speeds into their relationship. Callie’s more hesitant, maybe not sure she wants to throw herself one hundred percent into this thing. While Erica sees the leaves on the trees for God’s sake!  Meanwhile George and Lexie have reached a truce of sorts.

I have to say, I loved that last scene where she made him a dinner of macaroni and cheese.

Bailey, of course, is pretty much trying to drive up Seattle Grace’s ranking by herself. From her domino surgery to removing six organs at one go, she’s on fire.

She’s not letting anything or anyone (namely Erica Hahn) get in her way.  When Tori’s father talks about hospitals and how doctors ignore you or don’t talk to each other or somehow lose sight of what they’re here for – to do the best they can for the patient – it’s hard for me to clump Bailey in that group.

But even she can occasionally get sidetracked (only to be set back on course by the Chief). Still, at the end, when the Chief is looking in at the Beglers all crowding around Bailey, we get the impression (or at least I hope you got it) that she’s well on her way to succeeding him as the best general surgeon at Seattle Grace.

As for getting back to being one of the top hospitals in the country?  Our doctors have a ways to go and lot of battles to fight. Like my wife’s latest Seattle Grace crush, Mr. Owen Hunt tells Derek and Mark, this is still pretty much Day One for them...

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


I personally hate the Callie/Erica story line. And it is so predictable at this point. Callie questions if she really wants to do this....they make it look like she's going to end it...she decides to stay with Erica. I can not stand Erica! I'm ready for everyone to forgive Isaiah and bring back Burke. :) Wait...Is that why we have all the homosexual story lines now? Is this the Grey's Anatomy "Sorry" to the gay/lesbian community. :)


I dont like dr Hunt either... and I really cant see callie gay.... or not with hunt. I like callie with sloan better! pleae... MORE MERDEEEEER!!! alex and Izzie, sweet!


just curious, was the little girl miranda cosgrove? sure looked like her.. also wished there could have been a little more focus on the patients themselves. this episode the only thing we heard from the patients was.. well not the patient but her family..




i have a bunch or things to say about my family watching the show, even the thing i said about my mom up there! all of this is pretty funny.
so when we were watching last night, my 4 year od sister sawa taht Hunt was cutting up pigs, you know. so when she saw the people like doing stuff to them, she started crying. HA! it was REALLY FUNNY! so you know today is halloween, we told her that is was just a trick that it was on there. so she saw taht the pig was dieing, she was throwing a fit! then she started stomping up the stairs and she said REALLY LOUD, I HATE GREY'S ANATOMYS! she wven said the " s" at the end of Anaotmy, but she is four!
yeah, that's my family!


What a brilliant episode! There's already a lot of interest in anatomy jane dolls on the internet, my daughter is at university studying to be a paramedic and I would love to give her one of them but they don't exist (yet)! Here's hoping someone will market them soon. I love the way the new attending is shown as an arrogant man at first but later you get to know him better. I'm glad Izzy and Alex are together. Not sure about Torres and Erica but it's very well done. Very clever the way the major operation and the pigs were interlinked. Not sure about the major operation which seemed to be a bit "oh good she's all better now" rather than "we'll have to see how she gets on in ITU" but that's drama and besides I'm influenced by being a retired nurse. The pros and cons of medical research on animals was well presented and a serious subject. All told- I loved it!


Grey's Anatomy Quotes

Did you say it? 'I love you. I don't ever want to live without you. You changed my life.' Did you say it? Make a plan. Set a goal. Work toward it, but every now and then, look around; Drink it in 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow."

Meredith (closing voiceover)

Burke was- He took something from me. He took little pieces of me, little pieces over time, so small I didn't even notice, you know? He wanted me to be something I wasn't, and I made myself into what he wanted. One day I was me Cristina Yang, and then suddenly I was lying for him, and jeopardizing my career, and agreeing to be married and wearing a ring, and being a bride. Until I was standing there in a wedding dress with no eyebrows, and I wasn't Cristina Yang anymore. And even then, I would've married him. I would have. I lost myself for a long time. And now that I'm finally me again, I can't. I love you. I love you more than I loved Burke. I love you. And that scares the crap out of me because when you asked me to ignore Teddy's page, you took a piece of me, and I let you. And that will never happen again.