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Don't stand so close to me. That's the attitude taken by the vast majority of the Seattle Grace Staff when it comes to Dr. Cristina Yang.
All the staff, except for Meredith, shun her now that her secret with Dr. Burke is out. George is particularly bitter because she was willing to let Burke operate on his father. The Chief won't punish Cristina and Burke, much to Miranda's chagrin. She tells Richard that not punishing them undermines her authority. Richard assures her she did a fine job as Cristina and Izzie's resident, and that they simply made mistakes.
But Bailey isn't about to take this lightly, and devises her own punishment - assigning Yang to assist Dr. Hahn with Mr. O'Malley's surgery. The other interns complain that it's not a punishment at all, until she shows them the other case she wants the rest of them to scrub in on: Two conjoined twins who want to be separated. The separation surgery is going to require 22 doctors, including Mark, Derek, and Miranda.
Burke's blaming him for the tremors damages Derek's confidence level, and he first refuses to do the surgery, claiming it's too dangerous because both twins could end up paralyzed. Miranda confides to Derek how Burke's bumping her from his surgery made her question her own ability, and tells Derek she knows he can pull off this surgery.
The lovely Izzie is also assigned to help, and her duty is to assist Mark in preparing for the surgery. But in typical Dr. Sloan style, he only wants her to get his coffee. She tells Mark she won't respect him as a surgeon or a person until he does something worth respecting. During the surgery, Mark unexpectedly requests that Izzie scrub in - which doesn't sit well with Bailey, who's already upset that Cristina isn't suspended.
Derek completes his part of the surgery and both twins are fine. Everyone applauds as the two gurneys are wheeled apart.
The Chief orders Burke to get his hand fixed but Preston tells Derek he doesn't want another surgery, implying that his tremors are all Derek's fault. Later, Richard loses it when Preston says he blames Derek for his tremor, telling Burke that he let him down, and that if he doesn't let Derek fix his hand, he's letting himself down as well.
Prior to his dad's surgery, George questions Dr. Hahn's methods and becomes increasingly worried and intense. Since he won't let it go, Miranda orders him to stay 50 feet away from his father at all times. He doesn't listen to her and sees him anyway. Mr. O'Malley says that George is mad at everyone lately, but that George is really mad at him, because he smoked and drank and brought on the cancer.
George, against orders, watches the surgery on his father. Burke, who isn't supposed to be there either, joins him. George is so nervous he can't bear to watch, so Burke, his friend narrates what's happening. When there's a complication, George turns to see Dr. Hahn let Cristina do a complicated running loop stitch. Burke assures him she knows what's she's doing. He's proven right as George's dad pulls through with flying colors.
Addison recruits Meredith to help with her pregnant half-sister, Molly Thompson, who is back in the hospital for a C-section. Complications with the baby mean it has to be delivered prematurely. Thatcher Grey's second wife, Susan, hasn't told Molly about Meredith.
When the baby stops breathing and moving, Meredith freezes with fear when Addison tells her to talk Molly through it. Addison has to operate but Meredith's hesitation in the OR means she's not scrubbing in - and forced to keep Susan and Molly updated on the baby's condition.
The baby makes it and Susan hugs Meredith, but Dr. Grey later says she doesn't consider them her family and walks away. But, as she sees them holding the baby, she gazes upon them wistfully. Susan tells her they can be her family if she wants, but a confused Meredith doesn't answer.
Later on, the locker room, Meredith chastises her fellow for passing any judgment on Cristina. She reminds Izzie how she cut Denny's LVAD wire and how they covered for her, and how Izzie helped Alex study for his boards, even after he cheated on Izzie. They sheepishly admit they were wrong - except George, who walks out.
Cristina wants to know why Meredith keeps standing up for her, and she says, "You're my sister, you're my family. You're all I've got."
Meredith tries to convince a distraught Ellis that Richard's leaving her happened years ago. Ellis says it's all because she had a daughter and that she should never have had children. This visibly upsets the younger Grey, but later, listening to her mother rant again about how she shouldn't have had kids, Meredith simply hugs her.
She may not have wanted to be close to her mother at that point in time, but she's still her daughter, and that simple action got through where no words could. In the end, it all comes down to family and who you stick by. Mer sums it up beautifully in her closing narration:
"At the end of the day, when it comes down to it, all we really want is to be close to somebody. So this thing where we all keep our distance and pretend not to care about each other, it's usually a load of bull. So we pick and choose who we want to remain close to, and once we've chosen those people, we tend to stick close by. No matter how much we hurt them. The people that are still with you at the end of the day, those are the ones worth keeping. And sure, sometimes close can be too close. But sometimes, that invasion of personal space, it can be exactly what you need."