The much-anticipated documentary-style episode of Grey's Anatomy opens on a car crash vic being rushed into the trauma room, but things looks bleak considering the EMT calling in the case reports that there was brain matter at the scene. The trauma team checks his vitals, and manages to find a rhythm after his heart stops, but, as Yang points out, "Half his brain is on the floor, so..." Shepherd rushes to the scene and quickly explains to the camera crew that he'll give a neuro consult once the trauma docs stabilize the patient. Of course, there's not much to assess since Owen declares the patient brain dead, but McDreamy, always accentuating the positive, eagerly asks if the patient is a donor. Eureka! Shepherd, Hunt, and Sloan all exclaim that they have "found their guy," whatever that means.
Cue the uber-cheesy documentary opening segment. The crew of Seattle Medical: Road To Recovery follows the doctors of Seattle Grace six months after the shooting. This particular installment features interviews with doctors, patients, and patients' families, not to mention all the shakey camera angles we could handle without getting queasy — you know, the mark of every documentary.
One of the segments features a heart-warming interview where Sloan gets a bit choked up thinking about Derek in the shooting. He has something of a bromantic moment where he admits how hard it was to hear that Derek had been shot. If we remember correctly, his exact words were, "It felt like sh*t." Oh, Mark. Always articulate with the words and the feelings. Another interview reveals the big Arizona secret: she's moving to Africa after becoming the recipient of the very prestigious Carter Madison Grant, which she applied for two years ago when she was single and times were simpler. She intends to use her grant money to improve pediatric surgery in developing countries, but, obviously, this leads to some stress and cattiness for Calzona. In Callie's interview, she tries to remain positive, but admits that if the situation were reversed, she would stay behind.
Of course, the camera crews would be ready just as some wacky medical cases roll through the doors of Seattle Grace. The aforementioned brain dead patient is a motorcyclist who Mark, Derek, and Callie determine is a match to do an arm transplant for a double amputee patient, Zack. Zack's wife Nora explains to the documentary crew that he is — was — a logger who lost both his arms in a work-related accident, and the two have been waiting ten years for a possible donor. Their story is interwoven with the motorcyclist's wife, Nicole, as she mourns the loss of her husband. Of course, she has no problem donating his arms, although she admits it's going to be weird having someone else hold his hand. But, such is the risk with riding — brace yourselves, it's awkward and painful — "donorcycles." Really? Okay. Moving on. While prepping the motorcyclist, Lexie notices some sort of abomination on his arm that she points out to Dr. Torres, who subsequently also freaks out. If only we could see what was going on! Infection? A tumor? Flesh-eating bacteria? Maggots? The suspense is killing us! Nope, none of the above. Just a tattoo with his wife's name: Nicole. Uhh, okay. This is apparently very awkward for the doctors, but donor recipient could care less (duh, he still gets arms!). Zack's wife jokingly offers to change her name to Nicole. They both agree it's a nice name. Surgery, ho! There's a minor snafu during the 15-20 hour procedure in which one of the donor arms throws a clot, but, of course, Dr. Torres saves the day and the surgery is a success. In the documentary follow-up, they even reveal that Zack had an addition inked below the name Nicole: the words "Thank You." Whoa, guys. That was sincere.
Karev's patient is a young girl who aspires to be a rock star. Only hitch? She has a tumor growing in her throat that's constricting her airway. If she doesn't have it removed, it will crush her windpipe altogether. Unfortunately, if the tumor is removed, she also won't have a trachea. No trachea, no breathing. No breathing, no living. No living, no chance to meet Justin Bieber, who she, by the way, can't stop blasting in her hospital room until Karev shoves some headphones into her ears. Dr. Robbins hatches up a plan to grow the girl a new trachea using her own cells grown in her abdomen. Karev agrees to basically live at the hospital to keep an eye on the growing cells for the girl, but that's not even his most heroic feat. In one scene, he sings some Demi Lovato to the girl while she's getting a CT to keep her calm. (By "sings," we mean "atonally grunts.") The girl's new trachea is successfully implanted, and she takes Karev to school with her for show and tell (awww...).
And, of course, our final patient is Mandy Moore's character Mary from the Season Six finale. She has returned to the hospital for the routine procedure Bailey was supposed to perform on the day of the shooting. As a member of the Seattle Grace 13, Mary was specially interviewed by the camera crews, and they catch snippets of her talking about her recent world travels and eagerness to make lots of babies after realizing how lucky she was to have survived. Bailey misses all the excitement of the "good cases" doing Mary's routine surgery, but, of course, Mary was just a little too optimistic about the life ahead of her for us to buy that everything was going to be babies and rainbows. Mary mysteriously won't wake up from her surgery, and, after weeks in a coma, shows no brain activity. Bailey explains to crews that it's a rare occurrence, but it happens sometimes and for no reason. Her husband Bill, who we also saw in the finale, finally decides to pull the plug, and we see one of the survivors of the shooting die after a simple surgery.
Yang manages to muffle her crazy in this episode, finally remarking that "being a hero has its price," but Avery totally loses it. A subplot the crews cover is the new state of the art security system installed in the hospital post-shooting — metal detectors, ID scans, the works. Lexie seems to have a bum ID card the whole episode, and when she returns to the hospital with a coffee to pep Mark up during the 15-hour transplant, security won't let her through. Desperate to caffeinate a weary Sloan, she runs through security, causing all the hospital's doors to automatically lock down. Avery becomes trapped between two sets of doors with a coding patient, and snaps. He can't stop pumping on the poor guy's chest, even as Altman tries to talk him down. The lockdown finally lifts, and Teddy pries him away from the patient. Crews catch Avery in a private moment freaking out and very dramatically knocking over a bio-hazard bag. Intense.
Ultimately, the Chief unctuously describes Seattle Grace as a place of innovation and perseverance through struggle... and agrees to have security system completely removed. Callie decides to go to Africa with Arizona, and drinks are had all around at Joe's after the successful surgeries. Well, except for Bailey, who, of course, denies a follow-up interview.
Where the heck was Meredith all episode? We have no idea, either.