As much as we love the hallowed halls, elevators, and ORs of Seattle Grace, it's always nice to have a change of scenery. (And we're not just talking about that steam vent.) Here are the best of the episodes that have taken us far afield — sometimes to the other side of Seattle, sometimes to the other side of the world.
5. "Thanks for the Memories" (Season 2, Episode 9)
True, this episode only has out-of-hospital scenes, but they are character-defining moments for George O'Malley — for this is the episode in which his brothers and father abduct him to go hunt turkeys for Thanksgiving. Tired of tolerating the oafish machismo of his brood and yearning for the warm embrace of Seattle Grace, George finally shoots a bird. But George only gets his wish when his brother shoots his dad's backside. But once they're back at the hospital, the family finally accepts and appreciates George's talent.
4. "Suicide is Painless" (Season 6, Episode 18)
Owen and Teddy get their own "origin story" in this flashback-riddled episode that shows what happened to them in Iraq. Owen is travelling in a Humvee with members of his squad when an IED detonates below them, killing everyone except Owen and his commanding officer, Dan, who is critically injured. Owen keeps him alive until the night, but Dan convinces Owen to let him die. Owen lets him bleed out only a few moments before Teddy comes to the rescue in a chopper. But Owen bears the scars of this experience and still has trouble respecting a patent's acceptance of death.
3. "Where the Boys Are" (Season 3, Episode 7)
The guys' camping trip turns out to be a fiasco several times over. First, Burke invites half the hospital. Then, Richard proposes to bunk with Joe and Walter, only to piece together the truth. ("Man love!" he says. "It's beautiful.") Then Alex drops a truth-bomb about Callie on George, bringing them to fisticuffs grudgingly refereed by Richard. Then they knock into Walter, who hits his head on a rock, so Burke has to give him stitches. But George knows that Burke's hand has been trembling, making him leery of his idol. Can't the men just commune with nature or whatever?
2. "Walk on Water/Drowning on Dry Land" (Season 3, Episodes 15 & 16)
It seems like every season has one mass trauma situation, but Season 3's was particularly epic. A ferry crashes into a freighter, and our surgeons are rushed to the scene to perform triage emergency medicine. These first two episodes of this three-parter take place at the dock where Alex finds a horrifically-maimed pregnant woman pinned under a piling (one who would later fall in love with him), Izzie drills into a man's skull and becomes a self-proclaimed surgery rock star, and Meredith is pushed into the water. After Meredith is underwater for what seems like an impossible amount of time, Derek fishes her out and rushes her back to the hospital, where she actually dies, leading to...
1. "Some Kind of Miracle" (Season 3, Episode 17)
...the third part, which was probably the gutsiest episode to date seeing as it's less out-of-hospital and more out-of-body. In an afterlife limbo, Meredith encounters Denny, Bomb Guy, Bonnie, her mom's scrub nurse, and even her dog Doc. Denny eventually gets Meredith to fess up — to admit that she stopped swimming and gave up on life. But when Mer encounters her recently-deceased mother, who gives her a long-overdue pep talk, she returns to the realm of the living. It's a kooky episode, to be sure, but also one that elicits Niagara-like tears.
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