On this week's episode of ABC's Grey's Anatomy, new chief Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) tries to whip the staff into shape to play in a softball game against another hospital. He is assisted by Henry (Scott Foley), whom he temporarily hires at the hospital just to help out with the game. Bailey (Chandra Wilson) and Meredith's (Ellen Pompeo) simmering hostility finally erupts on the field, while Cristina (Sandra Oh) finds a new calmness in being a team player. Also, Callie (Sara Ramirez) works to save a mangled hand, Derek (Patrick Dempsey) tries experimental brain surgery, and Alex (Justin Chambers) nags officials to get Meredith and Derek's adoption process moving along.
There is a lot going on in "Put Me In, Coach," and the sharing of plot by so many characters actually makes this a very strong episode. While not a single one person gets a ton of screen time, many move along their ongoing arcs, and get a little bit of focus. More so than could even fit in an opening summary paragraph. This is a great example of how to use an ensemble effectively, balancing many stories. Plus, it's fun to see everyone come together on the softball field, despite the drama going on in their lives.
Speaking of the game, how come virtually all of the players were the main characters, with the entire central cast participating? Seattle Grace Mercy West is a huge hospital, and Hunt could only recruit his friends? Then again, one does tend to do things with one's friends, and considering how close all of the main characters are — as a group — it does sort of make sense that they would all help Hunt out. Even Henry, who thankfully feels like more a part of the group than ever before, since he's not a doctor. But no one with any athletic skills works in the hospital and has a desire to help out their place of employment?
Cristina is not generally a team player. She has experienced much growth over the last year or so, but still, deferring to others is not her natural inclination. Yet, in "Put Me In, Coach," Cristina lets April (Sarah Drew) do a surgery. This impresses Teddy (Kim Raver) enough to finally get off Cristina's back and declare her done with her education. Yes, Cristina looks and acts highly professional in the operating room. Her skills have never been in doubt. But her temperament is finally evening out with maturity. She's not perfect, but who is? Cristina hasn't lost her edge, exactly, but honed it better.