At any given moment, the brain has 14 billion neurons firing at a speed of 450 miles per hour. We don’t have control over most of them. When we get a chill: goose bumps. When we get excited: adrenaline. The body naturally follows its impulses, which I think is part of what makes it so hard for us to control ours. Of course, sometimes we have impulses we would rather not control, that we later wish we had. The body is a slave to its impulses. But the thing that makes us human is what we can control. After the storm, after the rush, after the heat of the moment has passed, we can cool off and clean up the messes we made. We can try to let go of what was. Then again…

I Am a Tree is the second episode of the third season and the 38th overall episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Short SummaryEdit

The staff deal with a boy, who literally has become a tree; a patient who vocalizes all his thoughts aloud, no matter how rude; and a lung cancer patient, who ends up having sex with Alex in Joe's restrooms. Meanwhile, the Nazi is back with a vengeance from recent events, Burke's mother catches Cristina offering a new hospital service, Callie covers for Meredith, Izzie starts baking out of grief and Derek and Addison find their marriage is over.

Full SummaryEdit

The episode opens with Izzie baking muffins. Although she admits to herself that her couple of batches are "enough," she ends up cracking another few eggs into a bowl.

Back at the hospital, Cristina has paid off Tyler to guard Burke's door. Tyler gets called away on a code blue, but Cristina doesn't realize this, and strips for Burke. Burke's mother and father walk in and are shocked at the sight. Cristina tries to cover herself with a blanket in embarassment, and by the time she's able to get out of there, the whole hospital knows about her trangression.

Addison, with her hair loose and coffee stain on her shirt, requests the day off from Richard, due to her shock at finding Meredith's panties in Derek's suit pocket. Richard meanwhile has been sleeping in his office after Adele tells him she has no more time to give. Richard gives her the day off so she can "do some drinking and crying" and tells her marriage is hard. She replies that "it's probably good mine's just about over, then."

The interns and Bailey walk into give a patient with aggressive lung cancer a briefing and prep her for surgery; however, they find her stuffing herself with desserts, which she explains by saying she's been healthy all her life, and she still has lung cancer, so she might as well enjoy herself. George reschedules her surgery for the next day.

The interns then move onto another patient named Benjamin, who has a brain tumor that makes him say whatever he thinks. He also cannot pick up sarcasm or irony. He notices the relationship between Meredith and Derek, as well as claiming Cristina always looks annoyed. Crisitina is then assigned to prep him for surgery, Meredith is to do charts, and Alex is to go to the pit. 

Cristina runs into Mama Burke in the hall, which is extremely awkward. She introduces herself, but Mama Burke has picked up on the interns light use of the term "the Nazi" for Bailey, and Mama Burke critcizes their poor judgment. Derek then comes by and introduces himself as the surgeon who operated on Burke. Mama Burke then requests Cristina for a "quick cup of coffee", which Derek readily agrees to, despite Cristina's look of anguish. He says that Meredith can cover for her, a situation neither of them are happy with.

Meredith drags Derek into a stairwell, trying to tell him that he's married and that she can't deal with being a homewrecker. He says no matter what she chooses, he's ending it with Addison... today. Meredith is about to kiss him, but Callie opens the door and gives her a look which sends both of them scrambling. Callie then returns Meredith's underwear and says she and Derek "should think about getting a hotel room or something."

Cristina goes to see Burke, saying that Mama Burke thinks she's a "racist stripper", but Burke laughs it off. 

Derek goes to see the Chief, asking if he's seen Addison. The Chief has, and confronts Derek about the affair, saying that Derek didn't leave the panties in his tux unless he wanted Addison to find them. The Chief says he knows "a thing or two about affairs, and even a thing or two about affairs with women named Grey" referring to his liasons with Ellis Grey. Derek says Meredith is more than an affair, and he's still going to end it today.

Benjamin meanwhile tells his sister that he doesn't want the surgery. Meredith is checking him, and he tells her that she should change her hair conditioner. Meredith finds the truth refreshing. He also asks her what the holdup is on sex with Derek.

George is jealous about how Callie's panties are on the board, and Callie tells Meredith not to tell George that they're hers, because it's cute to see him jealous. 

A boy comes into the trauma bay who has literally been turned into a tree, with a tree protruding through his stomach. His distraught father blocks the paramedics and Alex shoves him into a wall.

Cristina is having coffee with Mama Burke, and Jane asks her about marriage with Preston, claiming Cristina must have considered the possibility. It's clear Cristina hasn't and is shocked by the fact. Burke comes along to save Cristina, but only ends up making things worse once its clear to Mama Burke why he's really there. Jane calls Cristina selfish and says their relationship won't last much longer.

Benjamin codes in surgery, after telling Cristina that his last boyfriend's mother hadn't liked him, and his boyfriend said it didn't bother him, but it obviously did. 

Izzie drops some muffins off at Joe's, and Addison is there, clearly drunk. 

Meredith goes over to check on Izzie, but Izzie's not at home. Finn comes by with lunch for Izzie, even though Meredith wasn't there, and they kiss. This causes Meredith to rethink her decision of Derek versus Finn.

Back at Joe's, Addison is drunker than ever, wanting to get "gloriously fat" by eating all the muffins. She then starts crying and tells Bailey that she's "desirable and attractive" and she "doesn't understand how it can be over." 

Meredith tells Cristina she has no idea what to do, Alex flirts shamelessly with the lung cancer patient, evetually having sex with her in the bathroom, and George is still jealous of Callie. 

Richard finds Callie in the basement and forces her to move out, although Callie says "You're living in your office!" making him realize he too needs to rethink his decisions.

In the end, Derek goes to Addison's hotel room to tell her it's over, but is shocked to find that she has slept with Mark again.


  • Meredith Grey
  • Cristina Yang
  • Izzie Stevens
  • Alex Karev
  • George O'Malley
  • Miranda Bailey
  • Richard Webber
  • Addison Montgomery
  • Callie Torres
  • Preston Burke
  • Derek Shepherd
  • Finn Dandridge
  • Donald Burke
  • Dana Seabury
  • Benjamin O'Leary
  • Joe
  • Ruth O'Leary
  • Jeffrey Hernandez
  • Jane Burke
  • Nurse Tyler Christian
  • Harley Hernandez
  • Cute Nurse Zibby
  • Jill the Paramedic
  • Mark Sloan

Main CastEdit

Special Guest StarEdit

Guest StarsEdit



Medical NotesEdit

Preston BurkeEdit

  • Diagnosis:
    • Brachial plexus injury
  • Treatment:

Burke was still in the hospital recovering. He told his mother that he wasn't sure that his hand would ever get better.

Dana SeaburyEdit

  • Diagnosis:
    • Lung cancer
  • Treatment:
    • Surgery

Dana was supposed to have surgery, but she ate, so they were forced to postpone it. She had aggressive lung cancer, despite never having smoked.

Benjamin O'LearyEdit

  • Diagnosis:
    • Brain tumor
  • Treatment:
    • Tumor resection

Benjamin, 32, had a brain tumor pressing on his temporal lobe, causing him to say everything he's thinking. In surgery, there was severe bleeding, which caused his brain to swell. Despite their best efforts, Benjamin died.

Harley HernandezEdit

  • Diagnosis:
    • Broken pelvis
    • Impaling injuries
  • Treatment:
    • Surgery

Harley, 14, was street luging when he was catapulted after hitting a car. He landed on tree branches, one of which impaled through his chest. They operated and had to remove one of his kidneys and part of his bowel. They operated around the branch because removing it would cause bleeding. They were eventually able to remove the branch and fix his injuries.

Jeffrey HernandezEdit

  • Diagnosis:
    • Broken nose
  • Doctors:
  • Treatment:
    • Ice pack

Jeffrey's nose was injured and started bleeding when he was pushed into a wall. He was given an ice pack.


Song Performer Scene
"The Time is Now" Moloko
  • Derek meet meredith in the elevator
"Crashing Down" Mat Kearney
"Theme From Chalets" The Chalets
"The Mating Game" Bitter:sweet
"Running on Sunshine" Jesus Jackson
"Open Your Eyes" Snow Patrol

Notes and TriviaEdit

Grey's anatomy 3x02 trailer00:26

Grey's anatomy 3x02 trailer

  • This episode's title originated from the song I Am a Tree, recorded by Guided by Voices, and written by Doug Gillard.
  • This episode scored 23.48 million viewers.
  • CTV accidentally aired this episode as the season premiere instead of Time Has Come Today.
  • Callie's underwear and bra when she is caught dancing are matching.


Episode StillsEdit


Cristina: Benjamin O'Leary, 32, in for the removal of a brain tumor that's pressing on his temporal frontal lobe. Clearly it's affecting his impulse control.
Benjamin: It makes me say everything I think. Which apparently is annoying. This doctor looks annoyed anyway. Although it's hard to tell cause she always has a pinched uptight look on her face. Am I annoying you?
Cristina: It's fine.
Ruthie: You can't say it's fine. He doesn't preceive sarcasm or irony. If he's annoying you, you have to tell him.
Benjamin: Maybe I'm not annoying her, Ruthie.
Cristina: No, you are.
Bailey: Doctor Yang!
Cristina: He asked!
Derek: Okay Benjamin, Doctor Yang, as pinched and annoyed as she might be, is going to prep you for surgery today. Do you have any questions for me?
Benjamin: (about Meredith) Is that blonde your girlfriend? 'Cause the way you keep looking at her, you might as well just mount her right here, right now. (Derek and the interns are trying not to laugh.) I'm sorry, was I rude?

Addison: I've decided that I'm going to get really fat. Just as a stopgap. Just until I figure out another plan. I'm going to eat all of these muffins, and I'm going to really, gloriously fat. It's over. Over. Over! I'm talking about the last third of my life, Miranda. How can it be over? How can it just end? Over a skanky pair of panties and... a bad tux? I am desirable, Amanda.
Bailey: Miranda.
Addison: Right.

See AlsoEdit

A complete overview of this episode's crew can be found here.

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