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Tainted Obligation

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Tainted Obligation
Season 6, episode 4
Lexie sitting by her father's side.
Episode Information

October 8, 2009

Written by

Jenna Bans

Directed by

Tom Verica

Episode Guide

I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watchin' Me



We begin life with few obligations. We pledge allegiance to the flag. We swear to return our library books. But as we get older we take vows, we make promises, we get burden by commitments, to do no harm, to tell the truth and nothing but, to love and cherish till death do us part. So we just keep running up the tap until we owe everything to everybody and suddenly think … what the. The thing about being a surgeon, everybody wants a piece of you. We take one little oath, and suddenly we’re drowning in obligations. To our patients, to our colleagues, to medicine itself. So we do what any sane person would do. We run like hell from our promises, hoping they’ll be forgotten. But sooner or later, they always catch up. And sometimes you find the obligation you dread the most isn’t worth running from at all.

Tainted Obligation is the fourth episode of the sixth season and the 106th overall episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Short SummaryEdit

When Meredith and Lexie's father, Thatcher, returns to the hospital with a failed liver, it's up to Meredith to save his life as Lexie is not a match for him. Meanwhile, Izzie empathizes with a patient riddled with tumors, as Mark, annoyed with Cristina's competitive zeal, tricks her into assisting on an unusual surgery.

Full Summary Edit

Alex wakes up in the trailer and it doesn't seem to be a good day for him. The trailer is messy and he can't find a towel after showering. The coffee machine breaks down and there's no water left to rinse his mouth after brushing his teeth, so he has to do that with leftover beer. He leaves the trailer, only to find a bear on the deck, making him scream loudly. He quickly gets back inside.

In the ER, Izzie, who's dealing with a patient, thinks he saw something else. He only got to the car by throwing a raw steak and running for his life. Izzie's been marinating that steak for 3 days. He says they have to move. Izzie says they barely make 30 grant a year and they might be left unemployed after the merger. Alex proposes to move back to Meredith's. Izzie says they're married now and this is how it's supposed to be: them making a life for themselves. She enjoys waking up in the forest. She loves it at Meredith's, but moving back in would feel like moving backwards and she doesn't want to do that after all they've been through. She needs to move forward.

In a staff meeting with his attendings, Richard tells them that he knows its' been difficult, but he can't give them answers. Not just yet. Derek whispers to Mark that Richard only called them down here to make himself feel better. Richard says the Mercy West staff will arrive in 3 days and when they do, there will be more cutbacks and lay-offs. He needs each and every one of them to be leaders and he will answer their questions when they can. While everyone starts asking questions, Derek takes a danish.

Cristina and Meredith have been looking for surgeries, but there isn't any. Cristina's barely had 100 OR hours and she thinks they'll keep the residents with the most hours. She pulls aside a curtain, finding Steve tending to a diabetic ulser. She loses interest when he tells her it's not down to the bone. She calls herself expired meat. Meredith is calmer, but Cristina points out she hasn't been kicked off two services in one month. Meredith is scrubbing in with Derek later on. Moving on the next curtain, Cristina finds Izzie bandaging up a patient. She walks off when she claims that she just wanted to make sure everything is running smoothly. Izzie follows her and tells that she's on Hunt's service, so anything surgical that comes in is hers. 

Lexie comes into the ER with Thatcher, who's not looking good. The neighbors informed Lexie that he wasn't getting his mail. He heard Meredith got married on a post-it. Cristina wants to go to give them family time, but Lexie says there's something wrong and she doesn't know what it is. Meredith asks if she picked him off the floor of a bar, because that might be a clue. Thatcher swears he hasn't been drinking and then suddenly throws up blood all over Meredith's shoes. Cristina comments that that could be surgical.

Bailey is taking care of Thatcher with Izzie, Alex, and Cristina fighting each other to assist her. Bailey chooses Alex. As Izzie and Cristina walk off, Lexie tells Meredith that their father made ammends: he's not drunk. Meredith walks off without replying.

Mark is taking off a growth on an elderly man's back, with his son and daughter-in-law watching. They are very concerned about him living in the nursing home. He wants coffee, but a second cup isn't good for his heart. Irene, the daughter-in-law, suggests in a overarticulating way that they get him a cup of decaf coffee. He thanks her but reminds her that he's just old, not demented. Irene and Charlie leave and Irving tells Mark he's really here for AMS700, the penile implant. Mark says therapy is usually the first step in treating erectile dysfunction, but Irving took those pills years ago and they didn't work. Then his wife and he gave up. But now he's seeing this girl from the east wing who's younger and he doesn't want to disappoint. Mark understands, but it's a surgical procedure, so there's a certain risk given his age. He's tired of hearing about his age and tells Mark about the golden days. 

Cristina compliments Izzie's hair. Izzie says she's really tweaking and asks how long it's been since Cristina cut. Over a week. Owen comes over and updates her on one of his patients, on whose case she can scrub in. Izzie is ready and takes the chart, with Owen denying Cristina who keeps repeating that she's ready too. She blurts out that he knows she needs surgery, but he says that she knows he doesn't play favorites. He noticed people have been afraid to work with Izzie and that's not right, because she's a good surgeon who has a light touch with her patients. Cristina claims she can be nice and have a light touch too, but he kind of disagrees.

Meredith tells Derek her father is dead, because throwing up blood and disorientation usually mean end stage liver failure. Which means he's either dead or he needs a transplant. She hopes he's not a candidate because then he'll be in the hospital for months. Alex comes over. Meredith figures he needs a transplant.

Bailey tells Thatcher he has end stage cirrhosis. They can treat the symptoms, but a transplant is the only thing that'll save his life. Lexie questions how this could've happened so fast. Alex rightfully suggests gin. And scotch, Thatcher adds. He asks what the next step is. Richard says there is a rule from the transplant board here: an alcoholic has to be sober for at least a year before he can get on the list. He's only at 90 days. Lexie says she'll get tested today. They only take part of the liver and it regenerates. Thatcher says he can't ask something like that because it's major surgery. She points out he's not asking and she's willing to do it for her father. Meanwhile, Meredith rolls her eyes.

Callie is following Arizona, asking her to act like the Chief so she can practice asking him to give her her job back. Arizona says Callie's been saying she was gonna do it for days now. Callie says it's not easy asking your job back when you told your boss to go screw himself in front of his entire hospital. She thinks being a surgeon may be overrated. She could be happy doing lots of other things. Arizona says she doesn't want Callie to move to Cleveland to be a surgeon, which gives Callie the courage to do it. She then gets a page, so she'll have to come back later. 

Mark is surprised to see Lexie coming in on her day off. She updates him on the situation. Mark stops Steve from drawing blood as he wants to overthink and talk about it, but she doesn't want. She doesn't want to include him in the decision because he's her father and she feels she has to do this, whereas Mark things he has to be part of the decision because he's her boyfriend. As Steve continues, Mark walks off.

Izzie shares a few "insider tricks" with her patient and his wife. She informs them on the disease she's had and tells the wife she might want to leave because she has to do a rectal exam. The "wife" says she's not his wife yet, although she'd like to be. He uses the cancer as an excuse, but when his girlfriend's gone, he says he's got a ring at home. He's just waiting for the right moment.

Mark is explaining the penile implant to Irving, with Irene and Charlie thinking it's a ridiculous idea. Charlie and Irene try to talk his dad out of it. Irene says he might want to spend his savings on sending his granddaughter to college, but Irving replies that even though he loves her, they should stop pretending she's gonna go to college. It's his money and he wants to spend it on the implant. He'd been saving with his deceased wife for their entire lives and then she died before they could spend it. Mark interrupts and says they still need to run tests, because the surgery might not even be an option. 

At the OR board, Cristina starts flirting with Dr. Nelson in order to get in on his surgery. He heard she was hardcore into cardio. "I can be hardcore into anything you want," she says as Owen appears in front of her. Nelson sees him and walks off. Cristina tells Owen he forced her into doing this. Meredith comes over and tells Cristina that her father needs a transplant. She didn't volunteer because she doesn't consider him to be family. She gets a page and thinks he may be dead by now.

Izzie and Owen have opened up their patient and turns it out it's worse than expected. He doesn't know how to fix it. She tries to talk him into trying it, but he decides not to try it.

Meredith meets with Bailey, Lexie, and Richard and is informed that Lexie wasn't a match. Her other sister is not an option either. Richard tells her they called her down here just to keep her informed. She thanks them for that and leaves to go prep for her surgery.

The residents are having lunch in a lab in order to hide from Lexie's big sad "I'm not a match"-eyes. Alex and Cristina are disappointed because they won't get to do the transplant then. Izzie asks Meredith if she's gonna get tested, but Meredith refuses because she barely knows the guy. Alex and Cristina suggest she get tested so they might get to do the surgery after all. Izzie tells Alex he has some dirt on his neck, but it turns out to be thick. They all back away as he yells to get it off.

To be continued

Cast Edit

  • Meredith Grey
  • Cristina Yang
  • Izzie Stevens
  • Alex Karev
  • Miranda Bailey
  • Richard Webber
  • Callie Torres
  • Mark Sloan
  • Lexie Grey
  • Owen Hunt
  • Arizona Robbins
  • Derek Shepherd
  • Thatcher Grey
  • Irving Waller
  • Charlie Waller
  • Irene Waller
  • Randy
  • Angela
  • Steve Mostow
  • Jim Nelson
  • Owen Hunt. Dr. Knox and Izzie Stevens
  • Angry Attending #1

Main CastEdit

Guest StarsEdit


Medical NotesEdit

Music Edit

Song Performer Scene
"Trading Things In" Butler Scheme
"Come On Be Good" Dragonette
"Long Time Gone" Bachelorette
"Wish You Well" Katie Herzig
"Morning Mist" Sébastian Schuller

Notes and Trivia Edit

Grey's Anatomy 6x04 Promo00:31

Grey's Anatomy 6x04 Promo

  • This episode's title originated from the song Tainted Obligation, originally sung by REM.
  • This episode scored 14.13 million viewers.
  • One day has passed since the previous episode, as Arizona mentioned she had lost her favorite scrub nurse the previous day. At the end of the previous episode, several people were fired as part of the first set of cutbacks.

Gallery Edit

Episode StillsEdit

Quotes Edit

Bailey: I had five interns. Four of you have been on this table. One of you has cancer, one of you died. You better not pull anything funny on me, Grey.

Lexie (to Meredith): I didn’t want to do this, I didn’t want to have to come to you for anything, ever. So I thought if I looked up your blood type, and it was the wrong one, then that would be it. Then I could just stop thinking about it. But I cant, because you have his blood. And I know that he’s not your dad, I know that he was never there for you and I would never ask you to give him anything he doesn’t deserve a thing from you, he doesn’t. But he’s, he’s going to die Meredith. And so I’m asking you to give something to me. I’m asking, I am asking you to give me my dad, because as crappy as he was to you, god, he was wonderful to me. He never missed a single dance recital, he was there at my 5th grade graduation, What is that? That’s not even real. I know he’s not your dad, I know that. But somehow you have his blood, and I don’t. So I’m asking you, give me my dad.

(Lexie just walked into the ER with Thatcher)
Lexie: I don't know what's wrong with him!
Meredith: Did you pick him up off the floor in a bar, Leixe? That might be a clue.

Cristina: Sir.
Richard: Now is not the time, Yang.
Cristina: I have good hands. They're fast, they're dextrous, they were made to throw ties and do complex procedures. These hands were made for surgery. Today, they should have been deep inside a heart, saving a life. Instead they removed a thick and pumped a penis.
Richard: What's your point?
Cristina: My point? You know what, you should cut me.
Richard: What?
Cristina: From the program. You have to make more cuts and I should go, 'cause if you can't give me a brilliant cardiothoracic attending who's willing to teach me, then I can't get what I need from this hospital. Everyone is scared of losing their job and so am I, but if I can't learn, if I can't use my gift, then... I... Well, I guess that scares me more. That's my point, Sir.

Thatcher: The Chief always pays such close attention to his patients - or is it just the ones whose wives he's had an affair with?

See AlsoEdit

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

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