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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?