Grey's Anatomy Universe Wiki
Grey's Anatomy Universe Wiki

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 Summary[]

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 Summary[]

Meredith and Derek end up on an elevator together. He goes to stand closely behind her and they smile. Meredith gets off when the elevators arrive. She gets off and he stares after her.

Izzie takes a batch of muffins out of the oven. The kitchen is already filled with muffins. She tells herself no more muffins, but then goes to make another batch.

Cristina enters Burke's room and closes the blinds. She then strips down to her underwear and climbs on top of Burke. She tells him to enjoy and starts kissing. They're interrupted when Burke's parents enter. Cristina quickly covers up with a sheet as Jane asks her son if this is a hospital service.

Cristina yells at Tyler for not guarding the door like she paid him to do. He says there was a code and refuses to give her back her 20 bucks. Meredith, like everyone else, has heard what went down. Cristina says she's not one to talk with her two men. Meredith says she's not sleeping with either Derek or Finn until she's made her choice. If she hasn't decided by tonight, she's flipping a coin. Bailey comes over and asks if they have time to round, or if they're too busy getting naked. Cristina follows her as she says she wasn't naked.

Addison, dressed in a dirty sweatsuit, enters Richard's office as he's cleaning up his couch bed. He hopes she's not planning to see her patients like that. Addison says she needs the day off to drink. There are no laboring moms because God knows that Addison needs the day. Richard asks if she wants to talk. She asks why he's living in his office. He replies marriage is hard. She says hers is about to be over.

Richard, Bailey, and her interns enter Dana Seabury's room and discover that she's eating cake, which she had delivered to her room. She's scheduled for surgery, but she wants them to push it. Bailey reminds her that her lung cancer is very aggressive, so the sooner they operate, the better. Dana understands, but she's always lived a very healthy life and yet, she still has lung cancer.

Outside the room, Richard tells George to reschedule the surgery and to get a psych consult. He also forbids food deliveries and walks off. The interns follow Bailey and cautiously ask her if she'd be willing to help to get Izzie back since she's wasting her time baking muffins. Bailey refuses to listen.

Bailey and her interns join Derek in Benjamin O'Leary's room. Cristina presents the case. He has a tumor that's pressing on his frontal temporal lobe, which affects his impulse control. Benjamin says it makes him say anything he thinks. He wonders if Cristina's always this uptight. Benjamin's sister Ruth tells Cristina he doesn't understand sarcasm or irony so they have to be straight with him. Cristina admits he's enjoying. Derek says Cristina will prep him for surgery. Benjamin asks Derek if Meredith's his girlfriend, because the way he looks at her, he might as well just mount her right here and now.

Bailey sarcastically tells her interns they reflect on her well. She tells Meredith to follow up on the labs and do charts. Alex gets to cover the pit since Addison is out sick. She then notices the panties pinned to the bulletin board. George and Alex try to hide their laughter as Cristina urges Meredith to get her panties back, since Bailey thinks they are hers. Bailey knows the panties belong to one of them. Callie jumps in and claims the panties are hers. She apologizes to Bailey and walks off. George is confused.

Bailey tells George and Cristina to go prep their patients. She warns her interns not to make her regret setting them loose. As Alex and Cristina walk off, they agree that the Nazi's back. Cristina turns around a corner and encounters Jane, who overheard her refer to Bailey as a Nazi. Jane would think that Cristina would think twice before using that word. Derek overhears her addressing Jane as Burke's mother so he comes over to introduce himself as Burke's surgeon. Jane asks him if she can borrow Cristina. Derek says it's no problem and that Meredith can cover for her. Cristina objects that it'll upset Bailey even more, but he promises to deal with Bailey. Cristina tells Jane she will meet Jane in the cafeteria in a couple of minutes and walks off.

Meredith and Derek enter the staircase. She recalls the things he said to her. She'd normally like those, but he's married. That makes her a home wrecker, and she hates that. Derek says she can take all the time he needs, but he wants her to know that his marriage was already wrecked before she came in the picture. Whatever she decides, he's ending it with Addison today. This time, he means it. He'll tell Addison as soon as he sees her. They almost kiss, but they pull back when Callie enters. Derek leaves and Callie warns Meredith to be more cautious.

Cristina enters Burke's room. Under his father's observant eyes, she tells Burke that his mother wants to have coffee with her, and that Jane thinks that she's a racist stripper. Burke thinks it's kind of funny. It's just his mother. Everybody loves his mama. Cristina demands that he save her from this. When she's left, Burke's father chuckles.

Derek enters Richard's office and asks if he knows where Addison is. Richard says she needed the day off and brings up the panties she found in Derek's tux. Derek says that's not how he wanted her to find out. Richard says you don't leave panties in your tux if you don't want them to be found. He knows a thing or two about affaires with a woman named Grey. Derek says he wants to tell Addison today. When something's over, it has to be over. And Meredith is not an affair.

Meredith is prepping Benjamin, who says he doesn't want to have the surgery. Ruth tells him he has to have the surgery. Ben compliments Meredith's looks, but she looks tired and needs a new conditioner. Meredith finds it refreshing that someone tells you the truth. He asks if she has sex with the brain surgeon. She says she hasn't. He says he would. Derek's arrogant in a way that's still sexy. He asks Meredith what's with the holdup.

George finds Callie and asks her about the panties on the board. He's never seen those panties before and wonders how they ended up on the bulletin board. She thinks he's jealous, which he denies. Dana then races past them in a wheelchair, followed by another patient. George runs after her. Meredith has overheard the conversation and offers Callie to tell George the truth, but Callie likes that George is jealous.

In the ER, Alex assists Callie in tying her gown and asks about her and George. Bailey tells Alex he doesn't get to ask her personal questions. He doesn't understand why she won't talk to Izzie. Bailey asks if he really wants to push her today.

They enter the ambulance bay. The patient is Harley Hernandez. He was street-luging when he lost control and hit a car. He was catapulted at least 20 feet into the air and landed on a pile of tree trimmings. Paramedic Jill guesses he has some massive internal injuries on top of the obvious pelvic fracture. Bailey looks at the patient and sees he's impaled by a tree branch.

Bailey assures Harley that they're going to take care of him. Harley's father is yelling at him for being stupid. He blocks the doctors' path, so Alex throws him aside. He hits a wall and ends up with a bleeding nose. Bailey directs him inside and stays behind to yell at Alex. She yells at him not to question her authority and not to defend his girlfriend for killing a man. He says Izzie is not his girlfriend.

Jane and Cristina are drinking coffee. Jane hopes she's planning to pursue a less time-consuming specialty after she and Burke get married. Burke is the most important thing in the world to Jane. Cristina then acts surprised to see Burke there and calls him over. Jane asks him why he's out of bed. He says he needed to stretch his legs. Jane says he's supposed to be resting. He says he wanted some air and coffee. He goes to get some coffee. Jane knows that Cristina did this. She says she likes Cristina, but she's selfish. She pulled Burke out of his bed because she is uncomfortable. She is convinced that her relationship with Burke won't last long. Burke then returns with coffee.

Harley's father is sitting in the waiting area as the surgeons are operating on his son. Richard tells all the surgeons to pace themselves since they have a long way to go. There are multiple bleedings.

George enters the gallery. Cristina says Burke's mother rivals her mother, and that's saying something. Meredith misses dirty stripper Cristina, who's less angry. Cristina is planning on telling Jane what she thinks the next time she sees her. She'll call her sexist. Meredith supports her. She thinks they should all tell the truth and follow their instincts. Cristina misses philandering whore Meredith. George asks them if women have two different types of underwear for different occassions, but they don't reply. Meredith says she has decided to pick Derek. She's following her gut. Cristina wants her patient back. Meredith says that's fine since it's her day to check on Izzie anyway.

Tyler paged George to Dana's room since she was caught shoplifting chocolates from the gift shop. Dana says it was exhilarating. She's planning on leaving. George tells her she should be resting. Dana says her survival rate is 60%. She has lived her entire life repressed, stifling every impulse. She's done now. They should all be. She's claiming her life and she can't do that from a hospital bed. She may die, but at least she'll know that she's lived.

Meredith enters the kitchen and discovers all the muffins. The doorbell rings and she goes to open the door. She's surprised to see Finn, as is he to see her there. She says she's just home to check on Izzie. He says he came over to do the same thing. He brought her lunch. When his wife died, he found that people bringing over food is the only thing that helps. Meredith says that's amazing and thoughtful. Finn doesn't want to pressure her to make her decision, but he wants to make clear that he's not all that sensitive. He passionately kisses her. He tells her to have a nice day at work and leaves her with the lunch. She's now doubting again.

Bailey goes to update Mr. Hernandez. They've had to remove one of his son's kidneys and part of his bowel. The branch is still there. They're operating around it, which is why it's taking so long. Mr. Hernandez asks if they'll be done by the time Harley's mother arrives. Bailey says she has to go back in.

Izzie enters Joe's with baskets of muffins. She says she made a lot of muffins, so she thought he'd like some. He thanks her. A drunk Addison comes over and asks if she knew about the slutty sex Meredith and Derek had. Izzie tells her to have a muffin. They'll help her. Addison says she may be beyond help. Izzie says she may be, too. Addison takes a bite as Izzie leaves the bar.

Meredith joins Cristina as she's observing Jane and Burke talking. Cristina says Jane never leaves. Meredith tells Cristina about Finn bringing lunch. He's that guy, so now she has to end things with Derek. Cristina says she's not selfish. She's by Burke's side and selfish people don't save lives. Cristina walks off and Meredith then notices George flirting with a nurse. He says he's young and healthy. Meredith asks if he's still jealous about the panties. He says he's just living his life.

Benjamin asks Cristina if she has a boyfriend as she's examining him. She says yes. Benjamin asks Cristina why she's so angry. She says her boyfriend's mother called her selfish. Benjamin says she seems kind of self-obsessed to him. Cristina says a certain amount of self-obsession is necessary for a surgeon. Her boyfriend gets that. Benjamin says his boyfriend understood when he was diagnosed with the tumor, but his offending everyone offended his boyfriend's mother. His boyfriend claimed he didn't care what she said, but he did, so now Ruth is the only one here with him.

Cristina and Derek are scrubbing in. Cristina asks if he'll be his old self again. Derek says he'll live if they get the tumor out. All the rest is icing on the cake.

Richard, Bailey, Callie, and Alex are still operating on Harley. They all work to stabilize the organs around the trunk. Richard asks if the parents have said their goodbyes. Bailey says the mother's not here and Alex says the dad was too busy blaming his son. Bailey says that's enough out of him for today. Alex tells Bailey she's got him mixed up with Izzie. Since everyone has taken their positions, Richard tells the guy with the saw to work carefully.

Derek finds that the tumor is close the cavernous sinus. There's a bleeding and Benjamin's brain starts to swell. His heart can't take it and Cristina quickly grabs the paddles.

In the other OR, they've finally removed the last chunk of tree. Harley's renal artery's collapsed. He's bleeding fast. They pack him with laps.

Benjamin's still in V-fib. Cristina shocks him.

At Joe's, Addison tells Bailey that she has decided to become gloriously fat until she figures out another plan. Her marriage's over. The last third of her life is just over. She says she's desirable and asks for Joe's support, but Joe says he has a boyfriend. Addison doesn't need him to tell her how wildly attractive she is. Joe tells her her cab is here, as she asked him to call one at 10. Bailey would say that's for the best.

Alex sits down at the bar with Dana. She asks if she can buy him a drink since she's trying one of everything. He recognizes her from this morning. She asks if that means he can't have a drink with her. He says not at all and orders another beer.

George is eyeing the nurse from earlier as he's playing darts. If Callie can be bad, so can he. Meredith stops him since he's going to hurt someone with the darts. Meredith tells George that Callie is sexy and hot for him, so she advises him to go get lucky with her. He leaves as Cristina comes over. Since the day's over, it's time for Meredith to flip a coin. Derek is heads. She flips the coin and says she's taking a cue from Benjamin. Being impulsive is her new motto. Cristina says Benjamin died. He was sick and brain damaged, not honest.

Bailey sees Mr. Hernandez and sits down with him. She takes one of Izzie's muffins and asks if he's okay. His son's going to be fine. Mr. Hernandez says he let his son go off. He knew better. He keeps picturing his son going down that hill. He should have stopped. Bailey says kids spin out of control sometimes. Mr. Hernandez says it's a parent's job to control them anyway. He only sees Harley every other weekend since the divorce. He'd never have bought Harley that luge before, but he went soft when his son needed him to be the father.

Dana tells Alex she never had any fun. She never wanted to be a slut while her ex-husband had all kinds of fun with all kinds of women. Nobody ever called him a slut. Women can't do what he did without getting called names. Alex says she shouldn't care about what people call her. He doesn't care that people call him an ass. Dana asks if he has a girlfriend. He says no. She says she's single, too. She's gonna go into the bathroom and invites him to come. He takes a sip from his beer and follows her.

Richard's walking through the tunnels and finds Callie dancing in her underwear in one of the storage rooms. She turns off the music.

Finn enters the bar and walks up to Meredith. Only seconds later, Derek joins them. She thanks them for coming. She tells them that she likes them both. She thought she had to decide, but she owes herself the chance to consider her options. She has decided to date them both. She understands if they're not up for it, but she hopes they are. Neither Derek nor Finn's bowing out.

Callie gives Richard a cup of tea. He understands why she's living here, but they both know he can't have it. It violates all kinds of rules. She wonders why he's allowed to live in his office. She's pretty observant. He guesses he'll have to follow his own rules, too. George then comes in with flowers and says he gets jealous when other guys touch her panties. He then sees the Chief and walks out. Richard tells Callie she might want to clean that up.

Dana leaves the bathroom. She has decided to go back to the hospital to kick this cancer's ass. Alex exits moments later. Bailey walks up to him. He admits she was right today about not getting physical with patients. He smiles and walks off.

Cristina enters Burke's room as Burke tells his mother that he doesn't know if his hand will ever get better. Jane says it will. She then sees Cristina and tells her that Burke needs his sleep. Cristina says she was just checking to see if they needed anything. Jane says they're fine. Cristina wishes Preston a good night and walks off. In the hall, she passes Burke's father, who tells her to hang in there.

Callie finds George lying on a bench outside the hospital. She has a suitcase with her. She sits down and tells George that the panties aren't hers. The jealousy's insanely hot, by the way. He asks about the suitcase. She gives him a kiss.

George, Callie, and Meredith enter the kitchen. Izzie is making more muffins and asks them to leave her alone. Bailey then appears in the doorway. The other three leave her alone with Izzie. Bailey tells Izzie that she went soft after she had her baby. She got tired and busy and she stopped teaching when Izzie needed a teacher the most. Bailey could have stopped her, and in the past, she would have. She's partly to blame for what happened, so she wants Izzie to come back. They'll work it out with the Chief, because she's talented. They all make mistakes. Bailey tells her it's enough muffins.

Derek shows up at Addison's hotel room. She thought he was room service. Derek comes in and tells her he feels terrible. He's not proud of what he did. Addison deserves better. He's sorry about the panties and the prom. He sits down next to her. Addison says she's sorry, too. He says their marriage is over. It's all his fault. He says this is incredibly sad. The bathroom door then opens and Mark comes out, with only a towel wrapped around his waist. He sees Derek and comments this is awkward. Derek takes a sip from Addison's champagne and tells her he feels better now. He leaves and closes the door behind him.


Main Cast[]

Special Guest Star[]

Guest Stars[]



Medical Notes[]

Preston Burke[]

  • 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 Seabury[]

  • 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'Leary[]

  • 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 Hernandez[]

  • 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 Hernandez[]

  • 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 and Meredith stand in the elevator together.
  • Izzie bakes muffins, even though the kitchen is full of muffins already.
  • Cristina comes into Burke's room and strips for him, but they're interrupted by his parents coming in.
"Crashing Down" Mat Kearney
  • Derek and Cristina scrub in for Benjamin's surgery.
  • The doctors work on Harley.
  • They start to cut away the branch.
  • Derek finds Benjamin's tumor. Benjamin starts crashing.
  • Harley starts crashing after a portion of the branch is removed.
  • They attempt to save Benjamin.
"Theme From Chalets" The Chalets
  • Addison tells Bailey she's going to get fat. That's her plan.
  • Joe says her cab has arrived.
  • At the bar, Dana offers to buy Alex a drink.
  • George nearly hits a nurse with a dart.
  • Meredith stops George and tells him Callie's hot, so he should go be with her.
  • Meredith flips a coin to choose between Derek and Finn.
"The Mating Game" Bitter:sweet
  • Alex takes a drink and follows Dana to the bathroom.
  • Callie dances in her underwear.
  • Richard walks in and sees her, causing her to stop suddenly.
"Running on Sunshine" Jesus Jackson
  • Finn comes into the bar, followed by Derek.
  • Meredith says she plans to date both of them.
  • Neither of them plans to bow out.
"Open Your Eyes" Snow Patrol
  • Alex leaves the bar with a smirk.
  • Cristina comes into Burke's room as he shows his mom his hand.
  • Cristina asks if they need anything and then says good night.
  • As she leaves, Mr. Burke tells her to hang in there.
  • Callie tells George the panties weren't really hers.
  • George, Callie, and Meredith come into a kitchen full of muffins.
  • Bailey comes in behind them and she sends them away to talk to Izzie.
  • Bailey says she wasn't the teacher Izzie needed her to be and encourages to go back to the hospital.
  • Derek goes to Addison's hotel room to tell her their marriage is over and is surprised when Mark comes out of the bathroom in just a towel.

Notes and Trivia[]

  • 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.
  • The song "Running On Sunshine" played in this episode, would later be sung by the cast in the musical episode.


Episode Stills[]


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.

Bailey: I went soft. I had a baby and I swore it wouldn't change me, but it just... It does change you. I got tired. I got busy. And I stopped teaching. I stopped teaching when you needed a teacher the most.
Izzie: You couldn't have stopped me.
Bailey: Yes, I could have. You couldn't have stopped you, but I could have. And in the past, I would have. I went soft. And I'm partly to blame for what happened, so... I want you to come back. You'll talk to the Chief. We'll work it out, because you're talented and you're capable and we all make mistakes. And that's enough muffins.

See Also[]

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

The Grey Matter blog post on this episode can be found here.