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Surgeons always have a plan. Where to cut, where to clamp, where to stitch. But, even with the best plans complications can arise, things can go wrong. And suddenly, you're caught with your pants down. The thing about plans is they don't take into account the unexpected, so when we're thrown a curve ball, whether its in the OR or in life, we have to improvise. Of course, some of us are better at it than others. Some of us just have to move on to plan B and make the best of it. And sometimes what we want is exactly what we need. But sometimes, sometimes what we need is a new plan.

My Favorite Mistake is the nineteenth episode of the third season and the 55th overall episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Short Summary[]

Izzie seems to be the only one with a memory of her and George in the previous night, Derek gets over-protective when Meredith gets a surgery, and one of Callie's relatives comes to town.

Full Summary[]

A shocked Izzie quietly sneaks out of bed. George turns around in his sleep. She quickly throws on a robe.

She downs a glass of water in the kitchen. Meredith and Cristina come in. Meredith says Izzie and George were really going at it last night. Cristina didn't need to hear his rendition of Sexy Back at 3 AM. Izzie says they should have banged on the wall. Alex comes in to ask if he can use Meredith's bathroom since George is puking in his. Cristina says this house is like a youth hostel. Izzie says George stayed over because he was too impaired to drive. She takes a painkiller. Alex wonders why Cristina is here. Meredith says she's hiding from Burke, but Cristina has come up with a plan. They will just not get married and get back to how they used to be.

Izzie goes to leave for work as she hears George coming downstairs, but she runs into him in the hallway. He says Callie is going to kill him. He hopes he called her before he passed out, but Izzie says no. He only remembers the bourbon and asks where she slept.

Richard is talking to Colin, who has his interview with the board this afternoon. He's carrying a folder containing a 10-year plan for the hospital. He acknowledges the work Richard did.

Callie finds a hungover George in the intern locker room. She's dressed up. Callie says as of this moment, they are the perfect couple who never fight, because her dad's in town. He wants to meet George. Izzie comes in and greets the two of them. She leaves. Callie realizes he told Izzie. She was planning on meeting her dad in the cafeteria, but she plans on moving it to Joe's so her father won't be able to tell that that stink is coming from George. George says it's going to be okay. She tells him to shower.

Cristina brings Burke a cup of coffee like they used to do before she moved in. He's not interested in going back to how they used to be. As he walks off, Cristina and Colin lock eyes. She walks off and Colin comes down the stairs to greet the other attendings and wish them good luck. Once Colin's gone, Richard informs the others that Colin has a 10-year plan, which kind of insults him.

Mark shows Jane Doe a computer-generated approximation of her original face structure based on the scans they did. He also shows her two other faces that they could give her through reconstructive surgery. She's confused as to how it'll work. Alex bluntly says Mark will literally pull her face off. Mark says it sounds worse than it is. It'll allow him to repair the bone structures underneath without scarring. He's that good. Addison will be there to monitor the baby. Now Jane has to pick a face, but she can have some time to think it over.

Bailey and her interns come across Richard at the ICU doors. He checks if Meredith's okay. She prefers to work, like her mother would. After correctly answering how to reconstruct the orbital floor, Meredith is put on the surgery by Mark. Bailey and the other interns walk off.

Outside the next patient's room, Callie stops the group. Izzie is frightened that Callie wants to single her out, but Callie warns the entire group that they're about to see a disease so rare that they might never see it again. The patient has a genetic disease that causes muscles to turn into bone. She asks them all not to stare.

They enter the room. The patient's daughter Nina asks the interns to stand back. Her mother still has movement in her face and hands and she'd like to keep it that way. They have to be very gentle with her. Nina brought her mother in because she was vomiting blood and going through painkillers like candy. Callie says they'll get a CT to get an idea of what's going on. She then notices a dollhouse. Cathy says Nina built it. Nina says her mother helps. Keeping her mother active makes for fewer flare-ups and makes her relaxed. Izzie and Cristina both want to work in the clinic today. Bailey lets them and then assigns George to Callie. Alex can assist Addison with Jane Doe. George is burping. Callie rolls her eyes and turns to Bailey to request another set of hands. Bailey then summons Izzie back and assigns her to Callie.

In the clinic, Cristina is faced with a man who requests painkillers for his foot. He doesn't want to take off his shoe, but Cristina makes him. The man has type II diabetes. He takes off his sock, revealing a large sore on his sole.

Jane is flipping through the pictures. She worries about choosing the wrong face and then her loved ones won't recognize her. Alex says that would suck, but she can't look the way she does now for the rest of her life.

Derek is staring at Meredith, which is his way of preparing for his board interview. He's hovering, which he wouldn't have to do if Cristina would sleep in her own bed. She's excited because Sloan's letting her do a calvarial bone harvest by herself. That'll make her cool in the eyes of her dead mother. He leaves her to study.

Izzie and George are waiting for Cathy's scans. George says he's never drinking again. He can't believe he has to be presentable for Callie's dad. Izzie can't believe he doesn't remember the many, many hours they spent together. George says that whatever he did or said, he didn't mean it. She thinks he did mean it. The scans come up. He asks her to page Callie.

Colin finds Cristina. He came here for the job as well as a chance to see her. She tells him he made a mistake then. He wonders if she's inviting him to the wedding, but she doesn't want to talk about it. He thinks she's getting cold feet and suggests that Burke is rushing her into it. He thinks she should tell Burke, because you need to be ready to get married.

Addison is practicing her speech in front of a mirror. Mark catches her and tells her to lose the glasses, because she fiddles with them and it makes her look indecisive. He tells her to stop stressing. It's just another job interview. He asks about her weaknesses. She says she doesn't have any and asks about his. He replies he's an easy mark for evil redheads. Addison says he has other weaknesses. He's a man whore. Mark says he was. Addison tells him Colin is pitching a 10-year plan.

Callie and Burke are with Cathy and Nina. Cathy has a large internal bleeding. As Nina knows, surgery can cause more bone growth and do more harm than good. That's why Burke is here. He suggests they insert a catheter through the groin and embolize the bleeding area, but even that is risky. Cathy says most FOP patients don't live as long as her. She asks what would happen if she refuses the surgery. Callie admits she will bleed to death within a day or two. Nina doesn't want to hear it. They got this far because their treatment plan works.

Mark finds Derek preparing in the conference room. He found out Burke is using Powerpoint. Derek wonders why Mark asked Meredith to do the bone graft on Jane Doe. Derek thinks he's setting her up to impress the Chief. Derek is afraid that Meredith might fail, which she absolutely can't do. Mark suggests he let Meredith decide for herself what she can and cannot do. Derek vows to hurt Mark if this goes wrong.

Addison comes across Cathy's room and spots the dollhouse through the window. Izzie tells her the lights even work. Izzie blurts out that she had sex with the wrong person, but it felt right at the time. It was like everything fell into place. Addison tells her to stop doing it. Izzie thinks it might be God's plan, which could be why it felt so right. Addison doubts God wants her to be an adulterer. 

Cristina has bad news for Doug. They need to amputate his foot. The infection has spread to the bone, which puts him at risk for sepsis and death. Doug doesn't want to accept it. Cristina says diabetes is manageable. He should have come in sooner. Doug refuses. There has to be something. He'll do everything. She has to find a way to save his foot.

Derek finds Meredith practicing the graft. Derek tells her she doesn't have to do it. He talked to Mark. Meredith thinks he's doubting her. Derek clarifies that Mark has chosen to teach her because the Chief is watching her closely now. If it goes well, he gets the credit, if it goes poorly, he gets the save. Meredith doesn't need protection and asks him to leave.

Mark catches Bailey on her way to the clinic and asks what she would change about this hospital if she could. She refuses to do his homework for him. Bailey says she has patients in need of medical attention right now, so he better get out of her way.

Izzie sits down with the others for lunch. Meredith, while practicing the bone graft, mistakes her question about blackouts as concern over her and assures her she's fine. Izzie clarifies she's asking about blackouts after drinking. Alex says you usually forget the stuff you don't want to remember. Cristina asks if anyone has an idea for her patient. She doesn't want to accept that her patient has no do-over just because he was neglectful. Since they are now talking about Burke, Izzie tells Cristina to fix it because she has a good thing, which is hard to come by. Cristina has decided to bring things back to how they were. Izzie is envious of Jane Doe. She thinks it'd be cool to pick a new face and start over.

Alex visits Jane Doe, who says she can't pick. He sits down and talks about the life he envisions for each of the three faces. She seems to fall for the one he nicknames Ava, who's tough and has been through a lot in her life, which has only made her stronger.

George and Callie are meeting with Carlos Torres at Joe's. George talks about how his father's death made him realize that life is both short and long. Carlos says her mother is hurt that she got married without telling them. Carlos brings up money, but George says he didn't know until earlier today. Carlos brought a post-nuptial, which states everything will be in her name. He accidentally knocks over a drink. While Callie and her father discuss things, the memories of his night with Izzie come flooding back to George. George then tells Carlos he won't let them pay for anything. The answer is no. He apologizes and rushes off.

George finds Izzie, who realizes that he remembered. They enter a closet and, without words, express their shame and desire.

Izzie finds Nina and Cathy working on the dollhouse. Izzie needs to draw blood. Nina directs her to a specific vein. Izzie knocks some things over, which upsets Nina. She leaves to get a senior nurse and forbids Izzie from touching her mother. Once she's gone, Cathy tells Izzie that her daughter is not a person anymore. She knows that she's dying soon, but Nina won't let her talk about it.

Richard finds that there's no coffee in the lounge. He needs to hear from Derek that he's not making 10-year plans for the hospital. Derek says you can plan all you want, but it doesn't make a difference in the end. Things happen. Meredith was like ice when he pulled her out of the water. He knows she can swim, so that means she gave up. He has no idea where he'll be in ten years.

Carlos finds George in the hospital. He understands and respects that George wants to take care of Callie in her own way, but he needs to understand that Callie is his only little girl. The minute George hurts her, Carlos will hurt him. Callie comes up and Carlos says he'll tell his wife that she can plan the party she so badly wants. Callie concedes. Carlos has to leave to catch his plane. Callie is proud of George for standing up to her father. She wants to take back last night. So does he. She tells him to go help Izzie prepare Cathy for surgery.

Alex stays with Jane Doe before she's put under. She tells him to call her Ava.

In the scrub room, Mark reminds Meredith that the Chief will be watching. Meredith reveals she knows he's using the ghost of her mother to score points. She won't play. Mark tells Meredith the Chief was looking at her this morning like she was some beaten down puppy he picked up off the side of the road. If she pulls this off, he'll start looking at her like a surgeon again. But it's her choice.

Cristina is walking beside her patient as he's taken to the OR. She tells him there are amazing prosthetics, so this does not mean his life is over. She then walks off as she sees Burke preparing for his meeting. She reminds him he was always supposed to be the next Chief. He's still that guy. He disagrees. He wants to be better than that guy. He likes to believe he has grown, so he's not interested in going back. Burke is then called into the conference room.

The gallery is filled up with people for Meredith's moment. She asks for the tools and starts working.

In Cathy's OR, the surgeons have tried everything to stop a bleeding but nothing works. They have no choice but to open her up.

Meanwhile, Nina is arranging the furniture in the dollhouse.

Cristina starts the amputation of Doug's foot.

Richard and Derek are tense as they watch Meredith's every move.

Cathy's monitor is still beeping.

Cristina has finished the amputation. Bailey tells her she did well.

Meredith retrieves the bone graft. She happily looks up to the gallery.

Nina turns on the lights in the dollhouse while her mother flatlines. While the surgeons step away from the table, Nina drops a window she was working on, shattering the glass.

Mark is doing his presentation while Derek, Burke, and Addison are trying to see how he's doing. The board's laughing, which confuses them. Bailey comes up. Soon after, Mark guides the board members out of the room to go show them the new clinic. Richard stays behind and tells the others they could learn something from Mark. He didn't get caught up in that 10-year nonsense. He has a right-now plan. Bailey can't believe this.

Nina has received the bad news. She should have brought her mother in sooner, when she first threw up. Izzie tells her that Cathy was ready to leave her body, but Nina's not interested in hearing it. Izzie tells her her mother was afraid that Nina had taken on so much planning to avoid risks that she has frozen up, too. Messing up is what makes a person, it's how we learn. There's joy to be found in the things you haven't planned for.

George and Izzie are in the locker room by themselves. Izzie says it was a mistake. They need to figure out where they go from here. George won't tell Callie. He won't clear his conscience at her expense, because she has done nothing but support him. This is his to live with. She agrees to keep it a secret.

Cristina checks up on Doug, who keeps staring at where his foot used to be. He doesn't know what to do now. She tells him to move forward, follow the plan, and keep his other foot.

Alex is doing an ultrasound on Ava's baby. Addison comes in and compliments him. He never complained today, even though all he got to do was watch a monitor. She tells him good night. Ava wakes up. She noticed the sparks between Alex and Addison. Alex tells her she's his boss, so it's complicated.

Cristina comes home and joins Burke in bed. She tells him the ceremony has to be small and not religious. Also, she's not wearing a veil.

Meredith and Derek are snuggling in bed. She tells him she let Mark use her dead mother to score points, but it's exactly what Ellis would have wanted. She asks about his interview. He tells her he was distracted. She makes his day better by starting to make out with him.

Izzie takes the sheets off her bed. She sits down and cries.

George and Callie are also in bed. She can smell his clothes through the closet door. Lost in thought about what he did with Izzie, he tells her he's so sorry. Unaware of the true nature of his apology, she says she can live with and goes back to reading her book. He continues to stare at the ceiling.


Main Cast[]

Guest Stars[]


Medical Notes[]

Jane Doe[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Pregnancy
    • Facial deformities
  • Treatment:
    • Facial reconstruction

Mark presented Jane Doe with a few options of what her face could look like after facial reconstruction. Since she couldn't remember what she looked like before, Alex helped her choose a face and she went in for the surgery.

Cathy Rogerson[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva
    • Internal bleeding
  • Treatment:
    • Anti-inflammatory meds
    • Surgery

Cathy, 41, had FOP, which caused bone to grow at the site of any trauma. Movement was limited to her face and hands at this stage in her life. She was in the hospital after vomiting blood. She also had new growths on her back. Callie ran a CT to determine the cause of the bleeding. She had severe internal bleeding. Callie brought in Burke and planned to do minimally-invasive surgery to stop the bleeding. In surgery, they tried several options before ultimately determining that they had to open her up, because they had no way to stop the bleeding otherwise. Despite their best efforts, they weren't able to save her life.

Doug Kendry[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Type II diabetes
    • Abscess on foot
    • Infection
  • Treatment:
    • Foot amputation

Doug came into the hospital with pain in his foot. He just wanted a painkiller, but Cristina said she needed to examine his foot first. She also noted that he had type II diabetes. Once he removed his sock, she saw a large sore on the bottom of his foot. The infection had gone down to his bone, which necessitated amputation.


Song Performer Scene
"La Familia" Mirah
  • Izzie is horrified and sneaks out of bed.
  • Cristina and Meredith walk into the kitchen where Izzie is drinking water.
"Black Cat John Brown" Alamo Race Track
  • The interns have lunch and Izzie talks to Meredith about blacking out. She says she's done it twice.
  • They also talk about other patients.
"Still Alright" Adam Merrin
  • George's memory of sleeping with Izzie. He stands up to Callie's dad and leaves.
  • George goes to Izzie. They both know what happened.
  • They go into a supply closet and have a few awkward moments before George leaves.
"All I Want From You Is Love" Let's Go Sailing
  • Callie and Burke are forced to open up their patient.
  • Nina works on the dollhouse.
  • Cristina amputates the foot.
  • Meredith prepares the bone graft.
  • Mrs. Rogerson is coding as Nina works on the dollhouse. She drops a window and it breaks.
"Sideways" Let's Go Sailing
  • Ava wakes up from surgery and talks to Alex about Addison.
  • Cristina comes home and talks to Burke about the wedding. She wants it to be very small.
  • Derek and Meredith lie in bed and Meredith admits that Mark used her to get points.
  • They start making out.
  • Izzie pulls the sheets off her bed and sits on it and cries.
  • Callie and George are in bed. His clothes still stink.

Notes and Trivia[]

  • This episode's title originated from the song My Favorite Mistake, originally sung by Sheryl Crow.
  • This episode scored 22.30 million viewers.


Episode Stills[]


Izzie: Hours. Hours of out life that are all I can think about and you seriously can't remember?
George: Look, Izzie, I was drunk!. Whatever I did, whatever I said, I'm sure I didn't mean it.
Izzie: Yes George, you meant it. You meant it a lot. You meant it more than once.

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.