Grey's Anatomy Universe Wiki

A surgeon's education never ends. Every patient, every symptom, every operation is a test. A chance for us to demonstrate how much we know. And how much more we have to learn.

Testing 1-2-3 is the twenty-fourth episode of the third season and the 60th overall episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Short Summary[]

The interns take the biggest test of their careers, their first-year medical exams, as the residents attend to three injured mountain climbers. Meanwhile, Callie's suspicions of George and Izzie grow, and Cristina struggles to write her wedding vows.

Full Summary[]

Meredith gets dressed in black.

Meanwhile in the kitchen, Izzie, Cristina, and Alex are studying for their intern exams using Callie's cards. George isn't there, but Izzie says that George has Callie. Cristina and Alex are debating the most frequent cause of diarrhea in hospitalized patient. Meredith walks in and says it's C. diff, which is what killed Susan. Meredith leaves. Cristina says she's going to the hospital first, then funeral, and then exam in the afternoon. She assures the others that Meredith is fine. She just needs to be left alone. They keep studying.

Callie is quizzing George over his intern exam. She looks through George's study book and finds his acceptance letter for Mercy West. He says it's pending the results of the intern exam. Callie celebrates. He has to tell the Chief today. She lists the pros to him working at Mercy West, which is a smaller program, including his being able to actually tell her how his day went. They kiss before she leaves for work.

At the hospital, the elevator opens and Derek sees Meredith in there. They greet each other. Derek consoles Meredith, saying that he brought a black suit just in case Meredith needs him to go with her. She thinks she needs to do this by herself. He gets paged. He steps off the elevator and tells her to let him know if she needs him.

Cristina is walking and studying. Burke walks up to her and she gives him only 5 seconds to talk about the wedding because it is test day. His best man can't make it and he needs her vows. She quickly cuts him off to continue studying because it is test day.

Addison enters the ER, asking Derek, Mark, Callie, and Burke if they all got paged by Richard. They confirm. Addison says this better be good. Mark says Richard might be informing them that he won the race for Chief of Surgery. Bailey walks up to the group and interrupts Mark, saying that Richard will be making his recommendations for Chief of Surgery and Chief Resident to the board tomorrow. Derek wonders why they all got paged then. Bailey tells him that Search and Rescue found the lost climbers who got lost on Mount Rainier. Richard walks up to the group and briefs the attendings on the situation, stating Bailey and Callie will head the trauma team today. He reminds him that there will be no interns due to the intern exam, so every resident and attending will have to do all of the work today. They need to turn every intern away.

In the NICU, Alex is coddling Ava's baby while Ava is quizzing him. Ava comments that the girl has her father's nose, so she'll need a strong personality. Alex points out she remembers her dad. She has no idea where that came from and appears to want to avoid the subject.

While waiting for the ambulance, Richard asks Burke if he's ready. Burke says he's always ready for surgery, but Derek clarifies he meant the wedding. Burke goes on a rant about everything that is currently going wrong, and Derek says he's not ready. Richard remembers the same feeling from his wedding, but that all changed when Adele came down the aisle. Richard tries to persuade Burke to let him be the best man. Derek says he can't do that, due to conflict of interest of being Chief. Burke says he was going to ask Derek to be his best man. Derek is surprised, but he accepts upon finding out he only has to organize a simple bachelor party at Joe's. The ambulance arrives. An EMT briefs the doctors on Dale Winick. They find severe frostbite on his hands. They take him inside.

The doctors are working on Dale, who asks about the others. He's told they are right behind him. Addison calls Callie to help. The interns are looking through the emergency room window. Another EMT rolls in Andy Meltzer to the ER. Burke goes over to examine him and finds seven broken ribs. The interns are in awe. Cristina suspects flail chest and drags Meredith over to observe the patient closer. Cristina hates that today is test day. Meredith agrees. Cristina suggests she asks the Chief to be allowed to take the test later, but Meredith assures her she is fine. Derek brings in the final climber and urges him not to move since he may have spinal injury. Callie tags along as Addison directs them to trauma room 3.

Izzie sees George's face and asks if he's okay. He says he is and tells her about his Mercy West acceptance. Bailey finds the interns observing and scolds for not studying for this very important test, reminding them that the five worst interns get cut from the program. The interns flee and she chases them down the hallway.

Alex catches up with Derek and asks him if the craniotomy could have helped with Ava's memory loss. Derek doubts it since he mostly worked on the speech area of the brain. Alex briefs him about his suspicion and asks if there's a test to run. Derek tells him to run another WMSR and wait for her to remember something else.

Derek walks back to the ER and mocks Addison for her directing all the patients to the trauma rooms. He walks off and Addison is approached by Joe and Walter. She asks if everything is alright. Joe and Walter want a consult from her, because their potential birth mother needs one. They filed an application for adoption but they never thought they would get picked. Addison says they can call her for an appointment, but the mother is here now. They step aside, revealing the mother standing behind them.

Izzie finds George and tells him he doesn't have to transfer. She tells him to think about the other interns. He is the glue that holds them all together. He can't stay here and see her every day and kiss her in elevators. He's a married man.

Alex checks up on Ava in her room. Alex wants to run a neuropsych test on her, but she tells him to go study for his exam. Alex wonders why she's acting like her remembering something is not a big deal. He pieces together that it has happened before. He asks if she knows who she is.

Cristina is quizzing Meredith before she has to go to the funeral. Meredith says that she doesn't have time, but answers the question anyway. A drunk Thatcher steps off the elevator. He comes over to Meredith and uninvites her to the funeral. He said he trusted Meredith to keep Susan alive, but she killed her. Richard stands there trying to calm Thatcher down, but Thatcher stresses that he does not want Meredith near him or the funeral. Molly tells Thatcher that Lexie is waiting in the car and that they need to go. Thatcher repeatedly states that Susan was all he had while walking back towards the elevator. Everyone looks at Meredith.

Alex tells Ava he'll stay in her room until she tells him. She confesses she woke up a few days ago remembering everything. She didn't tell him because there's nothing to tell. He doesn't buy it. Ava says she was in a lousy marriage to the nicest guy. Alex asks about the guy. Ava says they met in college and married the year after graduating. She wanted to go to New York, but he preferred a quiet life on the side of a mountain working in his father's woodshop. She was going out of her mind there. She took off to think and be around other people. She hasn't called her husband because she left him. She refuses to tell Alex her real name.

Cristina, Izzie, and George are all comforting Meredith in the intern locker room. Alex comes in and asks what happened. Richard comes in and tells everyone they all need to head upstairs and that Meredith will join them in a minute. Richard tells Meredith she's not to blame for Susan's death. Thatcher has never been the best communicator. Meredith tells Richard to stop acting like her surrogate father. 

In the ER, Derek and Burke are examining their respective patients. Jack still has feeling in his legs, which is a good thing. Derek asks what happened. The guys tell them that it was clear day, so they were surprised when a storm hit. They were all tied together, so they all fell. When they came to, Lonnie wasn't moving. He died and they had to leave him behind to get to the other side of the mountain. Jack says they no choice, but Dale disagrees.

The interns arrive in the intern exam room and listen to the instructions. George deliberately chooses a seat further removed from Izzie. The proctor tells them they can open the test.

Addison is doing an ultrasound on the birth mother. Serena is feeling fine, except for the worst heartburn she's ever had. Joe is nervous. Serena talks about the other couple. They are 40 and have been trying to get pregnant for 10 years. It's so sad for them. Addison shows them the baby on the monitor. Addison finds that Serena is carrying twins. Joe passes out.

The interns are halfway through their intern exam. George looks up and notices Meredith doesn't have a single answer on her test paper yet. She just sits there staring ahead. He continues filling out his answers.

The exam is over. Meredith walks away without saying a word. George informs the other that Meredith didn't answer a single question. He wants to go after her, but Cristina tells him to give her some time.

Burke asks Callie to scrub in with him to repair his guy's ribs, but Derek needs her, too, because his patient has bone fragments in his spine. Mark also nees her for possible multiple amputations. Bailey has them to rock paper scissors to decide who gets Callie. Burke wins. Mark and Bailey stay behind while the rest leaves. Mark wonders how it feels not to have to worry if Richard will pick her for Chief Resident. After he leaves, she smilingly says it feels pretty damn fine.

Meredith walks past Derek, ignoring his asking how it went. Cristina is following her and tells Derek she's got this. 

Meredith sits down in the waiting room alone while Cristina, Izzie, Alex, and George watch her from a distance. Fearing Meredith might have to repeat her year, Izzie tells Cristina to do something, but Cristina says that she doesn't know. She and Meredith don't fail things. They all get paged by Bailey and hesitantly leave Meredith.

Bailey gives Cristina, Alex, and Izzie their assignments. She then tells George that choosing Mercy West is a bad idea, because this program is the best. George says this is what best for him given his personal problems. She doesn't care, but she does care about his career. She repeats it's a mistake. As he walks off, George ignores Izzie as she tries to talk to him. Callie is watching them.

George finds Meredith in the waiting room and sits by her. He talks about how life is a fast train and how nice it is to get off for a moment. Meredith zones out while he talks about how you make terrible decisions when parents die. She says he needs to go since he's still on the train. George hesitates, but she says it's okay and urges him to go. He then gets up and leaves.

Adele calls for Addison in the ER. She was in a fender bender. Addison asks if she's okay and starts to page Richard. Adele takes her pager away and says her life is no longer of Richard's concern. As Addison starts asking questions, Adele mentions she is pregnant.

After an ultrasound, Addison tells Adele that the baby is fine but Adele is spotting a bit. Addison would like to keep her overnight for observation, but Adele refuses. Addison reasons with her given the pregnancy at her age. Adele had accepted she would never have kids, but here she is, pregnant at 52 and soon to be divorced. Adele again makes sure Addison won't tell Richard.

Addison walks out of her room simultaneously as Richard walks towards her. Richard says he's heard the news. Addison starts panicking and asks him what news. Richard was referring to Joe and Walter's adoption status. Thinking that the birth mother was in the room Addison just left, he wants to stop by and put in a good word for the couple. Addison successfully convinces him not to enter the room. Richard walks away.

Alex sits down next to Meredith. She wonders if he's going to give her an inspirational speech too. He says no and just sits there in silence.

Izzie finds George in the hallway. George says he can't talk as he's about to head to surgery. Izzie states that they should set their problems aside and help Meredith. George says there's nothing to do. Besides, he's gone in a week. Izzie asks if his transfer means they aren't going to be friends anymore, but he doesn't respond. They then overheard Dale and Andy's conversation as they talk about having left their friend behind. Andy thinks they made the wrong decision.

Addison rants to Callie in the scrub room about seeing pregnant women everywhere, which bothers her now that she knows she is barren. She then sees the look on Callie's face and thinks she's pregnant, but Callie says she's just thinking about it. With George leaving and them getting a fresh start, it might be the right time. Addison seconds that and tells her not to let her rant stop her.

George approaches Richard to talk about Meredith.

Burke, Cristina, Bailey, and Callie are operating on Andy. Cristina doesn't get why people go mountain climbing. Burke understands it, since it helps you realize what you're made of. Callie did it all the time in college. It's intense and painful, but nothing beats the feeling of getting to the top. Callie finishes stabilizing Andy and scrubs out.

Callie enters Mark's OR, asking how Dale is doing. Mark tells Callie that it's worse than he thought. Dale has no healthy tissue left in his hand. Callie suggests bilateral amputation. Izzie tries to reason against the amputation, stating that the left arm has less damage. Mark doesn't want to take Dale's hands, but when the infection is that deep, there's no other choice.

Derek and George operate on Jack. Derek asks about Meredith's exam. George is surprised that Meredith hasn't told him.

Alex walks into Ava's room and the two start arguing again about her staying quiet. He reminds her that Missing Persons and the FBI are all looking for her, but she says her husband hasn't. He tells her that if she doesn't tell someone that she's okay, he will. She argues that the public will take her side over his since he knows nothing about her. Alex says that is right and walks out.

George scrubs out. Izzie walks in and asks him why he paged her. He says he thought of a plan to help Meredith, but he needs Izzie's help on it. He doesn't want to leave this program without knowing she's still in it. Izzie tells him that he's not leaving the program. They made a mistake. They both wanted it to mean something because then they aren't just a cheater and a mistress, but the truth is it meant nothing. She assures him she does not have feelings for him.

Izzie keeps it together as she walks out, but as soon as she enters a supply closet, she breaks down crying.

Mark congratulates Callie on a successful day. He tells her that maybe the Chief Resident race isn't so close after all. At that time, Bailey comes up and asks Callie if she's running for Chief Resident, to which Callie replies she is. She hadn't thought about it. Callie tells Bailey she's good at what she does. She's more than qualified. They all know Bailey is the Chief's favorite, but that doesn't mean she can't take a shot.

Izzie brings Meredith to the conference room, where Richard is waiting for her. He is allowing her to retake her intern exam. Meredith tells him that he's not her father. Richard knows that. Meredith starts crying and Richard consoles her.

Derek walks by the conference room and sees Meredith retaking her exam while the other interns are sitting on the stairs, waiting for her. He smiles and walks away. Alex is glad that test day is over, but Cristina prefers that over her wedding day tomorrow.

Addison goes to Joe's Bar and meets up with Derek, Burke, and Mark. She wonders why she's the only girl he invited. She isn't here for entertainment. She offers to buy drinks for everyone. Mark follows her to give her a hand. Burke doesn't know if Cristina wrote her vows yet. Derek has no idea how Meredith is doing. They agree life shouldn't be this difficult, but Burke thinks it will all have been worth it when he sees Cristina walking down the aisle.

At the bar, Mark asks Addison about LA. She says it was different. She tells him things don't have to be awkward. They tried their best, but a failed relationship doesn't mean that they can't be friends. Mark suggests that they could be friends with benefits. Addison tells him to not push it. Mark takes a few drinks back to the table. Addison asks Joe about Rina. Walter is taking her to the bus station. After his fainting, Joe isn't sure he's cut out to be a father, but Addison tells him he's going to be a great father, whenever it happens. Joe asks her if she ever thinks about having kids. She replies she does all the time.

Richard leaves for the day and sees Adele in the hallway. Adele sees him and hurries into the restroom. Richard tells her that he knows she saw him and asks her to come out of the restroom, but there's no response.

Cristina, Callie, Meredith, and Izzie are all helping Cristina with her vows at Meredith's house. Cristina doesn't like the forever part of vows. Callie says they are like that in the beginning, but then it fades. Izzie disagrees. She says they are all just used to it, but if they couldn't be with the person they loved, him promising to honor and cherish them forever would mean a lot. Her rant makes Callie suspicious. Meredith saves the situation by asking if Izzie was talking about Denny, which Izzie confirms, but Callie's not too sure about that.

Meanwhile at the bar, Derek walks past a girl and smiles at her. She smiles back. She walks up to him at the bar and asks if she can buy him a drink. He comments she's forward, which she says she gets to be after a bad day. Derek declines since he's with friends. The girl says, "That's too bad," and walks away. He thinks she might be right.

George is sitting in the waiting area by himself.

Ava finds Alex in the NICU. She reveals that Rebecca Pope is her real name. Alex smiles.

Richard still has no response from Adele. He enters the women's restroom and finds Adele laying on the ground motionlessly. He rushes over to help.

Addison sees Walter and the birth mother return to the bar. The birth mother complains of a really bad heartburn and then passes out. Addison instructs Joe to call an ambulance.

Bailey is on the phone with Tucker. She sees a patient being wheeled into the ER and tells him she'll call him back. She goes over to help. Paramedic Nicole tells her it's the fourth climber, who is clinging to life. She removes a blanket covering the patient's head, revealing an ax embedded in his skull. Bailey wonders what the hell happened on that mountain. They wheel the man into a trauma room.

Richard finds Adele bleeding and repeatedly calls for help.


Main Cast[]

Guest Stars[]




Medical Notes[]


  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:

Ava finally remembered her life before the accident. She denied remembering anything, but Alex asked Derek to run tests. She later confessed that she had woken up a few days prior and remembered everything. She told Alex her name was Rebecca Pope.

Dale Winick[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Frostbite
    • Infection
  • Treatment:
    • Cefazolin
    • Bilateral hand amputation

Dale, 32, was brought into the hospital with injuries related to being stranded while hiking. He had frostbite on his fingers, which they treated with warm water, but unfortunately, both of his hands had to be amputated.

Andy Meltzer[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Broken ribs
    • Antero-lateral flail chest
    • Frostbite
  • Treatment:
    • Surgical stabilization
    • Osteosyntheses

Andy was another of the climbers brought into the hospital. He had several broken ribs which was compromising his breathing. He needed surgical stabilization, which Callie performed.

Jack Vaughan[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Bone fragments in the spinal cord
    • Frostbite
  • Treatment:
    • Internal fixation
    • Laminotomy

Jack was another of the climbers. He couldn't feel his legs, so Derek suspected a spinal injury. Later, he was able to feel Derek touching his feet, but Derek said they'd need an MRI to know the full extent of his injuries. He had bone fragments in his spine, so Callie performed an internal fixation.


  • Diagnosis:
    • Pregnancy
    • Heartburn
  • Treatment:
    • Pre-natal care
    • Antacid

Rina was Joe and Walter's potential birth mom. They brought her to Addison for a pre-natal exam. An ultrasound revealed that she was carrying twins, which she didn't know. She also had serious heartburn, for which Addison prescribed an antacid. Later, she came into the bar with severe pain in her chest and then collapsed, so she was taken to the ER.

Adele Webber[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Pregnancy
    • Miscarriage
  • Treatment:

Adele, 52, came into the ER after being in a minor car accident. She also told Addison that she was pregnant and she was spotting, so Addison wanted to keep her overnight for observation. Later, she passed out in the bathroom with vaginal bleeding.


  • Diagnosis:
    • Head trauma
  • Treatment:

Lonnie, the fourth climber, was brought into the ER with an axe in his head.


Song Performer Scene
"The Rope is Long" Let's Go Sailing
  • Meredith dresses for Susan's funeral.
  • Cristina, Izzie, and Alex are studying the exam when Meredith comes in.
  • Callie helps George study. She finds his Mercy West acceptance and is excited for him.
  • He's not as enthused.
  • Derek gets on the elevator with Meredith. He offers to go with her to the funeral, but she declines.
"Wake Up Alone" Amy Winehouse
  • Callie, Cristina, Bailey, and Burke operate together and talk about mountain climbing.
  • Callie finishes her work and leaves.
  • Mark is working on his patient's hands and Callie agrees they need to be amputated.
  • Derek and George are operating together. George tells Derek about Meredith freezing during her exam.
"Corner of Your Heart" Ingrid Michaelson
  • Ava refuses to tell Alex her real name.
  • Izzie and George talk in the scrub room about Meredith. Izzie tries to talk George out of leaving the program.
  • Izzie leaves the room and cries.
"Stains of Saints" The Weather Machines
  • Addison joins the bachelor party.
  • Derek and Burke talk about the wedding.
  • Mark asks Addison about LA.
"Million Faces" Paolo Nutini
  • Izzie lies and says she was talking about Denny.
  • Derek sits at the bar and is approached by a woman, who asks to buy him a drink.
  • He says no, so she walks away.
  • George sits alone.
  • Ava goes to Alex and tells him her real name: Rebecca Pope.
  • Richard finds Adele bleeding on the bathroom floor.
  • Walter brings Risa back to the bar. She collapses to the floor.
  • Bailey tries to talk to her son, but hangs up when paramedics bring in the fourth climber, who has an ax in his head.
  • Richard calls for help for Adele.

Notes and Trivia[]

  • This episode's title originated from the song Testing 1-2-3, originally sung by Barenaked Ladies.
  • This episode scored 19.58 million viewers.
  • This episode marks Chyler Leigh's first appearance on the show as Meredith's sister, Lexie Grey.
  • This is the only episode in which all of the Grey sisters (Meredith, Lexie, and Molly) appear.


Episode Stills[]

Behind the Scenes[]


Mark: The bachelor party was short handed. Which explains why I'm here.
Addison: I'm the only woman here. Am I supposed to the be the entertainment? Because I'm not stripping.
Derek: That's all right, we've all seen it before.
Mark: True.
Burke: I haven't.

Izzie: Who's gonna hold us together when you're not here? You're the glue. You're George.

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.