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

Disappearances happen in science. Disease can suddenly fade away, tumors go missing, and we open someone up to discover the cancer is gone. It's unexplained, it's rare, but it happens. We call it mis-diagnosis, say we never saw it in the first place, any explanation but the truth. That life is full of vanishing acts. If something that we didn’t know we had disappears, do we miss it?

Walk on Water is the fifteenth episode of the third season and the 51st overall episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Short Summary[]

A catastrophic mass casualty incident has the interns (sans Cristina) sent into the field with Bailey to do damage control. Back at the hospital, the Chief has dyed his hair and Addison is the only person who defends him. Cristina wants to tell Meredith about her engagement, and wants Meredith to hear it from her first - not easy when word begins to spread among the attendings.

Full Summary[]

Meredith's in the tub while her voice over talks about disappearances. She goes under and closes her eyes. After a while, Derek comes in and calls her name, but she doesn't respond. He pulls her out of the water and asks what she's doing. She doesn't respond.

Izzie is watching George's empty room. All his stuff is gone. Meredith and Derek appear in the hallway as they argue over what happened. He thinks she's depressed over what her mother told her, which she denies. Ellis's surgery is today. It's triage day so Richard will give her the day off if she asks for it. Meredith doesn't want the day off. She doesn't need him to pull her out of the tub. He's always there. He says that's the happily ever after part. He's her knight in shining whatever. Derek walks off and Meredith assures Izzie she didn't try to drown herself. Izzie won't judge since she ate everything she could find in the fridge last night. Meredith wishes she could be a happily ever after kind of person. Izzie doesn't know what she believes in anymore.

At the hospital, Cristina tells Burke they are not telling anyone until she's told her friends. He wants to tell Derek, but Cristina wants to tell Derek first. He reminds her this is not a disaster. Cristina assures him she'll tell her friends today.

Addison is on the elevator with Richard as Derek gets on. He notices Richard dyed his hair. Addison tells him to leave Richard be. Burke and Mark get on as well, and they notice it, too. Addison repeats what she told Derek. Burke wonders why. Richard confesses men with gray hair are noticed less by women. Mark starts laughing. The others compliment him. Addison tells the men that Richard is all alone, which none of them really know.

Bailey and Callie are gathering supplies from the clinic to set up triage training. Callie is talking about being George's wife and boss, which is weird. Bailey refuses to hear about their sex life. Sydney Heron enters and compliments Bailey on her clinic. She comments it was smart thinking for the Chief Resident position. She herself has mastered several complicated surgical procedures. Bailey doesn't understand. Sydney explains that the Chief Resident is the fifth-year resident that rules all residents. Sydney, as a competitor, doesn't buy that she didn't know that.

Meredith watches her mother from outside the room. Ellis doesn't appear to recognize her. In the locker room, Meredith notices that Cristina keeps looking at her. Cristina finds she's cranky today, so she refrains from telling the news. Alex complains about missing out on surgeries for the triage training. Izzie asks George how he likes living in a hotel, because his room is still available. George says it's very condescending.

In the pit, Izzie's up for triage training with Sydney functioning as patient with an arm fracture. Izzie rules out compartment syndrome, so a splint and ortho follow-up will do. Sydney claims she's dead due to sepsis, because Izzie missed the fact that it was an open fracture. Bailey stresses that patients could die if they aren't assessed correctly. Next up is Alex. As Callie joins Bailey in stressing the importance of triage, George accidentally takes a picture of her with the instant camera. Callie takes George aside and tells him not to undermine her authority. Bailey orders him to put the camera back where it belongs in the clinic. Richard comes up with news about a mass casualty incident. He needs to send a team into the field. This is not an exercise. He has no details about the incident.

Bailey and her interns are packing for to go to the field. Cristina tells Meredith she has news. Meredith hopes she's not pregnant again. The group walks out of the ER. They are riding with an ambulance and places are limited. They have no clue where they are going. Paramedic Nicole says she only has place for five people, so Bailey orders Cristina to stay behind and help the Chief with the incoming patients. Meredith asks about the news. Cristina tells her to forget it. She stands back and watches the ambulance drive off.

In the ambulance, Bailey reminds everyone to wear their IDs on the outside of the jacket. She has Alex list the triage tags: green for non-emergent, yellow for delayed care, and red for emergency. They have to get critical patients on the ambulance as soon as possible and stay out of the way of search and rescue. Most importantly, they have to stay calm. The ambulance arrives and they get out. They are shocked to see that a container ship has crashed into a ferry, which is on fire. The pier is buzzing with first responders and wounded passengers.

The interns wonder where to start. She tells them there's no protocol. They just have to help people. They all spread in the chaos.

George catches up with a paramedic who is performing CPR, but he gives up. He explains the container ship clipped the ferry due to a fog bank. George notices the near-by black zone for corpses.

Meredith is examining a woman and concludes her injuries are minor. She promises her she will be helped soon. Meredith then notices a crying girl. She looks around for the girl's mother, but she doesn't find her. She notices the girl has wet her pants and comforts her.

Derek and Burke are discussing the accident. Derek has a thing for ferry boats so he knows they are safe. Burke has a nurse reschedule surgeries. Derek says something's wrong with Meredith. She sort of tried to drown herself and she won't talk about what's going on. It's like he's living with a ghost. Burke is surprised that Derek is confiding in him. He then tells Derek about his engagement to Cristina and that she needs to tell Meredith first. Derek and Burke agree these two women are different. Mark comes up and overhears them talking.

Callie runs into Sydney in the clinic. Callie wanted to help out with the non-emergent patients from the pit that were sent here, but Sydney's got it covered. Callie stresses she's not trying to take the clinic away from her, but Sydney insists that she's got it. Callie says she'll leave to go find herself a cool trauma surgery while Sydney works on the banal cases down here. Sydney does her best to hide her disappointment.

Izzie is accosted by a man with burns. She directs him to the treatment area, but he needs her to come with him because one of his buddies is trapped under a car. Izzie says he needs search and rescue, but the man says they tried but they are backed up.

Richard sends Derek out to the field on the next rig because there are a lot of head injuries. Richard asks Mark for an update. Mark gives him updates on Derek's and Burke's relationships and then recommends highlights for his hair. He then leaves to go save lives.

Alex finishes up with a patient who is taken to the treatment area. As he goes to pick up his bag, he notices a body sticking out from under a cement pylon. He goes down to check and finds it's a pregnant woman with a severley crushed face. He checks and says she's dead, but as he walks off, he hears her whimpering. He shoves the pylon off of her and calls for help.

On the ferry, Izzie and Vince arrive at the place where Rick is trapped under the car. Vince tells Rick he's going to be okay because he found a doctor.

In the ER, Cristina and Richard watching a news broadcast about the accident. They confirm there are fatalities while there are still people being evacuated. Richard sends Cristina to set up supplies. He also congratulates her on her engagement. She thanks him. He reminds her they are preparing for the worst here.

George is working in the red zone and has a paramedic take away a couple of people who didn't make it, including a child. A woman overhears him. She's looking for her son. George tells her the child was a girl and that she needs to be taken to the hospital, but she doesn't want to leave without her son. He's only 7. George promises her he'll find him if she lets him take her to triage. She agrees to that.

Izzie is examining Rick. Vince explains they were driving to work together. When the accident happened, they tried to help people, but then there was this big jolt that landed Rick under the car. Izzie sees injuries to the chest and legs and a broken arm, and she suspects pelvic and spinal injuries as well. However, there's not much she can do until they get him out. Vince tells her to do what she can. Izzie gives Greg her red tag to show search and rescue and instructs him to say that Rick can't wait.

Derek sends one patient off to the hospital and jumps in to help on another one. He has Meredith assist him as he applies a bandage. Meredith is still holding the little girl's hand. Derek wonders if Meredith wants to get married. She doesn't. Neither does he. He wonders what's going on then.  She says nothing is. They're done, so Meredith walks off with the girl while Derek takes the patient up to an ambulance.

Addison informs Richard that all elective procedures have been cancelled. She'll also make sure that all possible patients are discharged in order to free beds in the surgical wing. Richard was planning on doing that. Addison says it's so quiet. Richard says they are expecting the first wave soon. As he walks off, Addison says she dyed her hair blonde the day after Derek left. Change is good. He's starting over and so is she.

Cristina is scolding Burke for telling Derek about their engagement. Now Meredith will only care about the fact that Cristina didn't tell her herself. Burke wonders why she didn't. She had 45 minutes of triage training with her friends before the ferry crash. Cristina says the patients are coming in soon and leaves.

Alex and a paramedic are on a rig while caring for the crushed woman. She's hypothermic so they can't find a vein for an IV. They go to turn the woman on her side to her BP up, but she grasps Alex's arm. He looks her in the eyes and tells her her baby is doing okay. He explains they need to roll her on her side to help her circulation. They do so, and it works. Alex tells her that she has to take care of herself now for the baby. He urges her to breathe through the pain.

Cristina joins Richard out in the ambulance bay. All they can do is wait. Addison and Callie come out, too. They hear the first ambulances approaching.

Meredith tells her girl to find another grown-up to help her find her mother. Meredith then sees a wounded businessman pulling himself onto the pier. She leaves the girl with a police officer and runs up to the man. The police officer is called over to help somewhere. He asks the girl to stay right here and walks off. She soon disappears.

Derek helps Bailey load a patient into an ambulance. She's going to ride back with this one. They discuss Bailey's interns, but Derek has only seen Meredith 10 minutes ago, when she was on her way here with the girl. Bailey hasn't seen her arrive, which worries Derek.

Alex arrives in the pit with the crushed woman. Addison and Richard get on the case, but Alex doesn't respond when Richard asks what to do now. Cristina joins in and says ABCs. She wants to do a trauma panel, type and cross, and order CTs of her head and neck. They take the woman to trauma room 2.

In the trauma room, Burke joins the team. The woman grasps Alex's arm as she's still worried about the baby. Addison reminds the doctors to shield the mother in radiology. Burke wants to focus on stabilizing her first. Richard assigns Cristina to the case and sends Alex to the clinic to update families. Alex objects because he pulled the woman out of the water. Richard says that's brave but he repeats his assignment. Alex reluctantly leaves.

George arrives at the ER with Carly Height, the woman who was looking for her son. She has an abdominal wound with omental evisceration. Bailey says they need to get her to an OR asap. Carly keeps talking about her son and tells Bailey about her deal with George. She refuses to go into surgery before her son is found. Bailey tells George to go find the boy in a hurry. They'll start with the work up already.

On the ferry, Rick keeps losing blood. Izzie runs out of gauze from the bag. Another friend of Rick's leaves to go find paper towels. Rick complains of pain, but Izzie has given him all the pain meds she had on her. Izzie ponders setting Rick's arm, which might help with the pain. Vince notices she's hesitating and wonders why. She denies it and tells Vince to hold Rick's hand. Izzie talks herself through the procedure, which has Rick doubt her for a second. She starting and sets the arm.

Meredith asks the businessman what happened. He says some metal thing hit his leg. He was thrown off the ferry and swam to the pier. She starts to apply pressure to the gushing wound on his leg. Blood leaks through the gauze. She looks up and sees the little girl standing next to her.

Meredith tells the girl to turn around and not look while she works on the leg.

Burke joins Cristina in the CT boot. He says he'll do this so she can cover his service. She thinks he can join him in the OR when she's done with his pre- and post-ops, but he tells her to go back to the ER instead. He needs her on the floor rather than the OR. She claims to have no problem with that.

George is making calls to see if Chris Height is somewhere. George wants to tell Callie about Chris, but she's too busy preparing for surgery to be his wife. The person he called has no information.

Meredith calls for help, but no one notices her. She asks the girl to turn around. They have to work together to save the man. She tells the girl she also doesn't talk when bad things happen, so she can stay silent while she helps. The girl finally turns around. Meredith urges her not to look at the blood. Meredith can't move her hands, so she has the girl retrieve tweezers from her bag.

Cristina asks Alex what the crash site was like. Alex is still frustrated that she stole Jane Doe from him, especially because he climbed down and pulled the pylon off her. Now he gets stuck babysitting families. Cristina says she's also not on the case anymore as she needs to do sutures in the ER. That makes him feel better.

Sydney is handing out juice in the clinic. She tells everyone they should be hearing about their injured loved ones soon.

Izzie splints the arm. Rick's friend says they told Rick not to go back to help people out of the cars, but Vince says that's just the kind of guy Rick is. Rick has 5 kids. Izzie says she doesn't need to hear about the kids now. Vince is still holding Rick's hand. Greg comes back with the message that search and rescue will come when they come. They got 15 red tags. Rick tells them not to worry about him and loses consciousness.

Alex enters the trauma room to check up on Jane Doe. He tells her he won't be in surgery with her. He tells her she survived while dozens of people died, so she better still be alive when he comes to check on her after the surgery. Addison overhears him talking from the doorway. She tells him the mother and baby are both stable. She tells him he did good. Addison says they'll do everything they can. He wonders if Jane will get to carry her baby to term. Addison sends him back to the clinic.

In the OR, Bailey tells Carly it's time to operate or her bowel will die. She begs Bailey to wait. George comes in and shakes his head to Bailey. Carly sees him and asks him if he's found her son.

Izzie finds that one of Rick's pupils is blown, meaning they don't have a lot of time. Rick is seizing. Izzie says there's nothing she can. Vince says that's not enough. She has to figure out a way to help Rick right here, right now.

Alex walks into the clinic. The worried family members circle him. He assures him they are doing everything they can. He has a list with patients they identified, but a woman says it's the same list they give them half an hour ago. She suggests letting them go down to the ER so they can look for themselves, but Alex shoots that down. The family members all start yelling.

Meredith has stitched up the businessman's leg. There's no more bleeding. Meredith thanks the girl for helping. They only have to bandage up the leg, find transport to the hospital for him, and then they can look for the girl's mother. The man starts panicking. Meredith tries to calm him down, but he knocks her off the pier. The little girl is the only one to see her fall into the water, but she walks off when Meredith doesn't immediately surface.


Main Cast[]

Guest Stars[]



Medical Notes[]

Ellis Grey[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Alzheimer's disease
  • Doctors:
  • Treatment:

Ellis was still in the hospital after her heart surgery.

Meredith's First Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Minor injuries
  • Treatment:
    • Oxygen

Meredith told a woman she had minor injuries and would be taken to the hospital.


  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:

Burke rescheduled a patient's valve replacement to free up an OR for incoming traumas.

Jason Kay[]

  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:

Sydney called Jason Kay up to be examined in the clinic.


  • Diagnosis:
    • Chest injuries
    • Leg injuries
    • Broken arm
    • Crush injuries
    • Blown pupil
    • Seizure
  • Treatment:
    • Closed reduction

Rick was trapped under a car. He had injuries to his chest and leg as well as a broken arm. Izzie also guessed that there was damage to his spine and pelvis, but she couldn't be sure because he was still trapped. Izzie used bandages and gauze to treat as much as she could, but decided to reduce his arm break to help with the pain. As she continued to treat him, he passed out. Izzie noted a blown pupil just before he started seizing.

Alex's Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:
    • Oxygen

Alex sent a patient to the treatment area to be patched up.

Jane Doe[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Pregnancy
    • Facial injuries
    • Hypothermia
    • Crush injuries
  • Treatment:
    • Surgery

Alex found a pregnant woman under a pylon. He believed she was dead and tagged her as such, but as he went to leave, he heard her moan and saw her hand moving, so he pulled the pylon off her body and got her into an ambulance to be taken to the hospital. In the ambulance, she had to be placed on her side to bring her blood pressure up. They took her from the ER to get tests and then scheduled surgery.

Carly Height[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Open abdominal wound
    • Evisceration
  • Treatment:
    • Surgery

Carly, 45, was injured, but was more concerned with finding her son than getting treated. She finally agreed to surgery when George lied and told her they found her son.

Derek's Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:
    • Bandaging

Derek and Meredith bandaged a patient before sending her to the hospital.

Bailey's Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:

Bailey rode back to the hospital with a patient.

Business Man[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Leg laceration
  • Treatment:
    • Stitches

Meredith treated a man who had a large gash on his leg. She stitched his wound up and set him to go to the hospital, but he lashed out and knocked Meredith off the pier into the water.

Callie's Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:
    • Surgery

Callie told George she had a patient who needed surgery. The patient was later identified as Chris Height.

Identified Patients[]

  • Diagnosis:
  • Doctors:
  • Treatment:

Alex brought a list of identified patients to the group waiting in the ER: John Jay Anders and Curt Demorat were on the list.


Song Performer Scene
"The Hop" Radio Citizen
  • Meredith is lying in the tub. She goes underwater, which scares Derek, who pulls her up out of the water.
  • They argue about Meredith's mother. Meredith says she's fine.
  • Izzie tells Meredith there's no judgment from her.
"Opposite Direction" Union of Knives
  • The interns ask Bailey what to do and she tells them she can't hold their hands before sending them out to help people.
  • George sees the carnage.
  • Meredith treats a patient and then spots a little girl alone.
"Liar" 8MM
  • Izzie sends her patient's friend out with a tag to get help.
  • Derek and Meredith work on a patient together.
  • Meredith continues walking the little girl to the tent.
  • Addison is working to clear as many beds as she can.
  • The first wave from the scene is expected soon.
  • Addison says she dyed her hair blonde after Derek left her. Change is good.
"Make This Go On Forever" Snow Patrol
  • Alex talks to Jane Doe before her surgery.
  • Addison comes to take her for surgery and sends Alex back to the clinic.
  • Bailey tells Carly she needs surgery. George comes in.
  • Izzie continues her work.
  • Alex brings the list of patients to the waiting room. They're upset because it's the same list they already had.
  • At the scene, Meredith finishes treating her patient, but in pain, he pushes her off the edge into the water.
  • The girl turns and walks away from the edge of the water.

Notes and Trivia[]

  • This episode's title originated from the song Walk on Water, originally sung by Aerosmith.
  • This episode scored 25.20 million viewers.
  • This was one of the most expensive episodes of the show to shoot, due to all the green screens and tons of extras.
  • The scenes at the ferry crash site were shot at the Santa Anita race track.
  • The episode doesn't have a closing voice over.


Episode Stills[]

Behind the Scenes[]


Callie: This is weird. Weird. This is weird, right?
Bailey: I need more triage tags...
Callie: Working with someone I’m married to is weird. Here, I’m his boss and his wife. At work, I’m giving him orders, in bed... He’s giving me...
Bailey: Stop! Right there, I don’t need to know this. I’m tired, I’m busy. While I will concede that you and O’Malley have some challenges to overcome, I’m asking you to remember that this day is a marathon and my mind can only hold what it needs to know, your sex life cannot be held in my mind today... Ever! It cannot be in my mind ever! Never!
Callie: Whatever.

Cristina: Meredith, I have a
Meredith: You’re not pregnant again, are you? 'Cause I can’t handle the extra months of bitchiness.

Addison: (to Richard) I dyed my hair blonde... the day after Derek moved out. Change is good. Your marriage is over, you're starting over. So am I.

Richard: (to Mark) What's the news?
Mark: Shepherd and Grey are on the rocks. Burke and Yang got engaged. You need highlights in your hair. That's why it looks so odd. I'm gonna go save lives.

Alex: (to Jane Doe) Hey. I'm not going to be able to make it to your surgery today. (she reaches for his hand and grabs it) Here's the thing. You were crushed by a pylon. Dozens of people on that ferry boat died, but you're alive, so when I come back to check on you later, you better still be alive. Do you hear me?

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.