We live out our lives on the surgical unit. Seven days a week, fourteen hours a day. We're together more than we're apart. After a while - the ways of residency - become the ways of life. Number one: always keep score. Number two: do whatever you can to outsmart the other guy. Number three: Don't make friends with the enemy. Oh, and yeah, number four: everything, everything is a competition. Whoever said that winning wasn't everything never held a scalpel. There's another way to survive this competition. A way no one ever seems to tells you about. One you have to learn for yourself. Number five: it's not about the race at all. There are no winners or losers. Victories are counted by the number of lives saved. And once in a while, if you're smart, the life you save could be your own.

Winning a Battle, Losing the War is the third episode of the first season and the 3rd overall episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Short SummaryEdit

A bike race injures several people, one of whom is left brain dead. Cristina and Izzie want to use his organs for organ donation, but they find the organ harvesting process an emotional one. Meanwhile, George deals with an over-flirtatious patient, and Meredith has to deal with Izzie and George moving in, Alex showing off, and keeping Derek at arm's length.

Full SummaryEdit

Meredith is in bed. It's 4:37am and raining.

Izzie stares from beside Meredith's bed holding some coffee saying that George's bedroom is bigger than hers. Meredith gets up but trips and falls flat on her face. She limps away.

Following her, Izzie explains that she needs the space as she has more clothes.

George butts in saying he got there first but Izzie says that its Meredith's decision.

Izzie stands over a sleeping Meredith.

George tells Izzie that his room is just two inches bigger than hers but Izzie says that he has a bigger closet.

George tells Izzie to just put her clothes somewhere else but she insists that everywhere is filled with Meredith's mother's boxes. They hesitantly ask Meredith if they can put the boxes in storage or unpack a few things like lamps, painting or pillows to make the house more homey. Izzie and George quickly ask if they can watch the tapes of surgical procedures from one of her mother's boxes but Meredith slams a door in their faces; a moment later, she re-opens it and takes Izzie's coffee and shuts the door again. She slumps against the other side of the door, holding her coffee.

Bailey stands on a street corner looking confused, Shepherd joins her and says hello but she tells him to be quiet and that something important is to happen today but she can't remember it. Derek walks forward to cross the road, Bailey gasps and grabs him as several bike riders race past and two crash.

At the hospital Bailey complains to the interns saying they're just fools on bikes killing themselves. Alex asks George if Bailey is off her medication and George is surprised he never heard of the race. Webber, Burke, and Shepherd are standing in front of the O.R Schedule board. They note its done out well so they might get an early night but Bailey tells him that "Dead baby bike race day" started 20 minutes ago. George and Meredith explain that every year a bar hold an underground bike race and that is completely illegal. Bailey begins complaining again, "Crazy, a bunch of bike messengers racing against traffic trying to beat each other for free shots of tequila". Bailey tells them she needs someone to get up to the OR floor, the Chief needs a right hand. Everyone's hands (except Meredith's) shoot up and Bailey picks George.


Bikers of The Dead Baby Bar.

Bailey warns the others not to mingle with the E.R interns (who apparently don't know their ass from their esophagus). They are to sew fast, discharge fast, take bodies up to the OR yesterday. Her final warning is not to fight over patients. The interns run and jostle for position and see injured bike riders everywhere. Izzie and Cristina race off to grab a patient.

Meredith sees a man with bicycle spokes in his side. Alex and Meredith race towards him.

Behind a curtain, Alex and Meredith fight over the patient but after a while of them arguing, the patient, Viper, pulls back the curtain and asks if they can just take the spokes out so that he can win his race. Meredith tells him that they have to run some tests first but Alex just takes them out telling Meredith that its a superficial wound, not surgical. Alex leaves Meredith to sew him up.

Cristina, Izzie, and Derek stand over a patient. Cristina tells Derek that he is an "unidentified John Doe, mid-thirties pedestrian, hit by a motorist swerving to avoid a bike, GCS 3, pupils fixed and dilated, atropine given for a pulse in the forties". She continues to diagnose him and Burke announces that the bike race claimed its first victim. Izzie asks if he will be brought to the O.R but Derek tells her just to perform confirmatory tests and if he doesn't respond in six hours they should declare him brain dead.


Alex removes the spokes from Viper.

Webber is in surgery and George appears asking if he should scrub in. Webber says no, he is stuck in the O.R. all day so George has to monitor his pre-op and post-op patients. Webber tells him to pay special attention to a friend of his in room 4451 called Lloyd Mackie. In his bed, Lloyd light a cigarette but George tells him he has to put it out and smoking kills. Lloyd says that liver cancer will kill him and the cigarettes are just speeding it up. George insists there is hope, that he is at the top of the donor list. Lloyd tells him he has been at the top of the donor list for eight months.

Izzie and Cristina are with their patient. Izzie worries that he won't respond and they only have 5 hours left but Cristina tells her that if he doesn't respond to the tests it means hes already dead. Cristina then says that she just wants him to hurry up and go into the light so she can get another case. Izzie looks shocked, she talks about how it's a waste of his life. Cristina then says it is a waste of good organs too and Izzie catches on to her plan.

Meredith sews up Viper and while she does, he flirts with her calling her a "rocking babe". She ignores it and pleads with him to let her do some tests and that she could have him gone within an hour. He tells her no, he has to finish the race so before he goes she asks him to sign an AMA form. After he signs the form, he gets up to leave but turns around, grabs Meredith and kisses her. Viper leaves and Meredith shakes her head and begins to strip the bed. She looks up and sees Derek standing outside. Derek enters and Meredith asks if he's jealous, he tells her he isn't but he almost died today, how would she feel if she never got to go out with him. She tells him to get over himself and then asks him if it's the chase. Derek looks surprised but Meredith tells him it's the thrill of the chase and its just a game to him. Angry, she storms out.

GA103 159

Meredith and Viper.

Bailey is doing surgery and Izzie and Cristina come in. They ask if they can harvest their patient's organs. Surprised, Bailey tells them that if they can ID the patient, contact his family, and get consent forms. Izzie and Cristina hurry away. Alex walks over to a desk where George is. George explains that he is hiding from Lloyd because he thinks Lloyd may be attracted to him. Alex tells him to go for it but quickly realizes that George isn't gay. George looks shocked as Alex walks away. Izzie and Cristina come up to the other desk. George asks Cristina if she or Meredith think he gay. She asks him if he is and when he says no, she is surprised. A woman comes over to Izzie and Cristina returns there. Izzie hands over a hotel key card for her to give to the police and when they finish talking, George asks if they really have a potential organ donor. He asks for the blood type and then compares with his chart.

Izzie looks at her John Doe and speaks to him "Okay, well, I know you probably can't hear me, and you're feeling this big push to go towards the light, where everything is all haloes and all-you-can-eat buffets and stuff, and I mean, sharing your organs is really great and all, but I think you have a family. I can feel it. So I think it'd be great if you could do me a favor, and get better. Just So you think you could give that a shot for me?" Suddenly, an alarm goes off and he begins to crash and his pulse drops. Meredith runs in and after a few tense moments they decide to get the dopamine, and the blood to transfuse him.

George examines Mackie while Mackie flirts with him while Izzie and Meredith go up some stairs. Cristina meets them and she is excited because their patient could become an organ donor but Izzie insists that he gets the surgery to live. Cristina then tells Meredith that they need to go higher than Bailey for their plan to work. Cut to Burke in the men's room. Meredith opens the door.

In the men's bathroom, Meredith and Cristina look in to see Burke. They ask him to repair John Doe's heart and he notes they like to cross the line, he then tells them to either whip out a penis or get out.


Cristina and Meredith follow Burke into the bathroom.

Meredith asks Derek for advice so he hesitantly tells her to go over Burke's head and go to the Chief. Izzie, Meredith and Cristina ask George if he wants to be in a transplant surgery. When Webber asks how Mackie is doing, George tells him they can have a liver for Mackie and the Chief listens intently. Alex sees the others watching George and Webber. Burke walks past and Webber stops him to tell him about the surgery. As Burke looks at the other interns they hurry away. Alex stays, and when Burke turns to leave, goes after him.

In the open heart surgery Alex assists Burke. From the gallery, the interns glare at Alex but Izzie is just happy their patient is getting the surgery. A nurse enters and tells Izzie that their John Doe has been identified and his wife is coming.

Derek introduces the wife, Shelley Davidson, to Izzie and then leaves, telling them to page him if they need to. Izzie tells her that her husband could wake but if he doesn't change by morning, they would like to know if she'd considered organ donation for Kevin. Webber shakes Mackie's shoulder lightly, he tells him that George found him a liver. Mackie glances up at Webber and then to George. His faces begins to break up and he looks away, trying desperately not to cry while Webber pats his shoulder. George leaves. Alex bursts into the locker room to see Meredith, he tells her he smells of open-heart surgery and he starts nuzzling her hair. Meredith turns around grabbing him, pushing him against the lockers by his shirt. She tells him to stay out of her way and that he smells like crap. She turns and they both see Derek. Meredith goes back to her locker, she then goes to really attack him, and Derek tells Alex to leave. He pushes Alex out the door and closes it while Alex pulls a face at Meredith. She closes her locker and makes as if to leave, he opens the door for her and she looks at him again for a few seconds, then strides away. Meredith enters her apartment while Izzie and George go through video tapes. Meredith is furious, asking why they touched her mother's surgical tapes. She storms upstairs and Izzie and George exchange looks and giggle.


Cristina discusses organ donation.

Outside the hospital Meredith explains to Cristina about how perky and helpful her roommates are and Cristina's suggests that she kick them out but Meredith decides that she can't. Alex comes up behind them as they enter the hospital he complains about being stuck in the pit again and Cristina getting the harvest surgery, annoyed with Alex they both jokingly consider becoming lesbians. The elevator dings but they go for the stairs.

Cristina talks to Kevin's wife and little girl. She goes over the form for organ donation with her but when Shelley gets teary, Cristina leaves the room explaining to Bailey she isn't a people person and it is too hard. Bailey tells her that no one said it would be easy for her but the man is a person not just someone to harvest organs from. Remembering this, Cristina re-enters the room and talks with Shelley again. George examines Mackie. When Mackie begins to flirt with him again, George awkwardly tries to tell Mackie that he is not gay. Mackie smiles and explains that he never thought George was gay and neither is he. He tells George that dying is a get-out-of-jail-free card. He can be as bold as he wants, and there's nothing anybody can say about it. He proceeds to ask George if there was ever anyone George was attracted to but couldn't have, after a while George says, Meredith. In the organ harvest preparation Burke talks about how he never liked harvesting because he saves lives and harvesting ended one, Izzie quietly whispers to Kevin that he did his best and says her goodbyes.


Viper swollen,

Meredith and Alex work in Trauma and Meredith sees Viper waiting in a chair. She asks Alex why he is there and how long he's been waiting, but Alex says he doesn't know, he was busy on real cases. Viper starts to cough and Meredith walks worriedly towards him. He tries to get up and she runs to him, but he falls unconscious and blood is starts to come out of his mouth. She lifts up his shirt and sees that his stitches have ripped open and the area around them has swelled up to the size of a small melon. Meredith gets Viper on a gurney, she gets on top of him and tries to hold his wound closed, she asks a nurse to tell the OR she is on her way and to page Bailey. They arrive and go into the OR. Bailey tells Meredith to scrub in and for Alex to get back down stairs as punishment for only having time for the hot cases. Mackie goes into surgery and the Chief has him count backwards.

Izzie and Cristina scrub in and Webber and Burke enter. Webber tells them he'll be next door when they're ready. They operate. The organs are placed in plastic bags and special sealed containers. The liver is placed on ice and George takes it and hands it to Webber, who places it in Mackie. Back to the harvest, and alarmed beeping has commenced. The heart is being removed. Everyone packs up to go, but Izzie remains. Cristina looks back at her and Izzie explains that she wants to sew him back up for his family, Cristina turns back to help her. Cristina and Izzie later meet Shelley and tell her he is ready. Cristina looks pensive to Viper's friends, who are also waiting. Bailey and Meredith walk out to see them. Bailey then starts shouting, Is he okay? No. No, he is not okay, at all. He hurled his body down a concrete mountain at full speed for no good reason. Yeah, I know you all pierce yourselves and smoke up and generally treat your bodies like your grungy asses can't break down to A, you want to kill yourselves, flying down a concrete mountain, go to it, but there are other people walking, people driving, people trying live their lives on that concrete mountain, and one of them got his brains scrambled today because one of you little sniffling no-good snot-rag -, Meredith interrupts her so Bailey calms down telling them that in her opinion, he is not fine, she storms off. Awkwardly, Meredith tells them that Bailey is tired but Viper will make it.

Meredith packs up her things in the locker room and Derek comes in and shuts the door. He tells her it is not the chase, it's not a game, it's her hair. Meredith raises her eyebrows and he explains that it smells nice. He then says it is also her bossiness. She tells him she still won't go out with him but he leaves saying, "You say that now.". George tells Mackie the surgery went smoothly and Mackie sighs, he has to quit smoking and then smiles, holding George's hand.



Meredith opens her front door. Izzie, Cristina, and George are eating pizza, drinking beer, and watching a surgical tape. Everyone stops to look at Meredith and George quickly blurts out that Cristina made them watch the tapes. Cristina glares at him.

Meredith asks what they are watching, sits down and grabs some popcorn. They watch for a few seconds and then suddenly, they all recoil screaming and laughing with shock at the tape.


  • Meredith Grey
  • Cristina Yang
  • Izzie Stevens
  • Alex Karev
  • George O'Malley
  • Miranda Bailey
  • Richard Webber
  • Preston Burke
  • Derek Shepherd
  • Lloyd Mackie
  • Viper
  • Shelley Davidson
  • Anesthesiologist
  • Nurse
  • Grungy Chick
  • Viper's Male Friend
  • Shelley's Daughter
  • Nurse #2

Main CastEdit

Guest StarsEdit



Medical NotesEdit


  • Diagnosis:
    • Abdominal lacerations
    • Internal bleeding
  • Treatment:
    • Stitches
    • Surgery

Viper came into the ER with bicycle spokes poking into his abdomen. Alex assumed the wounds were superficial, but Meredith wanted to run more tests. Viper just wanted them pulled out and his abdomen stitched so he could get back to the race. Before Meredith could finish telling him that they couldn't just pull the spokes out, Alex pulled them out and told Meredith to stitch him up and let him go back to his race. Meredith stitched up the wound but advised Viper that he'd be leaving the hospital against medical advice, so he'd have to sign a form, which he did. Viper later came back into the hospital and collapsed. Meredith saw that his abdomen had re-opened. She held the wound closed with her hands as they took him up to an OR. Bailey operated and then told his friends that he would be okay. Viper was also seen awake after surgery, happily taking pictures with his friends.

Kevin DavidsonEdit

  • Diagnosis:
    • Widened mediastinum
    • Cerebral edema
    • Traumatic aortic injury
    • Brain death
  • Treatment:
    • Dopamine
    • Blood transfusion
    • Packed red blood cells
    • Pressors
    • Aortic repair
    • Organ harvesting

Kevin was brought into the hospital after being injured during the bike race. He was hit by a car that had swerved to avoid a bike. Izzie and Cristina were told that if he didn't respond in six hours, they'd have to declare him brain dead. After 5 hours and 33 minutes, while Izzie was sitting by his bed, Kevin started to code. They gave him a blood transfusion and dopamine as treatment. Cristina had a radiologist look at his scans and that revealed that he had a traumatic aortic injury, meaning he needed surgery. They put him on pressors and went to Dr. Burke to ask him to do the surgery. Knowing that Richard had a friend who needed a liver transplant, they recruited George to go to him to convince Burke to operate. The surgery was successful, but he was declared brain dead. At this point, his identity was discovered and his wife and daughter came to the hospital. His wife consented to the donation of his organs, so he was taken into surgery to have them harvested.

Lloyd MackieEdit

  • Diagnosis:
    • Liver cancer
  • Treatment:
    • Liver transplant

Lloyd was in the hospital with late-stage liver failure due to liver cancer. He had been on the top of the donor list for eight months. He was able to get a liver when Kevin Davidson was pronounced brain dead and his organs were donated. The transplant went well and Lloyd woke up after surgery.

Bailey's PatientEdit

  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:
    • Bowel resection

Izzie and Cristina entered the OR when Bailey was performing a bowel resection.


Song Performer Scene
"There's a Girl" The Ditty Bops
  • Meredith awakes to see Izzie there. Izzie's upset because George got the bigger room.
  • They fight as Meredith goes downstairs and gets clothes.
  • Back upstairs, Meredith shuts them out of her room and then re-opens the door to steal Izzie's coffee before closing the door again and slumping against the back of it.
  • Bailey stands on the side of the road.
"I Won't Be Left" Tegan and Sara
  • Alex comes in after surgery gloating and tells Meredith to smell him.
  • She pins him up against a locker and tells him off.
  • When Derek comes in, he stops her from going after Alex again and then sends Alex out.
  • Meredith and Derek have a moment and then Meredith leaves.
  • Meredith comes home to find Izzie and George going through her mother's surgical tapes.
"Wishful Thinking" The Ditty Bops
  • Meredith vents to Cristina about Izzie and George.
  • Alex complains about being stuck in the pit.
"Hear You Breathing" Stuart Reid
  • Bailey teaches Cristina how to approach her patient's family.
  • Cristina goes back in to talk to them.
  • George prepares Mackie for his surgery and Mackie flirts.
"You Are My Joy" Reindeer Section
  • Mackie is sedated for surgery.
  • Izzie tells Cristina she doesn't want to watch Kevin get taken apart.
  • Cristina convinces her to stay anyway.
  • Burke scrubs in.
  • Burke retrieves the organs and hands them off.
  • Richard places Mackie's new liver as Burke removes Kevin's heart.
"Fools Like Me" Lisa Loeb
  • Derek finds Meredith in the locker room and tells her it's not the chase.
  • He tells her what he likes about her, but she says she still won't go out with him.
  • Richard tells Mackie his surgery went well.
  • Meredith watches Viper take pictures with his friends.
  • Meredith comes home to find the others watching her mom's videos.
  • She sits down to join them.

Notes and TriviaEdit

  • The episode begins at 4:37am.
  • This episode's title originated from the song Winning a Battle, Losing the War, originally sung by Kings of Convenience.
  • This episode scored 17.99 million viewers.
  • This episode is the first one to explicitly feature a gay (or bisexual) character.
  • When harvesting Kevin's organs, the last organ to be removed is the heart. Typically thoracic organs, i.e. heart and lungs, are removed first, the heart in particular as its viability is shorter than other organs and it must be transported to a recipient quickly.
  • This episode is directed by Tony Goldwyn, who would later be cast as President Fitzgerald Grant III in Shonda Rhimes's other TV show Scandal.
  • Goof: Despite this episode taking place in summer, there are several coats hanging in the interns' locker room.


Episode StillsEdit


Cristina: Oh, it's like candy, but with blood, which is so much better.

Cristina: How much would you kill to be in on a transplant surgery?
George: You underestimate me. I'm not a baby, I'm your colleague. You don't have to manipulate me, if you want something, all you have to do is ask.
Izzie: We want you to go over Burke's head to the chief.
George: Ask me something easier.

Cristina: So what, you're just going to repress everything into some deep dark twisted place until one day you snap and kill them?
Meredith: Yup.
Cristina: This is why we are friends.

Bailey: Fools on bikes killing themselves. Natural selection is what it is.

Meredith: The Dead Baby Bar.
George: Every year, they hold this underground bike race.
Izzie: Don't you wonder why someone would name a bar something so disgusting?
Cristina: Keep your panties on, Nancy Drew.

George: What kind of people engage in a race that has, as its only rule, that you can't rip out the eyeballs of another human being?
Alex: Men, Georgie, men.

Bailey: Okay people, the rules of trauma. Don't mingle with the ER interns, they don't know their ass from their esophagus. Sew fast, discharge fast, take bodies up to the OR yesterday. Don't let me catch you fighting over patients. Got it? Come on, let's go.

Alex: What're you doing?
George: Hiding. There's this VIP patient, he likes me.
Alex: Well, that's good, right?
George: He likes me likes me.
Alex: Go for it, man, get yours. I'm down with the rainbow. Oh. Are you not gay?
George: No.
Alex: Really? Dude, sorry.

Burke: You gave a brain-dead John Doe a blood transfusion without consulting anyone. And now you want me to repair his heart.
Cristina: Well, yes.
Burke: You do enjoy crossing the line, don't you?
Meredith: He is an excellent candidate for organ donation.
Burke: I am a surgeon. I save lives. This guy is already dead. Now, this is the men's room. Either whip one out or close the door.

Alex: God, I smell good. You know what it is? It's the smell of open heart surgery. It's awesome. It is awesome. You gotta smell me.
Meredith: I don't want to smell you.
Alex: Oh, yes you do.
Meredith: You have got to be kidding me! Okay. I have more important things to deal with than you. I have roommates, and boy problems, and family problems. You want to act like a little frat boy bitch, that's fine. You want to take credit for your saves, and everybody else's? That's fine too. Just stay out of my face. And for the record, you smell like crap.

Derek: It's not the chase.
Meredith: What?
Derek: You and me. It is not the thrill of the chase. It's not a game. It's your tiny, ineffectual fists. And your hair.
Meredith: My hair?
Derek: It smells nice. And you're very, very bossy. It keeps me in line.
Meredith: I'm still not going out with you.
Derek: You say that now.

Meredith: They're everywhere. All the time. Izzie's all perky, and George does this thing where he's helpful and considerate, they share food and they say things and they move things, and they breathe. They're like happy.
Cristina: Kick them out.
Meredith: I can't kick them out. They just moved in. I asked them to move in.
Cristina: So what, you're just going to repress everything into some deep dark twisted place until one day you snap and kill them?
Meredith: Yup.
Cristina: This is why we are friends.

Bailey: The patient. What's his name?
Cristina: Kevin Davidson.
Bailey: Remember that. Not gorked guy, not John Doe, Kevin Davidson. He's someone's husband. Someone's son. Not a collection of body parts for you to harvest, a person. Now no one said this was easy.

Bailey: Meredith, go get cleaned up and scrub in, Alex, get back downstairs.
Alex: Yeah, but I helped.
Bailey: Helped! They tell me down in the Pit that you only want to take the hot cases. In every pack of interns there's always one fool that's running around trying to show off, and Alex, this time that fool is you. Get out. Somebody get me something to stand on, lower this table. The mountain's going to have to come to me.

Viper's Friend: How is he? Is he okay?
Bailey: Is he okay? No. No, he is not okay, at all. He hurled his body down a concrete mountain at full speed for no good reason. Yeah, I know you all pierce yourselves and smoke up and generally treat your bodies like your grungy asses can't break down to A, you want to kill yourselves, flying down a concrete mountain, go to it, but there are other people walking, people driving, people trying live their lives on that concrete mountain, and one of them got his brains scrambled today because one of you little sniffling no-good snot-rag...
Meredith: Doctor Bailey!
Bailey: Yeah, yeah so no, your friend Viper, as far as I'm concerned, is not okay.

Derek: You and me. It is not the thrill of the chase. It's not a game. It's... it's your tiny ineffectual fists. And your hair.
Meredith: My hair?
Derek: Smells good. And you're very, very bossy. Keeps me in line.
Meredith: I'm still not going out with you.
Derek: You say that now.

Meredith: What are we watching? Ooh. This is the one where my mother...
Izzie: Literally pulls this guy's face off!

See AlsoEdit

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

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