Grey's Anatomy

Season 5 Episode 13

Stairway to Heaven

Aired Thursday 8:00 PM Jan 22, 2009 on ABC
out of 10
User Rating
439 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Bailey grows desperate as a patient's condition becomes more and more dire. Everyone in the hospital is stepping up to try to find the boy a new organ donor, including Meredith, who considers a death row patient's wish to die before execution. Meanwhile, an injury leaves Mark in a compromising position in the OR, Cristina awkwardly avoids Owen, and Izzie finally learns why Denny has been appearing to her.moreless

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  • Another episode.

    There are flaws.

    1. Denny is stupid. Keeping him around 3 seasons later is also very stupid.

    2. Mark loses a good amount of weight over the seasons.

    3. Grey is a twisted nightmare conceived from some twisted nook from shonda's past. She has been and always continues to be throughout the show.
  • This episode made me remember how I felt after watching one of the old times episodes.

    I'm not liking the whole bringing back Denny thing, it really dropped with that, I find it boring and sick, even silly.

    However, the serial killer arc was excellent, not from the begginig, but in this episode it kind of exploded.

    It didn't have lots and lots of sex as always, instead it made us think about something very controversial as death sentence, and about how Meredith was able to see 'greys' in this man, who had killed several people.

    It also touched another hot topic, that is, organ donation, how far should it go? Crossing the lines, should those lines be modified?

    So, to conclude, if it weren't for Denny this episode would be perfect.

    I still scored it 10 because the ending, when Meredith is watching the execution was just brilliant.moreless
  • Music makes this show yet again

    This episode made me realise why I like Grey's Anatomy. It's the breathtaking use of music. Not that I didn't know that music can make a show but something clicked in my head during the finale song by Aussie band Powderfinger. It is emotion of Grey's which makes it so involving. And music is key to that.

    Recently I've been watching my old ER DVDs and although that show is terrific, their use of music is rubbish. I can count at least a dozen songs which have been used in Grey's, often songs I'd never heard of before but went out and downloaded immediately after I finished watching the episode. (Chasing Cars especially springs to mind.)

    With ER. None.

    The Meredith/death row storyline came to it's climax in this episode. I had anticipated that the guy's organs would be used to save the child so am VERY glad they avoided that cliche. And that the Doctors didn't make decisions they would possibly live to regret to save the life of the little boy.

    And Derek's mother is dead right about Meredith. It IS easy to find compassion for good people. The fact that Meredith can find compassion for people who are not so good is what the audience loves about her too. How can she judge people when she herself is so flawed. Which is a pertinent point about humanity: let he (or she) who is without sin cast the first stone.

    I'm not sick of the Denny storyline. Mainly because I love looking at the actor. And it's nice to see a tv show which doesn't gloss over grief - these things do take time. Often in tv land, a person recovers from physicl or psychological trauma in one episode. In real life it can take years to recover. If at all.

    This is one of the few shows I'm watching at the moment which isn't boring me. I feel like they still have fresh ideas and things to say. And characters which aren't long past their sell by date.

    I look forward to seeing what will happen next.moreless
  • It hurts to even talk about this episode!!

    By far the WORST episode of Grey's anatomy to ever air. I felt like shooting myself after the first 20 minutes of the show and it only got worse in the other 20 minutes. This show should either improve drastically or just go down the drain. They finally decided to quit the whole meredith drama (Thank GOD) only to start even worse ones. Denny is very annoying and so is ezzie, the psycho sleeping with the dead!! What were the writers on? I can't help but wonder!! the whole crazy meredith and the rest of the staff was just painful to watch. Overall, I Do NOt REcOMMEND this episode except to people I dislike!!moreless
  • If it weren't for the Izzie/Danny storyline (one I was fed up with eons ago) this episode would have gotten a 9.5 from me. I found myself torn, just like Mer, how to feel towards the PDR and am looking forward to the McEngagementmoreless

    Truth to be told, I haven't been watching Grey's Anatomy for long, only since last October I think. In this short amount of time I have found myself getting more and more emotionaly attached to the characters I see every week on my computer screen. I liked the first two seasons very much indeed but seasons 3 and 4, though still good, were not up to par. This season however would be, in my opinion, the best one yet if it weren't for Denny and Izzie taking up far too much screen time with a storyline that I didn't like much in the first place. What I have enjoyed most about this season is the Mer/Der relationship, how stable and yet normal it feels, and now they are getting engaged and I can't wait!moreless
Ellen Pompeo

Ellen Pompeo

Dr. Meredith Grey

Sandra Oh

Sandra Oh

Dr. Cristina Yang

Katherine Heigl

Katherine Heigl

Dr. Isobel "Izzie" Stevens

Justin Chambers

Justin Chambers

Dr. Alex Karev

T.R. Knight

T.R. Knight

Dr. George O'Malley

Chandra Wilson

Chandra Wilson

Dr. Miranda Bailey

Eric Stoltz

Eric Stoltz

William Dunn

Guest Star

Samantha Mathis

Samantha Mathis

Melinda Prescott

Guest Star

Amy Sloan

Amy Sloan

Brain Dead Patient's Wife

Guest Star

Kevin McKidd

Kevin McKidd

Dr. Owen Hunt

Recurring Role

Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Denny Duquette

Recurring Role

Melissa George

Melissa George

Dr. Sadie Harris

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • "Penile fracture," as Mark suffers, can (very rarely) happen when an erect penis encounters unusual force. What "breaks" -- or rather tears -- is the tissue that creates the erection.

    • Denny asks Izzie if she believes in Heaven. In the season 2 episode "Into You Like a Train", Bonnie asked that of Tom (they were the people impaled on a metal pole). Weirdly enough, in the season 3 episode "Some Kind of Miracle", Denny and Bonnie knew each other in Meredith's afterlife.

    • Denny first says that he's here for Izzie in the episode These Ties That Bind. Izzie finally figures out what he means by that in this episode. He also says it in a couple of other episodes leading up to this one.

  • QUOTES (27)

    • (After Meredith went to see William's execution. Derek knocks on Cristina's door)
      Derek: She's in the car. She's in the car and she won't stop crying.
      Cristina: Did you propose?
      Derek: No. She went to William's execution. (the next shot is of Cristina in the car with Meredith, and Derek sitting on the steps outside of Cristina's apartment)

    • Bailey: I crossed a line today... I crossed a line.
      Richard: ... So did I.

    • William: I'm alive.
      Meredith: Yes, you are.
      William: I was playing you. Your boyfriend was right. I wanted to destroy your career, I was playing you, the whole time, Dr. Grey. And I wanted to be here to see the fallout.
      Meredith: You were scared, William. Death is scary, I would've been scared too.
      William: It would be nice to have a friendly face in the crowd... When they kill me.

    • Izzie: I can feel you. I can smell you. If you're dead, how come I can smell your skin? So, I'm thinking, ... maybe you're not dead. Maybe that was the part of me that was crazy, maybe this is the not crazy part. You- You are still alive, right? That's it?
      Denny: I'm sorry, no.
      Izzie: Are you a ghost? Or... a dream, or...?
      Denny: You're a doctor, Izzie. A scientist. Think like a scientist.
      Izzie: I am! I am! Scientists believe what they can see. What they can feel. Facts. Hard facts! (she slaps him) I slapped you. That is a fact. I felt your face on my hand. Fact. I can feel your breath against my skin. Fact. (she kisses him)
      Denny: Izzie... Izzie...
      Izzie: What's happening?
      Denny: You tell me.
      Izzie: I'm scared.

    • Derek: You should've paged me a long time ago. Better yet, when I asked you how he was, you should've told me the truth.
      Meredith: I was following the patient's wishes.
      Derek: The patient's wishes? He doesn't get wishes. He killed five women.
      Meredith: As much as you believe that you're right. I think that I'm just as right. If I said something to you, there would have been a debate.
      Derek: He's been manipulating since he got here. He preys on young women.
      Meredith: I made a decision as his doctor.
      Derek: It was a bad decision. It was the wrong decision. You're gonna scrub in on this surgery, and you're gonna watch while I try like hell to undo what you did.

    • Ryan: Did you hear that Sloan broke his goods?
      Sadie: What?
      Ryan: In the on-call room. I swear to God, I heard him screaming.
      Sadie: What? With Torres?
      Ryan: I don't know, maybe. But whoever it was, whoever rode 'em and broke 'em, that's a girl I want on me. (he walks away, leaving Lexie sitting there looking guilty)
      Sadie: Was it Torres?
      Lexie: How-- How should I know? It's not my business. It's nobody's business. And it's definitely not yours. I mean, not-not-not that I know but, if I did know who broke Mark Sloan's... penis. I wouldn't even tell you because we're not even friends. I mean, I took out your appendix and it almost ended my career, that-that doesn't make us close.

    • Cristina: Please tell me that you paged Shepherd.
      Meredith: He wants to die.
      Cristina: Meredith, what are--
      Meredith: He's gonna die anyway, in a few days. And if he dies here, we can donate his organs to the ten year old who's gonna die down the hall. And Derek won't allow it. So, no, I didn't page him, and I hope that you won't either. I know that you think this is wrong, just let me do this.

    • Izzie: You are like the guy who graduated from high school and still hangs out on the football field.
      Denny: Do you believe in heaven?
      Izzie: What?
      Denny: Heaven.
      Izzie: I don't know. I guess.
      Denny: Because I thought that maybe this was heaven. Getting to be here with you... But now, now I'm not so sure. I think that this may be hell or...
      Izzie: What are you talking about?
      Denny: I am here for you.
      Izzie: You're here for me. I know. I got it. I heard you a thousand times. ... I choose Alex. I'm sorry. I am. I really sorry.
      Denny: And I'm still here. You broke up with me, and I'm still here. Doesn't that tell you anything?
      Izzie: It tells me that you're jealous. That you don't want me to be happy, that you don't want me to choose.
      Denny: Damn it! Listen, to me. You can't pick Alex. I'm here for you!
      Izzie: Denny...
      Denny: I want you to be happy, Izzie. I do. And I would leave, if I could. You think I that I wanna stay here while you tell me that you want another man? I can't go because you won't listen to me. ... I'm here for you.
      Izzie: What does that even mean? What does it mean?
      Denny: You're a doctor, Izzie. Figure it out.

    • Derek: Ah, Cristina. (shows her the ring)
      Cristina: It's a ring.
      Derek: It's from my mother. Well, it's from me, but it was my mother's but I'm gonna give it to Meredith soon. So, what I'm looking for is an opinion on whether she's gonna like the ring, or I should have the setting re-done for something more modern?
      Cristina: That's-- That's really not my job.
      Derek: Look, I know that you two are still fighting. But isn't it about time that you wrap that up? I ask because when I propose to her, she's gonna need somebody to freak out to. ... She misses you. A lot. You must miss her too, right? I don't know what's going on in your life, but you must have something that you need to freak out about to her too, right?
      Cristina: I'm sorry. I think that you should ask someone else.

    • Lexie: Oh, Dr. Torres! Thank God you're here.
      Callie: I'm headed down to the pit. I got a 911 page. Page ortho if you need anything.
      Lexie: Ah, no, no, n-no. It was me. I-I paged you, 911, for- for Dr. Sloan. He's the emergency. He's-- Him-Himself. It's-- It's on his person.
      Callie (worried): Wait, Mark's hurt?
      Lexie: Yes. No-- Yes! He's badly injured, in-in-in a-a bad way, that's bad for anyone... Who's a man. But for Dr. Sloan in parcticular.... He-He may have broken a... bone...
      Callie: A bone?
      Lexie: He broke a bone. I-I... (whispers) I broke his bone.
      Callie (chuckles): You're kidding, right? (Lexie just stands there looking worried. Callie's expression turns worried too, and they both run off towards the on-call room)

    • (Mark and Lexie are having sex in the on-call room. The interns can here them outside the door)
      Ryan: Don't even tell me...
      Dani: Locked.
      Ryan: People sleepin' or...? (hears moaning) Why do I even bother askin'?
      Dani: This is ridiculous. I need sleep! (Mark screams)
      Steve: That's not a good noise.
      Dani: That's a bad noise.
      Ryan: That's a really bad noise. (they all run away from the door)

    • Meredith: I know it feels wrong. It feels wrong on so many levels, I can't even count them. But there is no case in any medical book that tells you how to deal with this situation.
      Bailey: I don't need a book. I know what to do, what's best for my patient. I suggest that you do the same.
      Meredith: I am.
      Bailey: But-- Really? You page Shepherd yet?
      Meredith: Are you gonna page 'em?
      Bailey: ... I'm going to do my best to keep that beautiful boy alive long enough to find him some organs. I suggest that you do every thing that you can to keep your patient alive because we're doctors, Grey. We're not exicutioners.

    • Izzie: Why? Why are you still here?
      Denny: I'm here for you, Izzie Stevens.
      Izzie: No, no you're not because I broke up with you. So, you're not here for me. I'm sorry, but you have to go.
      Denny: I can't go. I'm here for y--
      Izzie: Me. Yeah, right.
      Denny: I am. I'm here for--
      Izzie: Stop! Stop saying that.

    • Izzie: Heaven and hell.
      Denny: Yes.
      Izzie: You're here.
      Denny: Yes.
      Izzie: No... you're not here for me, you're here for me... You're here for me.
      Denny: I loved you so much... I loved you so much, that when I got to come back for you I thought... you're my heaven, but maybe... Maybe I'm your hell.
      Izzie: I'm sick... I'm sick aren't I? And instead of telling me-- instead of telling me to save my life...! (Izzie shoves Denny) You son of a bitch! (Izzie shoves Denny again) You selfish son of a bitch! I hate you... I hate you!
      Denny: I didn't know if... that there was a chance, miracles happen. Medical miracles happen everyday! And you said that, you said that!
      Izzie: Leave... Leave!
      Denny: I can go now because you know, but its your choice, you get to choose but Izz, if I go I don't know if I can come back. If I go...
      Izzie: In a choice between heaven and hell I choose heaven, I choose life! Go! (Izzie shoves Denny) Get out of here. Go! Get out of here!
      Denny: I really hope this is heaven.
      Izzie: Go!
      Denny: Yeah.
      Izzie: What are you waiting for? (Denny walks over and kisses Izzie)
      Denny: This.

    • Denny (closing voiceover): Heaven. Hell. Limbo. No-one even knows where we're going. Or what's waiting for us when we get there. But the one thing we can say, with absolute certainty, is that there are moments that take us to another place. Moments of Heaven on Earth. And maybe for now, that's all we need to know.

    • Meredith (to Derek about William's execution while starting to cry hysterically): I know you don't understand me. ... I don't understand me. I wanted to show him compassion. That's why I went. That's the reason. And it was horrible. It was horrible. (Derek hugs her)
      Derek: It's okay.

    • Owen: I planned the whole evening, last night. A real date. It was a clear night, one of the five Seattle gets all year. I was going to take you to the West Point Lighthouse and we were going to watch the Northern Lights together. ... I'd like another chance. ... I want you to give me another chance.
      Cristina: You've got some problems. You've got some big problems.
      Owen: Yeah. Yeah, I do. ... Will you go out with me anyway?
      Cristina: ... Yes.

    • Bailey: Dr. Shepherd?
      Derek: Dr. Bailey.
      Bailey: I... I need you to stop. I need you to put down the scalpel. This man is trying to kill himself and, God forgive me, I need you to let him. (goes to commercial)
      Derek: You need to leave my OR, Dr. Bailey.
      Bailey: Five days. In five days this man is going to die. And his organs are going to go with him, they'll be buried with his body and they'll rot in the ground, and that is... It's a crime. It's a crime against life. And it's only five days, that's it, that's all that we're taking from him. And he doesn't want them anyway.
      Derek: You took an oath, Miranda.
      Bailey: I know. That I know. We took an oath... But right now, that oath makes no sense. It makes no sense, it doesn't so... Stop. Just stop. Don't do anything else for this man. Derek: If I stop this surgery, it's the same as me sticking this scalpel into his brain. is that what you want?
      Bailey: Yes. That's what I want. (scene change, then back)
      Cristina: He's hemorrhaging through his crainictomy, should I at least put in a drain? Derek: That's up to Dr. Bailey.
      Cristina: Dr. Bailey? ... Dr. Bailey, should I at least put in a drain?
      Bailey: No.
      Cristina: There is a lot of bleeding, we should--
      Derek: I'm aware of that, Dr. Yang.
      Cristina: Sir, really soon.
      Derek: It's your call, Dr. Bailey. It's up to you. Am I an executioner? Or I am a surgeon? It's up to you. It's your call.
      Bailey: ... Pick up the scalpel.

    • Alex: Where the hell have you been?
      Izzie: I uh... I had some stuff.
      Alex: Dead man talking stuff?
      Izzie: ... Yeah, I don't know.
      Alex: This kid is dying in front of his mom. It's so bad that Dr. Bailey, Dr. Bailey can't stay in here and watch. It's bad but we're busting our asses to save him, and you're talking to a dead guy. Look, you wanna do that crap at home fine, but not here. Here you're a doctor.

    • (All the interns are in the gallery watching Mark's surgery)
      Steve: I heard that it was this physical therapist from the rehab floor, who does this fancy yoga thing, where she like turns herself into a pretzel while she's on top of a guy.
      Pierce: She quit two weeks ago.
      Dani: I thought it was Torres.
      Ryan: Well, whoever it was, is going down in Seattle Grace history. Sloan is a legend. Can you imagine the kind of muscle it takes to break a man like that? I mean... (they all laugh)
      Lexie: Shut up. Just shut up about it.
      Ryan: You know something.
      Lexie: Yeah, I-I know that it's nobody's business.
      Pierce: She totally knows something. Did you see somebody come out of the room?
      Dani: Maybe it was her.
      Lexie: What?
      Sadie: It was me, okay? It was me. I do this twist and shout thing that blows most guy's minds, but I guess I twisted a little too far, and almost took the whole thing off, okay? (Sadie smiles at Lexie who silently thanks her)

    • Owen: Yep, that's a penile fracture.
      Mark: Oh, I'm going to kill myself.
      Owen: We should operate and then you can kill yourself.
      Mark: Oh God.
      Callie (to Owen): Can you do it?
      Mark: Him? Oh, no, no. He's a meatballer.
      Callie: He is meticulous and he will keep his mouth shut.
      Owen: I've done operations like this before. It's not that complicated.
      Mark: Guys run into this problem on the battlefield, do they?
      Owen: I don't think you and I should talk about how guys run into this. (to Callie) Line up an OR. We need to do this fast, or you risk permanant damage.
      Mark: Oh God, no permanant damage. Please. (they walk out and Lexie walks in)
      Lexie: Hey...
      Mark: Little Grey, go away. I don't want you to see me like this.
      Lexie: But I made you like this.
      Mark: I'm sayin' please here. ... Please? (Lexie leaves)

    • Bailey: Did you page Shepherd?
      Meredith: I paged you.
      Bailey: Page Shepherd!
      Meredith: The patient doesn't want that.
      Bailey: Oh really? He tell you that?
      William: Yes, don't page him, he's terribly unpleasant.
      Meredith: Mr. Dunn is a match for your kid who needs the transplant. He's a match.
      Bailey: Uh huh. ... You probably have a brain bleed which is why we need to get Shepherd in here.
      Meredith: Dr. Bailey, he's gonna die anyway.
      William: The boy who needs organs, I presume wants to live. And me? ... I have organs. And I'm ready to die.

    • Owen: Cristina, I-I want to apologize for last night. It was not my intention to arrive in that state.
      Cristina: You don't have to say anything.
      Owen: As a rule, if I'm showering with a woman, I do it without my clothes. And if I get in her bed naked, I don't pass out. And if I-
      Cristina: It's okay.
      Owen: It's not.
      Cristina: It's not, but you know, you don't have to talk about it.

    • Arizona: There's a liver dialysis machine downstairs. GI's using it for a clinical trial.
      Richard: It may give Jackson a few more hours. Maybe.
      Bailey: Alright then, Stevens put in an ICP monitor and start tracking his intracranial pressures. Karev, go and get the machine.
      Alex: What if it's already hooked up to somebody?
      Arizona: If that somebody has more than sixteen hours to live, then we'll unhook him.

    • Bailey: You two are on Jackson all day today. He doesn't have a liver or intestines, which means toxins are gonna build up and his brain is gonna swell. Now, we can't stop it but we can try like hell to slow it down.
      Alex: I'm on it.
      Denny: You don't have time for this, Izzie. You don't have time to think about anyone else.
      Bailey: Stevens, I need a nod. A yawn or maybe a little burp. Something that lets me know you're awake and capable of keeping this boy alive.
      Izzie: Yes, I'm sorry. I'm all yours.
      Denny: Way to listen. Thanks for that.

    • Lexie: Oh my god, are you okay?
      Mark: No!
      Lexie: It-- It's bent in the middle. I... I-I think I broke it.
      Mark: Get Torres! Go!

    • Denny (opening voiceover): I believe in heaven. I also believe in hell. I've never seen either but I believe they exist. They have to exist. Because without a heaven, without a hell, we're all just headed for limbo.

  • NOTES (4)

    • International Episode Titles:
      Slovakia: Schody do neba (Stairs to Heaven)
      Czech Republic: Nebe, či peklo (Heaven or Hell)

    • Original International Air Dates:
      Italy: Monday, April 27, 2009 on Fox Life
      Latin America: April 27, 2009 on Sony Entertainment Television (aka Canal Sony)
      Australia: May 7, 2009 on Channel 7
      Germany: June 24, 2009 on ProSieben
      Norway: November 10, 2009 on TV2
      Slovakia: December 14, 2009 on STV1
      Czech Republic: May 13, 2010 on Prima

    • Every season (except for the first one) has an episode where someone other than Meredith narrates. In this episode, it was Denny. However, it's the first time a guest character does it.

    • Music Featured In This Episode:
      1. Birds by Emiliana Torrini
      2. Blindsided by Bon Iver
      3. Drifting Further Away by Powderfinger


    • Episode Title: Stairway to Heaven

      A song by the musical group Led Zeppelin, from their untitled fourth album commonly referred to as Zoso or Led Zeppelin IV.