October 17, 2008 12:00 AM

Whether discovering a new specialty, standing up to someone or getting past first base in a new relationship, Seattle Grace’s staff of dysfunctional doctors explored new territories on Thursday’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Here’s a rundown:

More McDrama: McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) still isn’t comfortable in Mer’s (Ellen Pompeo) house with her roommates. And it didn’t help that when Izzie (Katherine Heigl) needed money for pizza, she busted through Mer’s door and found Der in the buff. She babbled on about Alex (Justin Chambers) owing her money and ignoring her because she saw him crying. (For once, though, we could appreciate her inability to shut up because it kept McDreamy standing there naked just a bit longer.) Der quickly fixed the problem by tricking Alex into giving him the money and then he shut the door to wait for Mer to get home.

When she did, she noticed a diary on the bedside table and thought it was sweet that he kept a journal until she realized it was her mom’s diary. He’d discovered it while trying to find a place for his stuff in the house, he told her, and he assured her he hadn’t read it. But Mer was suspicious and complained to Yang (Sandra Oh) that he was digging up her mother’s ghost. Der must have realized this, because when McSteamy inquired about his trailer, he wouldn’t hand over the keys. “There’s a very real possibility she kicks me out in a week so I’m not letting go of the trailer,” he said. Eventually, Mer confirmed that she wanted him around even though she “may not always be so graceful about it” and offered him the den for his stuff as an olive branch.

A ‘Date Date’: Meanwhile, Hahn (Brooke Smith) asked Callie (Sara Ramirez) on a “date date” where, “at the end of the night, I try to take your clothes off.” The insinuation made Callie nervous and she blurted out her concerns to Bailey (Chandra Wilson):

“I’m going on a date with Erica Hahn and that’s awkward because she’s a colleague and an attending and she’s a she. There’s been kissing but no touching. What if I’m not into it? What if I’m horrible at all that stuff south of the border? I’ve never been south of the border with a female. I’ve never even been over the northern mountains.”

Bailey looked shocked, but composed an analogy about going to Africa and how to prepare for a trip to a strange land. “Just talk about it,” Bailey said. “Not with me, with the other one. Talk about the rules, expectations. Figure out how to gracefully demure if you find out you don’t like the, err, local cuisine.”

Callie took the advice to heart and used it, brokenly, to explain herself when she sat down in a slinky dress at dinner. “Maybe it’ll be the best vacation either of us has ever had, but it’s mysterious and dark and there should be rules. And an embassy and a safe word,” Callie pleaded. Hawn sweetly sympathized, telling her they could take it slow.

Wild Wild West: In a less tender moment, Alex and Izzie were still bickering and backstabbing when assigned pit duty together. “You’re good at boring stupid crap,” he told her, handing off minor cases to Izzie. “You’re like a specialist.” She attended to a man who came in with a cut, but noticed a weird facial tick and sent him to get a head scan, which revelead a mass. Alex stole the patient and lied to Der that Izzie gave him the case. Irked, Izzie requested the case back several times unsuccessfully and Der yelled at her. McSteamy (Eric Dane) compared surgery to the Wild West and said Alex is a cowboy and she isn’t.

Land of Dermatology: In the clinic, Yang was “putting Band-Aids on stupid whiners who don’t have the balls to get real injuries.” She tried to drum up excitement by proposing a simple rash was flesh-eating bacteria and was sent to dermatology to get a cream. There, she found a little piece of heaven in a quiet waiting room with raspberry water and a hand masseuse for residents. She called Mer in immediately. “There is no mocking in derm,” an impressed Yang said. “Only warmth and light. They have no bloodlust. They don’t want to cut anyone open. They just love lotion.” Izzie found her friends there to complain about Alex and quickly became obsessed with the easy life in derm.

George (T.R. Knight), who’d been working with a kid with a heart problem, also made his way there, but didn’t buy into the wonders of skincare. Instead, he motivated the doctors off the couch and encouraged Izzie to be like the woman in the Wild West saloon that the men leave alone. Izzie pointed out the flaw in that logic (that lady’s a whore), but the analogy worked. Izzie sweet-talked the tumor patient and let it slip that Alex had been depressed and the patient asked Der to reinstate her. Alex barged in and accused Izzie of stealing his surgery. But this time she (finally!) stood up to him.

“Using me as a doormat is one thing,” she quipped. “Screwing with my career is another. I have been wiping your snot and covering your ass for weeks now. All you’ve done is abuse me. For a little while you get to do that because you’re heartbroken and pathetic and I’m a good friend but it ends now. Get your own surgeries.”

When Yang returned to reality, her rash lady had taken a turn for the worse. But Yang saved the woman in an OR, which reminded her why she loved surgery. After one more group trip to derm, the crew realized that none of them wanted to transfer. “We are not happy, glowy . We’d die of boredom,” Yang said.

Learning a Lesson: Lexie (Chyler Leigh) was about to learn a lesson of her own. After offering to buy George for a beer at Joe’s to celebrate passing his test, her crush broke the good news to Mer and Izzie instead, leaving Lexie, the girl who helped him study, in the cold. She found him in the bar already celebrating with the others and took her beer to a different table after he didn’t even acknowledge that he’d ditched her.

Alex was also in the bar and apologized for — er, rationalized — his behavior to Izzie. “I’m pissed off all the time. So much I can’t even breathe. But you can’t be pissed at a crazy chick for losing her mind, so there’s nobody else to be pissed at except you,” he told her.

And just as quickly as she found it in herself to stand up to him, Izzie turned meek again and accepted his hurtful reasoning. — Carrie Bell

Tell us: Do Callie and Hawn make a cute couple? Will Deredith last under the same roof? Is George a fool for not noticing Lexie’s puppy love? And what’s up with Izzie and Alex?Michael Caulfield/WireImage

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