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'Grey's Anatomy' recap: 'The Great Pretender'

Everyone’s got their secrets—and they all find their way out.

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Richard Cartwright/ABC

Grey's Anatomy

TV Show
run date:
Ellen Pompeo, Chandra Wilson, Justin Chambers, James Pickens Jr., Kevin McKidd, Jessica Capshaw
Current Status:
In Season

After last week’s tearjerker of an episode, we were treated to… another tearjerker of an episode.

It all begins with Ben and his brother, Curtis, throwing their dad’s ashes onto the forest floor. Although pouring out your late parent’s ashes doesn’t sound like an ideal activity, the two brothers are making the most of it, laughing away. It’s what he would have wanted, they say—before lovingly calling their dear old dad a pain in the ass. Aw, children can be so nice.

Curtis interrupts all this merriment though to suggest he and Ben race to the top of the hill. He touches his chest before this, so we know something’s wrong—and we know that racing to the top of the hill sounds like a stupid idea. And it is: Curtis ends up passing out and getting rushed to the hospital, where Meredith finds out his liver enzymes are “off the charts.” At first, it seems like he could be a closet alcoholic. It would make sense—his father died of colon cancer, so he was likely stressed during his father’s last days and could have turned to whiskey to soothe his pain. But that’s not it.

When Meredith isn’t helping out Curtis, she’s lying to everyone about her “trip to see Derek.” Remember how she spent all of last week’s episode trying to get someone to cover for her at work and babysit her kids so she could have sex with her long-distance husband? Well, she found someone to cover for her and to babysit her kids… and then she didn’t get on the plane to D.C. Maggie—who was taking care of the kids—thinks Meredith was cheating, but she wasn’t: She was hanging out alone in a cheap hotel room, drinking from the minibar and jumping on the bed in her underwear (a.k.a. living the life).

Meredith’s embarrassed though, so she’s not telling anyone what really happened. And Maggie’s pissed. Derek called three times while Meredith was gone to ask where she was, and each time Maggie lied on her behalf. This makes her, a) a great sister and b) a great liar (one of her fibs was that Meredith got called in for an “emergency rectal abscess”—such detail!). But Maggie is also a great person, so she naturally hates lying. And wants to know the truth.

Meredith being Meredith though isn’t about to just spill her guts to Maggie, which sucks for Maggie. Like, she just told Meredith in the last episode that she is her only friend in Seattle. And now her only friend won’t tell her what’s going on in her life. On that note, it’s probably time for Maggie to join a book club.

Elsewhere in the hospital, Amelia and Callie are dealing with a patient who “fainted” and fell down a flight of stairs while her boyfriend—her needy, over-affectionate boyfriend—was proposing. She didn’t actually faint though: No, Hilary’s been pretending to faint to avoid listening to her boyfriend, and to, more recently, avoid replying to his marriage proposal. Because that’s a mature and healthy way (did I mention she has to get brain surgery thanks to the fall?) to deal with uncomfortable situations.

You’d expect Hilary would have some life-changing conversation or experience in the hospital that makes her toughen up and tell her boyfriend how she feels. You’d think she’d realize that, oh, yeah, pretending to faint instead of just dealing with life is a pretty inefficient way to live. But, nope. She makes it through surgery and awakens to her boyfriend declaring his love. So she “faints.” Again. Thankfully, this time she’s resting on a hospital bed so there’s no opportunity for injuries—but this is a perfect opportunity to tell the truth, as Callie (who is Team Boyfriend) tries to tell her. Instead, Callie breaks up with him on Hilary’s behalf and gently kicks him out of the hospital room. Part of me thought Hilary wasn’t fake-fainting this time, that she was having some post-surgery reaction, but alas, she wakes up and thanks Callie. Callie deserves a lot more than a whispered “thank you” for that, but whatever, Hilary. 

While Callie’s doing a cowardly patient’s dirty work, Meredith discovers Curtis isn’t an alcoholic: He’s a transgender woman taking off-label hormone treatments that are destroying his health. Bailey finds out and ends up telling Ben, even though that’s totally Curtis’ call. Ben initially thinks it’s a joke—or more likely, is in denial—until he realizes Bailey isn’t lying. So once Curtis is out of surgery, Ben talks to her himself.

NEXT: Ben confronts his sister