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'Grey's Anatomy' recap: 'Staring at the End'

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Richard Cartwright/ABC

Grey's Anatomy

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
tvpgr:
TV-14
seasons:
11
performer:
Ellen Pompeo, Chandra Wilson, Sara Ramirez
broadcaster:
ABC

At one point in this episode, Edwards gives Amelia a stern talking-to that ends with, “Get it together, Dr. Shephard”—and that sentence might as well be the tagline for the entire hour, which was filled with Amelia freaking out over Herman’s surgery.

That’s not to say Herman’s surgery isn’t worth freaking out over—it totally is. What Amelia’s about to do seems to be impossible and crazy and, if successful, groundbreaking. Or at least this is what I gathered from her many lectures throughout the episode—not my own medical knowledge. For all I know, Amelia could be hyping up something that turns out to be as simple as an appendectomy. But back to Amelia freaking out: She’s going mad. She’s under a lot of pressure, and everybody keeps suggesting she call big bro Derek for help—something she absolutely doesn’t want to do. She grew up in his shadow; she doesn’t want him to take the spotlight away from her potential legacy if all goes right with Herman. Who would?

Someone who is completely selfless and egoless, that’s who. But that’s not Amelia, and it might not even be anyone (except for Mother Teresa, probably). Sure, the point of being a surgeon is to save lives and all that jazz, but it’s also first and foremost a profession. And everyone—good or bad—wants to get ahead in their profession. So, yes, Amelia doesn’t want to ask for Derek’s help even though it could make her life easier, make the surgery go smoother. And that’s okay.

What’s less okay is her reaction to Edwards, who she snaps at and calls an “idiot resident.” This could have easily been a moment where Edwards slinks away in embarrassment, but instead, it became a chance for Edwards to talk some sense into Amelia—via an intense monologue, of course. “Stop pouting because you don’t understand what to do,” Edwards tells her. “Be worthy of being believed in, of being looked up to.” (Adding this to inspirational quote board right now.)

Edwards’ speech works, because this is a show where all anyone needs is a minute or two of verbal ass-kicking, and Amelia’s ready to defeat Herman’s tumor… kind of. She spends a lot of the episode giving the hospital talks on what she’s planning to do, which was kind of a bummer because listening to lectures in real life is boring enough, let alone on a TV show that’s known for being dramatic and emotional—not a televised version of that course you slept through in college. But, if anything, her lectures do show us the one side of Amelia, the one that’s all confidence—not the one that we see when she’s alone with Edwards or Owen, the one that’s terrified of screwing up.

While Amelia’s struggling, Herman is, too: She gets in a couple tiffs with Arizona about death and time (the usual), and she is having a bad time with the radiation. Her hair’s falling out, she’s not feeling well—and this all goes against her attitude that she wants to make the most of our little time left on earth. So she backs out of radiation, and gets in some tiffs with Amelia too. Tiffs everywhere!

There are some tender moments, too, though, like when Arizona and Herman get drunk and laugh away. Herman’s story line hasn’t been the most compelling, and there are times when I’d wish Arizona would go back to Africa, but it’s hard to be cranky about it all when I see the odd couple giggling over a bottle of vodka. 

NEXT: The good times don’t last for long.

[pagebreak]

Those happy moments don’t last though because eventually Herman’s vision starts getting fuzzy—meaning it’s time to operate. Amelia tries to put on a brave face when she finds out, but her eyes glisten with tears of fear. She’s been telling everyone that she’s going to elongate Herman’s life, that she will definitely succeed. And now’s the test, and there’s a good chance—a huge chance—she might fail.

Arizona’s not handling the news well either, but her fear is on a more personal level. She, too, acts all tough around Herman, acting peppy as usual but fighting back sobs behind Herman’s back. Herman can’t know though, because she’s already seen Arizona cry once this episode—when a patient’s baby died—and that didn’t go so well. “Stop crying,” Herman ordered her. “We have work to do.” If she sticks around, can someone please help her with these crying issues? Everybody cries, Herm.

But Arizona will have 18 hours to get her tears out without Herman knowing, because the surgery itself is 18 hours (or more). Being a surgeon sounds fun, doesn’t it? Even more so when you’re terrified you’re going to mess up and continue living in your brother’s shadow forever. “I have this sick feeling that I will discover I am not just the other Dr. Shephard,” Amelia tells Owen in a teary hallway exchange, “that I’m the wrong Dr. Shepherd.” Ouch.

We don’t get to see the surgery though, not yet. All we see is Arizona saying bye to Herman as she waits for the anesthesia to kick in and Herman, in a moment of surprising vulnerability, fighting her own fear. These last moments were tense, emotional ones—it’s just too bad the rest of the episode, which focused too much on Amelia’s lectures and not enough on the other characters, didn’t have more of them.

Leaving on this cliffhanger though means next week will probably be an entire episode of cliffhangers. Herman could die, leaving Amelia to spiral out of control—something that’s not likely; we’ve already been there, done that. Or Herman could live, giving Amelia a new (natural!) high on life and Arizona her friend and mentor for a bit longer. Or Grey’s Anatomy could present an out-of-nowhere twist, sending everyone scrambling. If that’s the case, I might become a fan of Herman’s story line. (Maybe.)

Extras

  • Callie and Arizona had a quick conversation that was pretty snooze-worthy—Callie’s worried about Arizona losing Herman, Arizona feels weird about Callie asking her about it. But this scene did give us a glimpse at Sofia, who I very often forget exists. This is why no one on TV shows should ever have kids: They just get pushed aside once their story arc is over.
  • I can’t wait for more Owen and Amelia time. That’s all.
  • Callie, Maggie, Meredith, and Karev chat about sex and self-grooming over lunch in a scene that was extremely reminiscent of the show’s early seasons when Izzie, Cristina, Meredith, Karev, and George would gossip over their cafeteria salads. Those were the days.
  • Fans of Full House: Did you notice Glenda was played by Marla Sokoloff, a.k.a. Steph’s friend Gia? The late ’80s/early ’90s live on!
  • Amelia asked Meredith if she could ask Derek a medical question, and Mer tried to tell her she might not talk to Derek that night. Even though we saw barely any Meredith tonight, that small moment made it clear she and Derek are not doing any better. 
  • The way they shot Herman getting wheeled into the O.R. was especially powerful, with the camera looking up at Amelia and Arizona from Herman’s perspective. More fun camera angles next week, please.

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