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'Grey's Anatomy' recap: 'The Distance'

Amelia battles her own demons while operating on Herman.

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Nicole Wilder/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

Did you just assume the superhero pose for a few minutes? Yes? Good. Now let’s talk about that roller coaster of an episode.

Now, when I say “roller coaster,” I mean one that starts off without any drops or twists. One of those that tick, tick, ticks as the car climbs up a steep hill, simultaneously boring and exciting its passengers at once. Then, right when you’re zoning out, the car drops. The roller coaster has taken off.

As we know, Amelia’s operating on Herman. And everyone is watching. The gallery is packed with doctors—something that Maggie points out is kind of weird. “You’re on the edge of your seat!” Meredith tries to explain. “The adrenaline, the rush.” Maggie is still suspicious, because apparently her idea of entertainment isn’t observing someone in her most vulnerable and worst state. In other words, Maggie probably doesn’t enjoy reality TV.

While the non-operating doctors (who probably should be operating—don’t they have patients to tend to?) prep in the gallery, Amelia mentally prepares herself for the long surgery ahead. Edwards finds her with her hands on her hips, staring up toward the ceiling. She’s “being a superhero,” she tells Edwards. Amelia once read a scientific study that found standing in that superhero pose before a daunting task can make you feel more confident and can help you perform better at the task (Shonda Rhimes confirmed on Twitter that this is a real thing). So Edwards joins her. The sight of these two doctors decked out in scrubs, very seriously assembling themselves into a superhero pose is quite silly—but also, not going to lie: I’m totally going to try out that pose next time I have to perform potentially fatal neurosurgery (or, you know, the next time I have to write a recap).

Amelia’s confidence remains for a bit until she hits a wall, causing Webber to head down to the O.R. himself and give her a pep talk. He offers to help her; she orders him to call Derek and get him on a plane right away. She’s nervous, and she’s losing that superhero mentality, and she’s desperate. But no matter how much I miss Derek (which is a lotGrey’s has had a noticeable absence of attractive male doctors lately), it was an incredible relief to watch Webber shoot her down. “You have it in your head that he’s better than you,” he tells Amelia, “but it’s not true.” Amen, Webber. Amen.

I thought Derek might show up anyway, that he’d appear in the gallery right as Amelia was having a breakthrough. But he never does, and Amelia ends up staying there the entire time. Webber’s pep talk works, further proving his status as the hospital’s resident dad, and she and Edwards start again with renewed motivation. After 13 hours though, Edwards passes out. 

In non-Herman news, Arizona’s operating on Glenda Castillo and her unborn baby with Bailey’s assistance. Remember when I said the beginning of the episode was like the boring start of the roller coaster? These scenes are included in that. Sure, there are some heated disagreements in that O.R., but nothing entirely gripping. But the surgery is successful, meaning that Arizona just saved two lives solo—something she can’t quite celebrate knowing that Herman could be dying in another part of the hospital.

NEXT: Amelia risks her health for Herman’s.