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'Grey's Anatomy' recap: 'Old Time Rock and Roll'

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Adam Taylor/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

Have you picked your jaw up from the floor yet? Now? Okay, good. 

Grey’s once again did that funny thing where they’re like, “Meredith is doing great!” right before throwing a huge — not Derek-dying huge, but huge nonetheless — curveball in her direction. But we’ll get to that in a bit. First, let’s talk Edwards, who shined especially bright in this sometimes sexy, sometimes sad, completely engrossing episode.

Amelia tasks Edwards with essentially torturing a patient, Rachel, who just had brain surgery. They make her get out of bed and take tiny steps, steps that are impossibly painful for her — so painful that she moans and cries the entire time and even vomits at one point. Understandably, Edwards is disturbed by this course of treatment, but she tries to truck along until she reaches her own limit. It’s then that she passes the torch over to Wilson, who is delighted to help.

Before Edwards does this, though, she tries to tell Amelia she’s not comfortable with pushing Rachel past her limit. Amelia responds by pointing out that surgery is traumatic and that this is traumatic too, but this is how Rachel is going to heal. It makes sense (and is wisdom that seems to be coming from personal experience on Amelia’s side), but it doesn’t sell Edwards on it. That’s because Edwards has a secret.

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Later on, Amelia discovers Jo doing Edwards’ work and is furious. So furious that Edwards comes clean about her past: When she was 5 years old, she was in a clinical trial for sickle cell anemia that involved doctors and nurses strapping her down to stick her with needles and take bone marrow samples and all the stuff 5-year-old kids really want to have done to them. The good news? The clinical trial worked, and Edwards came out of it a success story. The bad news? Working with Rachel is dredging up those painful memories.

Jo’s never heard this story before, so she assumes it’s false. Because apparently if you hear a new detail about a friend’s life that you haven’t before, it can’t be true, right? Jo must know every single thing there is to know about Edwards, right? She even has the stones to confront Edwards and ask her what it’s like not having a conscience. Jo. Jo. Why?

Edwards, rightfully feeling attacked, goes along with it and says that, yes, she did lie. Then Jo continues her role as Friend of the Year by telling Amelia about it, who then tells Webber about it. Webber, being the chief and all, knows the truth, though. In a sweet fatherly moment — but let’s be honest, does Webber have anything but sweet fatherly moments anymore? — he tells Amelia what he knows, causing Edwards to come clean about why Jo doesn’t know: because she doesn’t want to be labeled a patient anymore.

NEXT: Meredith realizes she’s a widow[pagebreak]

Edwards delivers all of this with a fierce subtley that only gains momentum moments later when she goes to Rachel’s room and forces her to do take those tiny, horribly painful steps. She ends up getting Rachel to the chair, which was the goal, before congratulating her and walking outside the room to cry into a supportive Amelia’s arms. It’s a tender moment, both because Amelia is acting uncharacteristically warm and because it’s clear how challenging it was for Edwards to go back in that room with Rachel. Character development often takes episodes and episodes, but Edwards managed to grow a believably fantastic amount in a matter of one hour, making her one of the show’s most interesting characters (at the moment). Grey’s has still got it, you guys.

On that happy note, it’s time to delve into Meredith’s life. After Maggie starts talking about her hot intern sex, Meredith has a moment of clarity when she realizes she’s a widow and that the hot intern sex part of her life is over. It sounds like a sad moment, but it isn’t exactly: She’s smiling and seems grateful that she got to experience the great love she did with Derek, even if only for a shorter time than she — hell, we — would have liked. Later on, she even tells Maggie she’s happy. “I never thought I would be again, and I am,” Mer says. “And that’s all I need.”

This is especially impressive because it comes right after Meredith gives the interns an impromptu crash course on telling families their loved ones have died. Owen tried to do this earlier, but because it was Owen, his way was all about structure and bullet points. It’s much more than that, though, and Meredith wants them to know that before they start telling people their grandparents, parents, siblings, so on are dead.

She ends up delivering a lecture that is educational and powerful and heartbreaking and so, so human. She tells them these families will remember their faces for the rest of their lives, that they are responsible for this awful moment. “You are a part of their life now,” she says. “Your words, your face. So take that seriously and recognize the importance of your role. And respect the fact that that person’s pain is the biggest thing in the room.”

It’s been some time since Grey’s has given me chills — but this did it. Anyone who’s ever lost someone knows what she’s talking about: They know that face and that voice and that moment more clearly than they probably would like to. And so she’s right to put pressure on these interns to be as gentle and as empathetic as they possible can with this job. It’s tough and terrible, yes, but it’s also one of the more important assignments they’ll ever carry out and will continue to do throughout their careers.

NEXT: Callie’s girlfriend turns out to be from Meredith’s past [pagebreak]

Post-lecture, Meredith returns home for a dinner party. She’s killing it at work, she’s happy, she’s doing pretty great. Then Callie rings the doorbell with her new girlfriend, Penny, by her side. And her new girlfriend is…the woman who’s responsible for Derek’s death. What. The. Hell.

All we get to see is Meredith and Penny staring into each other’s souls, basically, before the episode ends. So now’s a good time to brainstorm ways Mer could react: She could simply shut the door and pretend like it was a Bible thumper. She could continue staring at Penny until it gets so awkward that they decide to leave and go to someone else’s dinner party. She could scream and cry and let out all the anger and emotion she probably feels toward Penny. Or she could welcome her inside and have her over for dinner as if they have no connection beyond both knowing Callie. And, judging by next week’s previews, that last one is exactly what she does.

The reveal was so geuninely shocking (and genuinely horrifying) that I’m still not sure how I feel about it. This will provide plenty of dramatic possibilities, which is a plus — but also, Meredith was just saying she’s happy! Let her be happy! Let her ride orgasm train again with one of the interns or something! 

Then again, I realize this is a TV show, and happiness does not make for good TV shows, especially good TV dramas. So I will accept this plot development and keep Amelia’s earlier advice to Edwards in mind: This is traumatic, but this is how Meredith heals. Orgasm train will just have to wait.

Extras

  • Maggie had another one of her magical, manic rants tonight, something that hopefully becomes a staple of each episode. She also tried to tell the cute intern that their night of sex was a one-time thing — right before they ripped each other’s clothes off. Good for Maggie (and good for DeLuca, who is living probably every other intern’s dream right about now).
  • Arizona befriends a 90-year-old patient who tells her all about meeting the love of his life at 85…and then he dies, leaving Arizona grieving alone in the supply closet for her short-lived new friendship. April eventually finds her and ends up crying alongside Arizona because she still can’t accept that Jackson wants a divorce. “This is about me,” Arizona tells her in a funny-but-cringeworthy moment. “This isn’t about you.” 
  • I could live happily the rest of my life if I never have to see Webber fillet a brain again.

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