It’s been seven long days since that Grey’s Anatomy premiere cliffhanger, and what better time to clock in for a recapping shift than in the midst of Alex Karev’s downfall?
The reformed bad boy has spent years weaseling his way into the deepest vessels of our hearts. He made so much progress that it’s almost hard to believe he’s the same evil spawn who once wallpapered the locker room with Izzie’s lingerie ads, and yet… here he is, starting the episode getting ready for his day in court.
With his ride-or-die (and, as far as I’m concerned, inevitable one true love) Meredith Grey by his side, Karev heads into work, doing rounds and maintaining his last hours of normalcy before he faces his fate for the number he did on Andrew DeLuca’s face in a fit of rage over a misunderstanding involving Jo Wilson. Things get off to a heated start as the prosecutor informs the judge that he will be seeking charges of felony assault in the second degree against Alex as a bruised and bandaged DeLuca looks on. While his defense attorney tries unsuccessfully to fight the initial charge, Karev enters into a not-guilty plea.
Because Meredith hasn’t had enough to stomach before lunchtime, what with her last remaining old friend’s possible jail sentence, she begins her day at the hospital by listening to tales of Maggie’s sex dreams involving the half-sisters’ shared crush, Dr. Nathan Riggs. While Mer has managed to brush off Riggs’ advances, she still hasn’t told Maggie, whom she promised she would never lie to again, about the situation.
Speaking of drama, April Kepner is teaching a lesson in breakdowns from the comfort of her hospital bed. Karev comes by to inform Kepner and Jackson Avery that their new baby, Harriet, is healthy enough to head home. Unfortunately, much to Kepner’s despair, her kitchen knife-carved incision isn’t quite healed yet and instead keeps her at the hospital while Jackson checks the baby out. Between hours of sobs in person, on the phone, and over FaceTime, Kepner reiterates to Jackson that they are not married and he owes her nothing more than the promise to keep their baby alive and fed.
Meanwhile, a meal slightly more planned than one of formula and milk is brewing across the hospital, as Amelia Shepherd surprises Owen Hunt with plans for a dinner party at their home in an attempt to squash the tension between Hunt and Riggs.
The number of guests soon doubles from the originally planned three: Hunt interrupts Maggie’s how-to-ask-out-Riggs brainstorming meeting with Meredith over the operating table to recruit Meredith to be a buffer between himself and Riggs; Maggie volunteers herself in an attempt to get closer to Riggs; Amelia invites Jo, who is on her service for the day so she can stay far away from Alex; and Meredith, in turn, tells Alex he owes her one and has to come too so that she feels less weird in her Riggs-Maggie love triangle.
The event that doesn’t quite crack the season 12, Penny-starring Dinner Party From Hell Hall of Fame, but it’s hardly enjoyable. Highlights include Amelia finally letting go of her hopes for a Owen and Riggs friendship after the two spend an extended period sitting in silence together on a couch, Meredith telling Riggs that Maggie plans to ask him out and he needs to be nice but say no, a tense confrontation between Jo and Meredith over the day in court and whether Karev or DeLuca is the one who deserves sympathy, and a painfully awkward moment between Jo and Alex when the two run into each other outside of Amelia and Owen’s house.
NEXT: Alex faces the music and Maggie takes her shot
Because his life hasn’t completely fallen apart yet, Karev’s encounter with Jo is interrupted by the sound of his pager. Earlier in the day, he reunited with a 6-year-old boy named Zach he had seen before for a kidney transplant. The youngster and his mom, who clearly both formed a close bond with Alex, returned to Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital with Zach’s complaints of abdominal pain. While he promised to check on his patient every hour, Karev’s mind was elsewhere and Zach found himself needing surgery once more.
Karev heads back to the hospital after learning that Zach’s appendix has ruptured but isn’t quite quick enough — Dr. Miranda Bailey has decided to take Alex off of the case, raising concerns from Zach about the state of his transplanted kidney and adding his mother to the long list of people who are beefing with Alex.
Still fiercely defending Karev and sticking by his side, Mer scrubs in on the surgery in his place. She uses the operation as a chance to extend an olive branch to DeLuca, whom she casually threatened in the elevator earlier that day when she told him he should understand that Karev made a mistake and is genuinely sorry, adding that it would be a better use of DeLuca’s time to be scrubbing in on surgeries instead of arguing in a courtroom. She offers him the chance to do just that — helping out on Zach’s surgery — and he accepts.
The surgery is successful and Zach is able to keep his new kidney. Bailey tells Alex the good news, but chases the episode’s rare moment of positivity with further doom for the flailing doctor. She berates Karev for coming so far from the person he was as an intern only to crash and burn, and says that she can’t allow him to perform surgery at this time. Instead of firing him, she focuses on his compassion and people skills, and relocates him to the Denny Duquette Memorial Clinic — so-named for his ex-wife Izzie Stevens’ former flame — for the time being.
Simultaneously crashing and burning? Maggie, who finally gets up the courage to ask Riggs out to dinner outside of the hospital, rather than to scrub in on a surgery with her or help out with her paperwork. Following Meredith’s lead, he tells her that she’s an amazing woman but he’s not ready to date anyone at the moment, leading to an awkward goodbye for the ages.
Maggie speed-walks away and heads home, where Alex and Meredith are drowning their sorrows and commiserating. He tells Mer about the clinic and says he thinks its the right thing as his head just isn’t in the game at the moment. She tries to talk some sense into him and admits, just moments before Maggie walks in the door, that she slept with Riggs.
Across town, Jo finally returns to her own home after a whirlwind 48 hours, accompanied by Stephanie Edwards in lieu of Alex. Despite Jo’s instance that she’s fine alone, Stephanie stays, settling in for a night with her friend.
Also potentially getting a new roommate? Jackson. The doctor brings Harriet back to the hospital to have a visit with her mom and, upon Dr. Richard Webber’s urging, reiterates his desire to help his ex-wife. He suggests that April and Harriet move in with him for a while, at least until she’s healed — an offer Kepner finally agrees to consider.
So is there hope in the future for Japril? Can DeLuca forgive Alex — and should he? And do Alex and Jo have a future together, or are you, like me, still shipping Alex and Meredith years later? Leave all your thoughts in the comments below.