You know that thing where parents can somehow tap into superhuman strength when their child’s in danger and are able to lift the car (or whatever) to save his or her life? “I always wondered if that was real,” Meredith-in-voiceover muses to herself.
She’s pondering this as Alex is heading out the door for a court hearing to set his trial date. He doesn’t want Mer to accompany him, though she offers to, and his trademark tough-guy exterior slips a bit when she asks if they should sit a minute before he goes. At first he resists, but then he reconsiders.
“If someone I cared about was hurt or trapped, would my instincts kick in? Would I know what to do?” Meredith continues. “Would I lift the car? Jump in front of the bullet? Would I be able to beat somebody senseless? I like to think I would.”
It’s a prospect faced by many of the characters we see this week. There’s Victoria, a woman Alex meets while waiting to get through security at the courthouse, who’s expecting a baby with her longtime friend — a last-ditch, “If we get this old and it hasn’t happened yet…” type of pact. She has a rash on her hands, and after stopping by the clinic after court, she tells Alex she’s been losing weight, which isn’t exactly a good sign when you’re pregnant. Cue the alarm bells. It turns out she has pancreatic cancer and a very grim prognosis — she needs surgery and chemo as quickly as possible, but would have to terminate her pregnancy to begin treatment. If she refuses treatment, she’d have less than a year to live and could die before delivering the baby.
Alex pushes back against Bailey’s assessment of the situation, but the chief of surgery — who had just been criticized by Catherine Avery for being too “lenient” with her surgeons, Alex included — says there’s nothing else they can do and that’s that. But he throws out an option anyway that could buy Victoria and the baby some time: A Whipple surgery to remove the pancreatic tumor, which would allow her to live long enough to deliver the baby but would essentially mean a death sentence for mom. Bailey is mad he overstepped, but he argues he’s not wrong and is just trying to do what’s best for the patient.
Bailey again asks Victoria about doing a D&C, instead of the Whipple, so they can begin treating her cancer immediately. “You would literally be sacrificing your life for your own child,” she says, as if that wasn’t spelled out clearly enough already. But Victoria’s willing to do it, because it’s the only chance the baby has. Otherwise, they both die. After she goes into surgery, her baby daddy, Jeremy, is devastated about losing his best friend and worries about raising their baby without her. But Alex, always the good doctor, tells him the only trick to parenting is showing up, which he’s already doing. Aww.
NEXT: Amelia’s terrible, no good, very bad day
After the pregnancy speculation from last week’s episode was put to rest by a negative test, Amelia refuses to talk about it with Owen, swearing she’s fine in a way that demonstrates how very much not fine she is. Much to Owen’s surprise, she argues they just got married and should settle into that before thinking about kids.
Things get even worse after a bad car-crash case comes into the ER after a road-rage-induced accident. The driver who caused the accident gets through relatively unscathed, and at first it seems like his son will, too — save for a bad cut on his head, he’s up, walking around, talking, and staying very calm for a young man who was in a bad accident. Finally, while waiting for his mom to arrive, Amelia tells him it’s okay if he’s scared — an incredibly compassionate and maternal move — and the kid breaks down in tears before collapsing. They rush him into surgery, but he dies on the operating table and Amelia has to break the news to his parents. The mother’s reaction is a gut punch: She turns to her husband, who’s obviously going to recover but is laying in a hospital bed, and says, “I wish it was you.”
A distraught Amelia ducks into the doctors’ lounge to regroup, and Alex is in there waiting to hear about his patient’s Whipple. In a nice echo of what Mer did for him at the episode’s opening, he asks if she wants to talk or just sit. She opens up to him, and not just about the baby boy she had who was born without a brain, but how long she held him before he died, how they donated his organs, and how she never told her family. When the pregnancy test was negative, she tells Alex, she was relieved — and Owen wants a family so badly, she worries he won’t look at her the same way if he knows the whole story.
And unbeknownst to Alex, he was the subject of another conversation between Bailey and Catherine Avery in another part of the hospital. Bailey decides Alex will stay on despite the pending court case, but Catherine is already thinking bigger. Karev isn’t the first Grey Sloan doctor who got into trouble and required a second chance — like Leah Murphy, who came back this week a far more skilled surgeon after being fired from Grey Sloan for having inadequate skills. “There’s a fundamental flaw in how we’re teaching our residents,” she says. Bailey suggests she take it up with Webber, since he heads up their education program…but that’s exactly who she thinks the problem is.
I thought the aftermath of Amelia’s non-pregnancy reveal was handled well, and it pains me to see her pushing Owen away so soon after their wedding. And Alex pushing Mer not only for weekly waffle gatherings on Sunday mornings, but for her to include Maggie and Amelia in them — he won’t always be around, and she needs her sisters — was another really nice Mer/Alex moment. Finally, aside from Murphy’s return, the only other development I want to mention is Deluca and Jo moving even further into the “potential couple” category. After seeing her talking with Alex (about Victoria’s case), he tells her she deserves better. It’s not quite a “Pick me, choose me, love me” moment, but almost.