It’s likely you’ve forgotten that 2007 was a very turbulent year for our military. After an Iraq war troop surge of 30,000 sent by then-President Bush, the year ended as the deadliest year in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, with more than 850 troops killed. It’s against this volatile backdrop that Grey’s Anatomy flashed back in tonight’s episode, showing us how Owen, Megan, Teddy, and Nathan handled the countless gunshot wounds and other horrific war-related injuries while stationed there.
The drama-heavy hour opens in Baghdad. Owen awakens with a start beneath a ceiling fan in his barracks before hustling out to a chopper that’s ready to take the four of them to Fallujah. Owen asks Teddy and Megan where Nathan is. Megan explains that Nathan had been on call last night and that she’ll go get him.
The episode then does the first of many shifts back to present day, where Megan is packing up her Jeep in Owen’s driveway as Owen watches her from the porch and Amelia watches him. Amelia tries to comfort him by reminding him that Los Angeles is only a couple of hours away, but this doesn’t seem to help him adjust to the idea that his sister is moving there. Megan’s cell rings; it’s Nathan, who is in L.A. with Farouk. They’re waiting for Megan to arrive and trying to get the house ready before she does. Since a door winds up falling down after Nathan had supposedly fixed it, it’s safe to say that Bob Vila he is not.
Back in Iraq, we watch Megan wake up a sleeping Nathan. He asks her if they’re still fighting and she coyly answers, “You tell me,” before being pulled down onto his cot. Before things can go anywhere, though, she cuts off the idea of any makeup sex, saying she can’t be late today of all days because if she’s tardy, she can kiss her dream of becoming flight surgeon goodbye. She hops off the bed and starts throwing his clothes at him so he’ll hurry up and get dressed. As she gets to the bottom of the pile, she finds a necklace. She looks almost as stunned as Nathan hurriedly explains that he has a necklace instead of a ring to give her because she loses everything that’s not tied to her (she even lost her class ring at the surgical sink). He then gets down on one knee, and before he can say anything further, she leaps into his arms.
The newly engaged couple jumps onto the helicopter with Owen and Teddy. “I said yes!” Megan giddily exclaims, showing them her necklace. Teddy surprisingly replies with an impassive, “Wow, that’s interesting.”
The group touches down at the medical treatment center in Fallujah and lines up for formation. Megan is trading barbs with a white guy’s white guy named John Matthews, who is also clearly up for the rank promotion that Megan wants: “Your mom could be CO and you’d still be last,” she snaps back. For the record, the best Army ranking burns are always the ones that involve “your mom” shade. A Humvee pulls up and a colonel gets out to drop the bad news that John is the one who’s being promoted. Before Megan can even register disappointment, an emergency call comes in that says there are two active shooters and four people were KIA (Killed in Action). They need all surgeons on deck.
Back in the present day, Megan is starting her Jeep when Owen jumps in the front seat. “Road trip!” he says, looking a bit like a puppy that wants to hang its head out the window and let its tongue flap in the breeze. “Are you sure about this?” she asks, reminding him how much he hated the road trips they used to go on as kids with their parents. He insists it’ll be fine, and he demonstrates just how fine later on as we watch with…horror? admiration?…as he breaks down Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” with Megan.
In L.A. Farouk is telling Nathan how nervous he is about the changes to come. He’s also confused as to why they’re not all going to be sleeping in the same room like he did back home and doesn’t understand why he has to go to school when Megan had been his teacher in Iraq. As they’re talking, he drops a light bulb and is overly apologetic and almost scared for the consequence of his accident. Of course Nathan tells him it’s fine and puts Farouk up on the counter before cleaning up the mess.
In Iraq the foursome is tending to the various patients being rushed into the tent, the result of Iraq allies going rogue. We hear a woman who had been brought in yelling in Arabic. Megan quickly realizes she doesn’t want to be touched by men and goes to intervene. A soldier tells Teddy that the “Muslim woman tried to wrestle the gun away from the shooter.”
In the makeshift OR, Teddy and Nathan are operating when Teddy asks him where he was able to find emeralds while in Baghdad. The necklace reminds her of one that a woman named Felicia Philips had, only hers had her initials engraved on the back. This tidbit doesn’t seem to sit so well with Nathan.
Tension is also building between Owen and Megan, who is pretty convinced that Owen somehow stopped her from getting the promotion. She asks him about it while they’re operating — a surgery Owen allowed her to scrub in on in after she deftly handled Sana’s (the Muslim woman) unwillingness to undress.
Once again in L.A., Nathan is now trying to fix the sink while talking to a recruiter on the phone who is apparently not understanding Nathan’s worth or experience level. Farouk asks him for a screwdriver, but before Nathan can get off the phone, Farouk ends up leaving the house, sending Nathan on a wild goose chase looking for him.
Owen and Megan’s road trip takes a detour to an abandoned amusement park where they play ring toss, making bets as they go. Owen tells her if he makes the next one she has to stay in Seattle. This rightfully sets her off as she starts to unload all of her life choices that she feels Owen tried to impede: lifeguarding, serving in the Army, and her promotion.
As they continue on a road trip that is souring faster than Owen’s marriage to Amelia, Owen gets a call from his wife, whom he neglected to tell about his decision to join Megan on her journey to L.A. Oopsie. (Recap continues on page 2)
Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Nathan finally finds Farouk, who left to go get him some food but became overwhelmed when he saw how many menu choices he had at the taco truck. This is the moment I fully understood just how deprived this poor boy had really been.
In the next flashback to Iraq, we see the siblings once again in the OR. Megan is trying to get Owen to admit that he tanked her promotion, that he doesn’t think she’s qualified, but he not only refuses to answer; he also reminds her that he outranks her. In a flash, she takes over the surgery and saves the patient’s arm and leg.
Teddy and Nathan are finishing up with their operation when we learn that Nathan’s proposal necklace did indeed belong to Felicia, his “side piece.” He tells Teddy he was going to come clean, but Megan found the necklace and he panicked. Teddy tells him he better tell Megan the truth and that if he does, there may be a chance for forgiveness — that is, if Owen doesn’t snap his neck first.
Nathan goes to tell Megan the truth, but before he can, she confesses that she cheated on him. He then admits that the necklace belongs to someone else before she throws it at him. They’re interrupted by the news that Sana needs to be intubated. Once the intubation is done, Megan wants to get her on a chopper to Baghdad. She calls Owen and asks him if he can break protocol to allow her to do that, though when he initially balks, she tells him that Nathan cheated.
In the present day, Megan and Owen’s road trip comes to a complete halt as Megan winds up throwing Owen out of the Jeep after her finally admits he stopped her from getting the promotion. After he apologizes, though, he again asks her not to move to L.A. He’s also still not thrilled she’s moving there with Nathan because Nathan had cheated on her; Megan confesses to her brother that she had cheated on Nathan as well. She also tells him that when she was held captive, the only thing that got her through was remembering one of their family trips to the beach. As a hostage, she would pretend that the sand was the beach and the screams and yelling were laughter and seagulls. She swore that if she ever got out, she would live near the beach and feel water on her feet. She tells Owen that all she’s ever wanted for him was to have happiness as well.
In Iraq, we watch Megan take off in a helicopter with Sana as Teddy is surprisingly told that the second active shooter wasn’t a man as she suspected — it was an Iraqi woman! She realizes instantly that Sana is the shooter and takes off running out of the tent, trying in vain to get the chopper back, but as we all know, she’s sadly unsuccessful.
Despite the horrors that we are left to imagine that Megan endures after Sana presumably takes her hostage in the helicopter, in the present day at least, we are moved as Megan finally gets her house-on-the-beach, toes-in-the water moment with her two guys. (Head here for more on Martin Henderson’s future on the show.)
Owen, meanwhile, finds his own happiness back in Seattle after admitting to Amelia that she’s like a stranger to him. “You married a tumor,” she says matter-of-factly. They each admit that they’re not happy and give their wedding rings back to each other.
Owen’s voice-over closes out the episode, talking about finding freedom and finding peace before rolling into a PSA from Kevin McKidd. “Nearly 40,000 veterans are homeless” he starts out…
It’s likely that you’ve forgotten that 2007 was a very turbulent year for our military. It’s likely that you don’t realize that there are still as many as 7,000 soldiers still reported in Iraq alone. And while the drama we saw tonight was purely fiction, if you take anything away after watching, please remember our veterans. Now is our time to serve them.