Part of what makes surgeons and doctors so omnipotent to us is the fact that they work on that which mere mortals can’t see; they can diagnose and subsequently fix hidden mysteries. But even they need help, and that’s where technology comes in. Among computerized medical records, monitors, and machines that can scan and show physicians what they need to know in order to save lives, there’s no denying the medical community’s reliance on technology. So what happens when something invisible attacks the system that our stalwarts are so reliant upon? Such was the frenetic premise of tonight’s winter finale.
Still basking in the glow of winning the Harper Avery, Meredith is on the hospital bridge giving an interview about her accomplishment. She tells the interviewer she’d like to win three Harper Averys, just to piss off her mother. So maybe Meredith hasn’t grown as much as we thought.
Jo is practicing her best Bailey in a mirror because she’s been made chief resident, lord and emperor of the new wide-eyed, clueless interns, and she doesn’t really know how to be tough. She tries her best, though, as she tells them, “Don’t be stupid or slow or make me look bad,” but Bailey and Webber overhear her and proclaim that she needs to work on that speech.
Bailey is trying to convince Webber to run the multimillion-dollar contest that Jackson is anonymously backing. Webber calls her out, telling her the only reason she wants him to run it is so that she can enter. Bailey fires back, saying he owes her because he let her husband do the fireman thing as his fellowship. Webber wants to know who the anonymous donor is anyway, and Bailey refuses to answer, instead responding with the woman who puts the heat in fire, the Queen of Soul herself, Ms. Aretha Franklin.
Jo’s first act as chief resident is to assign the interns to surgeons. Naturally they all want to go with superstar Meredith, but before Jo can pick anyone, Meredith announces she’s taking Glasses (a.k.a. Schmitt). Glasses thanks her for choosing him, but she cuts him off and tells him not to suck up, that he doesn’t get to talk about her legend. He assures her that he’s more worried about his legacy: He doesn’t want to be forever known as the guy who dropped his glasses inside someone. Though it wasn’t exactly the same situation, his vulnerability and genuine concern for his hapless reputation is so reminiscent of George worrying about being called 007 that it begs the question of whether or not Meredith will grow to favor Schmitt for this same reason.
Jo, Karev, and the intern henceforth known as Pony, for her impossibly perky ponytail, are dealing with a 7-year-old patient named Frankie who has a blood vessel disorder. “My blood is like Kool-Aid and you gotta make it like Jell-O,” the precocious patient explains to the doctors before announcing that his mom thinks Karev is “stupid hot.” Jo totally nails it by telling Karev later in the hall that he’s like candy to the scared, single mom.
Maggie and Jackson are dealing with Claude, an older man who has lung congestion. His companion, a woman who looks to be in her 40s, is uncomfortably awkward, unsure of whether or not she should stay or go when Maggie and Jackson are trying to figure out his game plan. While they initially think her uneasiness is due to the fact that the May-December couple is on a first date, it turns out that the woman is actually Claude’s daughter, and they only recently met. Her mother left Claude when she was pregnant, and her recent funeral reunited them. The woman barely feels comfortable enough to call him her father, let alone sign the consent form that Maggie and Jackson need signed in order to do his risky surgery.
Meanwhile in the ER, April is good-naturedly ribbing Owen about Carina; she saw them together in the elevator earlier that day. He tells her that it’s just fun. They’re interrupted by April’s elderly patient flatlining. As she goes to check on the old lady, all the other ER patients’ monitors start beeping and flatlining as well. Sam Bello, the intern who is still having a lot of hospital sex with DeLuca, uses the paddles on a poor guy who, it turns out, was just sleeping. All the monitors are going crazy and Owen and April are stuck frantically trying to calm everyone down.
Grey Sloan continues to meltdown quickly: Meredith and Glasses are about to operate on a woman with an enlarged spleen when the OR monitors start flickering; Pony can’t open Frankie’s chart to get information for Karev; cardiac monitors are malfunctioning; Bailey’s computer won’t let her access medical records. By the time Tim from IT comes to help Bailey, it’s too late; all of the computers suddenly flash the same scary message:
Hello Grey Sloan Memorial. Currently we control your hospital. We own your servers. We own your systems. We own your patients’ medical records.
The hacker goes on to demand a ransom of 4,932 Bitcoin and says that if they don’t pay, they’re going to destroy their medical records.
Obviously everyone is scared, and unfortunately everyone directs their frustration at Bailey. She, in turn, turns on Tim and says, “I thought we were prepared for this. I thought we had a cyber-security seminar!” He tells her the seminar was scheduled for this Friday, and you just know that this will be the last episode we see IT Tim.
Just as Bailey tells everyone not to let the patients know anything is out of the ordinary, the FBI shows up out of nowhere (literally, I still don’t know how they knew there was an attack or why they assembled faster than the Avengers) with their official blue coats and yellow block lettering, instructing everyone to shut down phones and computers. “I think people will know,” Webber astutely says as they all watch the agents set up shop. (Recap continues on page 2)
The technology shutdown immediately starts wreaking havoc: A line starts to form for the CT machine. Karev and Owen even have a figurative pissing contest over their respective patients’ places in said line, with Karev telling Owen his child patient (cutie-pie Frankie) trumps Owen’s adult one in this screwed up game of human poker.
Webber, meanwhile, is in his old-school element. This catastrophe gives the OG a chance to shine. He gathers everyone and tells them that they’re going to need to be their own record keepers and that everything will need to be tracked on paper. Kepner declares it the “stone age” but later eats her words when Webber shows them all a very cool trick involving an IV bag and a newspaper to see if a patient has blood in her stomach. He also helps DeLuca out with a patient using a hands-on, old-fashioned method for slowing a guy’s heart rate down. Talk about gangsta.
But then we’re reminded of how old Grampa Webber is when he volunteers to pay the nearly 5K in Bitcoin in order to get them out of this mess. IT Tim tells him that translates to $20 million. The FBI tells Bailey that normally these hackers ask for an amount they think you can handle. She realizes this must have happened because the contest was announced, which then gives her the idea to ask her anonymous donor for the money. The Feds implore her not to pay the ransom though, citing thousands of hypothetical patients who could be affected by the outcome of one hospital paying an unprecedented ransom amount. Jackson tells her if she changes her mind, all it will take is a phone call to the anonymous contest backer.
Meredith’s surgery is going decently considering she’s only got a scope to guide her, but then she needs blood, so she sends Glasses, who’s unable to get into the electronically locked blood vault. Some of that Harper Avery ingenuity strikes, though, when she gets the idea to hook him up (guess who has the same blood type as her patient) for a live blood transfusion.
Arizona and Carina are dealing with a pregnant patient who came in because she initially thought a home water birth in a kiddie pool was a good idea. Because the computers are down, they can’t access the epidurals, which, as you can imagine, is not welcome news to a woman who’s facing pushing a human out of her vag. Carina unsurprisingly can’t calm the woman down, even with all her oh-so-helpful orgasm suggestions. Arizona tries as well to talk her down, but the woman is freaking out, saying she’s simply not ready to be a mom. In a Clear-Eyes-Full-Hearts-esque speech, Arizona convinces her to push, and holy Coach Taylor, does she ever. After releasing a primordial scream, the woman delivers her baby while standing, no less!
Frankie may have thrown another clot, and as he’s throwing up he asks Karev to promise that if he dies, Karev will marry his mom. “She really likes you, and I know she’ll be safe,” Frankie says. As I try not to tear up, I think of how I can’t even get my kid to share her banana with me. Karev is determined not to let Frankie die, and Jo goes on a wild goose chase to find out if they can give Frankie the blood thinner, Heparin. Since they can’t access his patient file, they don’t know if he’s received vitamin K, and as such, they don’t know if it’s safe to give him the Heparin. Jo is running down nurses throughout the hospital to find out, as Frankie’s time is clearly running out.
Maggie and Jackson decide that Claude needs to be transferred. As they’re taking him up to the helipad on the roof, they’re making small talk in the longest elevator ride ever when they realize that they both went to the same Boston country club when they were young — only Jackson went as a member and Maggie worked there. As they’re in the helicopter, Jackson says he can’t believe he didn’t notice her. She assures him that he wouldn’t have noticed her back then. “Some people sneak up on you,” Jackson tells her before grabbing her hand because she’s nervous about the bumpy ride. Before their flirtation can continue, blood starts spurting everywhere. The turbulence has caused Claude’s tube to come loose.
Fed up with this nonsense, Owen busts into the room where the FBI look busy but don’t seem to be getting anywhere. He tells Bailey they need to start evacuating patients. The FBI is not as quick at finding hackers as they are at arriving somewhere without being called, though, and so they say they need more time. Bailey informs him that their time is up and that she can’t be worried about hypothetical patients. She says she’s calling Aretha to get the money.
But Aretha is otherwise occupied in the helicopter from hell. The last we see is his blood-covered cell phone ringing.
Jo finally catches up to the right nurse who was leaving after finishing his shift, and it turns out Frankie shouldn’t get Heparin. She runs back into the hospital to tell Karev not to give him the blood thinner at the same time we see Karev preparing to do just that. Realizing she will likely not make it, she tries texting Alex but it won’t go through. As the elevator doors open and she races off the lift, she’s suddenly stopped cold by her estranged and abusive husband, Paul (Matthew Morrison). “Hey, Brooke. Oh, wait, it’s Jo now, right?”
As was clearly the theme in this episode: Some disasters you just don’t see coming.