'Grey's Anatomy' recap: 'The Great Pretender'
After last week’s tearjerker of an episode, we were treated to… another tearjerker of an episode.
It all begins with Ben and his brother, Curtis, throwing their dad’s ashes onto the forest floor. Although pouring out your late parent’s ashes doesn’t sound like an ideal activity, the two brothers are making the most of it, laughing away. It’s what he would have wanted, they say—before lovingly calling their dear old dad a pain in the ass. Aw, children can be so nice.
Curtis interrupts all this merriment though to suggest he and Ben race to the top of the hill. He touches his chest before this, so we know something’s wrong—and we know that racing to the top of the hill sounds like a stupid idea. And it is: Curtis ends up passing out and getting rushed to the hospital, where Meredith finds out his liver enzymes are “off the charts.” At first, it seems like he could be a closet alcoholic. It would make sense—his father died of colon cancer, so he was likely stressed during his father’s last days and could have turned to whiskey to soothe his pain. But that’s not it.
When Meredith isn’t helping out Curtis, she’s lying to everyone about her “trip to see Derek.” Remember how she spent all of last week’s episode trying to get someone to cover for her at work and babysit her kids so she could have sex with her long-distance husband? Well, she found someone to cover for her and to babysit her kids… and then she didn’t get on the plane to D.C. Maggie—who was taking care of the kids—thinks Meredith was cheating, but she wasn’t: She was hanging out alone in a cheap hotel room, drinking from the minibar and jumping on the bed in her underwear (a.k.a. living the life).
Meredith’s embarrassed though, so she’s not telling anyone what really happened. And Maggie’s pissed. Derek called three times while Meredith was gone to ask where she was, and each time Maggie lied on her behalf. This makes her, a) a great sister and b) a great liar (one of her fibs was that Meredith got called in for an “emergency rectal abscess”—such detail!). But Maggie is also a great person, so she naturally hates lying. And wants to know the truth.
Meredith being Meredith though isn’t about to just spill her guts to Maggie, which sucks for Maggie. Like, she just told Meredith in the last episode that she is her only friend in Seattle. And now her only friend won’t tell her what’s going on in her life. On that note, it’s probably time for Maggie to join a book club.
Elsewhere in the hospital, Amelia and Callie are dealing with a patient who “fainted” and fell down a flight of stairs while her boyfriend—her needy, over-affectionate boyfriend—was proposing. She didn’t actually faint though: No, Hilary’s been pretending to faint to avoid listening to her boyfriend, and to, more recently, avoid replying to his marriage proposal. Because that’s a mature and healthy way (did I mention she has to get brain surgery thanks to the fall?) to deal with uncomfortable situations.
You’d expect Hilary would have some life-changing conversation or experience in the hospital that makes her toughen up and tell her boyfriend how she feels. You’d think she’d realize that, oh, yeah, pretending to faint instead of just dealing with life is a pretty inefficient way to live. But, nope. She makes it through surgery and awakens to her boyfriend declaring his love. So she “faints.” Again. Thankfully, this time she’s resting on a hospital bed so there’s no opportunity for injuries—but this is a perfect opportunity to tell the truth, as Callie (who is Team Boyfriend) tries to tell her. Instead, Callie breaks up with him on Hilary’s behalf and gently kicks him out of the hospital room. Part of me thought Hilary wasn’t fake-fainting this time, that she was having some post-surgery reaction, but alas, she wakes up and thanks Callie. Callie deserves a lot more than a whispered “thank you” for that, but whatever, Hilary.
While Callie’s doing a cowardly patient’s dirty work, Meredith discovers Curtis isn’t an alcoholic: He’s a transgender woman taking off-label hormone treatments that are destroying his health. Bailey finds out and ends up telling Ben, even though that’s totally Curtis’ call. Ben initially thinks it’s a joke—or more likely, is in denial—until he realizes Bailey isn’t lying. So once Curtis is out of surgery, Ben talks to her himself.
NEXT: Ben confronts his sister
“This is who I am,” Curtis says. “I’ve known since I was 5.” Long story short, the talk doesn’t go so well. Ben, who’s told Curtis everything since they were kids, feels betrayed. “Now, he’s got the biggest thing in his life, and he waited 25 years to tell me,” he tells Bailey. “I feel like it was all a lie. Our whole life, he lied to me.”
Bailey, very wisely, reminds Ben this isn’t about him—it’s about Curtis. “I’m done with him,” Ben says, ending his conversation with Bailey. “Her,” she corrects him. Plus one (or, you know, a thousand) for Bailey, especially for what she does next: She brings Jackson into Curtis’ room to talk about the next steps. What ensues is a beautiful moment between a supportive Jackson and a hurt, timid Curtis. Avery insists she stop taking the over-the-counter hormone treatments in favor of hospital-approved ones and recommends she start going to therapy. Watching Ben reject his sister is infuriating, but Jackson and Bailey’s obvious desire to help her through this are powerful and chill-inspiring.
By this point, Meredith’s feeling guilty about hurting Maggie and tells her the truth. And, of course, Maggie responds with a ton of empathy. This would be a great chance for the two to head to the bar, get drunk, and dance their way into best friendship, but instead, Meredith heads to Alex’s and tells him the truth, too. But he gets a little more dirt than Maggie did: “If I had gone to D.C., we would have fought,” she tells Alex. “I don’t want to fight anymore. I don’t want to leave him, but I definitely do not want to be with him right now.” This doesn’t come off as much of a surprise—he made the decision to leave mid-fight, so we know things aren’t going so well for them. But it does come off as incredibly sad, especially after they had a seeming breakthrough just a couple episodes ago when Meredith hung their Post-it vows back up. But frames tend to fall down, and theirs is no exception. Let’s just hope they’ll be able to keep putting it back on the wall.
- Hunt and Amelia kissed, and it was amazing. Am I still (delusionally) Team Cristina and Hunt? Yes, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think he deserves some fun. Plus, Amelia was endearingly awkward when she brought over a fancy bottle of water to his trailer—and he was endearingly smooth when he stopped her from leaving, told her not to say anything, and then kissed her. Grey‘s has been pretty barren in the romance department lately, so this was a welcome moment.
- Callie had some fun of her own, too: She went to a bar and asked—well, told—a guy to dance. Get it, Callie.
- Richard and Mama Avery had a good time together, but that’s over now. And that’s a good thing: She points out that he thinks powerful women are attractive one moment and is hurt the next, and that’s totally true—plus, she hurt his feelings awhile ago and he’s lying to himself if he thinks he’s over it.
- The first thing Avery asks Curtis is what her new name is. It’s Roslyn. “That’s a beautiful name,” Avery replies. Bailey’s this episode’s MVP, but Avery comes in at second place for helping her save (or at least, try to save) Roslyn’s day.
- Herman decides to spend the rest of her days living in the hospital, and Arizona decides to spend a night with her. Not to have sex though, as Herman jokingly clarifies—she just found out that Arizona is a “dirty, dirty girl” (she says this while giggling) so she doesn’t want to lead her protégé on.
Meredith. Alex. Bailey. The doctors are definitely in on Shonda Rhimes' hospital melodrama.