Richard tells Maggie the truth just as the board picks its newest member.

By Samantha Highfill
Updated October 10, 2014 at 02:32 AM EDT
Mitchell Haaseth/ABC

Grey's Anatomy

S11 E3
  • TV Show
  • ABC

Grey’s Anatomy has never been a show in need of a villain. Rather, the villain of this story is simply life and the way that it screws us over on a daily basis. The villain is heartbreak. The villain is bad luck. The villain is coincidence. And occasionally, the villain is tequila. Well, that is, when it isn’t busy being the hero.

In other words, the villain is what puts the hospital’s victims at risk, and it’s what keeps our doctors going day in and day out. It’s the thing that killed Denny and the reason Cristina decided to move away. It’s not something we can see, and it’s not something fans can actively hate, but that’s what makes this show work. And yet, this episode seemed to forget that.

By taking so many of our favorite characters and pitting them against each other, this show is putting viewers in a very strange, very uncomfortable position—the position of disliking the new girl, or dare I say it, the position of disliking their McDreamy. It’s not a position we’ve been in many times, and it’s not one that makes the viewing experience enjoyable. Yes, it does make for good drama, but it’s the sort of good drama that you’d rather not watch for an hour.

And as Jackson put it, this week could very easily be broken down into battles: Meredith vs. Maggie, Amelia vs. Derek, Owen vs. Callie, and Karev vs. Bailey.

Meredith vs. Maggie

Ironically, what could have been the darkest and most dramatic face-off of the episode ended up being the most enjoyable, mostly because watching Karev adapt to being Meredith’s person—which means letting go of any sort of personal boundaries he might have—is fun, funny, and feels so very right.

With Meredith, we spend the episode at Alex’s house, a.k.a. her childhood home, where she catches him up on her life story while he takes a shower. Now, give Karev a moment or two to warm up because he is new to this whole “being Mer’s person” thing, and no one should blame him for not wanting to do it naked. Then again, he’s still a man, so one compliment about his “junk”—no matter how sarcastic—and suddenly, he’s all ears.

Once he’s out of the shower, the duo heads downstairs to spend the day drinking and plotting since Meredith took a sick day and Alex, well, doesn’t have a job. Over tequila, Alex practices his pitch for the board spot while Meredith informs Alex that she hasn’t told Derek about her sister drama. According to her, they’re not talking because Derek’s decision to stay in Seattle is the equivalent of Derek forfeiting and therefore, they both lost. She’s not grateful that he’s home because her career is just as important as his. “I’m the sun, and he can go suck it!” Ah, yes. A drunk Meredith is the best Meredith.

But instead of hopping up and doing what a drunk Meredith typically does—dance!—Meredith has to adapt to having a twisted brother this time around. So what’s Alex’s next move? Breaking into the hospital’s files to look up Maggie’s birthday. It’s then that we realize exactly what happened in the flashback that kicked off the season: Ellis was being treated for slitting her wrists when she discovered she was pregnant. And with that, Meredith realizes she has a sister and quickly calls Richard, who has spent the day wowing Maggie with his years of surgical experience.

At first, Mer’s furious with him for not telling Maggie the truth, but it becomes evident that Richard’s just as mad at Ellis for not letting him know that he was a father 30 years ago. But as much as we can blame pretty much everything on Ellis Grey, Richard has had a number of chances to tell Maggie, and that’s exactly her reaction when he finally comes clean. Correction: Her reaction is that, but way more dramatic. Sure, Richard should’ve told you the moment he realized, but the man was in shock. And now you’re jumping to conclusions that he’s known all along? Calm down, Maggie. You might be new here, but Richard’s kind of the best. And what’s with the storming off? She, unfortunately, got that from her mama.

NEXT: Shepherd vs. Shepherdess

Amelia vs. Derek

As Jackson put it, the Shepherds found themselves in a bit of a pissing contest this week. With Amelia now the head of neuro, Derek isn’t quick to take orders from his younger, less experienced sister. “My résumé will kick your résumé’s ass. I’m better than you,” he tells her before taking her patient into surgery without notifying her. And after the patient ends up brain dead—through what seems to be no direct fault of Derek’s—the original Shepherd and Shepherdess have it out.

Amelia makes it clear that Derek’s choice to stay doesn’t mean he can take it out on her career, though McDreamy doesn’t see it as a choice. He claims that Meredith backed him into a corner and now, the man who’s never taken a step back in his career is being forced to. Again, that doesn’t give him reason to attack Amelia.

Remember when I talked about not liking McDreamy? Between this and his decision to yell at Meredith for getting drunk with Alex when she’s trying to tell him about Maggie, it’s very difficult to be on Team Derek right now. And quite frankly, it can be hard to be on Team Grey’s when not on Team Derek… though not impossible.

Owen vs. Callie

Thanks to Callie’s invention of a super fancy robot leg, Owen brings her to a veterans rehabilitation center to try and get some Wounded Warriors into her trial. But when Owen starts making promises that Callie can’t keep, and it results in her having to break a man’s spirit, well, let’s just say that the two of them let out their frustrations in a very public hallway screaming match. Spoiler: Callie wins.

But after Jackson relays how much he hates playing hall monitor when he’s a much better surgeon, Owen finds Callie and apologizes. And in apologizing, he breaks hearts across America. For the first time since she left, Owen opens up about losing Cristina. He was so enthusiastic about this project because he needs something good. He’s not depressed or heart broken or grieving, but he doesn’t feel good. He’s proud of Cristina, but how can she be happy without him? To him, her absence means that “Maybe my dreams are over. Maybe I had my dreams and they’re over now.” Now he’s just a single guy and he’s worried that the darkness she saved him from will return. It’s still in him and she, well, “She just lit it up.” So he needs to do something good.

[Brief cry break where we all tweet for Shonda Rhimes to please, please bring Cristina back.]

The good/bad news is that Callie needs something good to happen too. After yet another (!) disagreement with Arizona about whether they have time for a baby, Callie throws herself into the veteran project, with both Hunt and Avery at her side.

Karev vs. Bailey

For Alex, the day is spent dealing with Meredith and intermittently preparing a speech about his passion for the hospital. And Bailey? Well, she deals with a pile-up accident that puts a branch through a man—sorry, we’ve done this before Grey’s—before the board meeting. One comment: Did anyone else have an issue with Bailey taking a selfie with that patient? At first, I chuckled and thought it was cute, but then I thought back to how old-school Bailey would’ve broken the phone of the first intern who tried to take a photo with any of their other unusual/impaled patients. Of all the characters to lose edge, don’t let it be Bailey.

At the end of the day, both Bailey and Karev pitch themselves to the board—speeches I would’ve liked to have heard—before we get the results: Bailey’s in; Karev’s out. Based on experience, it seems to be the right decision though Alex no longer has a job, which could be interesting.

All in all, there’s a number of doctors making bad choices at the moment, and they’re not fun bad choices, like sleeping with Mark. Yes, people are flawed, but do they all have to be flawed at the expense of someone else? And do they all have to be so stubborn about it?

Episode Recaps

Grey's Anatomy

Meredith. Alex. Bailey. The doctors are definitely in on Shonda Rhimes' hospital melodrama.

  • TV Show
  • 16
  • TV-14
  • Shonda Rhimes
  • ABC
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