The complicated ballad of Jackson and April takes center stage

By Ariana Bacle
February 26, 2016 at 02:49 AM EST
Eric McCandless/ABC

Grey's Anatomy

S12 E11
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And you (and by “you,” I really mean “I”) thought tonight’s episode would present some finality on the whole Jackson-April saga. Well, that was wrong. Surprise!

As the previews have shown, tonight’s episode was all about Jackson and April and their on-again, off-again relationship. The episode started with them signing divorce papers before it jumped back, back, back to the very beginning, when the two were just starting out at Mercy West over a decade ago. Although the flashbacks didn’t give much new insight into their relationship, forcing us to walk down memory lane with them was an effective way to make the divorce sting all the more — and sting, it did. For a minute, anyway.

Of course, not all the flashbacks were rose-colored. There was the one where Jackson tried to comfort April soon after baby Samuel’s death, a moment that ended with Jackson suggesting they try to have another child and April responding, “Screw you.” There was the one where April’s attempt to get Jackson to join her in Jordan turned into a fight about abandonment. And there was the one about their religious practices.

Each of these three represent a specific, profound issue in their marriage, all of which ultimately contributed to its dissolution. Samuel’s death is perhaps the one experience that rocked them the most: Grief is hard and strange and something that no two people have identical experiences with. This was especially true for April and Jackson, who both fell apart in their own ways after Samuel’s death. In one of the flashbacks, Jackson finds a despondent April in what would have been Samuel’s room and points out that she hasn’t been to church in a long time. Later on in the episode, she explains to Jackson that she was dying at the same time, that the only way for her to survive was to go to Jordan. In that same conversation, Jackson tells her he was dying, too — it was just he was trying to hide it to help April.

That’s admirable of him, and it’s admirable of her to do what’s best for herself. Is it wrong for Jackson to fault April for leaving him? Maybe a little. At the same time, though, he’s trying to break up with her. He’s not trying to dwell on it anymore; he just wants it to be over so he can move on. April’s the one dragging it on and forcing him to talk about it over and over again. She knew that going to Jordan would strain their marriage, and she did it anyway. She knew that there might be consequences, and now there clearly are. This doesn’t mean she should be emotionless about their marriage ending, but it does mean that she could afford to be a bit more understanding of Jackson’s perspective here.

NEXT: Jackson and April reach a decision

Her stubbornness regarding their marriage has been one of this season’s more annoying aspects (but this is also coming from someone who has never been completely pro-Jackson and April, so take that with a grain or 10 of salt). Sure, trying to make it work is impressive and romantic and all that, but it’s also, as Jackson points out, not always feasible. Divorce is okay, he reasons with her. And he’s right: Not all relationships are meant to last forever, and ending one doesn’t make you or it a failure.

This is clear just from the happier flashbacks of the two laughing as they drive to their eventual shotgun wedding, of them reaching a compromise about said wedding in a thrift shop, of them resisting — and then not resisting — the urge to have pre-marital sex the night before. Jackson and April’s relationship was far from perfect, but it had its bright spots. Their divorce doesn’t take that away.

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The episode ends as it began, with Jackson and April signing those divorce papers. Arizona stops by April’s apartment afterward, plenty of booze in hand — and then, in a surprising twist, April rejects the booze. Because April is pregnant. And she knows this because she took a pregnancy test that morning. That morning. The morning before she finalized her divorce with Jackson.

Maybe it’s a false alarm. This is the same show that did begin this episode with Jackson showing up to a patient’s wedding, hinting that maybe it was his wedding to the patient. (It wasn’t: He just got to know her after four years of operating on her burned face and therefore walked her down the aisle.) Or maybe thinking it’s a false alarm is wishful, delusional thinking. Some sagas need to end, and this one is definitely one of those. Let them move on, Grey’s. You’ve let so many better relationships — and people — die, so let this one join that graveyard. It’s time.

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Grey's Anatomy

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

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