Years and years ago, Izzie — remember her? — stood frozen in front of the hospital following Denny’s death, terrified of speaking with the chief after her massive mess-up. And now, nine seasons later, Bailey’s doing the same thing — luckily this time, though, it’s for a much less depressing reason: She’s now chief (hooray!), and she is nervous. Super nervous.
“I just need it to be perfect,” Bailey tells Warren as he tries to get her to move inside. Nothing is ever perfect through, especially not at Grey Sloan Memorial — and Bailey knows that better than most people. But we all have fantasies, and Bailey is no exception. And her fantasy is that her first day as chief will be magical and spot-free.
She finally makes her way inside and is greeted by Webber hosting a breakfast party (complete with a customized cake) to welcome Bailey to her role. Bailey’s not having it and announces she’s done with meetings. She’s ready to get to work (and has evidently gone mad, because who would reject an entire cake greeting you first thing at work?). Bailey’s living the dream and she doesn’t even care.
As evidenced by Webber’s party, he’s feeling a little useless and is trying to make himself helpful. He wants to offer Bailey advice, but Bailey doesn’t want his wisdom or guidance. He’s like a dad trying to get through to his teenage daughter — in other words, it’s never going to happen.
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After successfully ditching Webber, Bailey faces her first patient as chief: a 7-foot-2 woman named Jade who’s suffering from blurry vision, dizziness, headaches, and abnormal growth. After some tests, they figure out she has some broken vertebrae (she originally came in after taking a spill) and a tumor on her pituitary gland. The good news is, they figured out what’s wrong with her. The bad news is, Jade doesn’t quite care.
See, Jade has a really important job to do. She has to get back to work. There’s no way she’s going to miss a week — a week! — sitting in the hospital recovering from life-saving surgery. That’s crazy! All she’ll do is give the team of doctors four hours to figure out a plan of action. But that’s it.
NEXT: Jade stays in the hospital — but not by choice
Jade eventually reveals that she’s trying to bring Internet to Africa to educate women, which is great and noble and all, but also she is being such a dummy about it. Either she can go on with her work and die from this tumor and never actually get to finish her work, or she can take a week off — and I’m pretty sure Internet in Africa can wait one week — and actually have a chance of, you know, surviving. But Jade is too focused on Internet, so she is all like, “I’m giving you four hours, that’s it!”
This sends everyone into complete chaos, because four hours is no time at all in the medical world and because Bailey is telling everyone it’s possible when it’s basically not. Once the four hours is up, Jade tries to stride out of the hospital, and Jo tries to stop her by reasoning that Jade can’t help if she is dead or blind. These words, which are exactly what Jade needed to hear, don’t end up having any effect though, because Jade collapses…right on Jo. That’s what she gets for trying to be a good person.
Long story short, they rush Jade into surgery and have no idea if she’s going to wake up paralyzed, with a stroke, or not wake up at all. They’re stressed and exhausted and have been challenged more than they’d like to be challenged. (Spoiler: She wakes up and asks when she can get out of there. So, Jade’s fine. Africa is getting Internet. All is well.)
Bailey is also stressed and exhausted and has been challenged all day. She’s starting to feel like she can’t do this, can’t be chief — but Webber saves the day right at her weakest moment. He gives her a stethoscope, one he received on the very first day of his residency, and delivers a very inspiring, very Webber-like pep talk about how she’s going to have to get people to believe in her and that takes time. In other words, Bailey has to retire the Nazi in her if she wants to get anything accomplished.
“You want someone to run a four-minute mile, you don’t chase them,” Webber says. “You give them something to run to.” So Bailey does just that. She goes and talks to Team Jade and tells them — all looking extremely discouraged — that they are extraordinary, that she messed up a ton that day but they didn’t. “You found a way to do something that was, in fact, impossible,” she tells them. “So if there is a bad outcome, it’s my bad outcome. Tomorrow I will be better.”
NEXT: April and Jackson finally talk
This speech, like most Grey’s speeches, is stirring and heartwarming — and also extremely evocative of a conversation Meredith had last season with the doctor who let Derek die. “You did fail. You weren’t good enough,” Meredith told this doctor soon after finding out her husband’s fate. “So learn from this, better yourself, and you will be better for next time.” Grey’s, especially lately, is insistent that we’re all constantly growing and improving and that we all make mistakes — some bigger than others — and this overarching idea is part of what makes the show so human, so relatable, even after all these years.
April would agree that we’re constantly growing. She’s stuck in a glass bubble this episode (Arizona discovers a mess of red spots on her back so they quarantine her for the day, but she ends up being fine), and at one point essentially forces Jackson to come speak to her about the state of their relationship. She’s all about working on their marriage, whereas he’s ready to give up. She thinks she’s grown; he thinks she’s changed. She thinks she had to go away for those months; he thinks she should have stayed. There’s no right answer to any of it, and there’s likely not going to be a clean outcome to any of it anytime soon.
April, though, remains determined to make it work, even after Jackson’s comment that he doesn’t know if they are worth fighting for. She starts telling him that they’re worth fighting for, that she’ll launch a full-scale assault, that she’ll win — in other words, Army jargon seems to have gotten a little too into April’s head. But her determination is admirable, and maybe it’s what Jackson needed to see. Maybe he’ll, at the very least, consider giving her another chance now, something he didn’t seem to be even contemplating before.
Meredith stays out of the spotlight most of the episode because she’s busy taking care of both her own patients and Bailey’s, but it pays off later in the episode. After getting into a brief spat of sorts with Grey (and after her pep talk with Webber), Bailey tells Grey what she needs. “I need a me,” she says. “And I believe you can be a me for me.” Then she appoints her chief of general surgery. Promotions for everyone! And, more importantly, finally a good thing happens to Meredith. Finally.
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