Karev is forced to make a tough decision while Meredith fights for better pay.

By Ariana Bacle
October 09, 2015 at 02:35 PM EDT
ABC/Mitchell Haaseth

Grey's Anatomy

S12 E3
  • TV Show

Grey’s Anatomy turned into Sophie’s Choice tonight, and it was not fun. Not fun at all.

It all started when a woman birthed a set of twins who turned out to have tumors on their livers. Karev needs two livers in order to save the two babies, but only the dad is a match. Which means Karev has to choose which baby lives and which dies. See? Alex’s choice.

Just the mere thought of having to do this is enough to drop any stomach. It’s awful and terrifying and unimaginable in its unfairness. And Karev feels this way, too: He stays up all night trying to find a way and almost hands the decision over to Bailey until Arizona gives him a classic Grey’s pep talk.

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Part of the magic of Karev is that he was pretty much a capital-A asshole when we first met him. Since those early days, though, he’s remained stonefaced but shown more and more of his warmhearted self — and Arizona sensed that self was there from the beginning. She tells him she knew how much he cared from the first moment they really talked, that she’s proud of him, that this is his job and he has to do it or else he won’t be able to look at himself in the mirror anymore. So he listens and decides to open up both babies before making a decision. That way, he can more accurately tell who is in better shape.

They go into surgery, and long story short, Alex tries to save both of them but fails. The baby boy can’t be saved. Watching him flatline is heartbreaking, and watching Alex pick up the baby and hold him even more so. But at the same time, it’s also an American Sniper moment of sorts: It’s supposed to be meaningful and emotional — and it is, to an extent — but the obviously fake baby, one they seemingly plucked straight from The Simpsons, kind of ruins it.

The moment when Karev delivers the bad news to the mother, though, isn’t cluttered by any low-quality props: First, Arizona tells her she has a beautiful baby girl before Karev steps up and tells her that they did everything they could to save her boy but ultimately couldn’t. The camera pans to new intern Andrew DeLuca, who earlier admitted to Karev that he didn’t want to work with kids because he couldn’t handle the pressure of being responsible for parents’ children after hearing a mother wail over her dead child when he was an EMT. This mother also wails. Andrew is, understandably, freaking out a bit.

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So he heads to the bar, where Maggie is also hanging out and freaking out a bit. Ethan — that guy from radiology she apparently dated for six months while Meredith was grieving away from Seattle — is getting married, and she got an invitation to the wedding. First of all: Ethan, why would you send your very recent ex-girlfriend an invitation to your wedding to someone else? Second of all: Maggie responds to this by ranting to Meredith and company during a wine night that she’s an alien with no home and she wants to have sex, and this is probably the most entertaining monologue to appear on Grey’s in the history of Grey’s. More drunken alien-focused rants from Maggie, please!

NEXT: Maggie might finally get that sex she wanted

Well, here she and Andrew are at the bar. He tries to talk to her about how he doesn’t dislike kids, blah blah, but she is just focused on how pretty his eyes are — so focused that she tells him this and then proceeds to kiss him. Maggie: horny alien no more.

While these two lovebirds are making out, Meredith is fighting for a raise. Turns out she’s making way less than everyone else even though she is now chief of general surgery, a gig that merits some money, so she talks to everyone else about it and ultimately decides to stand up to Bailey and ask for more.

Webber overhears Meredith talking about this dilemma, so he goes to Bailey himself and scolds her for not siding with her fellow woman and giving her the pay she deserves. Webber has perfectly good intentions, but Bailey explains — quite forcefully, in typical (and admirable) Bailey fashion — she’s not about to “give away money when it’s not asked for.” She points out that Webber has been coddling Meredith ever since Derek died, and she’s not going to do that.

“She needs to rise so she knows that she can rise on her own,” Bailey says. “Because you may not be here the next time she falls.” And rise, Meredith does: She goes in and tells Bailey she needs “to feel as valued as you say you value me” and writes down a number on a piece of paper. “I can make that happen,” Bailey replies. “Is that all, Grey?”

The exchange is short and sweet, possibly because Bailey needs to get home to tend to her new houseguest: Jackson. He tried to get April to move out of their apartment, but she’s being a little stalkerish and won’t leave despite Jackson’s insistence that he’ll get her a hotel room and help her pack. She’s all, “for better or for worse!” and can’t seem to comprehend that she left because she needed space, and now she needs to leave to give him space.

After the first time she refuses to leave, Jackson says he’s going to change the locks. She comes home to discover that it was an empty threat and momentarily thinks he’s going to give their marriage another try. But that’s not the case, because Jackson really just moved out and took his things over to Bailey’s and Ben’s. From one couch to another.

In happier relationship news, Jo discovers some of Alex’s paperwork from a fertility clinic and ultimately finds out that Izzie froze her eggs with Alex — meaning that Alex, at one point, wanted to have babies with someone. Because that someone wasn’t her, Jo feels insecure and doesn’t understand why he would commit to having a baby with Izzie but will only commit to having a dog with her. Things seem like they’re going south for a bit until Alex comes home and tells her he’s not going anywhere. Then he takes off his pants and suggests they have a baby right then and there, which Jo fortunately rejects. Grey’s is already full of babies, and they rarely actually add anything to the show. Hell, have we even seen any of them this season yet?

Between Jo’s refusal to make a baby right then and there and Meredith’s ask for more pay, Grey‘s is going all in on being explicitly, unapologetically feminist. It’s interesting and mostly amusing, and I can already imagine dozens of women thinking to themselves, right this second, “If Meredith can ask for the pay she deserves, so can I!”

Do these more politically minded plotlines sometimes come off a little forced, a little cheesy? Sure. But they’re also inspiring in their Grey’s-specific, I’m-going-to-show-you-all-my-emotions-and-hope-that-works-in-my-favor way. And that is what makes Grey’s Grey’s, for better or for worse. So keep rising, Meredith. Keep rising.

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Grey's Anatomy

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

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