Grey's Anatomy finale recap: 'Ring of Fire'
Adrenaline can only carry the body so far
I’m going to be controversial and step out on a limb… nay, an unstable gurney… and say it: Stephanie Edwards is possibly in the top three most tragic Grey’s Anatomy characters of all time. Think about it — left by her boyfriend at a wedding, lost her boyfriend (and then was given essentially zero plot time to assess that loss), did the heavy lifting for a surgeon who was in crisis during one of her most important surgeries (shout out to Dr. Herman), and here we are, presumably dealing with our natural-haired, crazy-talented, third-wave intern star lying somewhere next to a rapist, crisp as they come. Oh, Stephanie. You deserved better. But before we write her off for good, let’s actually see what happens to her.
We start where last week ended. You know, the kaboom to end all kabooms. Maggie, still unsure how this place works, thinks it could be a drill, but Jackson knows better. Maggie tells him to be careful, and he heads off to look for Stephanie. Bailey calls the rest of the doctors in to help lead trauma/fire efforts. Remember Erin, from last week? The little one who was all about going on adventures? Well, she’s still up there in the fire, and her dad can’t find her. But she’s up there with Stephanie, who is SOMEHOW not dead. Singed, sure. But she’s not dead.
Downstairs, Jackson is still looking for Stephanie. Meredith is looking for Erin, and Minnick is looking for the rule book. Why follow rules at a time like this? Because that horrible woman loves rules. Rules and ruining this hospital. Back at Owen’s place, Amelia wakes him to let him know that, you know, the hospital blew up. But they have to go meet his sister.
Back up in actual hospital hell, Stephanie has to make it over to Erin, who is trapped under a machine. Does it feel a little bit like Lexie? Sure does. What’s up with people getting trapped under things in this alternate world? Like, doesn’t anyone fall on top of stuff for a change? Stephanie makes it over to Erin and finds that the machine has actually impaled her. Mind you, the lab is definitely still catching on fire. She ties a tourniquet around Erin’s leg and launches into how she spent a lot of time in the hospital as a kid, too. Stephanie has poor Erin clench her first and scream it out as she goes in blind on her leg wound, and man, is it a lot.
Downstairs, April has gone full safety patrol, directing people around the parking lot when Alex arrives. And then April discovers that Jackson is up there looking for Maggie, and it’s official from her reaction, y’all: Maggie is going to be paired with Jackson. Lord be. Up in hospital hell, Stephanie manages to get Erin up, but they’re trapped when a beam falls. Thinking fast, Stephanie douses herself in water and wraps Erin and herself in a big wet blanket. What happens next? She literally runs THROUGH FIRE.
And get this: They LIVE. Granted, the rest of the stairwell is on fire, and even Erin knows they can’t go down there. They go to the roof instead, but it’s going to be a journey because Stephanie isn’t just singed — she’s severely burned all over her body. In search of Stephanie, Jackson comes across a nice lady with kidney stones who isn’t helping anyone out.
Guess what else isn’t helping anyone? Riggs, continuing to operate in spite of the fire on the floor above them. Mind you, if Riggs is a badass, then so is Bokhee, who has arguably survived all of Seattle Grace Mercy West Grey Sloan Memorial’s disasters more seamlessly than anyone. Meredith breaks in and asks what he’s doing, and then she decides to join because when there’s an opportunity to die, Meredith is the last one to pass it up, ya know? They begin operating as we see Owen and Amelia taking off to meet Owen’s sister.
At the top of the stairway to hell, Erin and Stephanie reach the roof, but they’re not able to get out because Stephanie doesn’t have her key card. Stephanie panics. Erin says they can make it, but Stephanie pulls Erin in anyway and says that they’re going to cover up with that blanket and wait it out because that’s their best chance. But the thing is… Stephanie isn’t getting under that blanket. She’s going to hold Erin until the scary goes away. Then, from below, she sees her key card and makes a run for it, making Erin promise to stay covered, leaving Erin whispering, “Stephanie, come back.” (Recap continues on page 2.)
From the smoke, Stephanie seems to be gone, but like a damn miracle, she appears with her key card. It’s too much for this world. As this tragedy seems to be sorting itself out, Riggs and Meredith make it out of the hospital. Stephanie and Erin make it to the roof, but as Stephanie tries to flag down someone, Erin codes. As everyone is downstairs assessing their varying degrees of coughs, the team finally asks Minnick where Stephanie is, and get this… girlfriend forgot. LEGIT FORGOT ABOUT EDWARDS. The doctors head into the hospital and discover that crispy man Edwards set ablaze. They head to the roof and finally find Edwards and Erin, and poor girl screams out, “DID YOU TAKE THE SCENIC ROUTE?” God, girl, we know. We’re screaming with you.
Stephanie hops onto Erin on the gurney and will not give up giving her compressions, and when Minnick tells her to get off, Stephanie answers all of our prayers and says, “Get out of my face.” They turn the E.R. into an O.R., and of course, Steph doesn’t leave poor little Erin’s side. (By the way, big shout out to Big Little Lies’ Darby Camp for being a rock star the past two episodes.) They stabilize Erin, and right as the news is announced, Stephanie completely drops out the bottom. Her adrenaline falls, and she’s out.
In an ambulance, Meredith joins Riggs and says she needs to know he can breathe when she tells him what she’s about to tell him. She says, “Remember the dream, when they come back to us? Derek forgets his keys and Megan went for coffee? Nathan, they found Megan; she’s alive.” Riggs says it’s not funny, but poor Meredith just persists because as much as she could have loved Riggs, she knows this is his once-in-a-lifetime love. This might be his Derek. Riggs starts choking, and that’s all fine and well, but we have another story… Megan, herself. Owen and Amelia arrive at the facility where Megan is being held. As they walk back, Owen seems to freeze, but he’s just seeing it all outside his own body.
The next day, Catherine Avery wants answers. Why did it take them so long to find the missing people? Minnick insists that she was simply doing her job and that if they’d followed protocol, Stephanie and that little girl would be fine. But Bailey is over it and says Minnick doesn’t have a place in her hospital because they don’t raise robot doctors. They raise them right. It’s a new entry into the canon of wonderful Grey’s speeches. This is the Bailey we’ve been waiting on for a while. Downstairs, April, the one-time naive girl of the farm, tells Maggie that Jackson likes her. And Minnick finally takes her leave.
But the real takeaway: Stephanie is alive. Alive, y’all. They’re treating her burns, and Webber tells her that they’re all supporting her, but it’ll be a while before she’s back in an OR again. And that’s when Stephanie has her own iconic Grey’s speech: She needs to breathe. She’s lived her whole life inside of hospitals, and now she needs to explore. She needs to breathe. She thanks Dr. Webber for everything he taught her, but ultimately, she quits. So that’s it… the nearly unheard-of goodbye. Stephanie is out there, hiking trails and stuff, alive and kind of burned.
And in that ambulance of wishes come true, it finally hits Riggs: Megan is alive. He picks up Meredith and spins her around before apologizing to her, and she says, “Don’t do that. If this were Derek, I’d already be gone.” She stands in the wake of his vehicle, hands clasped, knowing that her time will come again. And with that, we say goodbye to season 13 of Grey’s Anatomy.