April works to save Jo's abusive estranged husband after his hit-and-run, a 12-year-old boy who was shot by police, and herself.
Aptly titled “Personal Jesus,” tonight’s episode opens with April in the shower, telling us via voiceover the story of Job, the Biblical figure who, in the course of four messages, was tested by God by having everything taken away from him in a single day. Still, Job continued to be a faithful servant and persevered, and for his faith God rewarded him with twice what he had before.
The first message for April comes in the form of Jo’s abusive estranged husband, Paul, whom she is tending to in the ER after his hit-and-run. After being nudged by Meredith to “not lose him,” April sends the bad doctor off for a head CT, confident that he’ll be okay.
Meredith is worried that despite their protests, Karev and Jo were indeed somehow involved with Paul’s accident, and she half-jokingly tells them they can reach Canada by lunch. She also tells them to go see a lawyer. Bonnie and Clyde Jo and Karev see Jenny, Paul’s fiancée, talking to the police. Jo wants to talk to her, but Meredith tells her not to because she says that if it was Jenny who hit him, then Jo and Karev could possibly be accessories to attempted murder. Um, paging Annalise Keating…
The second message for April comes via a literal delivery. Karin, a 37-weeks-pregnant woman, is rushed in because her physician — none other than the amazing Dr. Arizona Robbins herself — told her to meet her there. Karin is very upset because she wants to wait to deliver until her husband arrives, but unfortunately, as all new parents eventually learn, children don’t really know how to wait. Helm, the blond intern, is comically assisting April, who is trying to prevent Karin’s perineum from tearing: “I can never get over how it stretches like that — it’s almost inhuman,” Helm says, stunned. “Miraculous,” April assures Karin. “She means ‘miraculous.’” As April is elbow deep inside Karin, trying to deliver the miracle, Karin’s husband finally arrives and turns out to be Matthew, the jilted fiancé April left at the altar as she literally ran away — in slow motion, no less — with Jackson.
As April’s faith is set up to be tested, Bailey’s marriage is being tested because Ben didn’t sign 13-year-old Tuck up for science camp in time, and now Tuck and his friend must spend the day at Grey Sloan Memorial because Ben has to get back to ambulance duty. Ever the adorable nerd, Maggie overhears Bailey’s predicament and offers to teach Tuck and his friend some cool science stuff, which she more than delivers on in the form of a cool experiment that involves pouring in a catalyst and making things go BLAMMO!
After April tells Owen that she’s excited because Webber asked her to judge the Bailey Innovation contest, he bursts her bubble by making her realize that that was a cop-out on his part because everyone would much rather compete than judge. Realizing he’s right, she unwittingly tries to pawn the judging duties onto Jackson (who’s anonymously funding the contest), but he manages to elude her.
The third message for April comes via Ben, who is coming back to Grey Sloan Memorial on ambulance duty. The patient he’s bringing in is a 12-year-old who was shot by police. The cops assumed because of the color of the boy’s skin that he was breaking into a house. Turns out, though, that it was his house and he had just forgotten his keys. The two officers accompanying him try to cuff him to the bed, but Jackson argues that he’s not armed and he’s a child. They refer to him as a “perp,” but are swiftly corrected by Ben, who tells them his name is Eric.
Jenny finds Jo to tell her that she didn’t tell police it was Jo and Karev who hit Paul, but Jo assures her that it wasn’t them. Turns out it was a drunk driver, but before that’s discovered, Jenny spirals into an understandable monologue of self-doubt, wondering how she, a scientist and a feminist, got stuck in an abusive relationship. Jo tells her something that perhaps too many domestic abuse survivors need to hear: It’s not their fault. “The good outweighed the bad until it didn’t.”
The fourth and final message comes in the form of a 20-year-old named David who tried cutting off his hand because the Bible tells you that if your right hand causes you to sin then you should cut it off. April shares this case with Webber and smarmy Dr. Roy, a surgical intern who seems to have a knack for saying the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time, and it’s a good thing she has help because while they’re doing the heavy lifting, she’s debating scripture with young David.
For a while it seems like everything is going okay: Karin’s baby is whisked off to NICU to be monitored, and she and April are able to address the now massively awkward elephant in the room — and I don’t just mean the vulva blood clot that Karin’s developed after the birth and April has to drain. They talk about God not giving them more than they can handle.
Eric also seems to have been spared as the bullet is just sitting next to his carotid artery. Jackson, Bailey, and April are doing a CT when April says she can understand how this happened because she’s seen soldiers get so wound up with stress that they just shoot without thinking. Jackson counters with his own war story, though, only his involves his own childhood and growing up shades darker in an affluent neighborhood: He was walking home with speakers when police jumped him with guns drawn and slammed him into a car. He was only one block away from his house.
Even though the CT scan shows that it seems that Eric’s figuratively dodged a bullet for the time being, Bailey orders him to stay for antibiotics and observation before Jackson summarizes the fact that while his life may have been saved, the police took his childhood today. He will never again be the same.
April goes to check on Karin, who still hasn’t been brought to a room. As Karin is sleeping, April has time to catch up with Matthew, who thanks her because Karin is the best thing that’s ever happened to him. He tells her it took a long time to get over her, but that he then realized Karin was the love of his life. He assumes that April and Jackson are still happy and together, and she doesn’t correct him. (Recap continues on page 2)
Meanwhile Paul is conscious with fractured ribs and a concussion. He’s also itching to leave the hospital, but Jo and Jenny confront him in his hospital room. Jenny tells him he should probably call his office and let them know he’s not going to be back for “10 to 20 years” because she’s going to go to the police and tell them about her domestic violence, which, she says, is also attempted murder. Paul sneers and tries to deflate her, telling her that no one’s going to believe her and no one’s going to ever hire someone they don’t trust. “Some very broken part of me still loves you, but I am never speaking to you again unless it’s from a witness stand,” Jenny bravely replies. Paul lunges at her, but she easily steps away. The IV he’s hooked up to causes him to falter and knock his head on the foot of his bed before landing backwards on the floor. Meredith hilariously pokes him in the neck and announces with zero urgency that his pulse is not great and they should probably get a crash cart.
After it’s determined that Paul’s given himself a second concussion before the first one healed, a decision to take him off life support needs to be made. In an Emmy-worthy two minutes, Camilla Luddington goes from hysterically laughing to heartbreakingly crying when Jo realizes that because they’re still legally married, she has to be the one to effectively pull the plug. In the end she decides to arrange for his organs to be harvested so that “in death he can do good.”
After Paul’s death, April’s other patients start falling like dominoes. Karin’s pain is only worsening, and it turns out because her baseline blood pressure is low, even when it was high it still seemed normal to April. After her liver starts to fail, she eventually crashes again before passing away.
Eric’s carotid artery eventually blows, and we’re faced with seeing Bailey and Jackson have to deliver the news of his failed emergency surgery to his mom, dad, and siblings. The two we’re-not-racist-but-oh-so-racist officers who have been ordered to guard Eric through the entire ordeal are waiting in an adjacent area, needing a statement for their report. They try to assert that cops aren’t racist, to which Jackson tells them they didn’t make a judgment call, they reacted. He assures them that their reactions are different for people of different colors, and that we can’t keep pretending this doesn’t exist. “So many people that look like him are dying. For what?” he says before storming away. April finally gives them the statement they need: “A little boy was at home and your coworker just shot and killed him. You can’t just kill him. How am I supposed to have faith in a system like that?”
April’s faith continues to be tested when David pesters her with questions that her faith cannot answer.
Eric’s case compels Bailey and Ben to have the discussion that so many black parents find themselves unfairly having to have with their children. In a scene that brought me to tears, we watch as Tuck practices with his hands up, “I am William George Bailey Jones. I am 13. I have nothing on me…” Ben and Bailey tell him that he needs to be in control of his emotions, he can’t fight back, he can’t talk back, and that his only goal is to get home safely. They remind him that the standards for his white friends will be different, and they tell him that no matter what, he can never ever run. They tell him that everything they’re saying is because they want him to come home again before reminding him that he’s amazing and perfect and they want him to stay that way.
For the viewers who are fortunate enough to have never needed to have this discussion with their children, perhaps tonight compelled them to think of the reasons why that is, and how unbelievably hard it must be as parents to explain to your children why the law and the justice system isn’t the same for everyone and why the world is so undeniably unjust and cruel, depending on the color of your skin.
April closes out the episode as she began — in the shower, only now, in the darkest place we’ve ever seen her, we watch as Roy joins her and she asks why God has forsaken her.
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