Alex and Jo embark on a road trip in search of his estranged mother
At the beginning of this week’s episode, Meredith points out that while patients are subjected to a line of questioning before a procedure, no one questions a surgeon’s mental readiness. No one considers that a surgeon’s past experiences could affect how they handle present-day issues — for better or for worse. Based on the tight hold the past has on several of Grey-Sloan Memorial’s finest this week, I’m moved to agree with Dr. Grey: “Someone should really get on that.”
While Jo and Alex take a road trip to check in on his mother (who, unbeknownst to Alex, stopped cashing his checks ages ago) and Meredith prepares to give a presentation on her “mini-liver” research, Amelia is trying to help Owen’s foster baby’s biological mother Betty overcome drug withdrawal making his home their “safe house” — and it’s not going great. Betty is punctuating vomiting fits with hissy fits, determined to drive her newly appointed sponsor away. However, Amelia is unfazed. She says Betty’s last high is like a demon fighting to stay alive, but she’s the exorcist. Demon Betty eventually locks herself in the bathroom and sneaks out of the window. When Amelia realizes she’s run away, she blames herself and retreats to an Addicts Anonymous meeting for support.
Back at the hospital, Miranda asks for Richard’s help dealing with Dr. Roy, the jilted intern suing for wrongful termination. Quick refresher: Dr. Roy accidentally partook in the weed cookies that plagued Grey-Sloan a few weeks ago, but failed to disclose that information when asked. Parading as a doctor of sound mind put a patient in danger, caused a scuffle that injured a fellow intern, and earned him a swift lecture and firing from Dr. Webber. Now, armed with his brother/lawyer, Dr. Roy is demanding not only reinstatement, but also back pay and a formal apology from the chief of surgery. Webber thinks the terms are reasonable, but Bailey isn’t ready to give in so easily.
In the lobby, Meredith is being bombarded by questions from reporters who are more interested in the recent Harper Avery scandal than her research when she notices the arrival of Marie Cerone. Overwhelmed, Meredith retreats to the bar across the street for a cup of coffee and strikes up a conversation with the only other person there. She doesn’t reveal her identity at first, but when the bartender lets her last name slip, Mere’s new friend shares that before meeting her he hated her for beating him to the punch on a surgery he spent a year trying to perfect. The lighthearted exchange causes Meredith to realize that, like this fellow surgeon, Marie felt cheated out of her moment to make medical history, which is every doctor’s dream. While she may not agree with Marie’s choice to threaten her into submission, she had to admit, there was an injustice to be rectified.
Arizona is also feeling overwhelmed. Sophia was suspended from school for stealing field trip money. After reading her diary, Arizona discovers that she wanted to use the money to buy a plane ticket to return to her life in New York with Callie. Deeply hurt and conflicted with how to make her daughter happy while still being a good parent, she puts aside her issues to deal with a pregnant patient who’s struggling with motherly decisions of her own. Teresa suffers from Tomophobia (fear or surgical procedures) because she father died during a surgery when she was a child. Now, her unborn child has a spinal condition that could result in paralysis if they don’t treat it before she’s born, but Teresa is terrified. She checks herself out of the hospital and goes home. Determined to do what’s best for the patient and the baby, Dr. Robbins makes a home visit. She uses a story about how important roller skating used to be to her (who remembers Arizona’s Heely sneakers?!) and the trauma she went through after losing her leg. She says how grateful she is that Callie and her doctors did what was best for her, despite her resistance, and that Teresa has to do what’s best for her daughter. Helping her patient overcome her fear also led Arizona to the solution to her parenting woes.
When Alex and Jo arrive at his mother Ellen’s home, Alex bangs on the door and peers through all of the windows before somewhat creepy neighbor walks up to inform him of the whereabouts of his mother: She’s at work. Yup. The woman who lived with schizophrenia for the entirety of Alex’s childhood has learned to manage her illness and even gotten her old job back as a local librarian. She stopped cashing his checks because she didn’t need them. When Alex finds her at the library, she’s overjoyed to see him, but he’s frustrated. Why didn’t she call him? Why didn’t she let him know she was doing better? His anger nearly pushes her into an episode and Ellen asks him to leave. Karev storms out of the library fuming, so Jo takes him to a batting cage to work off that angry energy. After he’s exhausted his anger and his mind is clearer, he opens up that all he wanted growing up was a mother who wasn’t sick. He spent years taking care of her and his siblings, and now that she’s better she doesn’t seem to want him around. Jo makes an insightful point: Despite the past, he should appreciate and take advantage of the opportunity to have his mother now.
Back in Seattle, Webber is still trying to convince Bailey to accept Dr. Roy’s terms. He even uses the fact that, before achieving sobriety, he knowingly operated under the influence more than once. Despite being faced with this example of an excellent surgeon who’s made his share of mistakes, Miranda isn’t backing down. When reconvening with Dr. Roy and his brother/lawyer, Miranda lays into the former intern about how lucky he is to be learning from such passionate doctors and that his termination was well earned. However, she will allow him to return to work on a one-year probationary basis. “I’ve spent the better part of a year researching the best way to get up in someone’s butt, so expect to find me up yours.” Needless to say, Dr. Roy humbled himself and accepted her “apology.”
Meredith has taken her place at the podium for her research presentation, but she first she has an important announcement. In front of the press and an audience of her colleagues, Dr. Grey admits that her mother robbed Marie Cerone out of the opportunity to share in the reverence of the Grey Method due to unfair circumstances, and asks that it henceforth be referred to as the Grey-Cerone method. Afterword, Marie rushes to thank “Mere Mere” for rectifying history, but “Mere Mere” isn’t interested in mending their relationship. Marie isn’t the only one who can hold a grudge.
Alex returns to the library to apologize to his mother and to tell her how happy he is for her. He takes responsibility for not staying in touch and tells her how proud he is to see her doing well. Jo invites Ellen to the wedding, but the strict schedule she has to follow to stay stable doesn’t really allow for travel. Karev and his mother part with a sweet goodbye. “My sweetest boy,” she says. “My truest love.”
We haven’t seen much of Jackson this episode because he’s been running around putting monetary Band Aids over the wounds left by his grandfather. Aside from deciding to cover all of the personal settlements of the women his grandfather assaulted himself, he has also set aside enough money to take care of his daughter Harriet in case things for awry. While discussing all of this, he and April have a moment reminiscent of the pure friendship they shared years ago. It’s nice to see these two getting along again.
Remember I said that Arizona found a solution to her parenting woes? Well, you’re not going to like it. Neither did Carina when she found out that her girlfriend has decided to soothe her daughter’s homesick heart by allowing her to move back to New York. And our favorite pediatric surgeon is going with her.
It’s been a while since we learned that Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew are leaving Grey-Sloan Memorial after season 14, and judging from the preview of next week’s episode, I’m still not emotionally ready.