The medical boards prove challenging for all -- but end up being too much pressure for one resident

By Sandra Gonzalez
May 04, 2012 at 06:37 AM EDT
Eric McCandless/ABC
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Had it not been for a mid-episode sex scene that ever-so-briefly turned my anxiety into white hot lust for Jackson Avery, I would have been a ball of nerves throughout the entire hour of last night’s Grey’s Anatomy, which found every resident having a meltdown moment during their medical board exams.

I attribute at least part of the nail-biting to the fact that, as your normal recapper Tanner mentioned last week, we knew one of the residents was heading for failure. But who? If I’m being honest, my guess changed about 20 times during the course of the episode. But, in the end, we learned it was April who had failed to make the grade. To examine why, let’s rewind:

The episode began with the residents walking out of their boards with the weight of the world on their bony shoulders. Meredith bemoaned the “actual physical hell” that was their test, Cristina confessed that she went “way, way overboard” in the testing room, April ranted about trick questions, and Jackson claimed they were all about playing “mind games.” (Now they know how we feel watching Grey’s Anatomy‘s season finales.) You can’t always Carpe the Diem, voiceover Meredith said, which is really all you can say after you’ve had a crappy Diem. Though, I certainly never could have guessed just how crappy it went for all of them.

Flashback to six hours earlier: We first learned exactly how the much-touted boards work — not that we cared all that much. But hidden among the yada-yada was the fact that a resident could flub one of three test sessions and still pass. This was good news for Alex, who was still racing against the clock to get there in time, arguing with the taxi driver to go faster in a traffic jam. It was all very ’80s rom-com. (Did I mention I love ’80s rom-coms? No? Well, the more you know.) Alex was far from the only person facing an obstacle, though. (More on those in a bit.) April, however, seemed to be on the right path — she was inquisitive, careful, yet surprisingly authoritative when giving her answers. That was my first hint that something was likely going to go awry for her — but I was hoping I was wrong. I wasn’t.

NEXT: Avery vs. Avery

Outside the exam bubble, real life continued. And for Mark, real life = constant drama. This week, it came courtesy of girlfriend Julia, who blurted out that she wanted to have a baby with him. Sound sudden? That’s because it was. “You’re a natural father…we should have a baby,” she said. Judging by Mark’s initial reaction, she might as well have said, “You’re a good surgeon…let’s build a Frankenstein.” Later, though, we learned his initial shock was temporary and that he was actually considering her proposal. (My favorite part, by the way, was Callie checking her phone and blurting out the development to Arizona. Are we to assume that Mark texted his bestie with the news as soon as it happened, like a teenage girl in crisis? Did he Tweet it? Unimportant burning questions need answers!) Thirty-second big brother/advice columnist Derek, who was also among the first to hear the news, ended up having the honor of telling Lexie about Mark’s baby thoughts, and she quickly spiraled into Lexie mode over the whole thing. Meaning, she asked a lot of rapid-fire, crazy-person questions that scared Derek and made him run away.

Meanwhile, Callie was tasked with performing surgery on a good friend of Arizona’s — a nice man with Ross Gellar-white teeth, a brain full of sweet memories, and a body full of tumors. Despite all that, this was not the most compelling case-of-the-week ever, and I say that only because a truly good case would have kept my attention in between the action in San Francisco, where boards were taking place. Even though this plot made for some great Callie and Arizona interaction, the case — nor the case with the half-skull handyman — failed to keep me truly compelled.

On the other hand, I wish we could have seen a bit more from Miranda “What about me says ‘woo’?” Bailey and the fancy-pants residents she was trying to lure to Seattle Grace. God, they seemed unbearable, but if there’s anyone who could have performed a head-ass-ectomy, it’s her. I would have loved to see that. I did, however, enjoy how that minor plot nugget spiraled into a conversation between the hospital attendings about how they needed to keep their current lineup. It’s nice to see them determined not to give in without a fight.

Speaking of fights, Jackson and his mother (Debbie Allen, yay!) had it out over their awkward encounter in the last episode. As much as I love Jackson when he’s sweet and romancing virgins, I rather enjoyed seeing the neurotic doctor and whiny son sides of his personality. It made him a little more flawed as a character, which I always enjoy. Also, that look of horror on his face when his mom started talking about how she was “a woman with needs”? Priceless. All this drama with his mama really shook up Jackson, though, and the second part of his exam didn’t go so well. No one’s did, in fact, and April got it worst of all. Oh, poor, high-strung, Jesus-loving, sweaty-boobed April.

After killing a patient in a test scenario, she refused to let the testers move on and insisted on haranguing them for an explanation on why her patient died. By the time things escalated to downright uncomfortable, I was watching between my fingers like it was Paranormal Activity. Dear God, woman, stop talking! Just before I thought she was going to start jumping on couches, she stopped and realized how far she’d gone. But it was too late, and the damage was done. “I’m a really good doctor,” she assured them. Yes, honey — but also kinda crazy. (I say that with love.)

NEXT: Bathroom debauchery

In Cristina’s neck of the woods, she found herself sitting opposite none other than Mr. Feeny. (Well, technically, it was guest star William Daniels — but let me have my moment.) For her though, the biggest obstacle was simply her ego. At one point, she got into a very heated (and rather rude!) exchange with the elder doctor over treatment methods and ended up insulting him. Cristina’s behavior frankly disappointed me in this episode. I mean, over the years, how many episodes have been about her learning about tact and respect for other doctors? After so many seasons of watching her grow as a doctor and person, you’d think she’d be able to put on her best show during boards. But she disappointed me. Also, she was rude to Mr. Feeny. Unforgivable.

Meredith, on the other hand, rose to the occasion when dealing with her stomach flu (coughmorningsicknesscough…I think). In between heaves (much to the disgust of the testers) she answered her questions about bowels and bloody stools like a champ. Go, Mere!

And since we’re cheering, who else hooted and hollered just a bit during the aforementioned bathroom sexy time shared between Jackson and April? Now, I can respect the mixed opinions people had about this pairing because 1) I, too,  always thought of them as friends. 2) I liked April as a virgin; it was sweet. and 3) I want Jackson for myself. But since they’ve gone there, I’ll ride that train to see where it goes, especially if they continue having exchanges like the one in the bathroom. “It felt good,” she confessed, before leaping into a description of their interactions the night before — romance novel style.

“I kissed you, remember?” she asked.

“But then I kissed you back.”

“Then I un-buttoned your shirt.”

“Then I pulled up that skirt.”

“Then I kissed your neck,” she said, as he reached over the lock the door.

Say what you will, this was all very hot. Like, Bon Iver erotica/girl-porn hot, but still hot. And no, Jackson, the guy who slept with April is not “gross” for doing it. Not. Gross. At. All. Telling your testers about it, though, that’s sort of gross. Unfortunately, April didn’t get that memo and ended up doing exactly that, solidifying her spot at the bottom of the heap.

Back at the hospital, Derek — after receiving some good advice from Bailey — learned how to cope with his new position as hospital spiritual guide by using empty metaphors. (Patrick Dempsey was in amazing form tonight!) The biggest surprise? They worked. In fact, one of them inspired Lexie to confront Mark about her true feelings for him. The “I love you” heavy speech was pretty touching, but the moment didn’t last because Julia showed up to meet Mark as they’d planned. Suddenly, Mark was literally faced with a choice before him — think Meredith, Derek, and the vet in season 2 finale. Julia’s totally the vet.

So what did you think of the episode, readers? How many times did you change your test predictions? Who should Mark choose? Are Jackson and April growing on you as a pairing? And how cute was the end with Avery’s mom and the chief making plans for the future? Sound off below!

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