Grey's Anatomy recap: Half the staff leaves Grey Sloan Memorial
Instead of killing off half the roster, the showrunners of Grey's Anatomy decide to shut down the residency program, cast Owen (Kevin McKidd) and Teddy (Kim Raver) into the wild to prevent arrest, fly Richard (James Pickens Jr.) to a sabbatical in Egypt, and give Bailey (Chandra Wilson) her fifth nervous breakdown of the season, which ends in an abrupt, "I quit."
Notice that Meredith Grey's (Ellen Pompeo) name is not on that list. And with the season finale falling on the show's four-hundredth episode, it's no wonder the two-hour drama was peppered with flashbacks and musical montages showcasing Meredith's joy and trauma which has unfolded these last eighteen years. It's a good day when Izzie, George, Alex, Cristina, and McDreamy all show up in quick snippets of Meredith's frazzled memories.
So how did we get here? How can so many people allegedly walk out of the hospital without a care in the world?
The answer is blood. There's a shortage, and it causes a perfect storm of chaos at Grey Sloan. There's no blood in the city. And, according to Schmitt (Jake Borelli), blood banks don't want a sexually active gay man's blood. So a percentage of the population can't rise to the occasion when Bailey orders all employees to "get needles in your arms" and donate.
Take Simon, for instance. He's the man whose life is hanging on by a thread, hoping to see his baby born before he dies. His wife Kris agrees to hook Simon up to an ECMO machine after Simon struggles to breathe, thanks to his destroyed lungs. If he's intubated, he won't be able to meet his unborn son. Therefore, the machine pumps his blood outside of his body, buying him time. What's the catch? You need blood to do this.
Simon and Kris' love story is what dreams are made of, and everyone is mesmerized by their affection for each other. It makes Maggie (Kelly McCreary) and Winston (Anthony Hill) question their relationship. Maggie goes as far as to wonder if she and Winston got married too early. Link (Chris Carmack) and Jo (Camilla Luddington) are closely involved in this patient, too. Jo has dumped Todd for his "musical orgasms," and Link eventually wonders if Jo is more than just a friend.
It's all four doctors on deck when Kris begins to bleed profusely. Something is wrong, and Jo must take the baby now. Of course, Kris needs blood in the operating room, and the only blood they have available is the blood that keeps Simon alive on his ECMO machine. Simon begs Link and Winston to save his wife and baby by taking him off the machine. Tell me this is not happening. What's worse?
Oh, but it does. Maggie and Jo deliver the baby. Winston runs the blood to the operating room. The baby is born, cleaned up, checked out, and rushed to Simon's side so he can meet little Jamal. Winston and Link make that happen, and Simon dies moments later. I AM GUTTED.
Meanwhile, a man named John corners Owen, begging him for drugs to give to his military wife so she can die with dignity. Apparently, he heard Owen helps out veterans from Heather. She's the one Owen provided pills for her husband. Owen tries to explain that it is illegal in Seattle but quickly shuts up when John threatens to uncover his secret if he doesn't help his wife.
Teddy gets involved and flips out. She tries to develop another plan, but John isn't interested in relocating to Washington, which has a Death with Dignity Act. John leaves in a huff and immediately tells Bailey precisely what Owen and Teddy have done in the past.
Bailey is hot. She understands Owen's sympathy but can't allow the law to be broken. She threatens to involve the police but mercifully gives Owen and Teddy an out by "dealing with the blood issue" before making that phone call. This gives Owen and Teddy a few hours to resign and get the heck out of town. They quickly grab their kids, sharing zero information with Amelia (Caterina Scorsone), and hop on a plane.
Two doctors down.
Did I mention that Ms. Blake, the woman who decides if the residency program is viable, is walking around the hospital? She is not happy seeing all the residents giving blood during their shifts instead of working. Then Richard escorts her into the gallery, only to find Meredith Grey performing a risky surgery he did not approve of. Not to mention the fact that one of the residents lovingly says out loud how excited he is that Dr. Grey pushed leaving Grey Sloan until later.
All of this is brand new information. Ms. Blake wonders what else is being hidden from her, especially when they bring in the big, hot, soul-piercing eyes of Jackson Avery to sing the praises of Grey Sloan. He tries to work his magic. It fails. And playing the comedic relief is none other than April, who is hurried to the ER to cover for Owen, who is currently leaving Seattle instead of being arrested.
Is everyone on the same page? Because we're not done.
Meredith and Nick's (Scott Speedman) patient is Cora, who has a tumor wrapped around all of her intestines. The only way of saving her is to remove all of her internal organs, cut the cancer out, and put them all back in safe and sound. Duh. Of course, Meredith can do this, and of course, Nick will be her right-hand man in the OR.
Even though Richard forbids it, Dr. Grey goes in anyway. She's going rogue for many reasons. First, she's Meredith Grey. Second, Cora's aunt Sally suffers from memory loss, and there's a sentimental connection. This is why Ellis Grey flashed in Meredith's vision the entire episode. Finally, Meredith thinks a surgery this advanced could save the residency program.
Sadly, there are complications, and Meredith needs blood to fix Cora. Richard reprimands her in front of everyone, claiming Meredith is all about herself. Consequences be damned. She probably killed Cora and the residency program along with her. Richard insinuates that Meredith purposely sabotaged the surgery, hoping that Grey Sloan would go up in flames after she leaves. Ouch.
Cora does pass away, and it's hard on Meredith. Nick tries to talk her off the ledge, but Meredith isn't letting him in. Especially when he claims they could have waited to do the surgery when they knew they weren't in a blood crisis.
Ms. Blake hears about the surgery and berates Bailey for letting Meredith waste all that blood on a procedure that could have waited. Finally, Bailey exhales and airs all the dirty laundry. She confesses that the trauma department is currently closed, her head of trauma and co-chief of cardio just tenured their resignation, and Dr. Grey is leaving, but Grey Sloan will persevere.
Ms. Blake reminds Bailey that it's hard to work with people for so long. They become family more than colleagues. And since there is so little respect at the moment, she will shut down the residency program. Cue the sad montage of the current residents packing their stuff, intermingled with 2005 Meredith and the gang filling their lockers.
A handful of residents are gone.
Avery finds Meredith and tells her that Richard and his mother, who just received great news about her cancer treatment that's working, are going on a sabbatical and will be gone for several months. (Richard down.) She can't leave now, because her name is on the hospital. And if there's any chance of saving Grey Sloan, Meredith and Bailey will do it.
Except Bailey is out, too. She tells Avery that she quits, hands the chief's office keys to Meredith, and walks out. I'm assuming this is when she spies Kai and Amelia making out in the parking lot. I guess they aren't so broken up anymore.
Nick finds Meredith in Bailey's office. She immediately tells him he should go back to Minnesota. This is when I scream at my TV for Meredith to get over herself. Nick feels the same way, but he articulates it so much better than I do. He notes the trauma in her life and accepts the fact that it's hard to leave a place where you've spent your entire adult life.
Meredith wonders why he didn't stop her if he thought it wasn't a good idea to do the surgery today. Nick responds that he has enough humility and respect that he might be wrong, and oh yeah, she doesn't like to be told what to do. It was her OR. He let her run the show.
Meredith bickers and tells him again to go back to Minnesota. A defeated Nick rakes his hands down his face, blinks those puppy dog eyes in Meredith's direction, and turns to leave. A myriad of iconic moments bombards Meredith's brain in thirty seconds. That's all it takes for her to jump up from the desk, run to the door, and shout Nick's name.
Is it too late? Will Nick be waiting in the hall? Can Meredith and her sisters keep Grey Sloan afloat? And will Todd ever find someone to appreciate his sex bear? Here's looking forward to another season of Grey's Anatomy.
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Meredith. Alex. Bailey. The doctors are definitely in on Shonda Rhimes' hospital melodrama.