Grey’s Anatomy Recap: Do You Hear What I Hear?

Grey's Anatomy

The Sound of Silence
Season 12 Episode 9
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: ABC

When you have a chance to start recapping a show halfway through its 12th season, you just can’t say no. Who knows when you’ll get the chance again? Life is unpredictable!

One day you could be doing just dandy, married to a great head of hair, and the next you could be holding a bomb inside a human body, or drowning in Puget Sound only to wake up in a weird purgatory situation, or you could miscarry during a hospital shooting, or your plane could crash, or you could go into labor during a blackout, or your best friend could choose the Swiss over you, or your husband could suddenly die because, hey, he really wants to make a go of a movie career, or you could even be saddled with an unfortunate half-up-half-down ponytail for, like, an entire day.

Life is precious, so we must recap while we can.

Here’s the thing. If you’re still watching Grey’s Anatomy after 12 seasons, you should not be surprised when another terrible thing goes down at Grey Sloan Memorial. That is what happens. You know this! Tragedy, death, crying, strength through friendships, and hot people having sex in unsanitary places (um, does anyone wash those on-call room sheets?) — this is why we’ve been watching all these years. We live for the drama! And if you don’t like it, change the channel. I shall suffer no fools here, okay? Consider me the Miranda Bailey of Grey’s Anatomy recaps.

Okay, fine. You can be a long-time fan of Grey’s and still ask yourself, “Why do all of these terrible things happen to Meredith?” You obviously care about her, so I’ll allow it. After this episode, I think I finally have an answer. Queen Shonda continues to throw horrible situations at Meredith because every time she does, Ellen Pompeo pulls out a powerhouse performance. “The Sound of Silence” is no exception.

That’s a good thing too, because it’s a Meredith-centric extravaganza. Sure, there are hints of what’s gone down with some of our other friends while we’ve been on hiatus — if they split up Jackson and April, I will revolt — but the episode belongs to Mer. Not only was the spotlight on Pompeo for the whole hour, but for the majority of it, her character could neither hear nor speak. So yeah, that must have been a challenge.

How does this latest tragedy unravel? After a major car pileup, the ER is flooded with patients. Meredith is working on Lou, a man who’s suffered head trauma, and she calls for a neurological consult. The problem is, a neuro-consult means a visit from Amelia, and the two sisters-in-law aren’t exactly on speaking terms.

Amelia, who last we saw falling off the wagon by way of vodka tonic, is a mess. We know this because she has Tired Face, her hair is kind of messy, and she can’t count. She’s basically me, every day of my actual life. When Amelia is asked to consult on two separate patients, she opts for the non-Meredith case. She can’t handle the confrontation at the moment, or ever.

While waiting, Lou suffers a prolonged seizure. Thanks to a series of harmless events, Meredith ends up continuing her work on Lou alone, in a room with blinds drawn and the door closed. Sure, why not? Lou wakes up and he is clearly not himself. When Meredith tries to keep him calm and in bed, he freaks out. He slams Meredith into the window, and … well, he beats the crap out of her.

We see some of the attack, but the most harrowing part comes when the episode cuts to the room next door, where April’s working on another victim. All we see are shadows through the blinds. What you don’t see is sometimes scarier than what you do, and I think the episode’s director, Denzel Washington — oh, have you heard of him? — knows that. It’s an intense few minutes, and a hell of a way to come back from winter hiatus.

Much of what happens next is told from Meredith’s point of view. We see the familiar, yet frantic faces that surround her — everyone in the hospital is working to keep their friend alive, as Alex reminds us by shouting, “Everybody in this damn room is her family!” — and we hear what she hears, which is only a distant humming. It’s that particular variety of intense chaos that Grey’s does so well.

And if you think that’s good, just wait for the next ten minutes. They are gutsy. (This Denzel Washington guy is pretty good, huh?)

In a series of flash cuts, we follow Meredith during her initial days of recovery. She is bruised and battered, her jaw is wired shut, and she still can’t hear. The entire sequence has no dialogue. Meredith learns the extent of her injuries, then catches a glimpse of a spastic, drunk Amelia trying to visit. Mainly, she just keeps upping her meds so she doesn’t have to deal with the pain.

Let’s talk about Alex for a second. In this post-Derek Grey’s world, the biggest surprise is how integral and moving Alex and Meredith’s friendship has been. Alex has been there for Meredith at the expense of his relationship with Jo. (He’s moved back into La Casa de Grey, so I’m assuming that engagement thing didn’t pan out.) Throughout her recovery process, he is her rock. He cries! He holds her hand! He wears baby Ellis in a Baby Bjorn! When he finds her weeping in bed, he lays down next to her and whispers into her ear. The first thing Meredith can hear is Alex calling her a snot monster and IT IS THE CUTEST. Alex being sensitive and loving is an instant tear-inducer.

Although Meredith can hear again, she’s still trapped in the hospital bed, unable to move her jaw. She’s frustrated. After a visit with her kids goes poorly — yes, they’re still alive! — Meredith suffers a panic attack, so it’s time to bring in the big guns: Richard “My Girl” Webber.

Webber takes Meredith outside for some vitamin-D and a good ol’ fashioned heart-to-heart. He tells her to forgive: She needs to forgive Amelia for not being Derek, she needs to forgive Derek for dying too soon, and she needs to forgive herself for hating Derek for dying too soon. Meredith may not want to hear it, but she certainly needs to hear it.

The first stop on Meredith’s forgiveness tour? Lou. Turns out, Lou was in a fugue state from his head trauma, and doesn’t remember the attack. He’s a good guy and he’ll carry that guilt for a long time. Meredith can’t speak, but a look and some hand-holding do the trick.

Next stop: Well, no one really. When Meredith is finally able to speak, she and a 30-days-sober Amelia have an awkward exchange in which they both admit that neither is ready to forgive the other. We have that to look forward to, I guess? Or, you know, not.

Regardless of who Meredith is or isn’t able to forgive, she takes baby steps towards healing. When she’s finally released from the hospital, she stops in the room where the attack occurred. With that small bit of closure, she’s also able to tell Alex that he needs to resume his life with Jo. Meredith will be okay without him. If there’s anything she’s learned through this ordeal, it’s that the number of people in her corner is much larger than she thought.

See? This tragedy isn’t all for naught. Not much plot was advanced, but look at the progress: Wounds were healed, lessons were learned, tears were shed, Meredith’s children were located, and Grey Sloan Memorial keeps on keepin’ on. Never change, Grey’s Anatomy. And please bring Denzel back to direct another episode.

Grey’s Anatomy Recap: Do You Hear What I Hear?