Grey’s Anatomy Recap: Church and State

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Ellen Pompeo as Meredith. Photo: Mitch Haaseth/ABC
Grey's Anatomy
Episode Title
There’s a Fine, Fine Line; It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)
Season
12
Episode
18 and 19
Editor’s Rating
5/5

When Grey's Anatomy commits to a "two-hour event," you know you're in for an evening of repeated emotional pummeling. That's exactly what happens over the course of tonight's 120-minute excursion to Grey Sloan. I mean, what's worse? Watching a mother and her baby tragically die, or watching Ben and Bailey's relationship face possibly irreparable damages?!

Okay, okay. In the real world, it's obviously the former. But this isn't the real world. This is ShondaLand, a realm where we are only governed by the truth within our hearts and raging libidos. Isn't this place the best-slash-worst?

Let's get real for a second: Of all the character-centric episodes we've been gifted with this season, the intense, well-crafted "There's a Fine, Fine Line," is my favorite. Sure, it's partly because it shines a big, well-deserved spotlight on Bailey and Ben, but also … it's just plain exciting! It's clearly barreling toward a big discovery at the one-hour mark, but MAN. How great of a cliffhanger would that security footage — and outstanding Ben/Bailey confrontation scene — have been if the episode just ended there?

Then again, how disappointing would it have been to wait an entire week for Ben's "I was focused on surgery" reasoning? Maybe ABC's "event" was just a way to make the scheduling work, but it does service the story well. Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though.

It all starts with a code pink. One of Karev's patients is missing, and Alex is convinced his father has kidnapped him. Most people assure Alex that the kid is just hiding; that's what kids do. He appeals to Bailey's maternal side and invokes the name of Tuck, all but forcing her to call the code pink, which puts the entire hospital on lockdown. Elevators stop working, doors are sealed shut, and everyone in the hospital, including any patient in a life-threatening situation, is trapped wherever they happen to be at that moment.

Turns out the kid is just hiding (kids!), and the code pink is short-lived. And that's when shit gets real.

As the lockdown is lifted, Bailey receives a flood of 9-1-1 texts and finds Ben and DeLuca performing an emergency C-section on a young, pregnant mother of three named Gretchen. You guys, there is so much blood. Like, gushing. As Ben pulls a newborn baby out of the wreckage of his mother and holds it up for Bailey to see, my only note was a horrified "YIKES."

As mother and baby are both rushed into surgery — while the father of this whole clan, Omar, is also fighting for his life in an OR, because hello, you're watching Grey's Anatomy — Bailey goes on a mission to find out what led her seemingly rational husband to think it was a great idea to slice open a pregnant woman. After his Dr. MacGyver act in the psych ward a few weeks ago, some of his colleagues are wondering if Ben overstepped due to arrogance. Ben maintains that he had no choice; if he didn't cut Gretchen open, both she and her baby would've died right there.

Unfortunately for Ben, Bailey, and my face, both Gretchen and her baby die during surgery. So, no, this episode isn't one of the fun, sexy ones.

As Detective Bailey interrogates every doctor that came into contact with Gretchen before she ended up in that hallway, we flash back and forth in time. Doctor-by-doctor, Bailey pieces together what went down, and it is awesome — the storytelling device, not the pregnant-lady-getting-sliced-open-by-a-resident-and-dying thing.

The best of these interrogation scenes is DeLuca's. He explains that Gretchen began to flatline when the code pink was called, and the doctors were trapped in front of a nonfunctioning elevator. In order to save mom and baby, Warren had no choice. This is exactly what Bailey was hoping to hear. But DeLuca's addition of "according to Dr. Warren" to the end of his story? Yeah, that part she could've done without.

Still very much in need of proof that her husband was right, Bailey goes to the tapes. The security tapes, that is. As she watches, she gets her definitive proof — it's just proof that Ben did have a choice. The security footage clearly shows the elevator doors opening, and Ben looking directly at them right before he slices into Gretchen.

Ben and Bailey have it out. Ben can't believe she doesn't trust his word. She can't believe he would lie in the face of physical evidence. There's lots of yelling and I hate it because I don't want Ben and Bailey to ever break up, but also I love it because Chandra Wilson and Jason George are just so good together.

Since Bailey knows she won't be partial in deciding disciplinary action against her husband, she puts Meredith, Owen, and Maggie on an advisory board to look into the situation and make a recommendation. As the board interviews all of the doctors involved, Ben and Bailey try to separate their professional feelings from their personal feelings. The Warren-Bailey relationship is now "church" (Ben and Miranda) and "state" (Dr. Warren and Chief Bailey). Aside from a too-brief elevator hand clasp, "church" does not fare well.

Let's be clear: Bailey certainly suffers the consequences of Ben's actions. She is the one who watches as Gretchen and her baby died. She is the one who tells Gretchen's daughter, Jasmine, that she's now motherless. Bailey is the one who witnesses Jasmine help her grandmother sign a DNR for a seemingly brain-dead Omar. Okay, yes, the whole "Bailey ignores a DNR order but it's totally okay because she magically brings the guy back to life" thing is nonsense. Other than that, Bailey's actions are valid.

Although the board supports Ben's explanation that he was so focused on saving Gretchen's life that the elevator doors didn't register with him — um, okay? — Chief Bailey still suspends him for six months. Oof, you guys, this argument is a doozy. A six-month suspension will push Ben so far back in his program that he might as well quit. He begs Miranda to change her mind, but she stands firm. With tears in their eyes, they both apologize for so dearly disappointing one another. "Church" isn't looking too good at the moment.

Also, dramatic things happen to other people! Let's wrap this up with a lightning round:

  • After Jackson reminds April that they used to be BFFs, they decide to treat one another with respect instead of custody battles and restraining orders. This means they both can celebrate the fact that the baby is kicking. The countdown to reconciliation is on, people.
  • Ugh. Penny's still around, still terrible, and now she's hypnotized Callie into believing that a move to New York is a great idea. Arizona doesn't agree, and she hires a lawyer to fight for custody of Sofia. This should be fun!
  • After Mer spills the truth about Riggs to her sisters, Maggie confronts him. She wants to know why such a good guy and a great surgeon would lie about something like that. He confesses that the original story he told Mer was all true — he just left out the cheating part. He's still paying for the mistakes he made that day, and I am still very much Team Riggs's Face.

Laughter Is the Best Medicine, Except for Real Medicine:

  • There's not much to laugh about in an episode that features the graphic deaths of a mother and a baby. Nonetheless, the Jo and Steph Traveling Comedy Show tried their hardest.
  • Ample evidence has already proven that Jo Wilson is hilarious — yelling "You heard her, scram!" and snagging Cross's chips can be added to the list — but now we know she's also a top-notch sexter. You go, Jo Wilson! (No, I can't believe I typed that either.)
  • Speaking of: "I call my mother with this thing." And thus, Steph changes sexting for all of America.
  • Is it weird that when Catherine tells Richard she'd strangle him with her bare hands if he ever landed in the same spot as Ben, I found it adorable? I love those two!

The Sob Scale: 9/10
We all had to watch little Jasmine go from pre-teen to adult in the span of one sentence. I haven't stopped crying. I'll never stop crying!