Grey’s Anatomy Recap: Calzona Implodes

Photo: Richard Cartwright/ABC
Grey's Anatomy
Episode Title
Mama Tried
Editor’s Rating

Oh, you guys. If I could virtually pass each and every one of you a bottle of tequila to chug Meredith Grey–style, I would. That was ... rough. It was inevitable, especially with those lovely demons at Shondaland forcing us to relive Callie and Arizona’s entire relationship in a one-minute “previously on” teaser. Remember the pre-plane-crash good times? Steamy hookups? That gorgeous wedding? Callie’s dad showed up to dance with her! Remember?!

Remember the bad times? The Callie-yelling-at-Arizona-to-snap-out-of-it-in-the-shower times? The Arizona-hooking-up-with-Dr. Peyton Sawyer times? The beginning-of-the-end times? And, after all of that, after these women who loved and then mistreated each other were finally in a good place, Penny Blake had to show up and work some voodoo magic on Callie. She turned Callie Torres into a regular ol’ Felicity Porter. Maybe if we had watched Callie and Penny fall in love. Maybe if Penny had to leave for good and not just take a yearlong research opportunity (the girl could move back!). Maybe then I would believe Callie had a reason to force Arizona into all this custody drama. But I don’t.

Despite the fact that this story line makes my blood boil, I am here for it. I am here for it because Sara Ramirez and Jessica Capshaw are goddesses walking amongst mere mortals. They were powerhouses in this episode. So, I’m willing to overlook the reasoning behind how they got to a trial for sole custody of Sofia and focus on what happens once they get there. Because what happens there is so, so good.

Before we dive into the heartbreaking trial, let’s give it up for that stellar opening sequence. The cuts back and forth between each woman with her lawyer, as they try, and fail, to settle out of court, were effective in revealing just how contentious this battle has become. It all led into a gorgeous title card that gave me actual chills. ACTUAL CHILLS, PEOPLE. Kudos to Kevin McKidd, who directed this episode. Last week, I was objectifying his junk, this week I am in awe of his behind-the-scenes prowess. It’s a confusing time for us all.

Now, let’s lawyer up. Callie’s lawyer is feeling great about their odds. Callie has a strong case, made stronger by the quality of character witnesses she’s gathered. Arizona tells her own lawyer not to worry about it because, duh, they have THE Richard Webber. Is Richard Webber a local legend or something? I’m baffled by the level of confidence this brings AZ, but also I understand it? Webber’s the best.

The cross-examinations start out innocuous enough: Owen is forever indebted to Callie for her time spent on the prosthetics for vets, and DeLuca says something sweet about the happy home he lives in with Arizona and Sofia.

Then, Penny Blake takes the stand. AZ’s lawyer wants to play up the fact that Callie would be moving Sofia across the country with a woman who barely knows the girl. Penny easily answers questions about Sofia’s favorite color, favorite animal, favorite cereal, but later gets tripped up when she’s asked what grade Sofia is in. It all goes downhill from there.

Before Arizona can feel like she’s scored any kind of points, Bailey heads up to the witness stand and Callie’s lawyer gets real. She badgers and bullies Bailey, trying to get the Chief to admit that Arizona’s specialty is much more erratic than Callie’s. Bailey is having none of this hating on successful, brilliant women, but it’s too late, the attorney is turning one of Arizona’s strengths into a weakness. So, yeah, things are getting ugly.  

Callie’s a little horrified. That night, she and Mer slug back some tequila and wine and Callie laments how she got here. Even worse, she knows Mark would be appalled. We don’t even get one little flashback to Daddy McSteamy. I told you this episode was depressing!

AZ decompresses from the day by heading back to the hospital to check on a patient. Pregnant Teen Jenny and her overbearing-but-secretly-loving mother, Tara, are back! Jenny slipped and is leaking amniotic fluid. The obstetrician on call while Arizona is dealing with custody woes, Dr. Russo, has thus far managed to keep the baby in utero, and that is exactly how Arizona wants it.

Back at court, it’s time to bring out the big guns: Meredith and Webber. Unfortunately, neither of their times on the stand go exactly as planned. Meredith’s words get twisted around so that she is basically admitting Callie has built a support system of family and friends for Sofia that she would be turning her back on should she move to NYC. When Richard takes the stand, the evil lawyer-lady takes Richard and AZ’s lovely friendship and turns it on its head. It’s evidence that Arizona was giving up time with her daughter to go out drinking and pick up women. Arizona has been turned into a sex-crazed workaholic.

The real emotional tour de force doesn’t come until Callie and Arizona each take the stand.

Callie describes the day Sofia was born — the car accident, how she thought she might not be strong enough to survive, but forced herself to for her baby. Being a mother is what saved Callie’s life that day. When Arizona gets her turn, Callie’s lawyer tries to play up that Arizona is Sofia’s adoptive mother, as if that makes her any less of a parent. Arizona has no time for that. She lays into the lawyer about how insulting that line of questioning is and makes it clear that she chose Sofia, she chose motherhood. It was the best decision she’s ever made. The judge isn’t audibly clapping, but I know she secretly wants to.

And then Arizona’s phone rings. It rings and rings, until Arizona stops her testimony to check the message: Jenny is in trouble. Arizona knows that if she doesn’t get to the hospital, it could spell disaster for Jenny and her baby; if she leaves, she’s proving the lawyer’s point about Arizona’s inability to be there for her daughter. AZ is a doctor, she can’t ignore a patient in need. She seems resigned to the fact that this will tank her case, so she does the only thing left to do: She admits that she wants Sofia, but that whichever way this shakes out, she knows her daughter will be loved. And then she walks out to go save a life.

Am I still typing actual words? I can’t see my computer screen through my tears.

Arizona ends up saving Jenny and her baby from an unnecessary and premature C-section, because she’s a badass boss lady doctor, and returns to the courthouse the next day for the final verdict. She lashes out at Callie for allowing her lawyer to play dirty, but seems resigned to the fact that she is going to lose custody of her daughter.

Oh, Arizona, you dummy! Have you never watched Grey’s Anatomy before? Grey’s never met a fake-out it didn’t like. The cards looked so stacked in favor of Callie that, of course, when Meredith opens the door to hand Sofia over to the person that the judge appointed sole custody to, it is Arizona standing in the doorway. Arizona takes Sofia home and Callie stands in Meredith’s living room, beside herself. Penny attempts to comfort her, but Callie pushes her away.

Hey! Maybe there is a silver lining to this thing after all!

Laughter Is the Best Medicine, Except for Real Medicine:

  • “Objection! Speculation.” Of course Bailey would try to take over all the lawyering while on the stand.
  • “A Once in a Lifetime Butt”: The title of my forthcoming memoir or Jo Wilson reminding Steph what she left behind (you’re welcome) when she cut Kyle Diaz loose via letter? Both. It is both of those things. Unfortunately, that Once in a Lifetime Butt shows up at the hospital again, this time with meningitis. Let’s enjoy the funny while we can.
  • Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s great that April and Jackson have become so mature and civilized that they can amicably discuss custody of their baby without any lawyers. What’s even better is that the two holidays Jackson cares about most are Halloween and the Super Bowl. I didn’t think it was humanly possible for Jackson to get more attractive, but it happened.

Sob Scale: 7/10

“Mama Tried” was brutal from beginning to end, but the standout moments were Arizona walking out of the courtroom knowing she may have just lost Sofia, and Callie’s terrified “How the hell did this happen?” Oh, Callie, you know how it happened.