Grey’s Anatomy Recap: Good News, Bad News

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Ellen Pompeo as Meredith. Photo: Richard Cartwright/ABC
Grey's Anatomy
Episode Title
Both Sides Now
Season
13
Episode
5
Editor’s Rating
3/5

Watching Meredith, Webber, and Bailey squabble over patient care makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. There’s so much history in those hallway conferences. Even when they are on different teams, they are a family. In a show full of tragedy, where planes fall out of the sky and icicles plunge directly into people’s chests, we have to cherish the good moments. We are all Miranda Bailey, trying to get our respective joy on.

Bailey had a long stretch where her job simply entailed “cleaning up other people’s messes” (see: Ben, Alex), but in “Both Sides Now,” Bailey is focused on her own patient, Granny June, and is all about spreading some joy. Granny June has been on the liver-transplant list for three years, but the waiting is over. Her new liver is in route, so her entire family is there celebrating the good news and the good doctor. Ain’t nothing gonna hold Bailey down today, you know? Well, except for Meredith. If Bailey is a joyous, radiant sunflower, Meredith is the bulldozer that crushes that sunflower under its wheels — and then backs up over it for good measure.

You see, Meredith and Webber have a patient in need of a liver, too. Young Chelsea comes into the hospital after suffering heatstroke from a quick run during an October heatwave, and due to some complications, promptly goes into liver failure. The lesson here is clear: Never exercise.

Chelsea will most likely die within the next 24 hours without a liver transplant. She has a twin sister, but Chandler is pregnant and can’t donate. She’s of no use to anyone. Meredith and Webber discover that the liver headed for Granny June is a match for Chelsea, so they attempt to appeal to Bailey’s softer side: Chelsea is only 25 years old and could die within hours. Granny June has survived for three years on the list, and also she’s old so, like, who even cares? Bailey is shocked that Webber is cool with this blatant ageism. Webber is shocked that Bailey thinks he’s old enough to be offended by ageism.

Bailey is in a tough situation, and although the liver is already allocated for Granny June, the patient could give up her spot on the transplant list for Chelsea. All of the joy from Bailey’s morning is sucked out of the air; she knows she has to ask Granny June, and Granny June, being the sweetest, kindest, most generous human being Bailey has ever met, will most surely agree to save Chelsea.

Except, Granny June says screw the other patient, that liver belongs to Granny June.

Grey’s Anatomy has been priming us for this switcheroo for 13 seasons. We’re conditioned to believe the kind old lady will always put the needs of youths before her own. In old Grey’s, Granny June would choose death in order to save Chelsea. Not today, Chels. Granny June is getting what’s hers.

Of course Meredith continues to mope — er, fight for her patient — and even contemplates stealing the liver (I love Alex being the voice of reason here), but the surgery goes as planned. Well, not exactly as planned: Bailey is pretty miffed that she can’t fully feel the joy of granting a woman a new lease on life. There’s a lot of guilt attached to this new liver.

Not all hope is lost, though! You guys, a second surprise liver arrives just in time to save Chelsea. I guess organ transplants are super easy to get. This one has miraculously appeared, unfortunately, because Maggie’s eternally optimistic patient, Astronaut Andy, dies during heart surgery. It’s upsetting to all involved, especially Stephanie, but Maggie reminds her resident (and all of us) to look for the good. Andy knew it was a risky surgery. At least this way he gets to save a life.

All joy is restored in the land of Grey Sloan. Well, except for Astronaut Andy and his grieving family, but we don’t really know them that well. Look for the good, remember?

Grey’s Anatomy drives home this idea of good news and bad news being bound together in the form of Amelia’s pregnancy storyline. Last we left our love birds, Amelia and Owen decided to start trying for a baby. Since they both totally have their lives together and have no baggage whatsoever to still work through or share with their spouse, it seems like a really great idea. Did you smell the sarcasm there? I mean, Amelia is off on the date by three days. Three whole days. This lady is a brain surgeon.

Anyway, Amelia realizes she’s late and assumes she’s pregnant and spends the rest of the day wandering the halls of the hospital debating how and when to tell Owen her news. By itself, this plot would probably be insufferable, but it does give us some great Meredith moments. Sure, Meredith is thrilled for Amelia and Owen, but it also means Amelia will be “talking for two,” and that is a horrifying thought. Also a little bit horrifying to Meredith is the fact Amelia actually doesn’t know if she’s pregnant and refuses to find out.

If you never dipped your toe in the wackadoo pond that was Private Practice, the outcome of this storyline might not have the emotional heft it seems Grey’s was hoping for. Per Amelia’s heart-to-heart pillow talk with Owen, she was in love with a man, Ryan, who overdosed. What she didn’t tell Owen is that she ended up pregnant with Ryan’s baby. So, Owen definitely doesn’t know that Amelia made the harrowing decision to carry and deliver a baby with no brain to term in order to donate his organs. It’s safe to say that pregnancy will drudge up some deep, dark feelings for Amelia.

Anyway, Amelia realizes that she’s having so much trouble figuring out how to include Owen in her pending pregnancy because the last time she was pregnant, she didn’t have to tell the father. You see, he was already dead. By the time she tells Owen she thinks she could be pregnant, he’s already been primed for fatherhood. He’s been snuggle buddies with Harriet. The guy got bit by the baby bug, and there’s no going back.

This is what they mean by not being on the same page.

As he and Amelia wait for the results of her pregnancy test, he’s planning nursery renovations, and she’s staring at the stick so intensely I thought it might go up in flames. After a few tense moments, the test is negative. Owen comforts her, but the only emotion that reads across Amelia’s face is relief. Okay, and maybe a little fear. Consider the past officially drudged.

Laughter Is the Best Medicine, Except For Real Medicine:

  • This week on Stephanie Edwards Still Works at This Hospital: Maggie and Amelia fight over having Steph, “the best resident,” on their service. This mostly amounts to her being compared to both a pair of shoes and a snow plow. And then, due to her limited knowledge of pre-surgery jokes, she is unable to give an astronaut his dying wish. Yeah, it’s a rough one.
  • Owen and Riggs treat changing baby Harriet’s diaper like a surgery. Aww, these boys will be making friendship bracelets in no time.
  • More scenes where Owen is holding the baby and then Webber is smelling the baby and then Jackson is holding the baby! This is my greatest wish.
  • True confession: I’m very conflicted about the increased flirting between Jo and DeLuca. On one hand, it’s cute and DeLuca deserves to find his own joy. On the other hand, Jo “The Worst” Wilson is still the worst. DeLuca should do himself a favor and find his own joy inside Granny June’s snickerdoodles (not a euphemism).
  • “And then with Ellis, I was off the hook because he was dead.” “Well, this was fun for a minute.”

Sob Scale: 2/10
Two unexpected things made me a little misty: First, Maggie losing that astronaut patient. Andy seemed like a good dude and we need more of those. Second, seeing DeLuca happy! That guy has had a pretty crappy go of things, but now he’s scrubbed in on a successful transplant surgery, received copious delicious and fashionable gifts, and he gets to be in Granny June’s Christmas card photo. If anyone’s feeling the joy, it’s DeLuca.