It's the end of the line for Dr. Alex Karev. The long-awaited court date is finally upon him. In just 24 hours, he'll learn whether he'll be sent to prison. The guy is convinced things won't go his way, but while he's trying to set up farewell drinks before he heads to the clink, Meredith is still holding out hope. When Meredith Grey is the optimistic one, things are pretty dire.
Meredith will always fight for Alex, but by the end of this Grey's Anatomy winter finale, that fight may be futile. Yes, what Alex did to DeLuca was horrifying and he should suffer consequences, but the man's been in a relationship with Jo Wilson for several years. Hasn't he suffered enough? You see, Alex is a great person and Jo Wilson is … not. At all. Once again, she makes this whole thing about her. (She even compares her woes to the dozens of victims who just arrived after their apartment building collapsed on top of them.) And yet, she winds up screwing Alex in the process. At least she's consistent!
Jo gets subpoenaed to testify in court at the last minute — she had been deemed an "unreliable witness," but Alex's lawyers are desperate — and the pressure sends her off the deep end. If she doesn't come clean about her husband and her real name, she'll be committing perjury. If she does reveal her haunted past on the stand, it'll be public record and she'll be handing her ex a paper trail that leads right to her doorstep.
Let's be clear, though: Only after she realizes that her secrets are about to be spilled all over court and after Alex gives her a heartfelt apology for that time he called her trash, does Jo finally come clean to him. Sorry, I shouldn't be so snarky about Alex's very sincere and lovely apology. BUT WHY DOES HE LIKE THIS CHICK? Anyway, she traps Alex in an elevator and tells him everything. (Doesn't she know these elevators are strictly for sexual tension?) He takes it very well! He's extremely understanding about her whole predicament. Just as he would've been if she were upfront from the get-go. He even laughs a bit when he realizes that the only reason Jo kept this from him was because she was afraid he'd go crazy and … WIND UP IN JAIL.
The next bit is the really infuriating part. As Jo walks away from Alex, she says that if she leaves after the trial, it's not because of him. It's only that whole public-record thing. I guess if Jo was so very wrong about Alex's reaction to her horrible husband, it also tracks that she'd have no idea he would try to save her from this awful dilemma. She may not realize that he would sacrifice himself, but literally every other person knows immediately. This is Alex! He saves children! He makes waffles! He's turned himself into a good guy! He tells Jo not to run, that's she's Jo Wilson and she deserves to keep her life. Oh Alex, how I wish you wouldn't.
Alex decides he's going to take the plea deal that was previously offered to him. He'll serve two years in prison rather than force Jo to testify and potentially alert her husband to her whereabouts. Meredith takes the news about as well as you would expect — as in, not very. He reassures her that she'll be fine without him. It takes a while, but finally Meredith yells loud enough so that he understands: This isn't about her. She knows she'll be fine. He, however, will be destroying his life. This isn't noble. And if it weren't for that ridiculous nurse and her many interruptions, Meredith probably would've tied Alex down to the scrub sink until he changed his mind. Didn't that nurse hear what an excellent speech Meredith was giving? Let the woman speak!
Instead, Alex heads over to the district attorney's office to turn himself in. While he waits in the lobby, he gets a voice-mail from Meredith. It's a last-ditch effort to convince him to keep fighting for himself. Whatever reason he has for taking the deal — whether it's love or guilt or shame — he just shouldn't take it. Alex listens to the message as the D.A.'s assistant comes to get him, and we cut to black. Will he take the deal and force us to watch Alex and Meredith talk through a glass wall for two seasons? Probably not. My money's on DeLuca dropping the charges. Another guy who's too good for Jo Wilson!
Alex isn't the only sad sack of a man wandering around the hospital feeling defeated. Yes, I'm talking about Webber. When Eliza shows up to help out during the building collapse crisis, she lets slip that she'll be taking over the residency program and Bailey will fill Webber in on the transition shortly.
So, yeah, Webber's having a day. And it gets so much worse before it gets better.
He loses a 12-year-old patient in a very tough surgery and takes it hard. Though Webber usually gives Bailey the benefit of the doubt, when he gets a chance to confront her about Eliza, things get emotional. Bailey was going to tell him the news that day so that he would have time to adjust to his new role, but with the chaos after the building collapse, she never got around to it. She assures him that he'll still be the chairman of the program, but Webber knows the title is only ornamental. Eliza will be in charge of the program he built. Bailey apologizes, but she had to keep her personal feelings out of the decision. Webber has one last lesson for his protégé: As doctors, they hold people's lives in their hands. It's the most personal job there is. Every decision the chief makes should be personal.
Now, I don't know if I necessarily agree with that assessment, but James Pickens Jr. gives a great speech. So many good speeches in this episode! Maggie, who's weathered this roller coaster of a day with her father, overhears Webber's chat with Bailey. She's outraged that they would take the residency program away from him. When she sees that he won't put up a fight — it's one he can't win, he says — Maggie decides to take it on herself.
Mags downloads Jackson "Moneybags" Avery as to the situation. In turn, he enlists every doctor he can find to help save Webber's job. Webber was simply grateful that his daughter made such a passionate gesture, but when he sees a room full of doctors, many of whom went through his program, he is moved. They disagree with Bailey's decision, and they aren't scared to fight her on it. Nobody puts Webber in a corner!
Oh, and just in case there weren't enough people feeling sorry for themselves at Grey Sloan, Owen can't find his wife anywhere. He's totally Eeyore-ing it up, lamenting that he's once again found himself married to a woman who doesn't want kids, but gets a pretty impressive pep talk from Riggs (!!) to not lose hope. When he gets home, all ready to talk things out, he only finds a letter on the counter. Amelia is gone.
Let that cheery end keep you warm all winter long!
Laughter Is the Best Medicine, Except for Real Medicine:
- Arizona continues to be a delight as all of her colleagues mope around her. She toys with Eliza a little before calling the doctor out for her overconfidence. And she still gets a date out of it, too! I'm lukewarm on this pairing so far, but I could be persuaded to get onboard. You have to earn Arizona.
- You know which pairing I'm not even a little bit lukewarm on? Owen and Riggs. You guys, there was more rebuilding of friendship! If it hadn't been for MIA Amelia, they would've bro'd out with a beer together. This, perhaps, is the greatest gift of the holiday season.
- Even though we couldn't hear Alex telling Bailey about Jo, her eye-roll told us everything we needed to know.
- "Look, I didn't impersonate a priest … exactly."
Sob Scale: 5/10
Between little Winnie's fatal surgery and that beautiful final montage, my tear ducts got a nice workout before taking a vacation for the holidays. Just kidding! Those babies never get a rest.