It’s never easy for a long-running series to introduce a new character, especially when that character is meant to immediately fit in with the rest of the ensemble. But when Maggie Pierce arrived in season ten, that’s exactly what Grey’s Anatomy did. It could’ve been easy to dislike her — she showed up to take over cardio as Cristina Yang was leaving, for chrissakes! She was yet another one of Meredith’s long-lost sisters. The cards were really stacked against Maggie Pierce. Yet, thanks to the writers and Kelly McCreary’s terrific performance, Maggie was immediately endearing. She is weird and neurotic and cheerful. She is nothing like Cristina, but she fills a void that Meredith needs filled in order to function. Can you really imagine Grey’s without Maggie Pierce?
All of this is to say that “None of Your Business” provides an overdue glimpse into Maggie’s background. Sure, we know that she is the love child of Ellis Grey and Richard Webber. We know that she was adopted by two lovely parents who recently (and somewhat surprisingly to their daughter) got divorced. We know that she was a prodigy and big-time nerd. But it is high time we get to see Maggie interact with someone who knows her in a different way than any of the doctors at Grey Sloan Memorial.
Without further ado: Surprise! Maggie’s mom is here! Diane (LaTanya Richardson Jackson) flies in from Hawaii without telling her daughter and roams the halls of the hospital. By the time Maggie is informed of her arrival, Diane’s already made friends with Arizona, Riggs, and Jackson. Oh, you guys, she really likes Jackson. Like any good parent, she immediately wants to know if the hot one is the guy her daughter is into, and Maggie responds with a 14-year-old’s “Mom!” It is delightful.
Later, it dawns on Maggie that she’s going to have to introduce her mother to Webber and in true Maggie fashion, she immediately spirals. In an elevator. With Riggs. Wearing a mix of horror and amusement on his face, Riggs tells her, “It’ll be okay. Whatever happens, you’re their kid.” It’s statements like these that made Maggie fall in love with you in the first place, Riggs. Stop being so good for her brand of crazy.
When Maggie walks in on Diane and Webber already getting to know each other — they’ve even made dinner plans — I don’t know if she’s more furious that her mother didn’t wait for her or just relieved that they get along so well. It’s a healthy mix of both.
Diane’s not just in town to embarrass her daughter, though. No, she’s here for some top-notch plastic surgery. She tells Maggie that she wants to look good naked; Maggie is appropriately horrified. But when Diane is alone with Jackson (who, for the record, tells Diane that she is beautiful just as she is because Jackson is the sun, the moon, and the stars), she shows him what she’s really there to see him about: A strange skin irritation on her chest. By the look on Jackson’s face, we don’t need the biopsy results to let us know what’s going on here. He diagnoses Diane with inflammatory breast cancer. It’s aggressive, but he’ll do everything he can to help her — he’ll even fly to Hawaii to perform the surgery if she wants. Why? Because she’s Maggie Pierce’s mom. Please refer to my previous note regarding sun, moon, stars, etc.
Diane asks him to be there when she tells Maggie, and of course, Jackson obliges. Unfortunately, when Diane surprises Maggie at home to relay the news, she never gets a word in. The anger and embarrassment Maggie’s been feeling all day — emotion she’s felt since her parents announced their divorce — finally boil over and she lets her mom have it. Like, really have it. Like, “I don’t even know who you are anymore” have it. Although some of Maggie’s points are valid, it’s hard not to cringe knowing the information that she is missing.
Diane’s taken aback. Obviously, telling Maggie about the cancer is off the table for the moment. There are other things Diane needs to inform her daughter about. For example, how for the first time in Diane’s life, she actually feels like herself. That Maggie doesn’t know her because she hasn’t made any effort to. It’s pretty heartbreaking, and boy is Mags going to feel like a grade-A jerk when she learns about her mom’s condition. Also, kids? Hug your moms.
Now, compare the seamless introduction of Maggie Pierce to a character like Eliza Minnick. Eliza’s been around for several episodes now, but does anyone care about her? Seriously. I’m asking. True, she has an uphill battle because she’s been introduced as a (sort of) antagonist. But you know who else was introduced as a bad guy? Nathan Riggs. And you know what? I don’t want him going anywhere any time soon. Which means there is plenty of precedent for being a Grey’s antagonist and still meshing with the ensemble.
The character of Eliza is just not compelling. It should be easy to sympathize with her — as Catherine tells April, this overhaul of the system is a good thing. The attendings shouldn’t fight prioritizing the patients. It should be easy, but as with everything else that involves Eliza, it’s not. She’s weirdly aggressive with Arizona. (Please don’t be into her, AZ.) She complains to Bailey about getting shut out of surgery, but then when Bailey actually does something about her insubordinate attendings and suspends Meredith, Eliza complains about that too. Pick a lane, doc!
The most emotionally engrossing aspect of this story line is how it will affect Webber and Catherine’s relationship. Finally, we get a taste of that conflict here. We don’t see their conversation after Webber realizes that Catherine is pro-Minnick, but I imagine the fallout will be very significant. The Webber and Catherine angst, I am here for. The rest of the Eliza plot, hard pass.
A few other items of note: There is an interesting case with a patient who ends up tangled in razor wire after trying to take down a wall she and her late husband built to keep people out of their lives. It becomes 100 percent less interesting once Owen applies that story to Amelia. She’s still barricading herself inside Stephanie’s apartment and Owen isn’t going to wait around forever. Can we fast forward on this story line?
More important, we get the deets on Alex’s journey to freedom. As suspected, it’s all thanks to DeLuca. Before Alex could take a plea deal, DeLuca storms in and tells the D.A. that he won’t testify against Karev. If he’s put on the stand, he’ll say it was all his fault. So, the charges are dropped.
Everyone pretty much knows that DeLuca did it because of his feelings for Jo, but we should all be thankful that Alex asks for an explanation. It was very cathartic to hear DeLuca finally scream at Alex! All this time, we’ve just been waiting for Alex to treat him like a human being, look him in the face, and apologize for what he did. He understood what happened that night. DeLuca’s just a good guy who doesn’t want Jo to suffer anymore. The guy is a gentleman, but, like, tell us something we don’t know, right?
The conclusion of this story line gives us some great insight into DeLuca, and also Jo. When she discovers that Alex hasn’t been locked away in jail, Mopey McMopeface runs over to give him a long, silent, meaningful hug. Note that she does NOT go and thank DeLuca for being a wonderful human. This pretty much tells you everything you need to know about Jo Wilson.
Laughter Is the Best Medicine, Except for Real Medicine
• There is utter joy on Ben’s face when he has to explain to Bailey why DeLuca would let the case go for Wilson. (“Are you blind, woman?”) Ben Warren loves that he gets the hot goss before his wife does. This man has so many layers.
• Bailey giving Alex his job back was a scene full of unspoken feelings, but also, “Promise me that you are the Alex Karev who heals small children and you left behind the Alex Karev who beats people up” is the Bailey-est thing Bailey could’ve ever said. Obviously, it was great.
• Someone over at Shondaland is a Game of Thrones fan: Catherine is a dragon waiting to be released, Mer’s suspension means that “winter is coming,” and Jo finds comfort watching shows with “swords and dragons and decapitations.”
• Bailey wins April to her side by giving her Meredith’s Chief of General Surgery position while Mer is suspended. Meredith and Alex’s reaction to the news is so old-school Grey’s and I welcome it with open arms.
• “Don’t want to be late for your butt lift, or whatever it is.”
Sob Scale: 2/10
Where are the tears, Grey’s Anatomy? BRING ME THE TEARS.