What a long, sometimes tedious trip this season has been, huh? I blame Minnick, mostly. And the choice to drag out Alex’s trial and Meredith and Riggs’s will-they, won’t-they much longer than necessary. Doesn’t it say something that some of the season’s best episodes were stand-alones, like Doctors on a Plane and Bailey, Arizona, and Jo’s field trip to prison? Thankfully, this season finale sets up a whole slew of new story lines, 75 percent of which I am very interested in!
The most intriguing is, of course, Megan Hunt. By the end of “Ring of Fire,” we still haven’t really seen her, but her presence looms large throughout the episode. Thanks to that pesky explosion (don’t worry, we’ll get to it) and the fact that Grey Sloan is now up in flames, Megan has been rerouted to an army hospital a few hours away. Owen, understandably, is having an issue wrapping his head around the fact that his sister is alive. It doesn’t feel real. Amelia assures him that once he sees her, it will. This is the second episode in a row in which Amelia is the one doling out advice and pep talks. It’s crazy how someone is a million times more palatable when not screaming at people while sipping on a slurpee, you know?
Once at the army hospital, Owen is told to prepare himself. But there is really no way to prepare for what’s about to happen to him. There’s only waiting. And there’s a little bit of holding Amelia’s hand. But mostly, it’s the waiting.
The other guy in Megan’s life has done his fair share of waiting for this day as well. Only he doesn’t know “this day” is “this day” just yet. First, Meredith has to assist him in a surgery dangerously close to the hospital fire, then feed the guy some oxygen, and finally check his breathing to ensure that he’ll be able to handle the news she is about to lay on him. Meredith’s buildup to finally telling Riggs that the dream — Derek walking in because he forgot his keys, and Megan goes for coffee — has partially come true is intense.
Martin Henderson is a champ in this scene. I mean, I base most of my knowledge on how one should react to discovering the love of your life is alive after years of believing the worst on Helen Hunt in Cast Away. Although, she ends up with Dr. Spalding, so what does she even know? BUT I DIGRESS. Henderson’s reaction is a perfect mix of disbelief, sadness, and hope.
Then, he’s suddenly overcome with joy. He celebrates with Meredith, until he realizes just what this means for the new couple. Meredith stops him because he’s not allowed to be sorry about this — Shonda knows Meredith wouldn’t be if this were Derek coming back. It’s an honest, mature moment, and I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of Meredith than right here as she watches the man she could’ve loved speed off to be reunited with his own soulmate.
Not that it’ll be smooth sailing for Riggs once he sees her. At least, that’s what I’m counting on. I have high hopes for the plot catalyst that is Megan Hunt. Her reappearance will have effects on Owen, on Riggs, on Owen and Riggs’s relationship, on Owen and Amelia’s relationship, on Riggs and Meredith’s relationship … let’s just say, the reappearance of Megan has the potential to be very, very good for a series that needs a shot of drama straight to the heart. Alas, like Owen, we, too, are left waiting. Waiting to see how this all plays out. Waiting to see what happens next.
“Ring of Fire” isn’t all about what’s to come. Like a true Grey’s finale, it also offered us some major good-byes. Do not worry, Grey’s fam, no one dies. I know! I couldn’t believe it either. But these good-byes are of the non-fatal variety.
The first person to go is Eliza Minnick. This is not some type of weird recap wish-fulfillment thing. Minnick. Gets. Fired. Of course, it happens after some character stretching, in which Minnick thinks it is so necessary to follow protocol that looking for Stephanie or a lost child during a disaster is out of the question — she’s The Worst, not a robot — but it is nonetheless glorious. And it happens at the hands of Bailey! In front of Webber! After Bailey praises Webber for making doctors who think and feel and don’t just follow procedure! I mean, doctors should follow protocol and procedure, but sometimes you have to bend the rules. Like when one of your doctors was last seen with a rapist and now the building is burning down. But not Minnick. So she gets the boot. It is deeply satisfying. We did it, you guys! We survived this story line.
The second good-bye is much less celebratory. We’ve known that Jerrika Hinton would not be returning for season 14, and thank Shonda that Stephanie doesn’t make her exit in a body bag. Still, it’s tough to bid farewell to one of the show’s best characters, especially one who didn’t always get her due. Both Stephanie and Jerrika will be missed.
Yes, Steph survives her traumatic ordeal, but not without some close calls. She comes to post-explosion to find little Erin trapped underneath some heavy machinery. Stephanie is on the other side of the room, badly burned with a lot of fire between her and Erin, but what does this queen do? She tosses a wet blanket over herself and jumps through that fire. She then goes on to MacGyver a surgery in order to save Erin’s life, all while calming the little girl down by telling her how she survived her time in the hospital as a child. Erin wants her mom, so does Steph. So do we all.
Stephanie stays the course. She fixes up Erin’s leg. Now, they need to find a way out of the fiery hellscape that the hospital hallway has become. Once again, Steph wraps herself and Erin up in a wet blanket and jumps through fire. She is a superhero and we are not worthy.
The two ladies end up trapped in a stairwell. They reach the roof access, but they can’t get out without Steph’s key card. The look of defeat on Steph’s face is a gut punch. Grey’s is the devil, but would they really let Stephanie and a child burn alive in a stairwell?
The answer is no. Stephanie sees her key card a few flights down, runs through the fire and smoke to reach it, and she and Erin are able to get onto the roof and breathe in some sweet, sweet air. Only, with all the commotion, no one can hear Steph yelling from above … and Erin goes unconscious from blood loss. Things are dire. I mean that for both the characters and for those of us watching — it’s not fun to watch Stephanie helplessly perform CPR while her screaming goes unanswered. FINALLY (“Did you take the scenic route?”), Warren leads the firefighters to where he last saw Stephanie, and they follow a blood trail up to the roof.
Erin needs surgery and Stephanie refuses medical attention until she knows this little girl, the girl she jumped through fire for, is going to survive. Erin stabilizes, and finally Stephanie is able to let go.
Days later, Webber goes to check on Stephanie, laid up in bed, being treated for severe burns. She thanks Webber for changing her life (aww!), but she hands in her notice. Stephanie has spent the majority of her life in a hospital. She’s been saving other people’s lives, now it’s time to save her own. The girl wants to breathe.
Laughter Is the Best Medicine, Except for Real Medicine
• What wonderful timing! A Grey’s Anatomy spinoff about Seattle firefighters is announced and days later there’s an episode about a large fire at the hospital. The fire captain is a woman, you guys. Get yours, Shondaland.
• Watching both April and Maggie ream Jackson for running into the fire to be a hero is hilarious. That hilarity soon turns into tragedy as April notices Maggie and Jackson making eyes. She eventually tells Maggie she knows they like each other and that Maggie should go for it. She doesn’t mean it or anything, but still, this is my worst nightmare coming to life. I AM NOT HERE FOR THIS.
• I’ll keep asking until we solve this mystery: WTF is up with Alex? He had one measly scene in this episode. At least give us a shot of him saving tiny humans!
Sob Scale: 7/10
Stephanie’s final speech is a real tear-jerker, as is expected. The real surprise is how moved I was when Meredith said, “If it was Derek, I’d already be gone.” COME ON. Derek Shepherd: Still making us cry after all these years.