Grey’s Anatomy Recap: Damage Control

Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC
Grey’s Anatomy

Grey’s Anatomy

Bad Reputation Season 14 Episode 21
Editor's Rating 4 stars

Although Grey Sloan Memorial is perpetually in crisis mode, this time it feels different. There are reporters swarming the parking lot, Meredith Grey is returning both her and her mother’s Harper Avery Awards, and a ruthless crisis manager is advising Catherine to attack her father-in-law’s victims — who, by episode’s end, total 37.

The situation is getting out of control (the doctors finding out that Jackson secretly funded the Innovation Contest and then entered it doesn’t help ease tensions, either). Since there is no way in hell the Averys are going to blame the victims, many of whom left medicine because of what happened to them, they need to come up with another plan. For Catherine, it is simple: She’ll take the blame. She signed the NDAs, after all. This doesn’t sit well with Jackson, who doesn’t want to see a strong black woman take the fall for a rich white man. Jackson doesn’t have much time to persuade his mother otherwise, as he is given his own job: a PR-friendly surgery on a very nice boy from Venezuela who has been brought to the U.S. through the Angels of Humanity charity.

Yes, they are using children with life-threatening tumors in their faces to make the Averys look a little better.

Neither Jackson nor his surgical partner, Meredith Grey, are happy about this slimeball move. But their attitude changes once they meet Diego and his face tumor. They genuinely want to help.

Okay, Meredith genuinely wants to help — Jackson does have the fate of the entire Avery Foundation weighing on him and he knows this surgery could be beneficial to him. It’s why he wants to do a less invasive surgery on Diego, have a good outcome, and deliver something positive to the press. Meredith, on the other hand, thinks the best course of action is to do a full resection of the tumor. It is risky, but surgery is always risky. A full resection now is better for Diego in the long run. Jackson needs to put Diego first.

Meredith is the perfect person to pair Jackson up with in this situation because she is REAL MAD, both about the terrible things Harper Avery did to women, and the fact that the award she worked her entire life for is tarnished — she isn’t afraid to call Jackson on his bullshit. She knows he is playing it safe in order to avoid more bad press for the foundation. Who cares about the foundation, she remarks. The dozens of women who were hurt by Harper Avery sure don’t. Jackson isn’t trying to be callous or self-serving here (later, when April reassures Maggie that she’s dating a really good guy, she means it), he is thinking about the 72 hospitals that the foundation funds, and the people who work there. If the foundation goes under, it affects more than just people with the Avery name.

The two argue all day. They argue over the surgery. They argue over Harper Avery. Even after they almost lose the surgery because the charity doesn’t want to be associated with the Avery name and Meredith defends Jackson, they argue. But really, they are both angry about the same thing: that this privileged man hurt so many people and got away with it. That he ruined lives and suffered no consequences. Jackson and Meredith have always shared a special bond, both understanding what it is like to be a surgeon with a family legacy following them around, and now they have something else in common: Harper Avery is undoing all of the hard work done by their strong-willed, boundary-breaking mothers.

Of course Jackson wants to help the victims, and he can do that through the foundation. Meredith warns him that to rebuild that foundation, Jackson will first have to break it all the way down. So after they kick ass in surgery, going all in on that face tumor and changing Diego’s life, Jackson and Meredith come up with a plan to do just that.

Step one: Fire that terrible crisis-management woman (sorry! She is probably very good at getting results, it’s just like, read the room lady!). Step two: Give Catherine a new statement to read to the press. A statement that talks about how the foundation is going to support all of Harper Avery’s victims by giving them first, a voice, and then money, or training, or a job — whatever they need. A statement that announces the dissolution of the Harper Avery Foundation, and in its place, the formation of the Catherine Fox Foundation. This way, they get to help Harper’s victims and Catherine gets to keep her life’s work intact, this time under her maiden name. This is the house that Catherine Fox built.

There is one visitor at Grey Sloan who is not surprised to hear about Harper Avery, because she had to work with lots of “pigs” while employed at this hospital. Hey! It’s Nurse Olivia! Her kid has a whistle stuck in his throat. That seems … emergent.

Olivia discovers her son will be treated by one of the pigs she was referring to, Dr. Alex Karev. Ah yes, if you don’t remember Nurse Olivia, she reminds you exactly who she is when she asks Jo if Alex is “still giving nurses syphilis or has he moved on to gonorrhea?”

The nurse who knew Alex back when he was Evil Spawn showing up at this moment, sharing some less than stellar memories of her time spent with him, is really, really bad timing. Alex and Jo are trying to plan their wedding, but when Alex gets a look at his bank account, he shuts down. He transforms into moody, silent Alex. The mood swings paired with the stories of Alex cheating on Izzie really throw Jo (somebody get this woman Grey’s Anatomy seasons through eight on DVD, please). She isn’t going to put up with angry, brooding Alex anymore. She wants to know what’s going on.

After a very long day, Alex comes clean to Jo: He’s not upset about the wedding and no, he isn’t having money problems. He took a look at his bank account and realized that the checks he’s been sending to his mom haven’t been cashed in awhile. That is a very bad sign. Alex has been living his life, totally oblivious to what’s going on with his mother. Is she dead? Is she off her meds and in trouble?

All of the questions and guilt mean one thing: We’re going on a road trip.

Laughter Is the Best Medicine, Except for Real Medicine

• Praise Shonda, our More DeLuca Sibling Prayers have been answered! Andrew has been moping on Meredith’s couch for a week, skipping work, poorly playing terrible songs on his guitar, and generally freaking out Queen Zola. Meredith calls for backup, so Carina comes over to give her whiny little brother the tough love he needs. It involves a lot of Italian, clapping, and calling him disgusting. Just what the doctor ordered!

• Little Sofia is very sad and hates her school — is this laying the groundwork for Arizona’s departure?

• April Kepner would be an excellent wedding planner — is this laying the groundwork for April’s departure? Just kidding! We all know it’ll be a tragic nightmare death of some sort. Fun!

• Miracles do happen: I am into this “Amelia takes in a young junkie” story line. This is the kind of Amelia I can get on board with! You know what I cannot get on board with, though? The fact that said junkie is the birth mother of Owen’s foster baby and now all four of them are going to live together. Haven’t we suffered enough Owen-Amelia drama?

• Oh boy, you guys. You know what’s not funny? The look on Bailey’s face when Intern Roy shows up at the hospital with Lawyer Roy to inform the Chief that they’ll be suing the hospital for wrongful termination. Yeah, you never want to be on the receiving end of one of those looks.

• “Is it hard to learn how to play guitar?” “Apparently, yes.”

Grey’s Anatomy Recap: Damage Control