After being hounded with the previews for “Cold As Ice” all week, in which there were copious amounts of slo-mo shots of April looking very much on the edge of death, it began to feel very un-Grey’s to give away such a huge plot point, if this was indeed to be the episode in which April would die. So, you had to figure she was going to survive. Still, I prepared for the worst by listening to Josh Record’s “Bones” on repeat, which is like the unofficial official anthem for all #Japril fans. Yes, I was torturing myself. Don’t tell me how to live my life!
April Kepner does make it out of this hour alive (there were some very close calls), so it is not the gut-wrenching shitshow one may have been expecting, but it still was a very emotional tribute to the character. In fact, it was so emotional that I found myself asking, Seriously, this is the character you can’t find more story lines for? If anything, this episode reminded us just how close April is to so many of the major players. She is entwined in Grey’s Anatomy. Okay, now I’m sad all over again. Let’s just recap, okay?
April Kepner is in the air at Grey Sloan Memorial even before she arrives frozen on a gurney. Before getting picked up by a mysterious person, she sends out Alex and Jo’s wedding invitations. April is doing a stand-up job as the Wedding Planner. Even Alex, April’s biggest hater, is praising her work. Too many people are not annoyed by April, so you know something terrible is about to happen.
A car-accident victim arrives in an ambulance and it ends up being Matthew Taylor, the one person who could compete with Meredith Grey for Most Cursed Human on the Planet. In his grogginess, he asks if April is okay. This, paired with the fact that no one can seem to locate April, tips the team off that she must have been in the car with him.
Owen heads out to the scene of the accident and spots April lying unconscious in the ravine below the road. (“You always come and bring me back,” she tells him later, in a nice nod to their friendship.) She’s hypothermic and unresponsive. It’s real bad. Thankfully, Owen texts Meredith the update before she alerts Jackson that anything is wrong. He’s busy with a bevy of burn victims who just came in, and Meredith wants to keep this from him until they know all the facts. I mean, sure, the doctors of Grey Sloan always play this game when a familiar face ends up on the OR table and it never ends well — just ask Teddy.
Meredith and Bailey steel themselves as the ambo with Owen and April comes in. It’s a grisly scene, watching the whole team pounding on April’s body in an attempt to get her blood circulating. Of course, any longtime Grey’s fan knows that a person can’t be cold and dead — they have to bring April’s body temperature up and then see if they can restart her heart. We know this because this exact thing happened to Meredith Grey back in season three when she almost drowned. It is a true testament to how wonderfully bonkers this show is when a character can be like, Oh, I came in frozen with no pulse and I survived, and everyone else can be like, Oh, right, of course, what is this, Tuesday?
Needless to say, April’s situation is bringing up a lot of old memories for Meredith. The drowning. Her time in the hospital afterlife with Coach Taylor and Negan. Derek. It’s these memories, on top of the horror that is staring at her lifeless friend, that cause Meredith to burst into tears when she bumps into Alex, who tells her that he’s off to meet April for cake tasting. Yes! Our Meredith! Bursting into tears! I only wish April could see it, because that is the greatest parting gift Meredith could give her.
They need to get April in an OR and on bypass if there’s any chance of saving her. Again, surprisingly, it’s Alex who drops some major compliments about April Kepner as they take turns doing compressions before the bypass. He originally hated her because he was jealous of her — she was good at everything he was not — and it’s very sweet. Meredith is quick to tell Alex, and everyone in the OR, to stop using the past tense. We’re not losing another family member today!
Let’s take a quick breather from the April drama, and talk about the glorious return of Geena Davis! Nicole Herman is back and still the greatest broad to ever grace the halls of Grey Sloan. She’s worried her tumor is back, so she figured she’d see Amelia, the person who removed it the first time, and check on apprentice Arizona, too.
The whole thing sends Amelia into a tizzy, who feels like she needs to tell Nicole that she had her own huge tumor when she operated on Nicole, and that deficit could be the reason Nicole went blind. Of course, Nicole already knew Amelia had a tumor. Nicole knows everything. (It’s because she was sleeping with Tom Koracick, which is, straight-up, the best news.) Thankfully, the tumor is not back and Nicole is fine. Amelia can go back to worrying about Betty, who shows up again and … I’m not really invested in this at all.
More important is what Dr. Herman’s return means for Arizona. AZ isn’t thrilled to see her. Post-tumor, Nicole ghosted Arizona, who only wanted to check in on her mentor. Nicole’s been following Arizona’s successes and couldn’t be prouder. She never returned Arizona’s calls because she didn’t know how to properly thank her. Seeing Arizona grow as a fetal surgeon inspired Nicole to teach more fetal surgeons. Now, she’ll be able to save more lives than she ever could when she was a surgeon herself. In even happier news: Nicole was awarded a grant and she wants to open a maternal-care research clinic with Arizona. And yes, they can do it in New York. How wonderful!
Okay, are you feeling all warm and fuzzy? Great. Now it’s time to rip your heart out again. Isn’t this show so fun?!
Jackson learns that April is dying and runs into that OR, a man possessed. There is so much serious eye acting going on, you guys. He is beside himself. In the most excruciating scene of the hour, they all must wait to see if April shows any signs of a heart rhythm before they can shock her. Maggie swears she sees a small blip on the monitor and begins shocking April…over and over. No one else sees anything and Jackson can’t bear to watch April like this — he throws himself over April so they can’t shock her anymore. He’s pried off and after a final shock, April has a heartbeat again. Anyone else cheer with Meredith and Co? No? Cool, cool, me neither.
Again, having all studied at the Grey’s Anatomy School of Medicine (don’t go there, you learn very little, drink too much tequila, and 30 percent of your classmates die in freak accidents), we know the big worry now is that April could be brain-dead. Basically every doctor in the joint is standing around her hospital bed (dear Lord, have they put Intern Glasses in charge?!), as they wait for Amelia to give the thumbs up or down.
It doesn’t look good.
Arizona — who reminds us all that the April-Arizona friendship is strong by revealing that April and Matthew have been secretly dating and are in love — weeps. They all leave Jackson alone in the room. In what is probably Jesse Williams’s best work on the show to date, Jackson pleads with God to save April. He’ll believe in God, he’ll do anything — just don’t take April. It is intense and could possibly cause a person to tear up even hours later when, say, she has to recap the scene, I don’t know.
Against all odds, April squeezes Jackson’s hand. She opens her eyes and looks at him. April has survived! Later, the rest of the doctors come to see her and ask about the pearly gates, and April teases Jackson for praying for her. Baby April would be beside herself to learn that she’s built this family at Grey Sloan. She’s come a long way, and all the scars she’s gathered along the way have made her a different person — it’s why she and Matthew work now. They understand each other’s pain and have found peace in one another.
That’s nice. I was really prepared to watch Jackson deal with his grief over losing his best friend, which seems like a great dramatic jumping off point for the character, but perhaps it is better that we’re sending both April and Arizona off with the happy-ish endings they deserve. (Although literally anything can happen at a Grey’s Anatomy wedding, so maybe we shouldn’t be making such assumptions until after Alex and Jo’s nuptials.)
Enough people have suffered on this show, right? None more than Meredith, who begins to see her own life in a new way. She was supposed to die that day in the Sound, so really, any time she had with Derek, her life with her kids, that’s all “a bonus.” It’s a big realization for Mer. In voice-over, she tells us about how all the cracks and scars are always with us, that they make us stronger, they make us something new, as she tucks Derek’s ferry-boat scrub cap into a dresser drawer with her Post-It Note vows. Reminders of the scars and cracks that have made her who she is today.
Whew, you guys. And we still have one more episode to go!
Sob Scale: 8/10
I have a sneaking suspicion that many a #Japril fan will be updating their YouTube montages tonight. NOT LIKE I WATCH THEM WHEN I’M SAD OR ANYTHING.