Jesse Williams as Jackson.
Big news, Grey’s Anatomy fans: Dr. Charles Percy lives!
Okay, so that isn’t the actual big news, but his brief flashback appearance warranted some celebration. I really missed that guy! No, the actual big news is much more heartbreaking. As we all know, Grey’s goes for the gut, and the reveal at the end of the Jackson/April-centric rewind-a-thon that is “Unbreak My Heart,” is that, yes, April and Jackson have finally signed divorced papers. But things are about to get way more complicated: April just found out she’s pregnant again.
Let’s be honest, an episode that focuses solely on Jackson and April’s relationship is bound to be a divisive one. Even more so than the Meredith-centric winter premiere, “Unbreak My Heart” has one story to tell, and the rest of our docs are relegated to the way, way back. If you’re not a #Japril fan, this may have been a tough hour to stomach. But you survived the musical episode, so I think you can get through this. Then again, if you’re not a #Japril fan, I have no understanding of who you are or how you function.
That’s right guys, I ship Jackson and April. I ship them hard.
Before we get to the Mercy Westers who found love in a hopeless place, we should talk about April Kepner. She is, without a doubt, the most polarizing character on Grey’s Anatomy. I believe the adjective most frequently used in the anti-April camp is “insufferable.” While I applaud the word choice, I don’t share the sentiment.
Sure, she can be annoying — see: tonight’s flashback to Jackson and April’s first day as interns (the orange scrubs!) — but I’ve found April’s growth from exasperating farm girl to badass trauma surgeon to be one of the show’s most interesting character arcs. Okay, maybe she is still exasperating at times, but as Jackson told her in his wedding-halting barn speech, “Even the things I don’t like, I love.”
Oh, Jackson, you blue-eyed bride stealer. We should talk about him, too. Everybody loves Avery! He can be stubborn and dismissive, but he also tells women who’ve had acid dumped on their faces that they are beautiful and brave. And it doesn’t hurt that he was Mark Sloan’s anointed one. Plastics Posse for life!
So the origin of #Japril is a bit opposites-attract, a bit best-friends-turned-lovers. If you aren’t already onboard, “Unbreak My Heart” probably isn’t going to win you over. (But if it did, please do tell!) If you are a fan, I hope you found this look back at Jackson and April as lovely as I did.
We start in the present, with Jackson suited up at a wedding, gazing at a beautiful bride named Red Herring — err, Tatiana. Then, we quickly rewind through the evolution of Jackson and April. From sitting across one another as they prepare to sign divorce papers, to grieving after the loss of Samuel, to their elopement, to their bonding after the hospital shooting, all the way to the first time they laid eyes on each other.
The only new information gleaned is the one-two punch of divorce and secret pregnancy. The rest of the episode is simply filling in the blanks of their relationship. Although all of that information is old, the scenes were new. (Big props to hair and makeup, wardrobe, and Jesse Williams’s beard weave. Time travel is real, people.) Let’s take a look at some of the standout moments.
Fortune Cookie Foreplay
Before the “did they have makeup sex or breakup sex” dilemma, you may recall that Jackson agrees to a dinner with April — he wants to talk divorce, she’s trying to reconcile — but it gets cut short. In this scene, we finally see their second attempt at a meal. This time, it’s Chinese takeout at their apartment. Things start off well — Jackson orders extra fortune cookies because he knows they’re April’s favorite — but it quickly devolves into the shouting match they’ve been avoiding.
April feels like Jackson is punishing her for finding her own way of healing after their son’s death. She asks if Jackson’s mad that he wasn’t the thing she needed to get through her grief. Then, he makes sure she knows that he’s mad because she was the thing that he needed — and she abandoned him.
It is tense. Perhaps she knows Jackson is right, but for whatever reason, all April can do is throw fortune cookies at the guy. She wants to learn how to stop fighting. So, he shows her how. With his tongue.
This whole ten-minute scene feels like a one-act play. Jesse Williams and Sarah Drew are perfection in these roles and their chemistry is … off the charts. (That’s a medical pun, you’re welcome.) Anyway, I wanted to stand up and clap after this scene. Partly because I was so happy Jackson finally said his peace, and partly because, well, I never don’t want to cheer when Jackson and April mash faces.
Terrible Things Happen in Nurseries
Jackson and April’s nursery is a place of misery and they should probably never build one ever again. While April is gone, Jackson is left to deal with the loss of Samuel on his own. As we just learned, Jackson isn’t doing well without his wife around. As he dismantles what was meant to be his son’s crib, he loses it. He smashes the crib to pieces, then takes out his aggression on every other piece of furniture in the room.
You’d think that would be the saddest thing to happen in that nursery. You’d be wrong.
We rewind to not long after Samuel’s death. Jackson is attempting to go back to work, and he finds April sitting in the nursery, destroyed. He asks if she wants to go to church together — a huge thing for him, since he’s nonreligious. When she doesn’t respond, he says they can try having another baby. You can tell he so badly just wants to say something, anything, to help his wife. She’s horrified that he’d even suggest another child. They’re both crying at this point, but Jackson has to pull himself together to be strong for April. It is gut-wrenching.
The French Fry Elopement
Hey, remember when April and Jackson were happy? We’ve seen the two of them fleeing from the barn and deciding to elope before, but tonight we are finally treated to what happens immediately afterward. It’s mainly the two of them smiling at each other like idiots and eating french fries. So, yes: It’s heaven.
They also navigate through their first fight. It’s about the importance of religion in April’s life, and the lack of it in Jackson’s. Although they sweetly come to a compromise, we all know this disagreement will plague their relationship from this moment forward.
’That Girl is Weird’
After the hospital shooting, Jackson and April become the last Mercy Westers standing. They form a bond out of circumstance. After passing by the spot where she found Reed dead, April breaks down in front of Jackson. She admits how scared she was — but when she had a gun pointed to her head, the most frightening thing was realizing the boring way she’d lived. She says she doesn’t want to die a virgin.
The two are so uncomfortable around one another, it’s hard to believe that Jackson is punching out Karev to protect April’s honor only a few episodes later. (Sadly, the moment isn’t revisited in this rewind.) As April walks away, Jackson shakes off the awkward by calling April weird. Buddy, you have no idea what you’re in for.
Laughter Is the Best Medicine, Except for Real Medicine:
- That. Group. Dance. Scene.
- “Who died?” Meredith’s perfect response to walking in on the impromptu dance party in the Attendings’ Room. Girl only dances the sad away.
- Charles Percy already got one shout-out, but another couldn’t hurt. Dude only got a few seconds of screen time, but his long list of possible specialties made me laugh. R.I.P., friend!
- April’s flight to Jordan was on an Oceanic Airlines plane. I’ll be looking for 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42 in every Grey’s episode now.
The Sob Scale: 6/10
Regardless of your feelings about the couple of the hour, if you weren’t moved by Jackson’s tears as he watched April sign the divorce papers, may Shonda have mercy on your soul.