You know who has it just as bad as the doctors at Grey Sloan? The nurses. They may have it worse!
Even though nurses basically keep a hospital running, they get very little airtime on Grey’s Anatomy. When they do get featured, they either (a) get syphilis (hi, Nurse Olivia); (b) get dicked around by a surgeon with perfect hair until he realizes he already met the love of his life and Derek what are you even doing dating someone besides Meredith (Nurse Rose, you deserved better); (c) get forced into participating in a musical episode and then kicked to the curb (come back to us, Nurse Eli); or (d), show up and are immediately hilarious and kind of a well-developed character for being in all of three scenes and then DIE. Option (d) is what befalls dear, sweet, 28-weeks pregnant Nurse Frankie. In conclusion: Don’t ever take a nursing job at Grey Sloan.
Grey’s eased in the Nurse Frankie character, having her pop in here and there to say something funny and get us to recognize her face. Since she’s played so endearingly by Friday Night Lights’ Stacey Oristano (#TexasForever), I knew some drama was afoot, but honestly, I figured she’d be around, popping in and out, for a while. Instead, Frankie is merely used to push Webber’s post-Ollie despair to new depths. You see, Webber hired Frankie straight out of nursing school. He watched her kick ass and take names and eventually grow into a leadership position at the hospital. They are friends. He’s attached.
We only learn about their relationship for about three minutes before Frankie suffers some intense pain and it all goes to shit, but again, Oristano is so good in this role that I completely bought into their entire history. Webber discovers Frankie has wandering spleen, which sounds cute and whimsical but IT IS NOT. Due to this condition, her spleen has twisted itself and is cutting off her blood supply. He wants to operate, but Frankie says relax, I’m sorry, no — there’s a chance it could work itself out and she’s only 28 weeks pregnant. She wants to protect her baby. She then launches into this whole speech about how her life didn’t work out exactly how she wanted it to, so she decided to have a baby, and with the costs of IVF, this baby — this little pancake she calls him, so we can all cry about it later — is her only shot. They wait it out and things seem to be getting better. Until they’re not.
Webber and Karev get Frankie in the OR and are forced to deliver the baby, but even after removing Frankie’s spleen, she continues to bleed. She crashes and there is nothing they can do to save her. When Webber has to call “time of death,” his voice cracks — he can’t say the words — and we’re all blubbering like the entire hallway full of nurses mourning their friend. It’s just, like, a super fun time for everyone involved.
But you guys: We’re only halfway through the episode! There’s more trauma to be had! Webber is so distraught that he finally brings himself to attend an AA meeting, his first since Ollie died. He sits through a woman talking about a bar that trades shots for sobriety chips — you get a shot for every year you were sober — which should be illegal, but he can’t sit there for long. Webber leaves the meeting and … ends up at that “chips for shots” bar. He hands in his eight-years-sober chip, the bartender lines up eight shots of vodka, we’re all collectively holding our breath … but Richard doesn’t drink. Instead, he takes back his chip, promptly grabs a bat from behind the bar, and starts smashing the place to bits. He screams at the bartender for doing this to people who are suffering, and then he just screams. Richard Webber. Our Richard Webber. He’s in serious pain. Can someone give this man a hug? Can I?
At the end of the episode, Meredith gets a call from Webber — he’s been arrested and he needs help. That’s an understatement! But Meredith can’t help at the moment, since she’s on a secret trip to Los Angeles with Tom Koracick. As it so happens, both of them were summoned there by Richard’s wife, who’s opening a Catherine Fox Foundation Medical Center and has a VIP patient with an insane spinal tumor for them to look at. It’s a beast. You know the patient is Catherine before she even says the words. Honestly, if a main character makes it out of this show without having a major medical emergency, it will be a miracle.
Tom and Meredith perform the biopsy and all that’s left to do is wait and see whether they’re dealing with cancer or not. And if it is cancer, if it’s the bad kind or the really bad kind. I mean, you know which way this is heading, you’ve seen this show before. But the three doctors wait, Catherine and Tom harmonize like they used to in the good ol’ days (I’m so glad Tom is still around), and Catherine admits that part of the reason she asked Meredith here was to help her manage Richard — Catherine fears he won’t be able to handle more trauma.
And yes, we learn that Catherine has grade-three chondrosarcoma (the aforementioned “really bad” kind) and it can only be treated with surgery — a dangerous surgery that could leave her paralyzed or dead. But we learn some other things, too: We learn that Tom loves Catherine deeply. She saved his life when he was in a depression after his son died. She is his dear friend. We learn that he has no idea how to save Catherine and he’s scared. We learn that Catherine is a fierce babe who has survived a whole ton of terrible things, so she can survive a little bit of cancer. Just kidding, we already knew that last thing.
Now Catherine has to tell her husband and her son, neither of whom are in the best headspace to handle this news.
Maggie discovers that Jackson’s texting with both April and a woman he met at a monastery. (Anyone else roll their eyes?) He’s able to open up to both of them in a way he can’t with Maggie because she refuses to open up to him. I mean, we all remember the milk incident.
The two have it out and eventually Maggie admits that she knows she’s emotionally stunted and doesn’t know how to catch up to Jackson, who’s basically lived seven emotional lives at this point what with all the suffering he’s gone through. She makes an attempt: Jackson tells her that although he is insanely in love with her, he’s still grieving over everything he’s lost. For him, that most definitely includes coming to terms with the fact that his marriage ended because he and April couldn’t agree on God, but now that’s changed, and yet, it’s too late to go back (because Grey’s Anatomy wrote his soul mate off the show by having her marry someone else and no, I’LL NEVER BE OVER IT).
Maggie takes it in, but almost immediately starts crying. She can’t do this kind of intimacy and so she gets the hell out of there. She leaves Jackson by himself, to drink out of a rocks glass while staring at a fire, which is man-code for “I’m sad, now.” Oh, Jackson, you have no idea how sad you’re about to get.
Laughter Is the Best Medicine, Apart From Real Medicine
• Hmm, interesting that the best episode of the season so far completely leaves out anything having to do with Amelia and Owen and their teen drug addict stowaway. INTERESTING.
• Koracick: “I’m not one to kiss and tell.” Meredith: “That’s literally all you do.” These two are going to be working together a lot and that is a very good thing.
• For those who don’t watch Station 19, I feel it’s my duty to alert you to the fact that last week on that show, Bailey told Ben she needed a break from their marriage and asked him to move out of the house for the time being. It was all extremely sad and didn’t make a lot of sense, but you should watch their scenes if only to see Ben rush back through the front door to plant a big swoony kiss on Bailey before leaving. Take that man back now, Bailey!
• “If you knew my history on planes, you would not be making jokes.”
Sob Scale: 6/10
James Pickens Jr., you guys.