Can we talk about Meredith and Alex and the friendship that will always, regardless of how ho-hum an episode is (this one is very ho-hum), bring me all of the joy? Listen, a small part of me will always want Meredith and Alex to end up together forever, but that is my burden to bear. I know, I know, it’s a shame I wear out in the open and you can come at me because I get it but also I can’t change it. We won’t talk about it anymore because tonight it’s all about their glorious friendship.
Jo has finally decided to come back to work, and Alex is worried about it. She looks worn down and is surly and immediately retreats to her lab. Alex still has no idea what’s going on with her. He feels completely helpless. In a truly heartbreaking scene for any longtime Grey’s fan, Alex tells Mer that this all feels too familiar. This is what happens to him: He’s happy with a woman, then she breaks, then she leaves him. It happened with Izzie. With Ava. With Lexie (I mean, this one was more complicated but, okay). It’s what happened with his mom. Alex is scared.
In the moment, Meredith assures her friend that this isn’t the same situation. Jo’s been through worse, and she’ll get through this. She also reminds him that when Mer needs space, he gives it to her. He needs to do the same for Jo. So it sounds like Meredith is telling Alex to just wait it out. But here’s the thing: Meredith sees that her friend is hurting, and she’s not just going to sit around and do nothing. Have you met Meredith Grey, ruiner of Alzheimer’s trials? But Meredith also isn’t going to embarrass Alex or Jo in the process. She’s not going to cause any additional drama (this show loves drama, its heroine does not). Meredith Grey is very stealth, you guys.
It’s Jackson who shows up to Jo’s lab looking for a little assistance with his spray-on-skin project. Jo thinks that Alex must have sent him, but as Jackson reveals later, it was actually Meredith. YOU GUYS. Meredith sent Jackson to help Jo in order to help Alex. In a rather dull episode, I was moved.
Of course, Jackson can’t help the situation much. Even though Jackson was the one who warned her that going after a birth parent might not be the greatest idea and he turned out to be right, Jo doesn’t want to open up to him. She especially doesn’t want to open up once he calls her out for being drunk at work. That water bottle she’s been carrying around all episode? It’s full of vodka. Jo goes on and on about how she took her happiness for granted and now she can never get it back but refuses to offer up details. They end things in a tense moment, with Jackson making sure Jo understands that if she comes back to this hospital drunk again, he won’t be so easy on her. If you thought Jo was spiraling before, this is a new low.
Alex comes home to find her still drinking and is furious. He’s over her pushing him away. If he loves her, he’d leave her alone, she says, but that doesn’t fly with Alex. “We’re not playing that game anymore,” he yells. He even threatens to go to Pittsburgh and find out what happened for himself. Jo snaps. If he ever makes a threat like that again, she tells him, she will leave him. Alex has his own ultimatum: If she shows up to work drunk again, he’ll tell Bailey. Maybe I just have a soft spot for Alex, but I really feel for him here. His wife is in pain and is being self-destructive, and he can’t do anything about it. Yes, Jo is allowed to take her time with this huge revelation, but Alex is entitled to his feelings, too. At this point, what will shake Jo out of this? Okay, now I’m the one who’s scared.
Tragedy is going around Grey Sloan tonight! Nico and Schmitt are scrubbing in together for a fairly simple procedure that is not at all simple to spell: a vertebroplasty! Nico will inject cement into the vertebrae of a healthy 21-year-old guy named Josh in order to stabilize a compression fracture. Nico is being extra arrogant as he preps for interviews with some prestigious ortho programs he’s considering once his fellowship with Link ends. Whenever a doctor is that sure of himself, you know something’s going wrong. So although the cement injection surgery (that’s my technical name for it) goes well, Josh collapses and crashes almost immediately after.
When they open Josh up, they find that some cement has leaked due to a mistake Nico made. He suffers a massive pulmonary-artery embolism and not even Maggie Pierce can save his life. Josh is the grandson of one of Bailey’s regulars, so when she discovers what has happened, she rightfully forces Nico to stand there and listen as she informs the grandfather, Pop-Pop, that Josh is gone. It’s awful! But instead of admitting how upset he is, Nico lashes out at Schmitt. Schmitt’s used to failure because it’s all he does, but Nico’s not. He won’t let this derail him or his dreams of an excellent ortho program. It’s so harsh! What is up with all these awful relationship fights tonight?
At least Webber has a story with a bright spot. Okay, sure, it starts with a patient who has a high heel lodged in her chest, but it works out in the end! This patient is Gemma (hi, Jasmine Guy!), and it turns out that Ollie was also Gemma’s sponsor. The last time Webber saw her she was celebrating 17 years sober, but since Ollie died Gemma’s been a mess, hence the red pump protruding from her chest.
She’s embarrassed and angry and wants nothing to do with Richard. But Richard, who knows how it feels to be lost without Ollie, won’t give up so easily. When Maggie’s called away to handle Nico’s emergency, Richard steps in and performs the surgery on Gemma. When she wakes up, she isn’t thrilled. The two get into an argument about being angry drunks, but it ends with them laughing and reminding themselves to take things day by day. See what I mean? Amid all the arguing and the crying and the Jo numbing her pain with vodka, that qualifies as a nice story!
Laughter Is the Best Medicine, Apart From Real Medicine
• You guys, I know some people out there aren’t exactly on the Merluca train, but come on! They are so happy and flirty, isn’t it nice to see Mer like this? Meredith even tells her kids about DeLuca! That’s a huge step! No longer the “sad man on the couch,” but Mommy’s boyfriend. What a time!
• “Just don’t be Bailey about it.” Wrong advice, Karev. If anything, Bailey being Bailey about things is what keeps this place running.
• There’s one silver lining in the Jo sadness saga: Jackson is inspired by her speech about not taking happiness and love for granted, and so he asks Maggie to move in with him. That blue room does miraculous things!
• Is Owen’s therapist a genius? Using Neuro Emotional Technique, he takes under an hour to figure out that Owen runs away from joy because of his father’s death when Owen was 10 years old. The healing process has begun. Hey, Doc, where were you in season five? HUH?
• I love Tom teasing Amelia for dating “Ortho Barbie,” but Amelia does have a point about Tom getting his hopes up with Teddy when there’s no way it’s going to happen. Tom’s about to inject stem cells into a paralyzed woman (remember Kari from the snowmobile accident?) to give her the use of her arms back, so he’s not scared by things deemed “inevitable.” Sorry, Tommy, the inevitability of Teddy and Owen is beyond science. (Also we’re still waiting to hear how Kari takes to the stem cells, but for her child Toby’s sake, I hope we find out soon!)
• My wish for you is to experience the pure happiness that Bailey exudes upon realizing that a woman who has two uteri is giving birth on a CT machine in her hospital. Bless Avi and her “I didn’t know I was pregnant” story line.
Sob Scale: 3/10
You don’t name a character “Pop-Pop” and have him come in to watch his grandson have surgery if something awful isn’t going to befall this nice, friendly man. Not on this show! Sorry Pop-Pop, your tragedy was written in the Grey’s stars.