Medical conferences are wild, you guys. I mean, yes, it’s beyond bizarre to watch an episode of a show that takes place during a large-scale event where people are encouraged to mix and mingle and fucking shake hands, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I am talking about this specific medical conference. The one where Richard, Maggie, Teddy, and Cormac all head to Los Angeles to represent Grey Sloan and where Richard will present on his cancer PATH pen. This specific medical conference is a legit RIDE. Honestly, we’re going to have to start with the highest high and work our way down to the lowest of lows, because when I tell you things get rough, I am not exaggerating. We must prepare.
Well, praise be: Maggie Pierce finally gets some. And like, a lot of it. She runs into a very handsome man named Winston who happens to be one of her former residents from when she was Chief Resident at Tufts. I don’t know what the hell is in those drinks they’re doling out at the Heart Valve Happy Hour with the reusable heart-shaped straws, but dang, whatever it is gets Winston immediately telling Maggie that he’s always had a thing for her and the two of them up in a hotel room having extremely hot sex. We all could use one of those drinks. Maggie and Winston spend a wonderful night together both in and out of the bed. They are insanely compatible, they’ve both lost their moms to cancer and have been changed by it, and I don’t know, Winston keeps talking about how he made Maggie arch her lower back and, again, I have to know: are all medical conferences like this?
Maggie and Winston answer that question for me: No, definitely not. They are completely taken aback by how strong their feelings are for each other. How right this feels. Winston even says that ever since his mom passed, he’s grown tired of not seizing the moment — especially when the moment feels as good as this one does. And so the next day, right before Richard’s speech, Winston tells Maggie that she should move back to Boston. Or he should move to Seattle. Either way, they should be together. Maggie, woman of spreadsheets and very long lists, needs some time to think it all through. By the end of the episode, we know she’s not going to have much time for contemplating a relationship, but please let this tall and handsome man move to Seattle. We need him there. We deserve this.
You know what we don’t deserve? Whatever fresh hell this Teddy storyline is. Post-Germany Teddy is a completely different character from the Teddy who started off on this show, and the big “reveal” in this episode cements that fact. We learn that Allison, Teddy’s best friend who died in the World Trade Center during the 9/11 attacks, inspiring Teddy to enlist, was… actually Teddy’s secret lover? And they were having an affair while living in the same apartment with Allison’s girlfriend, Claire?? Who was also Teddy’s friend and work colleague??? This storyline is madness when you think about the Teddy we knew in her original stint on Grey’s, but the messy drama certainly tracks with whoever this new Teddy is. Teddy runs into Claire at the conference and it’s around the time Teddy tells Claire that she named her daughter Allison that Claire is finally like, okay, no, HOLD UP with these pretenses. Bless this woman who is not going to let Teddy just glide over the fact that she named her daughter after the woman with whom she had a torrid affair. Because, yes, Claire, that is certainly something we should all talk about. That is A CHOICE.
Anyway, Teddy learns that Claire had her suspicions and those suspicions were confirmed when she got a hold of Allison’s phone records and learned that Allison’s last phone call was to Teddy. Teddy was the love of Allison’s life. This visitor from her past is really there so that Teddy can have an epiphany: It is possible to be in love with two people at once. Allison was in love with both Teddy and Claire and now Teddy is in love with Owen and Tom. Medical conferences, amirite?
Let’s go from wild to heartbreaking, shall we? Okay, great, because on this evening of our doctors running headlong into their pasts, Dr. Cormac Hayes has a run-in with a ghost. The hotel where the conference is taking place is the same one where Cormac met his late wife Abigail, at another conference, long, long ago. We see flashbacks of their relationship in hyperspeed: Their first meeting, Cormac comforting Abigail as she gets a “routine” hysterectomy, Abigail on her deathbed telling Cormac that he should fall in love again, Cormac picking up the pieces of his and his two sons’ lives after Abigail dies. Oh, friends, it is an emotional few minutes. It’s capped off by a truly gut-wrenching detail that comes to light: Back at the conference, Cormac is having drinks with Teddy at the happy hour, when they are approached by a guy representing a medical equipment company. He’s schmoozy and awful, and Cormac knows all about the company he works for — they sell the device that was used on Abigail for her hysterectomy, a device that actually spread her cancer around and made it inoperable. Cormac wants to put a branded pen through the guy’s throat. I mean, he doesn’t, but he really wants to. I have been very lukewarm on Cormac, but now I get the appeal. Even with that insane wig from the flashbacks, which is not easy, let me tell you.
Cormac’s tragic backstory, surprisingly, is not the saddest storyline of the episode. That distinct honor belongs to Richard Webber. Heaven! Help! Us!
Richard’s pretty pumped to be presenting at this conference. He’s even more pumped when Catherine shows up at his hotel room door wanting to talk. She finally apologizes for what she did to him and they make amends. They are in love and it was just a bad fight and they are stronger than that. Even better than all this healing going on, the next morning, Catherine says something that inspires Richard and he excitedly hops back on his computer to rewrite his speech. He’s had a breakthrough!
If you’re starting to think that Richard and Catherine making up so easily after that awful fight and Catherine literally buying a hospital to spite her husband feels off, you are not wrong. While Richard is vigorously rewriting his speech and chatting up his wife, we, the audience, suddenly see that Catherine isn’t actually there. He’s been hallucinating her the entire time. In fact, Catherine is back at Grey Sloan with Jackson and Bailey preparing to watch a livestream of Richard’s speech. Meredith and Zola have popcorn popped and are getting cozy on the couch for it. Everyone is awaiting this momentous occasion!
Richard gets up on stage and things go very, very wrong. He starts talking about how, thanks to his wife (Catherine’s like, who, me?) he has figured out how to cure cancer. He starts going on and on about it, but nothing he’s saying makes sense and the slides he has up on the projector are random sketches and doodles of smiley faces and hearts. It’s excruciating to watch. Finally, Maggie runs up on stage and has Cormac and Teddy call 911 because she can tell something is really wrong. Richard needs to get to a hospital. He doesn’t even recognize his daughter. Catherine, Bailey, and Meredith all watch in horror from afar. Richard Webber is in trouble. We are all unwell over it. Anyway, I guess medical conferences are the worst.