Ah yes, another glorious day at Grey Sloan Memorial, the place where everything is truly terrible. The new, fun problem is a ventilator shortage. At the start of the hour, Webber informs his doctors there are only five left. As soon as the show introduces a mother and daughter pair who both have COVID, you just know there’s going to be a situation where they’re down to one vent and the doctors will have to decide who to save. We’ve been doing this for 17 seasons, we know how this show works. Now, as dire as that sounds, I’m happy to report that this episode includes some actual moments of joy and … dare I say, some hope? And, oh yeah, there is definitely some dancing. I’m not convinced we’re out of the deep, dark hole yet, but here, in this episode at least, there is a little light at Grey Sloan Memorial. And that’s something.
Hey, speaking of Grey Sloan: The two people that name is meant to memorialize are on Meredith’s Death Beach this week! Yes that’s right, both the Grey and the Sloan of Grey Sloan have arrived. Last week’s promo showed us that Lexie would be visiting Meredith in her COVID limbo, but we were doubly blessed with the arrival of McSteamy himself. Oh, friends, I was very happy to see the Grey sisters together again (even if that green screen situation was outrageous) but wow, I really miss Mark Sloan on this show. He’s one of the greats!
Meredith is happy to soak up the sun and watch Lexie and Mark be together and happy on that beach, but really they’re there to remind Meredith of a few lessons that deep down she already knows: Do not waste the precious time you’re given, and the “depth of the grief” she feels for those she’s lost is only possible because of the “depth of the love” that was there in the first place. If anyone has earned the right to reiterate the importance of those lessons to Meredith, it’s Lexie and Mark. They’re the Grey’s poster children for the importance of making every moment count and being grateful for the time you get with the people you love. Mark and Lexie’s tragic ending haunts all of us and it should haunt Meredith right back into the Land of the Living, okay? This is a nice treat, but for the love of all things in this world, it’s really time to get off that dang beach.
Back in that Land of the Living, they’re thinking about taking Meredith off of her vent because her stats have been so good, but they know they have to be absolutely sure she’s ready; there might not be another ventilator available if things go downhill again.
The ventilator situation is bleak. Maggie is in charge of both Marcella and Veronica, a mother/daughter pair who have COVID. Originally, Marcella was in the hospital and Veronica was at home with a milder case, but that doesn’t last long and Veronica is rushed to the hospital. Before Marcella takes a turn, she uses all of her strength to tell both Maggie and Schmitt that they do whatever they have to in order to save her daughter. Of course, over in Veronica’s room, she’s telling them that this is all her fault — after following all the rules, she went to see her mother for her birthday and gave her a hug, one hug — and they have to save her mother. It’s all pretty awful to watch. Then, Marcella crashes and Schmitt has no choice but to intubate, only, when Maggie arrives at the scene it’s clear there’s no ventilator available. There’s no ventilator because Veronica’s oxygen levels are also plummeting. Maggie has a split second to decide who gets the vent and since the rules are that you have to save the patient most likely to recover, Maggie gives the last ventilator to Veronica. Schmitt is left bagging Marcella until they can figure out what to do. It’s a desperate situation.
Maggie feels the brunt of it. In the midst of all the awfulness, she’s been trying to take breaks to be with Winston, her only source of joy at the moment, who is about to leave and go back to Boston. They sit together, they share his earbuds to listen to music together, they talk about how good it is to have each other. Then, inspired by sharing earbuds, Maggie gets an idea: They can have patients share the ventilators (there’s a lot of engineering and filtering behind it) by splitting them between two people. They’ll double the amount of vents they have. They try it on Marcella and Veronica and it works. Webber does a celebratory dance. Yes, a dance! This is a win worth dancing over. Their patients are still on a vent, which isn’t great, but this is a moment of hope and relief — something our doctors haven’t felt in a long time.
Can we give it up for our mother/daughter intern duo? Alma and Sara Ortiz have been working on this case, too, and obviously it hits home. That moment of relief means they can fully feel what they’ve been stuffing down and daughter intern Sara breaks down into tears — she needs to hug her mom. There are some emotional moments in this story line, but this one takes top prize.
But wait, there’s another reason to dance: Owen and Webber decide to take Meredith off her ventilator and although she isn’t conscious, she is breathing on her own. This is huge. Webber leads them all in a celebratory dance once more. What a day!
Maggie is certainly feeling the high of it as she and Winston leave the hospital. In fact, she is so inspired by what they accomplished and so inspired by what she and Winston can do together, she doesn’t hesitate to tell him that she doesn’t want him to go back to Boston. She wants him here with her. Winston asks her to listen to one more song with him before he goes. He takes out his earbud case. You guuuuuuys, there aren’t earbuds inside — there’s a big fat engagement ring! Winston proposes! Maggie says yes! They cannot live without each other! There is joy at Grey Sloan Memorial again, even if only for a moment.
The O.R. Board
• Beach Mark Sloan is very into haunting his loved ones and honestly, that tracks. The fact that he likes to hang out and watch Sofia, Callie, and Arizona and sometimes try to talk to them is a little creepy, but the idea is so bittersweet it might break my heart. All Mark wanted was to be a father and have a family and now he’s just watching them from beyond the grave?! Anyway, it was nice that the dirty mistresses got to have some one-on-one time to chat.
• When Beach Mark tells Meredith that “when you love someone, you tell them” I really thought we were going to get the full Mark Sloan “say it loud and go from there” speech. Alas, alas.
• Cristina texting Owen and demanding he send her photos of Meredith’s monitors because she doesn’t trust him to do his job was perfect.
• Teddy is still recovering from the Episode We Will Never Speak of Again and instead of leaving her alone with the kids for the day, Owen has Teddy and the kids go hang out with Amelia. The ladies talk about therapy and how Teddy should try it again. It’s fine.
• Cormac’s sister-in-law Irene is admitted to the hospital with kidney stones. It’s extra-complicated because she also has MS. Obviously this all hits Cormac hard — he can’t watch his sons lose someone else they love. He can’t lose someone else he loves. So, he pulls some strings and gets Catherine Fox to perform the surgery (yes, friends, there are surgeries on Grey’s Anatomy again!), along with Jo. There are complications, but if anyone can handle it, it’s Catherine. Irene will recover in no time.
• Irene brings up Cormac’s developing feelings for Meredith, which feels like a story line from decades ago. But do we sense a possible Cormac/Jo thing going on? They’ve been spending a lot of time together at work and I don’t hate it.
• To end on one more moment of joy: Owen heads to Amelia’s and gets to tell Zola the good news about her mom. When Amelia thanks Owen for everything he’s done for her sister, he says all the credit goes to Teddy. She’s the one who never gave up hope that Meredith would come out of this thing. They smile? Nature is healing!