Oh, Japril shippers, have you come back down from that high you’ve been riding since learning two weeks ago that our, let’s call it improbable, dream of a reunion between Jackson and April as a romantic couple came true? Although nothing would be more of a balm to my weary soul than a hot Japril hookup after all this time, I’m glad Grey’s Anatomy didn’t push it too far and go there too fast — they’re both single, in Boston together, and have never quite fit with another person the way they do each other, so, we know. And while “Look Up Child” offered us a nice emotional close to the character of Jackson Avery, “Tradition” is the real deal: Dr. Jackson Avery spends the episode saying good-bye to his friends and then finally peacing out from that glorious death trap that is Grey Sloan Memorial, at peace with his decision and eager to get started on the next thing.
There’s nothing too revelatory in Jackson’s good-byes to the doctors most important to him, but they were all nice little homages to these relationships, and as an audience member from the beginning, all the clips from Grey’s-gone-by never fail to get me a little misty-eyed. He thanks Bailey and Webber for being examples of the kind of human, parent, and doctor he wanted to be when his own father failed so miserably. He thanks Jo for being a friend and for the hot sex. His good-bye with Meredith acknowledges both the bond they had over knowing what it’s like to have a last name with so much baggage and pressure and legacy, and the fact that they were the final two left from their residency year, and now it’ll be just Meredith. The Meredith/Jackson friendship was one that was always hinted at but never quite fully developed, but this scene — complete with tears! — was a nice little moment. It was all nice! Maybe we’ve just been worn down by the absolute dreariness of this season of Grey’s Anatomy, but it really was refreshing to find a whole bunch of story lines infused with hope and happiness. Who knew!
Speaking of, Meredith went home this week. Soon, that godforsaken beach will be a distant memory! She’s looking good, her tests are all great, and the doctors have no reason to keep her at the hospital any longer. Most of her exit story is about her wanting to avoid the “surprise” clap-out the hospital is planning for her and Bailey and Webber tiptoeing around telling Mer that DeLuca is dead. When they finally do, she looks upset for maybe five seconds and then informs them that DeLuca is okay because he’s with his mother now, remembering their good-bye on the beach. And that’s it! Dang, Mer! That’s cold. I mean, thankfully the episode sneaks in that moment between Jo and Carina — Jo is officially in pink scrubs and a resident on Carina’s service — in which Jo, knowing that Carina is headed to Italy to help out at a hospital there and spread her brother’s ashes, tells her how wonderful DeLuca was and that she’s “incredibly grateful” to have known him. It’s lovely! And also quite deserved since Andrew DeLuca did almost get beaten to death trying to help Jo, but like, come on, show, that should’ve been a conversation between Carina and Meredith, you know, the woman Andrew loved until the very end. DeLuca has been done so dirty!
After that anticlimactic reveal with Meredith, she gets Jackson to sneak her out of the hospital and drive her home without having to go through the fanfare of the clap-out. And then she’s home and in a group hug with her kids and it’s all such a sigh of relief, isn’t it?
There are other points of joy in this episode, including the patient story this week. A pregnant woman from the Suquamish tribe named Mary Ann comes in with her grandfather, who recently had COVID-19 and has now seemingly suffered a stroke. He’s an elder in their tribe and a language carrier. As both Mary Ann and Intern Chee, who is Navajo, explain to Tom, COVID-19 has hit Native American populations hard and Mary Ann cannot lose her grandfather and their tribe cannot lose yet another one of its leaders. Tom has it under control. But, of course, Mary Ann goes into premature labor, which makes the stakes much higher!
Our new OB team, Carina and Jo, eventually help Mary Ann deliver little Rosie into the world. And her grandfather comes out of his stroke just fine thanks to Tom and a big assist from Intern Chee, who was “raised by a family of healers” and performs a smudging ceremony over Mr. Lawrence. Everyone’s okay, people! Today is not a day for sadness at Grey Sloan!
It is, however, a day for taking stock of how the pandemic has changed people. When Mr. Lawrence meets little Rosie over video chat, he tells her that one day she’ll get to tell the story of her birth, how she was born in a time of great “devastation” but that it led to “a time of great resilience and change.” And that she brought “an abundance of joy” with her when she arrived. It’s a moving speech regardless, but it hits Tom especially hard. Throughout the episode, he’s watched as Helm has burned out, learns that Jo had enough of surgery and so made a huge change in her career, and then after this speech, he’s heard enough. He meets up with Jackson and explains to him that his experience with COVID has changed him. During his time in the hospital, he had six roommates who all died. He was the only white guy in the bunch and he was the only one that survived and he needs to do something about that. He heard about Jackson’s plans for the Fox Foundation and he wants in on the fight to change systemic racism in the health-care system. He doesn’t care what the job is, what his title will be, or how much money is involved — he simply wants to help, to be a true ally. “Let me be worthy of being spared,” he tells Jackson. Jackson hires him right there.
So we aren’t saying good-bye to just one doctor tonight — Tom Koracick is headed to Boston, too. Don’t completely despair, Tom fans: Greg Germann might be leaving Grey’s Anatomy as a series regular, but it seems he’ll be back for some guest-star stints in the future, so this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Tom Koracick. Still, Grey’s Anatomy is really shedding cast members this season, huh?
The O.R. Board
• Can we just talk about how I’m already tearing up at the thought of Richard officiating Maggie and Winston’s wedding? He was so sad coming to them apologizing for assuming he’d be invited and worried he was stepping on toes, only to be so moved to hear that of course Maggie’s dad will be walking her down the aisle, but that they all couldn’t think of a better person to marry them. My wish for them is a devastatingly romantic wedding.
• Wait, so there’s not even one final moment between Jackson and Maggie? After all we’ve been through watching those ding-dongs? Remember the killer fog???
• Link’s so cute thinking he’ll ever get to move out of Meredith’s house and find some peace and quiet with Amelia and Scout. It turns out to be Owen who has to explain that the pull of that house and of the sister bond is so strong he’s never fully getting out of there. Even Winston, who is new to these parts, can see Owen’s not making that up. “You’re making it sound like a coven,” Link says. Exactly, Link. Exactly.
• The Helm stuff feels like a parallel to what this episode of Grey’s is doing as a whole — it’s a bridge from the depressing mud we’ve been trudging through to something more hopeful, more like how things used to be. For Helm, we find her almost zombielike, so emotionally and physically spent from everything being a doctor during the pandemic has asked of her and she confides in Schmitt that all she can think about is walking away from medicine; she hates it now. But Schmitt sits by her side and seeing his best friend suffering so much, offers her a lifeline: She should move in with him (and Jo). No one should be alone through this. Her relief is palpable. For the first time in a long time, she feels lighter and hopeful.
• Wow, okay, so Owen and Teddy are having lots of sex in the on-call room now? And … smiling? What in the actual world?