It’s no secret that much of season 17 of Grey’s Anatomy has been a slog — I mean, Meredith was in that COVID coma for 100 years alone! — but the latest installment, “I’m Still Standing,” goes in the complete opposite direction, for better or worse: That’s right, we’re speeding through six weeks in one episode! Why? Probably because we need a whole bunch of plot development that had been missing ahead of next week’s season finale. Onward!
Let’s start with the romance of it all because that feels right and good, doesn’t it? Holy Schmitt, you guys (I won’t apologize for that!). Schmitt and Nico’s relationship has been very up and down since … well, since it started, if I’m being honest. Last time we checked in with them, Schmitt had declared that he needed Nico to make room for him in his life, to be there for him and present in their relationship if it was going to work. Nico, surprising us all, stepped up to the plate and asked Schmitt to move in with him. He was all in, as the kids say. Since that moment, Schmitt has been avoiding his boyfriend. It should be everything he’s wanted, but he’s over waiting to start the vaccine trial he’s been accepted into and literally hiding from the guy he loves.
Over the six weeks of this episode, Schmitt is forced to deal with his feelings for Nico. Does he want to date other people? Like possibly that doctor who is leading the vaccine trial he’s volunteered for, who seems like a very good catch because (1) his face, (2) he is very flirty, and (3) um, hi, you did read the part about him running the COVID-19 vaccine trial, right? Honestly, this doctor is a good catch for No. 3 alone.
By the time Schmitt comes in for his six-week check-in of the trial (he’s feeling fine, by the way), Vax Doc has invited him over to his place for a date. Later, we watch Schmitt knock on an apartment door, but he has not gone to get some hot, COVID safe loving from his new friend — he’s at Nico’s. And buddies, after Schmitt admits that he panicked because he’s simply not used to Nico feeling things on the same level as he is, Nico makes a big, romantic speech about how Schmitt makes him a better person and he wants to take care of him — even watch The Lord of the Rings with him, something he swore he’d never do! “I never want to be without you,” he tells him, revealing that he’s been lighting soothing candles every night in hopes that Schmitt would show up (that seems like a lot of pointless work and this is coming from me, lover of grand gestures). So, Schmitt and Nico are very much back on and it is hot. We needed that!
The other lovebirds wandering around Grey Sloan are, of course, our recently engaged couple, Maggie and Winston. They’re starting to make wedding plans and because of the pandemic, that’s proving difficult. Maggie shuts down every idea Winston has — brainstorming sessions are supposed to be safe spaces, Mags! — and eventually starts talking about how none of this feels right and maybe they should postpone. Winston’s hurt by this but can’t really get a straight answer from Maggie as to what she wants.
By the end of the episode, Maggie finds Winston in the parking lot of the hospital and apologizes. She finally realized that nothing was going to feel perfect about their wedding because she’s missing her mom. She wants her mom to be a part of this and that’s impossible. Winston, who also lost his mother, understands that. Now that Maggie has figured out what’s been going on with her, she wants to get married as quickly as possible. She thinks they should fly out Winston’s nana Ante and her dad right away and have a little wedding ceremony with just their family; the big party can wait. Winston is wholly on board with this plan.
And that’s a good thing because — surprise! — Maggie already flew out nana Ante and Mr. Pierce! They still have to quarantine, but it’s all happening! It’s very dreamy and lovely, and now we’ll get a wedding before the season’s through!
But these six weeks are not just about romance. They are also about Meredith trying to heal from her bout with COVID-19. Bailey is trying to help her through it, but Meredith is frustrated with how little progress she’s making. Just picking her kids up makes her feel exhausted and out of breath. She’s scared that she’ll never be able to operate again if she can’t be on her feet for long. She wants her life back, she tells Bailey.
By the time week six rolls around, however, Mer has a new outlook: Whatever life is going to look like for her down the road, she certainly doesn’t want it to go back to how it was before. Going “back to normal” means nothing has changed, nothing is better. She’s inspired by what Avery and Koracick are doing, and she wants to figure out how to grow and learn and change, too. Bailey has an idea: She wants Meredith to take over the residency program. Webber already has too many jobs (this made me giggle) and Meredith could do this as she works up her stamina. And it means that Mer would be deciding who gets into the program and shaping their curriculum. If she wants to enact change within medicine, this is a way to do it right at Grey Sloan. It’s a way to “make sure this world, our world, doesn’t go back to normal,” Bailey tells her as she tries to sell Mer on the job. But Meredith doesn’t need to be persuaded, it sounds like the perfect job for her and she accepts. From intern to head of the residency program — we love this journey for Meredith Grey.
The O.R. Board
• Well, Amelia’s angsting again. She doesn’t want more kids but Link really, really does. Although this doesn’t seem like a topic you can compromise on, the thought of having to sit through Amelia going through another epic breakup is chilling.
• Part of the reason why Amelia doesn’t want more children in the equation is because she gets obsessed with her patients. Over these six weeks, she’s working on Skyler, a young woman with a brain injury who doesn’t wake up after surgery. After all seems lost, Amelia notices brain activity whenever Skyler hears music. Amelia figures out a way to communicate with Skyler using this brain activity even though Skyler can’t wake from her coma. It’s very cool.
• As Amelia grows more obsessive with this case, Owen is like, “You need to remember that some patients don’t wake up,” and Amelia responds that Skyler is someone’s daughter and since she’s “a mom now” she can’t give up. Uhhh, so was Amelia just giving up on patients before because she wasn’t a mom?? Only moms can really, fully care about their patients?? Amelia is ridiculous.
• Jo applies to be baby Luna’s legal guardian, but her application is denied because she doesn’t pass the background check. When Cormac asks, she won’t go into what, exactly, from her past caused the problem, but she is devastated.
• There’s a very nice story about a patient named Gwen who needs a heart transplant and then pretends to have complications so she can stay in the hospital longer. She lost her husband months before and then her dog Jupiter ran away and it is the saddest little story! Eventually, Webber and Maggie figure out that Gwen’s been faking, she admits everything, and they prepare to send her home. But she has nothing to worry about: Helm, who got close with Gwen over the course of her stay, wants to stay in touch with her and also … Webber went out and tracked down Jupiter! They are reunited just as Gwen is discharged. Little Jupy!