At one point in “No Time for Despair” DeLuca tells Bailey, who is attempting to keep working even though she hasn’t even started to process the loss of her mother, that she needs to take more than a minute to feel her grief. She needs to rest or break something or yell. In the end, Bailey tells DeLuca that she chose to scream into a pillow and it was at least temporarily helpful. Friends, all I wanted to do during this entire episode was scream into a pillow. It’s the winter finale — Grey’s Anatomy won’t return until March — and things at Grey Sloan Memorial are bleak as hell.
As if the crush of COVID-19 patients wasn’t enough, as if Meredith Grey’s life hanging in the balance wasn’t enough, Grey’s Anatomy is gonna go and do us all dirty and bring Opal back? OPAL?? The woman who is running a sex trafficking ring in Seattle?? The woman who DeLuca called out last season when she brought in her “niece,” but because he was in the middle of a manic episode and people were just beginning to notice his untreated bipolar disorder they dismissed him? We are already suffering and now this bish is back? Opal?!
Here’s the deal: This story line is carried over from Station 19’s winter finale in which our intrepid firefighters were off-duty and came to the assistance of a distraught woman, Joyce, who had tracked her missing daughter and her daughter’s friend, Jada and Shanice, to a man’s house. She knows he kidnapped them but no one believes her and the whole scene spirals out of control fast and eventually Jada and Shanice set a fire in the basement so people will know they’re there. They’re rescued but the monster of a man who kidnapped them says they broke into his house and a racist-ass cop sides with the kidnapper and the whole thing gets extremely intense and is deeply upsetting and if you’ve been on the fence about Station 19, you should maybe not be on the fence anymore and just dive in.
Anyway, the girls arrive at Grey Sloan and, because Seattle Pres has reached capacity, the kidnapper, Bob, does too. When the doctors hear the whole story they are understandably upset. It hits Maggie hard. She’s been nearing her breaking point for some time as she tries to process how this virus is killing Black people at a devastating rate and people aren’t taking it seriously. Then hearing about how these two Black girls were treated as if they were disposable, as if they were not actually the victims here, and knowing that this is far too common, well, Maggie is outraged. She’s outraged by a world where this is allowed to happen and she’s outraged that more people aren’t outraged. “If COVID were killing white people at the rate that it is killing Black people, you better believe that everyone would be wearing masks because it would be the damn law,” she tells Amelia.
At least by the end of it Maggie gets a reprieve from her sorrow: As she is drinking away her anger and helplessness at her hotel, there’s a knock at the door. It’s Winston! He’s over the long-distance thing. When an exhausted Maggie falls into his arms, weeping, she is all of us.
Back at the hospital, our old pal Opal has shown up, pretending to have been mugged so she can get inside and keep tabs on Bob. She’s on the phone with someone she’s working with in this sex-trafficking ring and they’re trying to figure out how much information Bob has given up. She has several close calls with DeLuca, who she knows will recognize her, but it’s not until she’s in the parking lot trying to make her escape that he finally spots her. He tells Carina that he’s not going to let this woman get away again — he’s going to follow her. Well, Carina isn’t going to let her little brother get into trouble, so she’s driving. And so the hot Italian siblings take off after the leader of a sex-trafficking ring without alerting anybody and I fear for their safety. ESPECIALLY because DeLuca just spent the whole episode showing us how well he’s doing and how he’s turned his life around — he even gets closure with Bailey, who is just so proud of him for how he’s managing his mental health. You know the point when characters have resolved their issues is when we should worry about their well-being. Do not hurt DeLuca, Grey’s!
Let’s see, what else is awful? Oh, hey, remember how when Mark Sloan was in that plane crash and he had all those internal injuries and things looked grim but then he suddenly was doing so much better and Webber was like, oh no, this is “the surge” and he’s going to crash and then he did and he died and it was awful and sometimes I still tear up thinking about how he didn’t get to hold Sofia one last time? Well, we get to revisit that time in our lives with the newest developments in the Meredith saga. Fun, right?
Meredith wakes up and suddenly her stats are looking much better. She seems like she is recovering! She is laughing! They are talking about when she might be able to go home! Tom Koracick — who, wow, will make you cry in this episode as you watch him take in the carnage and devastation this virus is causing — is basing his own COVID recovery on how Meredith is doing, so when he hears she’s up, he has some hope.
He sneaks into her room to talk to her because he “wants to be in a room where no one’s dying,” he tells her. Tom and Meredith have never been particularly friendly, but they’ve been through it now and might be the only two people at the moment who can comfort each other. Their scenes in this episode are so good. They have some banter about who is the best surgeon and they talk about missing their kids and they try to keep things light, but in the background there are codes being called and bodies being taken out. There’s no escaping what’s going on around them.
Tom’s going to be devastated soon, because after he leaves, Meredith is in her bed and sees that her neighbor across the hall is flatlining and the code team isn’t anywhere to be found. You guys, this woman gets up out of her bed, scurries across the hall, and starts doing compressions!! She was just on the Beach of Death and now she is intubating a patient!! Also, she is breaking, like, all of the protocols!! It’s insane and you know things are going to go south even before she collapses in the hallway.
Meredith’s lungs are at “a breaking point,” Teddy tells Webber, Amelia, and Bailey. It’s time to go to the last resort: Putting Meredith on a ventilator. Teddy knows it’s a scary progression, but reminds them that the survival rate of people going on a ventilator has been improving. Also, there’s nothing else left to do for Meredith. This is the only way to keep her alive. So Webber agrees. And we watch as Meredith Grey is put on a ventilator. She might be sitting on that peaceful beach now, taking in some vitamin D, but everyone else is very, very worried.
The O.R. Board
• Honestly, bless Webber for finally telling Teddy to stop being such a Sad Sack, own her culpability in her current situation, and maybe examine why she blew up her life in such a spectacular fashion. We’d be lost without Richard Webber! This leads Teddy to finally telling Owen that she and Allison weren’t just friends they were in love and Owen’s like, okay, cool so I’ve never really known who you are and also we named our daughter after a lie. That boy is mad!
• Jackson’s speech to Jada, who kept apologizing for allowing herself to get catfished by Bob, hit hard. He tells her that she’s a kid and she made a mistake and now she gets to learn from it. What Bob did wasn’t a mistake. We hate him, not her. Jackson, you beautiful human!
• Remember when Owen told that monster Bob that he was “the devil’s barbeque?” Like, what the fuck?
• Okay, but seriously: That whole situation with DeLuca telling Bailey that she’s a superhero and Bailey telling DeLuca she’s proud of him and DeLuca telling Bailey he’s lucky “he’s surrounded by people who didn’t give up on [him]” really got me misty-eyed there for a second.
• Jo almost tells Webber about how she’s contemplating leaving surgery to become an O.B. Schmitt is still trying to talk her out of it. She knows it could just be a reaction to the pandemic, but she also knows that whenever she thinks about quitting surgery she feels joy. You gotta choose joy when you can, people!