What a time to be alive and also watching Grey’s Anatomy! Nineteen seasons into this whole dramatic, romantic, messy thing and somehow, against all odds, it’s the newest batch of characters that is the biggest draw. Listen, we’re only in the early days of our five young interns, but so far, if we’re talking about compelling story lines, they are doing circles around the established characters this season. If this trend holds up, there should be studies done on how Grey’s rebooted itself without ever having to go off the air. It could still all crash and burn — oh, we know what show we’re watching — but right now there’s nothing but potential, and that is really exciting.
Simone and Lucas give me hope for the future. There, I said it. Holy hell, these two are so hot together! There, I said it again! Grey’s Anatomy has needed to get back to its sexy, flirty, romantic days of yore, and Simone and Lucas are single-handedly (I’m really proud of this pun, if you know, you know) delivering it unto us. That scene against the door?! I was actually sweating, okay? Sweating! You’ll recall that last week, just as these two were about to give into all the sexual tension and longing (God, I love longing), they arrived home to find Trey, Simone’s ex-fiancée, standing there, waiting to woo her back. The next night, Simone, Mika, and Lucas are throwing a big house party, and Simone and Trey are spending a lot of it up in her room arguing. Fun, right? It’s especially fun for Lucas, who just likes Simone so, so much. It’s very cute. Uncle Derek would be proud, I think.
As Simone puts it, her last residency program (where she met and fell in love with Trey) treated her like garbage. There was racism and sexism, and when she spoke up about it — when she had that breakdown we saw video proof of — they booted her from the program. Trey did nothing to stop it or even just support her — apparently, he didn’t even notice she was in so much pain. He’s a self-described snob and ambitious to a fault, and he didn’t want to risk his reputation at the hospital. When Simone was kicked out of the program, she figured it would be easier to just leave that entire chunk of her life behind. But you can’t just turn off feelings when you want. Feelings are nothing if not inconvenient. So when Trey apologizes and tells her he loves her and he regrets not running after her sooner, Simone can’t help but hear him out. Thankfully for us, Trey is still a real ass and still thinks that if Simone had just been “calm and collected,” or if she goes back and apologizes, they wouldn’t be in this mess.
Simone runs off, angry. Lucas, who watches this all go down, follows her upstairs to make sure she’s okay. Then he launches into this speech about how perfect she is and how the angrier she gets, the smarter she is, and the whole thing is surprising and sweet and an indication that Lucas really sees Simone. Of course she runs over to him and grabs his face and they start undressing up against the door. Of course she does! We’re all but mere mortals, you know? Grey’s Anatomy then proceeds to give us truly a peak moment for fictional love triangles, because on one side of the bedroom door, Trey is standing there declaring his undying love for Simone, and on the other side of the door … Lucas has to delicately remove his hand from Simone’s jeans. That’s a complicated love triangle right there, folks. It’s clear that Trey loves Simone, but what Lucas wants to know is if she still loves Trey. He doesn’t ask it with anger or annoyance, he’s mostly just sad about the whole thing because Simone’s hesitation to answer that question — “Do you love him?” — is the answer.
Out in the backyard, in front of the entire party, Trey decides it’s the perfect time to repropose to Simone. He calls her his “favorite person.” She squeaks out a yes — but it’s only after a quick glance at Lucas, whose heart is breaking. The next day at rounds, Simone’s wearing the ring, but come on, there’s no way she makes it down that aisle.
Not all of the interns can attend the big house party: Kwan and Jules are left to work in the ICU all night. Kwan is on Maggie’s service — they’re prepping for a procedure on a very nice part-time art teacher named Natalia with esophageal cancer. Natalia and her husband, Elliott, have been through a lot already, and it’s clear that they’re carrying a huge financial burden from Natalia’s health issues. Kwan clocks it right away. When Natalia starts seizing and the good doctors realize her cancer has metastasized to her brain and she’ll need a craniotomy, the couple really starts freaking out. Natalia is bereft: Even if she survives the surgery, they’ll be in a wild amount of debt, and if she dies, well, she’ll be leaving her husband to deal with all of those money issues. Kwan, seeing them spiral, doesn’t hesitate to give them advice: They should get a divorce. It sounds crazy but “medical divorce” is a thing. This way, they’ll no longer have a joint income or joint assets, and Natalia might qualify for more insurance or Medicaid, and if she does die, Elliott won’t be left with all of her debt.
It is enraging, to say the least, that this is what it takes for people to get the care they need. (The American health-care system stays winning!) Kudos to Grey’s, though — in recent seasons especially, the show has had a tendency to get preachy when tackling topical issues, but this is done with a gentler hand and is well tied to character, which always makes these story lines work better. We learn that the reason Kwan is so desperate to help Natalia and Elliott, even after Maggie kicks him off the case for being “inappropriate,” is because he knows how it feels to be drowning in medical bills. When his mother got sick, it was left to him to take out credit cards and scrape together money to pay her bills. He’s still in a wild amount of debt because of it. “Every time I get a bill, it feels like a noose around my neck. Forgive me for not wanting to put someone else through that,” he spits at Maggie when she begins to lecture him again.
Natalia and Elliott decide to get the divorce — we even get a little divorce ceremony with divorce vows, which sounds cheesy and is a little cheesy, but it’s also quite sweet — and Natalia survives the brain surgery. They still have a ways to go, but thanks to Kwan, some of the stress has been lifted. Is Kwan becoming the most interesting new intern? I don’t know! I can’t choose!
Now, compare those story lines with whatever the hell that dinner with Teddy, Owen, Bailey, and Ben was. For nine episodes, Teddy and Owen have been at each other’s throats without any type of forward momentum. Let them get worse or let them get better, but please, for the love of Shonda, let them do something! Things are already tense between these four since Allison has once again bitten Pru in day care. They try to avoid talking about their kids, but when they start chatting about work, that only sets off Teddy and Owen. Owen makes digs at Teddy for complaining about her new chief of surgery gig; Teddy can’t stop bringing up Owen’s suspended medical license. Finally, Bailey points out that maybe the reason their daughter has taken to biting other kids is because her home is full of this kind of tension and anger — Teddy and Owen are constantly taking swipes at one another, and that has to affect the other people in the house at some point. And yet still, after that hard truth, Teddy and Owen still can’t bring themselves to have an actual conversation with each other.
Grey’s Anatomy is quick to contrast their marriage with Bailey and Ben’s. On the way home, Ben admits to feeling resentful about Bailey going back to work. Sure, she is prioritizing her family and delegating work, but Ben can’t help how he feels. At least Ben is self-aware enough to know that this makes him sound like an ass. They don’t solve this issue right then and there, and surely it will take a few more conversations, but at least they’re vocalizing what’s wrong. It’s called communication, folks, and Teddy and Owen could use a little bit of it.
The OR Board
• Uh-oh: It’s never good when someone is questioning whether a rough patch is temporary or a signal of a much bigger, more permanent problem, and that’s exactly what Maggie is doing in regards to her marriage.
• Link is hiding out at the hospital since he’s getting egged on in the street (I’m surprised he’s not getting more serious threats?) by Jermaine Talbott fans, and he winds up helping Jo deliver a patient’s baby. There’s a whole bit afterward in which Jo is talking to Amelia about how wonderful and selfless Link was, and Amelia is basically like, just get with the guy already, would you?! I’ve never agreed with Amelia Shepherd more.
• Oh, okay, Mika and Helm are continuing to flirt, and it is great. Hook up already!
• Schmitt meets a very nice travel nurse named Carlos, and they make out on the front porch. Good for him! He really needs this.
• I’m also super into this budding friendship between Mika and Lucas. She noticed the sexual tension between Lucas and Simone right away, and in the battle for Simone’s heart, she has declared herself to be Team Skywalker. Plus, she gets a sad-sack Lucas up and dancing in the living room, which is a precursor to all great Grey’s Anatomy friendships if there ever was one.