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‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 12, Episode 9: Best And Worst Moments

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ returned from hiatus with an overall well done, even moving, episode! We are all #MeredithStrong.

Going into the premiere, I was skeptical. The promos were all about the brutal attack on Meredith by a patient, and there were all kinds of reasons to be upset with this kind of set up. The pervading feeling was that Mer has been through enough! Sure, she manages to overcome it and there’s some real human aspects to her journey so far, but why can’t she catch a break? Seriously, I’m actually asking, Shonda, why?!

I take issue with episodes like this because we’ve seen this formula before. Meredith sticks her hand in a guy’s chest cavity that also might explode. Meredith faces a gunman. Meredith survives a plane crash. Meredith loses person after person, but she is the sun. And if we look directly at her, we might affect our eyesight over time because she also must be some kind of demigod.

If for no other reason, it’s because these experiences affect her for a total of whatever amount is left in that season, until something or someone new comes along. And then they just become a part of her collective history from intern to head of general surgery at Grey Sloan Memorial. And this mid-season premiere seemed to be pumping up the episode for just that sort of classic Grey’s drama.

Ellen Pompeo as Dr. Meredith Grey in Grey’s Anatomy Photo: ABC Gif: mcnuggetshepherd via Tumblr

The problem with this type of storytelling is that Grey is the title character. And so, especially given the events of last season, no one is safe except Grey. Now, maybe if Lexie were still alive to carry on the name things would be different, but she’s not and many of us are not over it either. So Grey soldiers on. And we watch, knowing full well that she will survive to practice medicine another day. Changed for this season and then it’s only a matter of time before something else just as terrible happens.

And so yes, we turned on the show 12 years ago, knowing that when the “Code Black” episode came around after the Super Bowl that year, we would not be losing Meredith Grey. We watched anyway because there was something compelling about this intern. And lucky for us, while Grey’s Anatomy itself has faltered some over the years, Meredith is just as compelling as ever. Possibly more so. Since “The Sound of Silence” wasn’t really about Grey continuing to be immortal. It was, as it always is, about the dynamic in the hospital, with Grey at the forefront. And Ellen Pompeo acted the crap out of this one!

For our own health and safety, I’ve decided not to rehash the episode in one giant recap that forces us to look at all the raw and bruised parts. Instead, head right to healing. I’ve collected some of the best and worst moments of the episode for discussion!

We’ll go ahead and get the worst moments out the way because it’s better to end on a high note like the episode did. But look at it as a positive, like the best of the worst!

Worst Moments:

Meredith Can’t Hear

This encompasses everything from the moment she gets attacked and nobody hears it to the moment that Alex realizes that she literally can’t hear what they’re saying. It was bad seeing Meredith unable to fight Lou off. It was worse that her co-workers and friends were right outside trying to resuscitate someone and nobody could hear what was happening in the room right behind them. It was even worse when Meredith was laying on the floor, watching feet walk past, unable to scream! And then the realization that she wasn’t hearing them as they spoke to her and soothed her and worked on her. I watched the episode on my computer with headphones and it was a surreal thing to hear the sound go in and out, purely for our benefit. Sure it was a relief when Alex quickly figured out what was going on but the loss was quite a blow, even it was only temporary.

Sara Ramirez as Dr. Callie Torres in Grey’s Anatomy Photo: ABC
Gif: casuallysara via Tumblr

Especially when Callie first came to speak to her. Callie’s voice in particular is cheery and soothing. It’s not as pharmacological (oh yeah, I’m throwing out an actual doctor term, just wait, I know more!) as Derek’s was or Owen’s can be, but for a woman there’s a gentleness to Callie’s tone that’s a less shrill than Arizona or April. Hold on to that woman point though, it’ll be important soon!

Meredith Sobbing

Ellen Pompeo & Justin Chambers as Dr. Meredith Grey & Dr. Alex Karev in Grey’s Anatomy Photo: ABC Gif: adoringgreys via Tumblr

The crying! So Meredith has resting cry face for sure. She always looks like she’s on the verge of tears or was just in an on-call room sobbing, but actually watching her cry was not easy. We didn’t see her breakdown like that over Derek, but there’s something about the helpless nature of the situation that made it both so important and equally sad. Also, it’s kind of like watching an abused kitty and that makes it really devastating. It did lead to something good, which leads to more tears, but seeing her cry was as difficult as each doctor’s reactions when they were working on Grey after the attack.

Give Amelia A Chance

Caterina Scorsone as Dr. Amelia Shepherd in Grey’s Anatomy Photo: ABC Gif: rcvenoctavia via Tumblr

This one frustrates me. She hovered on the outside of the room all episode long. She blamed herself from the moment she found what had happened. Not just blamed herself, she broke down. It was all part of the breakdown that was already in progress during the mid-season finale when she accepted that drink from Nathan. But this was different. Amelia doesn’t want to lose Meredith but Amelia knows what it takes to be a family, to be a part of the family. Derek loved his sisters and visa versa, even when they weren’t getting along. Meredith likes to blame people and Amelia gives her that outlet. She walks into her room and outright says that she feels too much and speaks too loudly but that was the whole point and Meredith still couldn’t let it go. She could get past Penny’s hand in Derek’s death. She could get past her mother’s harsh words to her about being ordinary. She could forgive Lou, but she can’t forgive Amelia for being Derek’s sister. For saying what even Meredith knows to be true. Now there’s a hitch in this because all of this is true but she just as easily could have chosen not to speak to Amelia once they removed the wires. She didn’t know that she could talk again and Grey could have left it that way but she made a choice to communicate. These two have a long way to go and a lot of anger to get past but the lines of communication are open again and that’s promising. I just would have liked to see someone console Amelia. Not coddle her in a way that’s enabling but just show some real support instead of harping on the anger.

These two have a long way to go and a lot of anger to get past, but the lines of communication are open again and that’s promising. I just would have liked to see someone console Amelia. Not coddle her in a way that’s enabling but just show some real support instead of harping on the anger.

However, these were only scenes I could highlight at the worst and the all lead to something pretty positive in return, which brings us to the best moment of the episode and I only need one because it was everything!

Best Moment:

Penny Finds Her Voice

Ellen Pompeo as Dr. Meredith Grey in Grey’s Anatomy Photo: ABC Gif: mcnuggetshepherd via Tumblr

Yay! We’ve reached the part I was most looking forward to discussing — the moment the episode ended! The framing of this episode was through Grey’s eyes, as it’s usually indicated by the opening voice over. This took literal form when we physically take in only what Grey can. But that was the frame and frames usually need pictures. Enter Penny. The opening voice over shows us that Penny isn’t as likely to speak up in Grey’s class.

We get statistics about men answering questions, interrupting the women who do answer and the fact that there’s actual science behind it. And there is! They’ve done studies on birds who can talk and mimic and they’re more likely to pick up a male’s voice because it comes in at a lower decibel and is easier to imitate whereas women’s voices fluctuate in octaves and no matter how low we speak it’s not as monotone as a man’s voice. And Grey’s voice over goes a step further to acknowledge that, in some cases, men literally do no hear us. The argument being made is not to speak softly since that’s not going to get anywhere even if you are speaking. So shout at the world if you have to but in order to do that you need to find your voice.

And Penny definitely had none. Her reputation (for killing Derek or at least being involved) preceded herself and it wasn’t until the mid-season finale when Grey was truly able to start seeing her for the resident she was trying to be. It’s interesting because when it came to Derek’s death he noted that Penny wasn’t being listened to when she suggested the right course of action because she’s a woman and because she didn’t have the authority or the courage to insist upon it. And here we are again. But where Penny failed with Derek at Dillard’s she succeed with Meredith. Everyone who left that room for a moment felt responsible but Penny was the first to come and find her. She was the one to start treatment and she considered herself to be in charge of Meredith’s care.

Now it’s probably not lost on anyone that I didn’t include the cruel scene with Meredith’s children showing up and being scared in the worst moments. And that was bad. But I didn’t include it because for all the issues with Zola getting upset and scared, Arizona taking the children away as a priority and leaving Meredith to cry again, it was Penny that showed up to ease her suffering. It was Penny that saw her distress and it was Penny that went for the quickest solution, which was to cut the wires on her jaw. And that’s when I punched the air because while she was making sure Meredith was okay Jackson was yelling at her for jeopardizing Meredith’s healing. And Penny didn’t give an inch. She protected herself, she protected Meredith and she defended her choice. This was as much Penny overcoming her difficulties as it was Meredith and they both found a sense of peace in the end!

Low-key Memorable Moments

Ellen Pompeo & James Pickens Jr. as Dr. Meredith Grey & Dr. Richard Webber in Grey’s Anatomy Photo: ABC Gif: calliopeitorres via Tumblr
  • Richard taking Meredith outside and singing down the halls and then having that talk about forgiveness with her.
  • Alex and Mer crying that she can hear
  • Amelia gives Mer her 30 day chip
  • The whole apology from Lou!
  • April and Jackson getting divorced (this is for better in my opinion but we’ll see)
  • Amelia’s blatant alcoholism in the beginning and Steph trying to take charge
  • Jo tucking Alex in and then the subsequent scene at the end where Mer freed Alex from caring for her and he went back to Jo.
  • This episode was directed by Denzel Washington and I’m trying not to make a big deal but wow!

I give this episode a 7 on the pain scale because I stress ate all my dinner before it started and then I cried twice during the episode! This is a weekly feature I’m installing because it’s fun and I’m fun and we’re having fun even if we spent most of the episode composing a nasty email to Shonda that we deleted…Probably…

On a scale from 1 to 10 how would you rate your pain?

Life just kept happening right outside Grey’s hospital door because that’s what life does. Except it’s no longer just about soldiering on. It’s about speaking up through that struggle. Something women as a whole are constantly learning to do but also  Of course in that time we’ve gone six weeks forward. We have answers to some questions and we’re still in the dark about others.

So what does Nathan have to do with Owen’s sister that we still know nothing about? It’s probably not important right now since Meredith is about to embark on a very arduous journey through PTSD and anger but maybe it does have something to do with it since Owen knows all about that. What did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Ellen Pompeo as Dr. Meredith Grey in Grey’s Anatomy Photo: ABC Gif: mcnuggetshepherd via Tumblr

Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8/7c on ABC.