Season 13, episode 21: Don’t Stop Me Now (Written by Andy Reaser)
So… I’m back. This review was posted three days ago and I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. Anything you see in red has been added today (May 1). I set this review up almost like a test, to see how many people could hold more than one perspective and unfortunately, most of you failed. So, let’s go back through this episode from Meredith’s POV.
DISCLAIMER: This review is going to be different. I’m not going to be so gentle on Meredith Grey… why? Because right now, I’m Maggie Pierce. And she’s pissed. I’ll pull a little bit of Meredith Grey sympathy at the end but don’t quit on me before you get there!
So, I put up a poll on Twitter and asked you guys if you’d like this new format. For the last episode review, I focused on Meredith’s perspective. I got inside her head and wrote my review that way. And I think it worked. (Oh, you missed that review? No problem! Click here!) So, that’s what I’m going to do this week, only from Maggie’s perspective this time. My twitter feed Thursday night was full of Maggie hate. That’s when I knew this is how I wanted to handle this review. So, here we go!
Meredith and Nathan. The secret is finally out. And before you all stop reading and continue to call Maggie a terrible person for how she reacted, keep reading. And maybe try to look at this whole thing through her eyes. Getting a new perspective can change an entire story. That’s actually something I learned from Shonda herself. I’m taking a writing class online that she’s teaching (I’m sure you’ve heard about it) and she said this:
“The thing that I think is most important is to feel compassion for your character. To feel like, ‘if I were standing in that character’s shoes, how would I feel? What would I do? What would it be like?’ And I think that’s important because I don’t think people do it enough, especially with characters that are different from you.” -Shonda Rhimes
This quote really helped me with this episode review. I’m usually the person who will defend Meredith Grey with my last dying breath, no matter how wrong she was or is. This time though, I forced myself to watch the episode in the way I felt Maggie experienced it… and that changed everything. So, without me talking your ear off, let’s get inside Maggie’s head for a few minutes, shall we?
In the press room, Maggie is expecting to watch Meredith and Nathan speak about the plane. She’s not expecting to catch the moment she realizes that they aren’t just co-workers on film. She told Meredith at Amelia’s wedding that she liked Nathan, which was months ago, so now she feels betrayed by her sister. The moment she realizes this, everything (literally) moves in slow motion. We see her face, we feel her pain. But it doesn’t have anything to do with Nathan and everything to do with Meredith, and she has no idea how to handle that feeling. Then they lock eyes. Meredith looks guilty and Maggie looks… well… she’s pissed, and rightfully so. (Remember, you’re Maggie right now. You’d be pissed too.)
Meredith and Nathan are bringing in great PR for the hospital, and a press conference comes with that. When Nathan gives her the credit (which she deserved 100 percent!!!), I think she realized that he truly does care for her and wants her to get the recognition she earned. Then Nathan rubs her back. They share a look and it’s not really a look two “friends” or “coworkers” would share. It’s more than that. And then she looks at Maggie, who is staring at them as if she’s watching her worst nightmare unfold right before her eyes. Meredith knows she’s done what’s best for Maggie, keeping the secret, but now she has to tell her. And that’s what she’s been planning to do since the beginning of the episode. She’s been running through what she’s going to say all morning, she obviously cares deeply about Maggie’s feelings and doesn’t want to hurt her. Now it’s time to actually talk to her about the thing she’s been protecting her from for months.
Meredith tries to tell her the story and apologize, but Maggie can’t get it out of her head that her sister snuck around for god knows how long after knowing how she felt about Nathan. Ever heard of hoes before bros? Apparently Meredith hasn’t. (AGAIN: you’re pretending you’re Maggie. Keep reminding yourself that as you read.) When Maggie approaches Meredith at lunch, we really, REALLY, get a feel for how pissed she actually is. But she’s still not giving Meredith anytime to explain her side of the story. She’s only seeing it her way… which is why I’m writing right now from her perspective… I know most of my readers tend to see things from Meredith’s eyes. Maggie’s behavior shouldn’t come as a shock though. Remember when she found out about her mother’s affair in season 11? She shut her mom out, just like she’s shutting Meredith out now. So, she’s done this before. And while I’m on the topic, she did just bury her mom. She’s grieving and grief can make people act in ways that may seem over the top to everyone else… that’s something else we need to remember as we watch this play out. Maggie feels totally alone right now, her world is crumbling around her. And Nathan isn’t included in that, not anymore.
After being shut down over and over again by Maggie, Meredith begins to accept the fact that she has managed to piss Maggie off. At the same time, she is the only one trying to handle this like an adult. She’s offering to explain everything to Maggie, and Maggie flat out refuses. The only thing Meredith is trying to do is give Maggie the explanation she needs to hear… she has nothing to hide anymore and she wants Maggie to know. She doesn’t want to fight about it but she can’t do anything if Maggie isn’t willing to at least hear her out for a second before jumping to every other conclusion.
Maggie falls apart on us a little bit in the supply closet, which was a MAJOR parallel to the Amelia/Meredith scene from season 11 after Derek died. (Did you catch that?) This is the scene that really solidified my feeling… I had done the right thing choosing to go back and pretend I was Maggie. Everything she’s done, besides stealing the OR, made sense. (The OR thing is still not cool, that was her making their personal problems bleed into work, which shouldn’t happen, but it does. All the time. So I guess I do get it, but I don’t like it.) She thinks Meredith and Nathan didn’t become “Meredith and Nathan” until after the plane… just a few weeks ago. I think that’s another part of why she’s responding this way. Why would Meredith risk losing Maggie’s trust over a guy she’s only been “with” for a couple of weeks? Well, now she finds out that it’s not new. She didn’t see that coming. Like a slap in the face, she realizes that Meredith has been hiding this relationship for months. At this point, Meredith is just as upset as her, but Maggie feels too betrayed to really look at anything from Meredith’s perspective.
After being shut down by Maggie once again, and this time after Maggie has brought their problems into their work lives, Meredith has had enough. She pulls her into the supply closet and forces her to listen. Meredith explains everything. She answers Maggie’s questions. She is a good sister in this scene. Maggie doesn’t see it that way though. Everything Meredith has done or has not done, was in Maggie’s best interest. When Maggie first mentioned her feelings about Nathan, Meredith cut him off. Because Maggie is her sister. Somewhere down the line though, she decided to put her happiness first. To go after what she wants. There is nothing wrong with that. And not telling Maggie? That’s how Meredith chose to protect her, after all, she doesn’t need anything else to worry about right now. So, in Meredith’s mind, she’s done nothing wrong.
“You were all I had left.” And then silence. You can feel both of their hearts breaking from inside that supply closet. The silence is so loud. Now, Maggie is (probably) replaying every conversation she’s had with Meredith since the wedding. And, if she’s anything like me, she’s trying to find little hints Meredith may have dropped about her relationship with Nathan. She’s searching for anything but finds nothing. And now she just feels even more lost, even more alone.
“You were all I had left.” And then silence. You can feel both of their hearts breaking from inside that supply closet. The silence is so loud. There’s a second, just a tiny spot, where Meredith nods her head. She’s got tears in her eyes and she’s replaying her and Nathan’s whole “relationship” back in her mind. She’s trying to figure out a time she should’ve said something, trying to decide if she did the right thing or not. She’s questioning everything she’s done with Nathan. She’s happy with him but is it worth losing her sister? She’s finally put herself first and Maggie can’t handle that. And Meredith never puts her feelings first, and the one time she does, her sister craps all over her. She should be able to put herself first. And she shouldn’t have to fear losing a sister over that. They are both grown women and Maggie is acting like a teenager whose best friend just broke the girl code.
When Maggie is upset, she retreats into herself (a lot like her sister does). So, later that night when Meredith tells her they’re going out, her immediate answer is no. But Meredith’s nothing if not persistent, and she loves Maggie, so no is not an option. I think Maggie starts to come around after Meredith tells her that she refuses to let a guy come between them. Maybe Maggie starts to believe her… maybe. But why? I think that answer is the voice over. I’m not too sure it’s not Maggie listening to Meredith talk… kind of like the first voice over of Grey’s Anatomy when Meredith was talking to Ellis. (Ah there it is… an Ellis mention!)
“I didn’t mean to hurt you. That’s the last thing I would ever want, because I care about you more than anything. So, now matter how mad you are, how much you want to shut me out, know this: You are my sister, whether you like it or not and I’m not going anywhere.” -Meredith Grey
Meredith’s words to Maggie through that voice over is where she really digs into why she chose to do what she did. Meredith usually isn’t one to face a problem head on and she’s not always the best and dealing with family fights. But this is not one of those times, I don’t think. She has done everything in her power to protect Maggie from getting her feelings hurt and now it’s backfired. Instead of running away and avoiding, Meredith acts like the adult and tells her that she’s got to get over it, because whether she likes it or not, they are sisters and she refuses to let a guy come between them.
I think us hearing those words in the form of a VO is the same way Maggie hears it. As the end of the episode unfolds, we hear what Meredith wanted to say all along. And Maggie hears it, too. And then the perspective shifts again. Was Meredith wrong? Maybe not. To her, she was protecting Maggie and that is honorable. Meredith is fiercely loyal and that’s what she was doing. So, maybe nobody was completely right or completely wrong. It just depends on how you look at things. Every reaction is valid. You just have to choose to put yourself in a position you may not want to be in to figure that out.
So, was Meredith wrong? I don’t think so. She did what she thought was best for Maggie. Could she have gone about it differently? For sure. I still think being straight with Maggie from the beginning would’ve been better, but I also understand why she chose to not say anything. That doesn’t make her a bad sister; if anything, Maggie’s reaction, being so selfish, is 100 times worse than Meredith withholding information. It’s her life after all, not Maggie’s.
Whew, that was rough. It was probably rough to read, too. So let’s end with this just for some comic relief. Until next week!
So, now how do you feel? I kept my opinion out of this review for the most part when I wrote from Maggie’s POV. Why? Because I think she completely overreacted and handled the entire situation horribly. But just because I think that doesn’t mean I don’t understand why she reacted the way she did. Getting inside her head, watching through her eyes, shows you a different side of the story. A side you didn’t see before. Meredith’s side is what we all see because she’s the main character. But you have to understand that she’s not the only character.
I don’t like writing an entire review from someone’s POV who thinks Meredith is terrible and awful and a horrible person because she isn’t. I did it to prove my point: everybody has a reason for their actions and reactions to certain events. Take Papa Pope for example. He’s a murderer. Murdering people is wrong. We can all agree on that. BUT to him, if you look at things through his eyes, he’s just a father protecting his daughter. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
So, to everyone in my Twitter mentions telling me you don’t care about Maggie’s side, you don’t have to care about it. I just want you to realize that everybody, every character, has a side. They see things differently. You can disagree with them all day but you still need to be able to acknowledge that they have feelings and those feelings are valid. Meredith Grey has always been the root of the show, but that does NOT mean she’s the only one whose perspective should be taken seriously. She’s wrong sometimes, just like we all are. She’s not perfect and neither is anyone else. Seeing things from someone else’s POV doesn’t mean you agree. It means you posses the ability to empathize, to show compassion to characters, even when you don’t agree with them. And that’s a quality we all need to work on.