Season 13, episode 22: Leave It Inside (Written by Elisabeth Finch)
As soon as this episode started, I knew people would have some intense reactions. Why? Because the first thing we see is Meredith hauling the tumor on the wall out of her bedroom. That’s sacred MerDer property right there… it’s big. If that right there doesn’t set the scene for Meredith in this episode, I don’t know what does.
I’m going to keep up with the whole writing from a character’s perspective, but there’s too many storylines going on in this episode to choose one, so we’re going to go with Meredith, Alex and Arizona. And let’s go ahead and start with Meredith.
“Our skulls protect our brains. Our ribcage guards our hearts. The body is built to protect our most vulnerable parts. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.” -Meredith Grey
Meredith Grey — theme: change, acceptance, moving on
The major focus around Meredith Grey for a while now has been how she’s moving on and living her life post-Derek. She’s been struggling with the fact that he is gone but she still feels tied to him. Understandable. But now, there’s this guy. A guy she fought off for so long. A guy she didn’t want to like, let alone be with. A guy who might be just what she needed to understand that life does go on, even when it feels impossible. After months and months of avoiding him, ignoring the attraction, putting other people’s happiness before her own, she leaps. Here’s where I think her brain was in this episode:
She wants to make room for him in her life. She’s ready to take that step, which is what she’s doing when she takes the tumor on the wall out of the bedroom and puts the famous blue post-it note in the drawer. She’s not getting rid of Derek. Those things are just stuff; keeping it won’t bring him back just like getting rid of it won’t make her forget about him. Amelia and Maggie both realize how big this is for her, and even though last week we saw Maggie completely lose her shit over this, they rally behind Meredith and do what they can to make this relationship work for her… even if she doesn’t know what they’re up to quite yet.
She’s ready to let Nathan into her life in a way she hasn’t let anyone since Derek. Maggie even decides to stay at the hospital so that Meredith can have him over to the house, which ends up not happening. I think Meredith is still just a little bit scared to take that jump. A jump that seems so final. So she hold off.
Her patient, Holly with the good sex, teaches her a lesson in this episode. Holly talks about learning to live with her tumor, it’s just part of who she is now. In a twisted version of that, Derek is part of Meredith, and he always will be. Now, she’s learning how to live with this realization while at the same time knowing that he isn’t the defining part. Derek will always be in her life, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for anything (or anyone) else. And then she speaks to Cory, Holly’s one-night stand, and ends up teaching herself a lesson. Here’s what she says: “Hold the time you two spent together close to your heart, but don’t let it hold you back. No more sitting here and waiting. Grab your new life by the hand and go out there and live it. Change is good.”
Well, right after she told Cory to grab his new life by the hand, she does just that. She grabs Nathan’s hand and they step out into a new life. A new life together.
Alex Karev — theme: ethics vs. law
When Alex was still a baby surgeon, Arizona always taught him to advocate for the patient. In peds, the patient is often too young to do that themselves, oftentimes, having parents making every decision for them. Alex taught Stephanie the same thing, apparently, which becomes pretty obvious in the way they both handle Liam’s care. Now, let’s jump inside Alex’s head for a few minutes:
He’s finally feeling like himself again. And then Liam shows up. He’s a little kid who shows up to the hospital alone, asking for help. He does what (hopefully) any decent person would do and helps the kid. They find a brain tumor and then they find the parents who refuse to allow him to receive treatment. Alex’s internal battle of ethics versus law comes on full force with this patient. One one side, he’s got Eliza telling him he of all people should stick to the law, and on the other, he’s got a sick kid begging for his help.
Alex goes against Eliza by using her own method against her. Sneaky, sneaky Dr. Karev. When you put two doctors together who have both had difficult childhoods, you’re usually going to see exactly what happened here. Stephanie knows what it feels like to be the kid laying in a hospital bed, and she knows how scary that is, so Liam asking for it? That’s all she needed to know. Alex is a good doctor. And sometimes to be a good doctor, you’ve got to test the limits a little. And this time, it ended up saving a little kid’s life. He’s learned from his mistakes, but he knows that he couldn’t live with himself had he turned Liam away just because the rules (and Eliza) told him he had to. “I’d go to jail for this one.” Alex’s empathy for the people around him saved this kid’s life.
At the end of the episode, he’s on the phone with someone. We don’t know who he’s talking to or who he’s talking about, but my guess is a PI about Jo’s husband. He obviously still loves Jo (and she obviously still loves him after that horribly awkward moment with DeLuca…) and again, he’s acting based on his feelings. Getting involved with Jo’s husband may be dangerous, according to Jo it would be. But, he’s the guy who fights for people he cares about, just like he did with Liam. And just like that, he’s fighting for Jo again.
Arizona Robbins — theme: attraction
I know a lot of my readers out there are hardcore on the ship that is Ariliza. I was under strict instruction by my friend Ella to include this in the review, so here you go! First up, my thoughts on this… HOT. Sexy. A side of Arizona I don’t think we’ve really ever seen before… not even with Callie. I mean, Calzona was great and all but something about Arizona and Eliza just gets me. What did Ella have to say? “…Callie is in New York with Penny and Arizona is in Seattle with Eliza, so why not have some fun and be happy?” I think that pretty much sums it up, the whole Calzona vs. Ariliza thing.
Enough from my head, let’s get inside Arizona’s to wrap things up:
She’s ready for fun. Finally. When she and Callie called it quits, Arizona threw herself into her new speciality at work and had very little time to have fun. We saw a little bit with Richard as her wingman, but that didn’t last very long. And then, in walks Eliza Minnick. She’s got this vibe about her, something that I’m not surprised Arizona was drawn to in the first place. Eliza is very outspoken and sure of what she wants, which I think Arizona finds refreshing. She knows what she’s getting with Eliza. There’s a sexy playfulness between them, an attraction that nobody can ignore. Especially when they’re alone on an elevator.
I feel like Arizona is implementing the whole “no work talk in the bedroom” rule with Eliza, though. Maybe because things start to get messy there. Arizona has been friends with people at GSM for years now, and most of them aren’t fond of Eliza. So, work stays at work for these two. As Arizona put it, “respectfully, shut up.”
At the end of this episode, I got that same feeling I get every time Elisabeth writes an episode: it felt like the old Grey’s. The show I fell in love with at such a young age. I’ve missed the multiple storylines and patients with actual personalities and this episode had all of those things. I think the main message (at least, the one I took away) from “Leave It Inside” was this: you have to learn to live with the things that make you who you are. Leave them be. But don’t let those things define you. Don’t let them stop you from living the life you still have left to live and don’t let them hold you back from getting the things you want.
And, like always, we’ll end the review with the closing VO from Meredith:
“The body adapts. It protects itself. But it can’t close off completely or we’re not really living, right? So we leave the door open just a little, hoping like hell it’s worth the risk.” -Meredith Grey