Season 14, episode 4: Ain’t That a Kick in the Head (Written by Marlana Hope; Directed by Geary McLeod)
We all know that Amelia has always been a little more boisterous than your typical doctor. A little more out there, a little more willing to take huge risks, both professionally and personally. And now we know that, all along, these decisions were coming from an area of her brain largely occupied by a tumor. Oh fu-
“There are 100 billion neurons in the human brain making and remaking connections. Helping us with math, remembering our keys, our dad’s voice, working hard all the time. So, when the brain is faulty, it’s a big rewiring job and there’s no margin for error. When you’re going into surgery, you worry you won’t wake up. But with brain surgery, you worry you will wake up but you won’t be there when you do.” -Amelia Shepherd
Let’s dig in, shall we?
On a production side, this episode’s music was brilliant! Alex Patsavas has always been a genius with music selection if you ask me, but this may have been some of her best work. From the opening scene, the use of silence and music together made for powerful, emotionally driven scenes. A key element when dealing with a storyline such as this one. Did you notice the beat of silence at the beginning? The first sound we hear is Amelia turning on the razor to shave her own head for surgery. And it’s only after that that the music begins. It’s one of those “sound of silence” moments. (See what I did there?)
One thing I wanted to talk about though, and I’m asking for input on this one, is Mrs. Shepherd. We met her in season five right before Derek went off the deep end with the beer and the bat and the ring. She was super nice, obviously loved her kids and Meredith, and now? She seems to care less about Amelia which I’m having a hard time with. Ever since the season 12 finale when she didn’t come to the wedding. I just don’t get it. Has this been a thing between these two since Amelia’s drug problem? Because if so, it’s been going on for years. Years before we ever met either one of them. I don’t know why this bothers me so much, but it does. Maybe she’ll find out about the tumor and show up this season? *Mental cue to Meredith to call her and spill the beans* Anyway––moving on.
The theme of this episode, in regards to Amelia at least, is largely “who am I?” She doesn’t know anymore. And it’s understandable, and I think we all (as an audience) have kind of been asking the same question. Who is she without the tumor? How much of the Amelia that we have grown to know, have grown to love, was tumor?
‘”I don’t know what’s me and what’s tumor talking but in this moment, I love you people tremendously.”
Let’s talk about the power pose for a minute, too. That’s quintessential Amelia Shepherd, and I don’t think the tumor has anything to do with it. I read a report on the science behind this, and while I’m not going to bore you with all that, (you can read for yourself here if you’re interested) I do want to talk about it some. Posing like a superhero has scientifically proven benefits. It makes us more confident in ourselves, it makes others more confident in us. The first time I power posed was the day after 11.14 aired. I had a presentation in a class and I was terrified. I stood in the bathroom and posed like Superwoman for five minutes. People walked in and out during that time, I felt horribly awkward, but I killed that presentation. It works. I do it before every speech or presentation now. You should try it.
The scene in the OR where Amelia, along with her doctors, are power posing? Chills. And it’s also another moment where little to no dialogue is more powerful. The music that went with it? I wanted to pose with them. I did pose with them. And the VO? Those words are Amelia’s unspoken fears being spoken to us. She’s terrified. But being terrified doesn’t make the superhero pose any less significant. She’s telling her fears to suck it.
And then she wakes up 11 hours later and can’t speak. Uh oh. Amelia is living inside a barrel when she wakes up. What I mean by that is this: she can hear what people are saying to her, but she’s basically speaking into a barrel when she answers… because the only person who can hear her is her. She’s literally stuck in her own head. I’m hoping that pushes her to some realizations, but it may be a while (if ever) before we hear her talk about those first several hours. (Or was it days?)
I’m also starting to think that this tumor will change the way she treats her patients. She made DeLuca promise to follow her own controversial post-op protocol. And it sucks. At least I’m assuming it does, judging from her reaction to it. That scene with DeLuca helping her move to the chair from the bed sent me back to when Stephanie traded spots with Jo because she couldn’t stand watching a patient suffer so horribly. Maybe she will have a different approach now? We’ll see.
But, let’s get back to the tumor’s effects on her life. Her decisions. It’s not just us thinking about it. The other doctors are also thinking about it. There’s a whole scene focused on it. Meredith, Alex, Arizona, April and Maggie are all going through their past decisions and blaming it on their metaphorical tumors. But it’s not a metaphor for Amelia. It’s real. How will she cope with that? You make a lot of decisions in 10 years and all of hers were compromised.
“I just wish I had a tumor to blame my stupid crap on… ‘DeLuca, I’m sorry I hit you. Tumor.'”
So, she’s talking now (in French) and we learn that all the Shepherd kids went to French preschool. Okay, random much? But that scene actually held some significance for me because I’ve always felt like Meredith wasn’t involved with the Shepherds at all. She never talked about them, we never got to see her interact with them as a family, we never got to see her and Derek go to New York… but this moment solidified that, even though we didn’t see it, she knows them. She is a Shepherd for all intents and purposes. They are family. That was comforting for me. But kind of off topic. Sorry.
Derek and Amelia have one fatal flaw in common. (Actually, I know a lot of people like this… myself included.) They don’t trust anyone but themselves when it comes to life-changing, life-altering situations. Amelia brought in her former teacher because he was the best. I don’t think it’s because she trusted him… if she could have, she would’ve operated on herself. Even after she was assured everything was fine, that the tumor was gone, she still had to make sure. She had to check for herself. And then we see the whole picture: the thing that’s wrong? The thing she thinks is missing? It’s the tumor. She’s lived with it for so long that once it’s gone, she feels incomplete. That was such a pivotal moment for Amelia because now she knows that she wasn’t okay. She hasn’t been okay for a long time. She’s been living with this tumor and it’s been taking its toll, only she thought it was her fault. Now she knows it wasn’t. And that realization would be overwhelming for anybody. And she can start to heal.
BUT –– and this is a big but –– will she do it alone? We’ve been watching Amelia and Owen tiptoe around each other for an entire season now. At first I really thought this would be it for them. They’d figure it out. Owen wants her to come home, he wants to start over. But Amelia? She’s facing something he can’t even imagine. She flat out says she doesn’t know who she is anymore, and I think before she can be Owen’s wife, she needs to be Amelia. And she has to figure out who that is.
Moving on. Megan Hunt loves Nathan Riggs. We all know this. All of us. So, when he leaves, she’s pissed. But she also gets it. (But actually, she doesn’t.) They loved each other, but when she “died,” Nathan’s life kept going. And she was stuck. She was too busy being held hostage and taking in orphans to fall in love with someone else. Meanwhile, Meredith Grey waltzed in and stole Nathan’s heart. And Megan knows it. Even if Nathan and Meredith don’t. And while I’m on this rant, I’d really appreciate if Meredith would make up her mind. She has been back and forth since season 12 on Nathan Riggs and I’m getting tired. A decision would be nice (though I totally get why she’s so torn). Alex is clear when he says, multiple times, that he doesn’t like Nathan, but why is he being so vocal about it? Meredith clearly cares for him… I’m feeling Cristina/Derek vibes with Alex and Nathan. Meredith’s person versus Meredith’s guy/boyfriend/sex thing/whatever you want to call him.
And all Megan wants is to see her son. She wants out of the hospital because the person she loves most in the world is 10 timezones away from her. She’s desperate, and Meredith understands that. But she’s not going to let Megan jeopardize her own health for this because she knows it would just make everything worse. And we see the two women, both in love with the same man, getting along! Not fighting over the guy, not calling each other names. It’s amazing. They even tease him a little together. I love feminism.
“I think we broke his brain.”
Now, who wants another parallel? You know I love them. Here it is:
Meredith spends the whole episode ignoring Nathan’s calls. He ran and she’s pissed at him. But the constant phone calls actually have nothing to do with that, which she would’ve known a lot sooner had she picked up. Sound familiar? No? Season one. Episode nine. Got it yet? Derek ignored calls all day, too. Turns out it was Addison calling. He probably thought she was pissed about him leaving New York and was calling about that. But she wasn’t and had he picked up the phone, he would’ve known she was coming to Seattle and he could’ve done damage control with Meredith before that iconic scene that ended season one.
Bringing Farouk home? It’s pretty clear that this is Nathan’s grand gesture for Megan, and now Meredith is in on it, too. This triangle is getting complicated. Especially with what I’m about to say. Nathan loves both of them. I don’t think this, I know this. You should all know this. I don’t think there’s a single person who doesn’t know this, which is why I think it’s so complicated. It’s similar to what I said in a review last season. Megan fit Nathan 10 years ago, and Meredith fits him now. But with Megan back, how do you choose? How does he choose between them?
“Megan, I want you to stay calm, don’t make any sudden movements, don’t jump out of bed, I don’t want you to ruin my work.”
This scene did it for me. I loved it so much. It may be my favorite scene this season (for now). Meredith knows what it feels like to see your child when you weren’t sure you ever would again. She knows exactly how big of a deal this is to Megan, and she’s the only one who does. And while I’d love to talk about the reunion of Farouk and Megan, I’m not going to. Did you pay attention to Meredith and Nathan in the background? Right when Farouk runs to the bed, did you see them? Megan previously told Meredith that Nathan’s eyes give away that he loves her, and I saw that in this scene. Do these look like people who don’t love each other? Not to me. You know what they look like to me? They look like two people who love each other so much, but aren’t sure how. They’re confused. They’re scared. But they do love each other.
*I’m actually listening to “Almost Lover” by A Fine Frenzy as I type this and it’s so them that I’m officially calling it the Griggs theme song.
“Nathan did have a life while you were gone, and maybe it took him a minute to adjust, but look. He moved heaven and earth for you. He loves you. That’s not a man you throw away.”
I think this moment did it for Meredith (when Megan and Farouk are reunited thanks to Nathan) just like it did it for me. She sees what she’s been willing to give away. She does love him, even if she’s not ready to admit it, and she’s letting him get away. But I also think it may have the same effect on Megan. She’s finally seeing what she’s giving away. I think they both fall a little more in love with him in this moment, which makes it even more complicated. Is that even possible? And Nathan? He’s hopelessly in love with both of them but in drastically different ways. What. A. Mess. And when we see her walk away? Oh man. I have some things to say about that too.
THIS FACE. It may as well be the Grey’s Anatomy code for “MEREDITH GREY IS THINKING ABOUT DEREK SHEPHERD!!!!” And I’m about 99 percent certain that’s exactly what was going on here. She’s walking away from a moment she wants so badly for herself, but a moment she knows she’s never going to get. She knows that if Derek were to come back, she’d turn around and run straight back into his arms. We all know this. And Nathan knows it, too. Which is why it’s so hard for her, I think. She doesn’t know how to deal with the fact that Nathan loves her enough to actively choose her over Megan. This is new territory for her. (Derek chose Addison, remember?) Meredith Grey will never love anyone the way she loved, and still loves, Derek. This scene was so MerDer it hurt. The only thing that could’ve twisted the knife in a little further would’ve been that piano music that we all know and love. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, do you even watch the show?
Here’s a question I’m going to leave you with before I move on, and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. What do you think Nathan’s motivation was regarding this grand gesture? I think you can look at it two different ways: 1) He did it to show Megan that he does love her and wants to be with her, or 2) he did it to prove to Meredith that he loved Megan, past tense, and he still cares about her, but he wants a future with her (Meredith). Here’s what I think: he doesn’t know what to think. And it’s making my brain hurt because I don’t like not knowing.
I’m pretty sure this could go down as the most complicated love triangle in TV history. (AND NOW HERE’S A BRAIN BREAK SINCE I PROBABLY JUST CAUSED A BRAIN BLEED IN ANYONE WHO IS READING THIS! LOOK AT THEM! THEY’RE SO CUTE!)
Whew. That was rough. It took me almost five hours to write everything you just read. And I’m still not done. I literally just left, took a hike at the lake, and came back because my brain was screaming at me. I promise, you’re almost to the end and nothing is as complicated from here on out! Just some tidbits from smaller storylines to wrap things up.
The Interns: Honestly, what the hell is going on? I mean, it’s providing some comedic relief but are we even going to stick with these interns? Because that hasn’t happened in a long time. I can think of four intern classes we’ve kept up with in FOURTEEN SEASONS. Meredith’s, Lexie’s, Jo’s and DeLuca’s. That’s it. But anyway, I did catch something interesting about this group. It took a few watches before I caught it, but I don’t think it was an accident. Each one of these potential interns represent a different stereotype of millennials. Some are more obvious, (Instagram famous girl? Oversharing dude?) and some are more subtle (the girl who hates everyone). This is not a jab at my generation. It’s representing my generation in a way that I don’t think has been done. We’re getting close to “grown up” status, we’re figuring things out and so are these new doctors. I found it endearing, and I liked that I saw a little bit of myself in each of them. It was nice.
Meredith’s (potential) Harper Avery: I have been saying this for years and I’m going to say it again right now. MEREDITH GREY DESERVES A HARPER AVERY! This little storyline played into a much larger, much darker storyline, that’s coming up soon with Jo. And I’m calling it right here, right now: Jo will decide to put her name and picture in the article and Paul Stadler will find her and show up. You heard it here first. If this happens, I’d be totally chill with it honestly, because it would’ve been Jo’s decision. Not Paul’s. She would be taking the power back and you know I’m all about that #feminism. And then we have the Ellis Grey reference, and because this is me, you had to know it was coming. In order for Mer to be considered for the award, Jackson’s name can’t be on the article. Although I’m still not sure how this works, because while Harper Avery is dead, the foundation isn’t and it’s still funding the hospital, but that’s beside the point. So, Jackson tells her she can take his name off, but not without reminding her how lucky she is that Ellis never decided to create a foundation with a prestigious award attached to it. Mer’s response?
“Yeah. That Alzheimer’s really put a wrench in her charitable givings.”
That reminded me so much of the whole, “the only thing you inherit in this family is Alzheimer’s” joke she made to Alex when she had just found out about Maggie. She jokes about the Alzheimer’s when she’s feeling dark and twisty, and this time the dark and twisty has everything to do with Riggs. But I already covered that, so moving on.
Jackson and Maggie (and Catherine and Richard): First of all, I stand by my first description of a Jaggie romance: ew. But, I have to admit, they are kind of awkwardly cute. If Richard and Catherine weren’t married, I would totally hop on that ship. But, they’re technically step-siblings so… nope. And can we just acknowledge the fact that every dinner party in the history of Grey’s Anatomy has been painfully awkward? Every single on of them. (Bailey’s dad at Christmas? “Perfect Penny killed my husband.” Maggie’s mom laughing so hard she literally choked herself. And now this. I cannot.) But at the same time, I’m really into seeing Catherine and Richard at home because I think they are hilarious.
And I need to quit now because I’ve been reviewing this episode for seven hours now and you have probably been reading for about that time. Wow. I’m so sorry. This was so long. But, honestly, you should expect this from me at this point. And as always, we’ll finish with the closing VO:
“The trouble with crossed wires is you don’t know they happened until it’s too late. So we have to be very careful with our connections. They take time, care and attention. They take vigilance and single-mindedness. We reconnect everything we can, as carefully as we can, and then we just have to pray to God that we got it right.” -Amelia Shepherd
See you back here for episode five next week!
*It has been brought to my attention that I did not mention the cheating that went on with Nathan and Megan. I did that on purpose, and let me explain a little. I left it out because Megan has chosen to leave it out as well. She hasn’t brought it up, so I really don’t have anything to base an opinion on. We don’t know enough about what happened yet for me to review it. I’m sure that will be a huge chunk of next week’s review, so make sure to come back!