Season 16, Episode 2: Back in the Saddle (written by Meg Marinis & directed by Kevin McKidd)
“When we get sick, our bodies launch a coordinated defense. It’s called the immune response. Once a germ’s detected, a team of white blood cells, protiens, and chemicals swarm to mount an attack. These cells catch up to the invaders and latch on, destroying them in their wake. Or at lesat that’s what they’re supposed to do. The body’s ability to come back depends on what you have to fight with… and how strong you are.” – Meredith Grey
So, basically, this is where we’re at: the status quo no longer exists. For anyone. I don’t think the pot has ever been stirred this much in the show’s history. Shit, we’re in the blender. Stirring is for amateurs and we are in the major leagues.
Let’s kick things off with Bailey. She’s really put herself in a bit of a situation, hasn’t she? Not only is she teaching a skills lab, but she’s also comparing everything they do to how Meredith and Alex would have done it. Kind of makes you wonder how she really feels about firing them, doesn’t it? If you ask me, she didn’t want to; she felt like she had to do it.
I can’t say that I’m in any way surprised by how Bailey is handing the insurance fraud situation, though. This is not the first time Bailey has acted like this after Meredith broke a rule. Just like I brought up the Alzheimer’s trial in the last review, I’m doing it again. Bailey had nothing to do with Meredith for a pretty good stretch after she swapped the placebo that was going to Adele with the actual drug. But I think that cold shoulder may seem like nothing compared to now. Back then, Bailey wasn’t running the surgical department. Now? The rule Meredith broke leaves a mess for Bailey to clean up. To Bailey, it probably feels like a betrayal. And it’s not just Meredith betraying her, either. She’s dealing with another one of her babies (Alex) and her own teacher (Richard) betraying her as well.
Maybe her deal is this: trying to prove that she doesn’t need the trio around to run a great hospital. I don’t know who she’s trying to prove it to, but if I had to take a stab at it, I’d say mostly herself with a side of Catherine Avery.
I’m not sure Catherine is impressed with her decision, especially since Tom now seems to serve as a buffer between them. Catherine probably blames Bailey for the state of her marriage, but what was she supposed to do? She couldn’t very well demand Richard’s job to be safe without doing the same for Meredith and Alex, but by saying nothing, she betrays Richard. She’s really in a lose-lose situation here.
So, not only does Bailey now report to Tom (her worst nightmare, I bet) she’s also having to work to keep people from leaving. I don’t think we really saw it, but DeLuca said something about other doctors quitting in solidarity, so there’s that. And also Jo comes back to work in this episode, and Bailey’s having to fight to keep her at Grey Sloan. Now that Alex is chief at Pac North, he’s offered Jo total control over her fellowship if she comes to work for him. And then he goes and offers her a full attending position. So what does Jo do? She basically gives Bailey the choice to either hire her as a general surgery attending or lose her, too. Huh. How ’bout that.
Speaking of… I’m getting major season eight vibes with Bailey and Meredith right now. Whenever George’s mom came in as a patient, she wanted Meredith to perform her surgery. Bailey, however, was still pissed off and in the mood to punish her for as long as possible. While Meredith did end up doing the surgery, Bailey was pretty hostile to her the whole time. And we all know why she acted like that, don’t we? She hates seeing the doctors she raised break the rules and get themselves into trouble. And now it’s happening again. Nobody should be surprised that she reacted this way. And nobody should be mad at her for it, either. Major rules were broken, even if they were broken for the right reasons.
Meanwhile, over at Pac North, things are… interesting. After Richard didn’t get the chief job, Alex swooped in and snagged it, hiring Richard as an attending. So now we’ve got two of the best doctors in Seattle working at the worst hospital in the city. I’m not going to lie, I’m really into this storyline. I want to see Alex and Richard work together and really start to turn this hospital around. We watched Richard bring Seattle Grace Mercy West from number 12 back up to the top, but we’ve never seen Alex tasked with something this big… or Richard, for that matter. Because Pac North is way further down on the list than 12th in the country.
I’m hoping that when Meredith’s cleared to work again, she goes to Pac North. Can you imagine? If that happens, I think we’d start to see a little competition. Patients come to Grey Sloan for Meredith, so what if she works somewhere else? Don’t you think they’d go there? And then we’ve got the interns (are they residents yet?) who are literally in love with her. (Hey, Helm!) I wouldn’t be too surprised if some of the residents and interns jumped ship if Meredith were to throw on some green scrubs.
Before I really dive into what’s going on with Meredith, though, I want to talk about Maggie and Jackson. In the first episode, Jackson started hanging around Vic from Station 19, which I actually kind of like? I think they could be fun, and I also don’t think Jackson dating someone outside of the hospital will be a bad thing. His track record with other doctors is not so great. We’ve also never really seen him single, either.
I bet he was that guy in high school who always had a girlfriend, no matter what. I wouldn’t be mad if he and Vic start out as good friends and then turned into something more. Kind of like what some people wanted to happen with Meredith and Alex. (I’d like to point out that I was NEVER one of them.) That slow build could be a good thing for Jackson, especially so close on the heels of a pretty serious relationship ending. And also Vic’s fiancé just died in her arms. So she could probably use some time, too.
But what about Maggie? I’m not going to come in here and say Maggie’s treating Jackson well, but who can blame her? I certainly can’t. Jackson kind of has been rubbing the break up in her face. That #freedom was a bit… wow. Maggie now feels like a victim, which she brings up in a conversation with her patient’s girlfriend. She says she stayed too long and ignore too many red flags early on, and then when Jackson did the breaking up, she suddenly turned into the one who got left. Which makes her feel like the victim. Is she? I don’t think so, but I’m sure it does feel that way. They both wanted out, but let’s not forget how Maggie’s last two(?) relationships on the show have ended: Clive was married and DeLuca couldn’t deal with the power dynamic.
“Let’s be honest, the pickings are slim for an educated, independent woman.” – Maggie Pierce
I’d say it’s the lack of control that she doesn’t like. Maggie’s super type A, so this is no surprise.
You know what I want to see for Maggie? I want to see her kick ass at work AND manage to find a guy who truly likes all of her little quirks. Maybe she and Jackson were good for a while, but I think they burned too bright, too fast and then they exploded. I want something slow and careful for her. Kind of like what Amelia’s doing with Link.
Or… what she tried to do with him. Before, you know, she figured out she was pregnant.
Maybe we should talk about that? We probably should.
At the end of episode one, when Amelia is asking Carina for a threesome, she realizes she’s pregnant. Awkward. I said in the last review that I thought now was as good a time as any for Amelia to get knocked up, and this episode did not change my mind on that at all.
In the past however many years since her last pregnancy, Amelia has grown leaps and bounds. She’s clean, she’s got a great job, she’s got a steady support system, and her relationship with the father, while brand new, seems pretty stable.
But those good things do not erase the bad that happened to her. In fact, this pregnancy drags all those old feelings back out. We could say the same thing about Link, too. They are terrified of history repeating itself. They’ve seen and gone through so much, and now they’ve got to decide whether or not they want to risk the life they have now for something with the potential to ruin them. Not as a couple, either, but as individuals.
They both have extremely deep-rooted fears when it comes to deciding whether or not to bring a new life into the world. Some of those fears are of the physical world they’d be handing the kid… as Link put it:
“What sane person turns on the news and thinks, ‘oh, great, the polar ice caps are melting, the planet is on fire, and all of humanity is whining about it on Twitter while doing exactly nothing to prevent any of it. So, yeah, I should bring a baby into this world.'”
So there’s that. And that reasoning is valid as hell. I think about that a lot, actually, and I know people who have decided 100 percent against kids because of the state of the world we live in. It’s terrifying to be here now. But then there’s the other side to his fear, which is of his kid getting cancer. During his conversation with Jo, we learn that Link’s own cancer wasn’t genetic. But he knows what it feels like to be the kid dealing with cancer, and even if the odds are extremely low of that history repeating itself, it’s hard for him to roll those dice.
Just like it’s hard for Amelia to roll the dice and risk have what happened to Christopher happen again. The odds are that everything would be fine, but still. That whisper that things could go very, very wrong is always going to be there. And I’m sure there are times where that whisper is going to be the loudest thing in the room.
And, much to my delight, neither one of them hid from their fears. Amelia also didn’t hesitate in telling Link she’s pregnant either, which, I’m not going to lie, shocked me. I expected it to be at least three episodes before she said anything. But after I watched the episode again, I think I’ve got an idea as to why she didn’t hide.
She’s in control. For a long time, probably most of her life, she’s been controlled by something or someone. And before you tweet at me all angry, keep reading.
We already know that drugs controlled Amelia for a long time. But grief also controlled her. And I think Owen tried to control her, too. If I’m being honest, even Derek tried to control her. But now? She’s in a place in her life where she’s got control back. There isn’t anyone or anything making decisions and then forcing them onto her. It helps that Link is possibly the greatest man on the planet.
And I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t point out how important it was for us to see Link leave Amelia the choice of what to do about the pregnancy. I love that she wanted his opinion, but at the end of the day, it is her body that’s going to change. And she’s the one who will have to take leave. (But I feel like Link would totally be the paternity leave dad, don’t you?) So don’t come in here with the whole “he’s the dad! He gets a say!” argument. It’s old. Until the kid is on the outside, Amelia (and anyone else who’s pregnant in the whole world!) gets the final say. Period.
Towards the end of the episode, they sit down to talk again. Amelia tells Link she thinks they’d make an awesome kid… and that she kind of wants to meet that kid. And apparently so does Link. They both have the kind of personality that tells me they do not like having things to regret. And I think that’s one reason they’re going for it. Yeah, they’re scared, but if things go well… it could be so amazing, and they don’t want to miss it.
So, I guess we’re going to meet the kid! It’ll be really interesting to watch how Amelia navigates the relationship now. She told Link in episode one that she goes all in too fast, and now, she’s even more in than she was with Owen. But I really don’t think it’s going to go bad for Amelia and Link. I can really see those two lasting for a while. With this show’s track record, probably until one of them dies. (Sad face.)
Not seeing Meredith in scrubs for two episodes in a row is bizarre, isn’t it? In the last episode, it’s revealed that the medical board is going to pursue action and investigate… which means Meredith’s days as a doctor could be numbered. Do I think they’ll suspend her license? Absolutely not.
For now, though, she’s not supposed to be practicing medicine, but she literally cannot help herself. In fact, she’s seeing more of the same thing that got her into trouble in the first place. And because she’s Meredith, she really doesn’t give a damn what people are telling her to do. She’s going to help these people, no matter what it means for her.
Speaking as somebody who knows firsthand what it’s like to have subpar medical insurance, I can’t express my appreciation for this storyline enough. The fact that there are people in this country who literally have to choose between going bankrupt and treating cancer is infuriating, and I’m so glad the show is highlighting it. People go years without going to the doctor because even a check-up could set them back hundreds of dollars. That is not okay.
Meredith has been told to lay low, but we all know that isn’t going to happen. She’s the type of person who thinks with her heart. She feels things so deeply that she truly can’t handle sitting still and letting something happen when she has the means to help. Regardless of what her bosses (or the court) say about it. What does that mean for her medical license, though? I know I said I don’t think it’ll get revoked, and I don’t, but I do think it would be interesting for the board to dig deep into her history as a doctor. There are other instances of Meredith bending the rules to help a patient. But it isn’t just her. She’s involving other doctors, too, and none of them are turning their backs. She’s sending patients to Alex and Richard at Pac North, she’s got Schmitt running her supplies, Jackson is doing consults in the parking lot… her coworkers seem to have the same mindset that she does–at least in this scenario.
And now she’s going to write about the things she’s seeing. I’m actually really excited about that. Will writing hurt her case? I don’t know. There’s the argument that the board did tell her to lay low, but there’s also the flip side which is that she’s such a great doctor and she treats people regardless of their circumstances. That should be a good thing, right? Not having insurance should not be a factor in getting treated or not. Now it’s Meredith’s personal mission to change the fact that, right now, that is exactly the case for so many people.
There are other things I wanted to say about Meredith, but if I want to publish this review before episode three starts, I have to stop.
But I can’t not mention Tom getting shocked in the balls. I laughed so hard, you guys. I love Tom, I think he’s hilarious, and the fact that his ‘nads got “deep-fried,” really got me. And the fact that it was Owen? Classic. And now Owen is flustered, which is also funny. But the restraining order? I did not see that coming. I’m thinking Teddy is not going to have a good reaction to that, which will probably add a whole new level to this Teddy/Tom/Owen situation. I think it’s going to be really fun to watch.
Okay, I guess I’m done now.
“After we’ve been sick or hurt, our bodies remember. We learn from the past and develop tools to help us cope. Basically, the more we go through something, the better we can handle it if it happens again. Our bodies are prepared to bounce back. Or, so we think. Sometimes an unknown throws the whole thing off.” – Meredith Grey
Expect a review for episode three on Saturday. I’m caught up now, so they should be pretty regular from here on out!