Season 16, Episode 8: My Shot
(written by Meg Marinis; directed by Debbie Allen)
First of all, holy shit. That was an EPISODE. There’s not a more eloquent way to put it. When I tell you I sat on my couch and stared at the wall for 45 minutes after the episode ended, I mean it. Literally just sat there. I didn’t know what to do with myself. But now it’s Friday and I’ve had time to process things and get my thoughts together enough to start working on this review––which I’m going to go out on a limb and say will be a monstrosity. Here we go!
“When you sign a medical directive or a consent to surgery, there’s an important question we ask: ‘In the event of a possibly fatal complication, do you want us to use extraordinary measures to prolong your life? If your heart stops, do you want us to begin CPR? Do you want to be violently shocked with 360 joules of electricity? Do you agree to multiple injections of adrenaline into your veins or a tube down your throat? How far will you go to stay alive?'” – Meredith Grey
Before I really get going, I just want to say this: I felt like this episode was a love letter to Meredith Grey. But not a cheesy Hallmark kind of love letter. One where all of her mistakes come front and center again, but as they do, we remember why she did each of those things. LVAD wire? Trying to help her friend save her fiancé. (Also, there wasn’t much she could do by the time she got there, either.) Sadie’s appendix? Lexie had already screwed that up, so Meredith and Cristina literally saved her life. Alzheimer’s Trial? Trying to give Richard more time with Adele. Cornering Andrew in the elevator after Alex beat the hell out of him? She did that out of loyalty to Alex. Do you see where I’m going with this? Every single thing Ashley Cordova brought up, Meredith had a reason for doing, and it was usually driven by her loyalty and love for someone. Like Carolyn Shepherd told us way back in season 5, she doesn’t see things in black and white, and she never will.
Anyway. That was a ramble I didn’t anticipate including, but whatever. So, the very first scene of this episode is Meredith, Andrew, Alex, Amelia, and Maggie all in the car. I imagine they gave her some kind of pep-talk that we didn’t see, and I’m sure it didn’t help at all. Meredith really looks like she could puke at any second, and she straight up tells Alex she’s not ready when he asks. But isn’t it nice to see all of those familiar faces walking inside? That line, “turns out, I have a whole damn village” comes to mind here. (That’s from 1209, by the way.) People show up for Meredith because they love her and respect her as a surgeon. She really does have a village.
Also, the VO? I kind of feel like it’s Meredith talking to herself metaphorically. She’s the patient in this scenario, and she’s bleeding out. Does she want extraordinary measures? This hearing is her life support. If it goes badly, her days as a doctor are over. If it goes well, she gets her job back. Really, she gets her life back. Because Meredith doesn’t feel like herself right now and hasn’t in a long time. This is her Hail Mary. I didn’t catch that the first two times I watched this episode, but the third time I really feel like that’s exactly what’s going on.
“You have absolutely no right to ever mention my daughter’s name because you are the one who killed her father.”
How did you guys think it was going to go when Nancy told Mer to sit still and shut up? Yeah, I knew there wasn’t a chance in hell that would happen. Before we even saw Paul Castello, I recognized his voice. Good thing I watch alone in my apartment every week because I jumped off my couch and yelled at the TV like I was watching The World Cup. At first, I was surprised Dr. Castello was the person from her past they chose to bring back, but now I totally see why he was the best choice.
When Penny showed up at the dinner party in the 250th episode (how in the world was that 100 episodes ago??) I wasn’t actually that surprised. Meredith had enough interaction with her that I kind of assumed we’d see her again. And, when we get down to it, Penny was the only one who kept pushing for Derek to get a CT. She tried to save him, unlike every other doctor at Dillard. Meredith taking Penny under her wing the way she did felt natural. But Dr. Castello? Nah. He is responsible for Derek’s death in a way Penny never was, and Meredith knows it. And she’s got zero time for his shit, which I am so here for. She calls him out in front of everyone. Kind of like he’s doing to her? Yeah. The difference between the two of them is this: Meredith’s “mistakes” weren’t really mistakes, were they? She did all of those things deliberately. She had a reason and good intentions. Dr. Castello? Not getting a head CT for Derek was a poor judgment call that cost a life.
And calling him out the way she did, I think, helped her case. The members of the medical board heard her rattle off the names of her patients’ spouses. That showed them how deeply she cares. And it’s how much she cares that landed her here in the first place, right? And then, I think even hearing what she went through probably helped. Almost everyone in that room knew what went down when Derek died, but the two people voting on her future had no idea. And when she throws it all back in Dr. Castello’s face, they’re suddenly aware of the worst moment in Meredith’s life. And, if you ask me, that moment turned her into a better doctor. Maybe they saw that, too.
Meredith tells Nancy that she’s not going to let Dr. Castello take anything else away from her. Absolutely. But I think it’s more than just her license and Derek she’s talking about. It’s who she is as a doctor––as a person. In season 12, Owen has Meredith talk to the interns about breaking bad news to a patient’s family. If you need a refresher, here’s the scene:
Everything she went through when Derek died––that pain, that heartbreak––gave her a new level of compassion and empathy for her patients. It pushed her into a nightmare. That moment that changes everything? She’s lived it now. And she can use that experience to help young doctors recognize how important this part of the job is. And she can also use it to help her patients’ families see that they can survive the worst moment of their lives. If Dr. Castello were to yank her license, he’d be taking away one of the only good things that came from Derek dying. And there’s no way in hell she’s going to let that happen.
Let’s talk about Bailey real quick. (This won’t be quick, who am I kidding?) When she’s being questioned about Meredith, she’s like a totally different person than the Dr. Bailey I’ve known since elementary school. I know she’s a rule follower now that she’s the chief, but what the hell? I was genuinely shocked that she was so cold towards Meredith. Saying that they haven’t grown close? She basically says Meredith’s son’s name being Bailey is a coincidence. Saying that Meredith is no longer her Chief of General Surgery, in this context, pretty much means Bailey doesn’t respect her as a doctor anymore. It’s hard for me not to get pissed at her for being so small-minded about this whole thing. Suddenly, she’s willing to forget every good thing Meredith is and ignore their history.
I don’t think she realizes the scale of her reaction until she talks with Richard for the first time since she fired him. I really hit the nail on the head a few weeks ago when I said the reason Bailey’s so pissed is because she feels like Meredith betrayed her. But after hearing her talk to Richard, another layer is uncovered: she’s jealous.
In this episode, it’s revealed that Meredith didn’t even match at Seattle Grace and that Richard made some calls to get her in the program. Bailey’s pissed at him, too, because he’s always bending the rules for Meredith and she feels like he’s tanking his own career for her. And I think the reason she’s so mad about it is because Richard was her teacher. She doesn’t want to see the man who taught her to be a doctor give himself up for anyone. Especially not someone who’s so blasé about rules.
Richard sees Meredith as family, though. So, of course, he’s going to put himself on the line for her if it comes down to it. We’ve seen him do it more than once. There’s an episode in season 5 where we really get a glimpse into Meredith and Richard’s relationship. It’s right before the Post-It wedding, and Meredith’s patient is a little girl who shot her dad like 17 times to protect her mom. Remember that? Derek calls Richard out for not treating Meredith like a resident because he sees her as family. And he was right. Richard has never treated Meredith like she was only an employee––their history is too rich for that. And, if you ask me, a lot of what Richard does for Meredith is because he feels guilty for the part he played in her childhood turning into what it was.
If he hadn’t left Ellis the way he did, Meredith’s entire life would probably look totally different. Ever since Meredith told him about Ellis’ suicide attempt, he’s been trying to make things up to her. Now, don’t tweet at me all angry because I’m negating their entire relationship to guilt. That’s not what I’m doing. Those two love each other like family. Like Richard said, he would stick his neck out for her and he knows she’d do the same for him. I fully believe that. But that doesn’t mean Richard doesn’t feel an extra layer of responsibility for her because of his relationship with Ellis… and how it ended.
But then there’s Bailey. As close as she and Richard were, their history isn’t as deep. Do I think Richard thought of her as family? Yes. But the way she’s been reacting lately makes him question if she feels the same way about him. Bailey feels betrayed by one of her own, and now she’s realizing that that’s exactly how she’s made Richard feel. Huh. How about that? I’ve been waiting for this conversation to happen, to be totally honest.
After her chat with Richard, Bailey comes around. She walks back into that room and tells everyone what I wanted her to say a long time ago. That Meredith deserved to lose her job and pick up trash. But her license being questioned is ridiculous. She finally acknowledges how good Meredith is at what she does. We got a glimpse of the Bailey we all know and love. Do I think this will magically fix things between her and Meredith? Absolutely not. I can almost guarantee that we’re going to see her not trusting Meredith at work in the next episode. She’ll probably show up in her gallery, or hell, she might even scrub in. But they’re on the mend. I think Richard helped bring things into perspective for her. And hopefully, those two start to work things out, too.
Side note: I kind of did want Meredith to go work at Pac North, though. I really think there could have been a really fun competition between the two hospitals. But now I doubt that’s going to happen. Maybe they’ll merge? I have no idea.
I’m jumping around today. I’m so sorry. If you could see the notes I took for this episode, you’d understand. They’re a total mess that I can hardly even decipher. Let’s go back a little in the episode. Right before Bailey remembers she doesn’t hate Meredith. When those doors opened and Alex and Jo walk in with an army of Meredith’s old patients? I lost it. I saw Skyler Shaye immediately and I knew what was about to happen.
Seeing all of these people in the same room was kind of magical. We had Katie Bryce, who is one of the most iconic patients on the show, we had Ray the paramedic, who is from one of my favorite episodes, Gabby was there being cute as hell, we had Robin (Mer’s supervisor for work crew), we had Shirley, which caused me to yelp again because I love The Parent Trap so much it’s like my two worlds collided AGAIN. There were lots of familiar faces there. And they all had one thing in common: they were able to be there because of Meredith.
Hearing them speak again about how much Meredith means to them was so heartwarming. This is another part of the episode that felt like a love letter to Meredith Grey. I loved it so much. Such a trip down memory lane that is hard to find on TV shows these days, because things don’t last long enough to build up such a rich history. Grey’s has so much to pull from, and who doesn’t love that nostalgic feeling? I know I eat it up.
Choosing to bring Katie Bryce and Ray back was such a smart move. I think those two patients helped define who Meredith is as a doctor. Katie is an obvious choice. Ray, on the other hand, is less obvious but had just as much of an impact on Meredith, I think. She admitted how scared she was when she climbed into that ambulance with him. She was at a turning point in her life, her relationship with Derek was shaky at best, she was still pretty new to the whole doctor thing. This was the first time she became that person in somebody’s story. Stan, Ray’s partner, dies in that ambulance and Meredith is the one to tell his wife. Once Meredith finds her and brings her to Stan, she confides in Richard that that’s all she’s ever going to be in their story. The person who handed Stan’s wife the worst day of her life. Again, it ties back into that scene from season 12. But she had to push through those feelings and save Ray’s life. And while she did it, she had to help him realize he still had a purpose. And clearly, that day stuck with Ray, too. He’s proof that Meredith leaves a mark on her patients. That they remember her just as well as she remembers them. And now they’re all in a position to help her.
“…if I were dying, and a surgery stood between me and death, Dr. Grey’s hands are the only ones that I’d want inside my body. Taking away her license is signing the death certificates of countless future patients. She is a light in a broken system that she will fix whether you want her to or not. She is the sun, and she is unstoppable.” – Cristina Yang
And then the letters. THE LETTERS! If you guys could have heard the gasp I let out when Alex read Cristina’s letter with “Where Does the Good Go?” playing in the background. I’m not sure how I made it, to be honest. I have a feeling this scene was the one they tried to get someone to come back for. My guess is either Sandrah Oh or Kate Walsh, and let me tell you, I would’ve lost my mind if either one of them showed up.
I think Meredith’s patients’ stories and Cristina’s letter (and the fact that Alex had letters from four more highly respected doctors ready to go, too–– hi, Callie, Arizona, April, and Addison! We miss you!) helped solidify Meredith’s case. How could the medical board listen to everything these people said and decide that she doesn’t deserve to be a doctor? They can’t. Stripping her of her license at this point would have been such a slap in the face to everyone in that room. It would be like saying they didn’t matter, or that the medical system, in all its utter brokenness, was more important than the lives Meredith has saved and will save in the future. Am I being dramatic? For sure, but I still think it’s true. That’s the message they would’ve sent.
Ashley Cordova tried to undo all the good Meredith has done by dragging up all the rules she’s broken along the way, but it didn’t work. There’s no contest between a rule and saving a life. You save the life. Every single time. And that’s exactly what Meredith Grey has been doing since we met her.
And, uh, sorry to burst the happy bubble, but I need to talk about Meredith and Andrew now. I know, I know! I’m not happy about it, either. But it has to be done.
The past several reviews, I’ve talked about how I don’t feel like Meredith is letting her relationship with Andrew grow and develop. I still think that. Even more so after this episode. In the second half of last season, Meredith’s attitude towards her relationship with Andrew was totally different than it has been this season. She was letting herself have fun with him, but I feel like ever since she got fired, she’s been pulling away. The walls are going back up and she’s not letting him in. And after I watched the scene of them on the bench, I think I uncovered another layer of this whole thing.
She tells Andrew that they won’t make it if she loses her license. I was pissed she said it, but I think I know why she said it, too. After the plane crash that ruined all of our lives, Derek’s hand was really screwed up. He went a long time without knowing if he’d ever be able to operate again. And while he was in that place of uncertainty, Meredith started to hide things from him. You know that surgery she did on that private security guard? It’s episode 4 of season 9, I think. She does this super cool surgery and doesn’t tell Derek about it. Why? Because she doesn’t want him to resent her for being able to operate while he’s benched. Sound familiar? She’s in the same situation now, except she’s the one who’s facing the possibility of never picking up a scalpel again.
After it’s solidified that she will, in fact, get to cut again, she tries to take what she said back. She said she didn’t mean it. But she did. She may have said it out of the fear of being uncertain, but I do think she meant it. And I also think she’s right.
And then we’ve got Andrew starting to question things, too. When he heard Meredith go off on Dr. Castello, he heard her really talk about Derek for the first time. He saw the flash in her eyes, he heard how angry she still is over losing him. And he can’t help but compare how she felt––and still feels––about Derek to how she feels about him.
When Nancy comes out of the conference room and tells Meredith that the board is going to recommend that she keeps her license, she gives Andrew a hug, but it’s quick. She doesn’t really include him. I mean, he goes off and stands to the side by himself while she celebrates with everyone else, for crying out loud. Meredith has not made a spot for him.
When he shows up at her house later that night, I knew what was about to happen. He’s tired of Meredith not including him. He’s tired of being the only one investing in the relationship. And he’s tired of her playing hot and cold with him. And you know what? He should be. Andrew lists off the things he’s done for her, and her response kind of pissed me off. She tells him that she didn’t ask him to do any of those things. But his response is perfect.
“I did it anyway because I love you. Because I’d do anything for you.”
Meredith will not let him love her. Again. We’ve been here before with her. I think the reason she won’t let Andrew in is totally different than the reason she wouldn’t let Derek in, though. With Derek, she’d never been loved like that before. She had no idea how to accept it. With Andrew, she’s had it and lost it. I’ve said this before, and I’m going to say it again: she’s protecting herself from that kind of loss.
When he brings up Derek, Meredith goes on the defensive immediately. Which, okay, I get it. But Andrew wasn’t comparing her love for Derek to her love for him. He knows she’s not going to love them the same way. That would be impossible. But what he is comparing is the respect she had for Derek to the respect she doesn’t show him. That’s the root of it all. He doesn’t feel like she sees him as a partner. When Andrew asks her if a small part of her wonders if he’ll ever be her equal, she doesn’t answer him. What does that tell us? I honestly have no idea. I think she’s confused and terrified, and Andrew just wants to be let in and valued. And he’s going to walk away from her until she figures out if that’s something she can do.
But please don’t freak out. I really do think they’re going to make things work. He needed to say these things to Meredith, and she needs to understand how he feels before anything can move forward in their relationship. They both love each other, but Meredith just needs to figure out how to let herself really go all-in again. She needs to remember that being in love, that being loved like that, is worth the pain that inevitably comes with it.
Dear God. I’m still not finished. I’ll try to move quickly through the next few things.
First up: Schmitt being the one who turned Meredith in? I did not see that coming. It was an interesting choice having him be the one who did it, though. He clearly looks up to Meredith and respects her tremendously. He’s one of the most lovable characters ever. You just want to root for him. But now we know that this whole shit show is because he went to Bailey about Gabby’s hospital bracelet. Ouch. To be fair, though, he just thought the hospital made a mistake. This is going to set up a big arc for him, I think. I mean, Helm is probably his best friend, and she literally idolizes Meredith Grey. How will she handle the fact that Schmitt is the reason Meredith got fired? (Except I don’t think he’s the reason she got fired. Meredith is the reason Meredith got fired. I’m speaking from Helm’s POV here.)
Okay, moving on. Jackson and Maggie. I yelled at the TV so loudly when they started leaning in. You guys know where I stand on them, I think, and I don’t want to get into it again. But I do think a lot of old feelings came rushing back for both of them because this whole thing with Sabi forced their worlds to collide. Maggie’s blaming herself, Richard is excluding Catherine from being involved in his family’s grief, and Jackson is just… there. Also, we didn’t really see Maggie and Richard interact with each other in this episode. I know she blames herself, but what about Richard? Does he blame her for Sabi’s death?
Last thing! Amelia. As quickly as I recognized Dr. Castello’s voice, I also knew he was probably going to die. Amelia being the one to find the hemorrhage in his brain was a cruel twist of fate, but one I’ve come to expect from this show. While Tom is operating on him, she tells Link that she’s had dreams about the day he dies. (Which, same.) She tells him she’s fantasized about sticking a scalpel through his brain, paralyzing him, and forcing him to lie in a bed and think about everything he took from her and Meredith. I don’t blame her at all for that, either. I’m sure if it were me, I would feel the same exact way. I do think, though, that if this storyline were to have taken place even 2 seasons ago, Amelia would’ve demanded to be the one who operated. She would have wanted to stand over his brain and know she had the ability to cause irreparable harm. Who wouldn’t? And it shows tremendous growth in her as a person that she chooses to pass it off. She’s even proud of herself because she knows her reaction would have been totally different in the past. She knows she’s grown. I loved how giddy she was when she got back to the hotel and announced to Meredith that she didn’t kill him. That was some nice comedic relief in such an emotional episode.
Okay. Whew. I think I’m finished. That is the longest review I’ve ever written. By like, 1,000 words. If you made it all the way down here, thank you! If not, oh well.
Music from 1608:
- We’ll Be Alright – Amy Stroup, AG
- All We Have is Now – Ross Copperman
- Keep You Safe – Lindsey Ray
- Where Does the Good Go – Sleeping at Last
- Salt and the Sea – The Lumineers
“Extraordinary measures can have a cost. You may be alive, but life may not be the same as you remember. Your body may not move as easily. Feelings may be gone. And it can take a long time to recover. There’s a reason it’s a difficult decision. You just have to decide if it’s all worth it.” – Meredith Grey