“The Room Where It Happens”
Original Airdate: November 10, 2016
"The Room Where It Happens" consists of one operating room and four doctors at odds with each other over how to treat a dying patient. Meredith, Owen, Richard, and Stephanie have a patient with a non-functioning liver who is bleeding to death on the table. The only way to save him is to come together and find a miraculous way to stop the bleeding before it’s too late. The issue is that Meredith and Owen are butting heads more than usual and can’t agree on anything. Richard doesn’t help the problem by getting Owen to agree with his methods, which infuriates Meredith.
One reason why this episode is great is because it only focuses on these four doctors. No other characters make an appearance, which is a breath of fresh air. With all of the crazy drama that is surrounding the season, it was nice to take a quick break from it all. Next week is going to be rough enough, so this was a much-needed time out.
A WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE
Besides not getting along and losing a patient, the doctors are also faced with the ghosts of their past. Richard makes them all play a game of coming up with a backstory for their patient to get the doctors more invested in saving him. Unbeknownst to them at the time, each doctor will wind up identifying the patient with someone in their past. Each memory that resurfaces actually helps solve a piece of the puzzle, which was a good twist. The other good twist is that we get to see a new memory from each character. Richard shares the story of how his mother died of pancreatic cancer when he was ten years old, which triggers everyone else’s own flashbacks. Owen then thought of his dead sister, and we got to see her for the first time. It was interesting to see a glimpse of what Owen was like with his sister. Owen’s sister has been a mystery for the past year or so, and it was good to see what has been missing.
Stephanie brought a memory of herself as a child to the table. Her past self helps her remember all the reading that she did as a kid while bed-ridden from complications with sickle cell anemia, and that knowledge winds up solving a big piece of the puzzle that is the patient. Meredith’s worst wound reopened last, and I spent most of the episode wondering which one of her memories would be on full display. Instead of showing us something we had seen, Meredith reflects on when she brought Zola and Bailey to the hospital where Derek was brought after his fatal car accident. For the first time, we get to see how Meredith told her kids that their father was dead, which was an incredibly emotional moment.
Meredith’s memory helps her find a way to save her patient after all. After a tender moment with Richard, Meredith goes to the scrub room to wash up. The most beautiful and tear-provoking moment since Derek’s death happens when season one Derek appears next to Meredith. This was the first time that I can remember that the show used archive footage to show Derek after writing him off. Even though Derek is mentioned from time to time, it was a nice way to acknowledge how much he meant to Meredith.
This led me to think about how this experience will impact Meredith in the near future. Her on-and-off-again thoughts about Nathan as a possible new love interest could get more complicated now. Meredith has obviously been grappling with whether she can handle another relationship or not. We will see whether her vision of Derek changes that.
Anyway, "The Room Where It Happens" was really well done and one of the best concepts the show has thrown at us in a long time.