Monday, January 29, 2018

Grey’s Anatomy 14x10 Recap: “Personal Jesus” (The Rule of Three) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“Personal Jesus”
Original Airdate: January 25, 2018

After the return of Paul Stadler, you knew his arc would come to quite an exciting end. His fate was left in limbo after being the victim of a hit-and-run, but the fallout is pretty astonishing. On top of that drama, April has one of the worst days in her life. Her faith is tested, yet her end reaction is a bit extreme for her character. With four interwoven stories that will pull your emotions in every direction, this episode is one heck of a ride.


Even though the Paul/Jo/Jenny abuse storyline may not have been the primary focus of the episode, there was a lot of content packed into a very short amount of time. The episode starts where it left off: Meredith finds Alex and Jo in plain clothes looking into an ER private room. Paul is being treated for a head wound and other injuries from a hit-and-run, and his fiancé Jenny is being questioned by the police. Of course, Meredith thinks that Alex and Jo are responsible for the accident, but they swear they didn’t do it and instead think that Jenny was fed up with Paul’s abuse and decided to end it for herself.

When she’s done with the police, Jenny finds Jo and thanks her for doing what she didn’t have the courage to do. In a moment of confusion, each woman thinks the other committed the crime and the audience is left to wonder whether they are telling the truth. It is later revealed that Paul was hit by a drunk driver, whom the police found, so everyone is in the clear of criminal charges. In a heartfelt moment, Jenny breaks down and explains to Jo the cycle of abuse and how it was a slow burn. The details of how Paul became abusive and made both Jenny and Jo think that they were crazy and at fault were chilling to hear.

Both women then decide to go visit Paul in his hospital room, where he is putting up a big stink to Meredith about staying. He gets very nasty when both women walk in, especially when he finds out Jo is there to protect Jenny since neither wants to be alone with their abuser. Jenny tells Paul that she is going to speak to the police and report the abuse and attempted murder that he committed. She reveals that the previous night Paul tried to strangle her in anger, which is yet another reason why he might be the most evil character to ever be on the show. Jenny then asks if Jo will testify against Paul in court, which she wholeheartedly agrees to do. To end her big speech, Jenny breaks off her engagement to Paul and says she will only ever see him in a court room.

What happens next is a true act of God: Since he can’t control his anger, Paul tries to get out of his hospital bed to go after Jenny and Jo. But because he is still a bit disoriented and has a mild concussion, he trips and smacks his head on the end of the bed. The move knocks him unconscious, and Meredith timidly checks to see if he is still alive. In the best karma moment ever, Paul has given himself impact syndrome, which can occur when the brain suffers a second traumatic impact while still recovering from the first. Amelia declares him brain dead, which leaves Jo as his power of attorney. Yes, they are still technically married because the divorce papers have yet to be given back to the lawyers and made official.

This turn of fate leaves Jo at a loss. She starts hysterically laughing, then crying, because one weight has been taken off her shoulders and been replaced with a second. Paul’s condition isn’t enough closure for either woman, so Jo decides to make something good out of all the evil and donate all of Paul’s organs. The whole thing is poetic because in the end, Paul’s own violence was his downfall, and Jo was able to have a clear conscience by giving a happy ending to all her terrible memories. Her line about evil becoming something good in the end is a fitting conclusion to Paul’s tale.

While this might not be the finish that we had all wanted, it is good that Jo can finally have a peace of mind and move on. My prediction is that she and Alex will be engaged quickly and possibly even be married before the end of the season. Both of them deserve some happiness after all the terrible things they have dealt with. We probably will never see Paul again, but Matthew Morrison was fantastic in the brief amount of time we had with him on screen.


It is now time to weave together April’s interesting arc from this episode. For starters, everything in the episode is connected back to her. She was initially treating Paul when he arrived at the hospital, so we can check that one of the list. As we all know, April is in charge of the ER. We don’t always get to see a lot of what happens in the ER anymore, so think of this episode as a day in the life of being an ER doctor. April deals with four patients simultaneously so once again, while these stories are independent, they all tie back together at the end of the episode. One of the subplots isn’t important to the overall episode and won’t have ramifications for the rest of the season, so I will not waste time mentioning it.

If domestic abuse wasn’t enough of a ripped-from-the-headlines storyline, then this episode is for you. It features an equally awful plot about a 12-year old boy being shot by the police. Ben is out on his ride along with the fire department  which he will be joining full time in the spin-off Station 19 (premiering March 22)  when they are called to the scene of an act of police bias and brutality. A cop thought an African-American boy was breaking into someone’s home, so he shot the unarmed child. The boy, Eric, was actually trying to get into his own house, but had forgotten his key and was trying to climb in through a window.

Ben arrives at the hospital with Eric, and let’s just say that Ben is not happy with what happened. The police have Eric handcuffed to the gurney and won’t take the cuffs off for him to be treated. Bailey and Jackson also have some choice words about police bias, which concludes with a powerful monologue to the police by Jackson. Eric has suffered a gunshot wound to his neck, and the bullet just missed the carotid artery. April is trying to assist Jackson and Bailey in the ER, but they kick her out and rush Eric to surgery. His carotid artery bursts in surgery, and he dies on the table.

Eric’s story sends an incredibly strong message against police bias. The characters’ points of view, discussions that undermine their faith in the system, and the nonchalance of the police toward what happened is truly eye opening. I wish this particular storyline could have been given a full episode just to itself because it is so important and impactful. The writers did an excellent job of not glamorizing the issue. The inclusion of Bailey and Ben giving Tuck a talk about police bias was especially emotional and difficult to watch. It is awful that we live in a world where this still occurs, and this episode went head on into the harsh reality that plagues America.


April’s biggest case of the day turns out to be a pregnant woman going into labor. We quickly learn that the patient is actually the wife of April’s ex-fiancé, Matthew. Since the last time they saw each other was when she left him at the altar, there are a lot of unresolved feelings there. April has to deliver Matthew’s baby, then tend to his wife, Karen. The tension and awkwardness of the whole situation is pretty comical... until Karen starts having some post-birth complications. Karen was one of Arizona’s patients, but Arizona wasn’t around to help out for various reasons. April didn’t know that Karen had a history of low blood pressure and doesn’t realize that she is bleeding out until her blood pressure is through the roof. Karen is rushed to emergency surgery, where she dies on the table.

Her death can be attributed to April, since it seems April didn’t read her chart to know about the low blood pressure. While Karen’s story is short, it’s the interactions with Matthew that are more powerful here. Matthew and April have some time to talk, which reopens a lot of April’s old wounds. The worst of the conversation comes when Matthew talks about taking the pain of being left on the altar and turning it into something beautiful. Then, he says that April must be doing well since she has Jackson and had heard they had a baby about three years ago. Unbeknownst to him, April’s life has been a living hell between the divorce and losing her first child. The conversation visibly shakes April, which was some great acting from Sarah Drew. It’s been a long time since we have seen April this rattled, and the consequences are pretty disastrous. 


Throughout the course of the episode, April feels that she can’t do anything right and isn’t wanted by anyone. This makes her think that no one believes she can do anything right either. Between dealing with Paul, Eric, and Karen, April had a rough day. The worst part is that she finds out that all three patients died when going back to check in with the other doctors. Each death weighs heavier on April, with Karen’s death being the real kicker. She loses it when she sees Matthew holding his baby by himself in the nursery.

Through a series of voiceovers, April discusses how her faith failed her today. She essentially says that there’s no point to faith if terrible things happen to people every day. This isn’t the first time that we have seen her faith waver, but it is the first time she totally goes off the rails. April winds up sharing an intimate scene with intern Vik in her shower, which we all know isn’t going to do any good for her. Over the years, April has faced some really tough situations, but none have destroyed her faith. It is a little unreasonable that one bad day governed by the rule of three would crack her.

April’s faith has always stayed with her even in the worst of situations. She watched Derek get shot point blank in front of her and talked the gunman out of not shooting her. She broke her promise of not have sex until she was married by sleeping with Jackson the night before taking her medical board exams. She then failed her medical boards and stopped practicing medicine. She thought she had found her soulmate, but felt guilty and left him at the altar. April dealt with the struggles of losing her unborn child and the futile relationship with Jackson that followed. This character has had a lot of hardship, yet it seems unlikely that one bad day in the ER would destroy her faith.

Where April goes from here is a mystery. It is unclear what impact her one-night fling with Vik will bring and whether that will be enough to snap her out of her spiraling. This episode dealt with the harsh reality of losing patients due to awful situations. While none of the stories were particularly happy, it’s not like April was directly responsible for killing the three patients. For someone who has been very solid and unwavering in their beliefs, April fell apart easily which probably means that this new mentality won’t last too long. Or, this was the final straw for April’s faith because it seems that God doesn’t look out for her or care about good people being hurt.


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