Thursday, February 6, 2020

Grey’s Anatomy 16x11 Recap: “A Hard Pill to Swallow” (Slow Recovery) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“A Hard Pill to Swallow”
Original Airdate: January 30, 2020

Love is in the air at Grey Sloan Memorial once again. However, relationships will be tested in many different ways. By the end of the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy, one couple will strengthen their love, while another might be doomed. Before we get into the nitty-gritty romantic details, it’s worth noting that Alex’s fate is still not resolved, as he isn’t mentioned at all in the episode and Justin Chambers’ name still appears on the main cast list.


The episode begins with Meredith and Amelia hanging out and complaining about their problems in a surgeon’s lounge at Grey Sloan Memorial. Mer wants Cristina to tell her if Hayes is a professional or personal gift but in typical fashion, Cristina is unwilling to answer. Amelia talks about wanting rigorous honesty in her life, but she has yet to tell anyone that Link may not be the father of her baby. Cue the perfect timing for Hayes to walk in, help Amelia tie her shoe that she is struggling with, and offer Mer a cup of coffee. Mer is still unsure how she feels about her “gift” and declines the offer. Once Hayes leaves, Amelia shows how much she likes him by telling Mer that Hayes is a great gift.

The great mystery of the hour is then revealed when Jo finds Teddy frantically searching around a nurses’ station. Teddy reveals that she has lost her engagement ring and can’t figure out where it could have gone. This sub-plot provides the entertainment of the episode, so more on this later. Mer is feeling a bit confused about life and decides to go to DeLuca’s office to chat. He’s not in a great mood because he has a post-operative patient with odd symptoms that he can’t crack. Mer suggests filling Bailey in on the case and getting her opinion, then tells him in Italian that she misses him. DeLuca tells Mer that she doesn’t have to miss him because he didn’t dump her. Mer leaves with a smile on her face and without saying another word.

Amelia finally decides to spill the beans to Link and has him meet her outside near the coffee cart. In a jumble of remorse and word vomit, Amelia reveals that Link may not be the father of her baby. Link is very surprised and immediately dons a look of pure hurt. Amelia wants him to know that no matter what, the paternity doesn’t change the way she feels about him and wants their relationship to continue. Link knows that Owen is the other potential father and asks Amelia if she has told him yet. She says that she wanted to talk to Link first because their relationship is more important. Amelia continues to tell Link that she loves him and that she doesn’t want to get a paternity test because that’s how little the results matter. Link takes the news surprisingly well at first, but his brave face won’t last long.

Back inside the hospital, DeLuca finds Bailey and gives her a status report on how well all of the interns are healing from the accident at Joe’s Bar. This is apparently Bailey’s first day back since the accident, which is said to have occurred one week prior. They run into Koracick in the hall, who is a bit mad that Bailey didn’t run taking a few personal days off past him. Bailey shrugs him off and goes with DeLuca to see his patient, who had an appendectomy three days ago and is still running a fever. Suits star Sarah Rafferty guest stars as the patient, who has her two young daughters and sister visiting with her. The kids are afraid that their mother is going to die because their father went to the hospital a year prior and wound up not coming home. Bailey says they will run some labs to find out what the problem is and tries to reassure the kids that their mother will be fine.


Mer runs into Hayes on her way to the ER, which they both wind up going to. They see a teenager coughing up blood and run over to help. Meanwhile, Maggie is still sulking at home and finds Richard on her doorstep. He wants to know why she quit her job and invites himself in to make a pancake breakfast, much to the chagrin of Maggie. The scene changes again to Jo finding Link on the same bench outside. He still looks a bit stunned and tells Jo what Amelia told him. Before they can really talk about it, two men come walking up the path shouting for help. One is injured, and his friend explains that the injured man had his hand crushed in a cab door and also has a fish stuck in his throat. The looks on Jo and Link’s faces probably matched the audiences’ confused looks.

Over in the ER, Hayes tells the teen’s father that there is a bleed in his son’s throat and that he and Mer were able to stop it for now. They aren’t sure why the kid is bleeding, so Hayes asks the father and the patient’s friends, who have appeared in the waiting room, whether they know anything. Everyone denies knowing a potential cause, and Hayes leaves to take the patient for a CT scan. In the Grey-Pierce-Shepherd household, Richard is doing his best to be a father to Maggie and is also mad at the fact that there is no food in the fridge. Maggie doesn’t feel that she deserves Richard’s kindness and rambles about how she is struggling with being sued by her uncle for killing her cousin. She tells Richard that she is depressed and wants to be alone.

The entertainment subplot resumes when Owen arrives at Grey Sloan to take Teddy to lunch and talk wedding plans on his day off. She immediately bursts into tears and tells him how sorry she is that she lost his family ring. Surprisingly, Owen isn’t upset at all and simply says that they will find it together. The lighthearted stories continue when Link and Jo bring Jackson in on their case. The patient can’t talk because the fish he swallowed is lodged in his throat. His friend tells the doctors the story of how after the patient’s bachelor party at a bar, he swallowed a fish from the aquarium on a dare. The patient keeps trying to talk, so the friend gives him a phone to type a message on. He says that his fiance told him not to do anything stupid and asks them not to tell her what happened.


DeLuca and Bailey have gotten their patient’s labs back, and they tell her that her white blood cell count is high. The plan is to keep her in the hospital for one more day, and if she doesn’t improve, they’ll do a scan in the morning. The kids don’t want their mom in the hospital for another night, so Bailey gives in and decides to do the CT scan now.

Over in the OR, Link, Jo, and Jackson have figured out that their patient swallowed a bronze catfish and are working to remove it. Link is a little spaced out, which prompts Jo to ask him if he’s okay. He says that he isn’t losing his mind over the news. The answer isn’t good enough for Jo, so she lets him know that he can be mad at Amelia and still love her. She then tries to convince him to want a paternity test. Speaking of Amelia, she pops in on Owen and Teddy looking for the engagement ring in a lounge. She wants to tell Owen that he might be a father again, but is thrown off by finding Teddy with him. Owen gets a text from daycare saying that Leo is sick, so he and Teddy leave before Amelia says anything.

Mer and Hayes are waiting for their patient’s scans to load, and Hayes gets chatty about his teenage sons. He apologizes for being crass when they met and explains that he lost his wife two years ago last week. He asks Mer if they can start over, and Mer quickly agrees. She tells him that two years is a tough time, but the loss will get a little better. Their bonding gets cut short when the images load and show inflammation in the teen’s lungs. Hayes points out that his lungs look like those of a 60-year-old smoker, not a high school athlete. They both think that their patient has been vaping, so they confront the father and friends. The friends confirm that he is a vaper, and they thought it was a safe thing to do. Hayes gets a bit emotional and goes off about the dangers of vaping. Mer and Hayes then present their differing opinions on how to treat their patient to his father, who chooses Mer’s less risky option. Funny enough, this is the second medical show this week to cover the vaping epidemic. New Amsterdam’s January 28 episode had a very similar case.


Richard and Maggie’s conversation continues when Richard presses his daughter about why she quit. He assures Maggie that the reason why he couldn’t look at her after his niece’s death was because of what he put her through. He wants Maggie to know it wasn’t because she killed his niece, but Maggie won’t listen. She insists that her mistakes caused her cousin’s death, not that she was already on the brink of death as Richard suggests. Maggie feels that she can’t be a surgeon anymore because she can’t trust herself. She wants Richard to leave, so he does.

We then see Owen, Teddy, and Leo in an exam room. They gave Leo an X-ray just to make sure he was fine. When the films pop up on the computer screen, they are relieved to see that Leo is sick because he swallowed Teddy’s engagement ring. Owen and Teddy laugh and know they simply have to wait it out. Back in the OR, Mer and Hayes try to stop the bleeding in their patient’s lungs with Mer’s idea. Hayes thinks that they need to switch to his treatment of removing part of the damaged lung. Mer doesn’t want to give in, but when her way fails, they switch over to Hayes’ idea. This scene shows the two doctors working very well together and having strong communication after only knowing each other for a week. It’s becoming more and more clear that Mer and Hayes could have a strong relationship, even if Mer doesn’t want to believe it.

The scene changes over to the other OR for a quick minute. Jackson, Link, and Jo have finally removed the fish from their patient’s throat. Based on their ongoing conversation, Link is clearly not handling the Amelia situation well anymore and is starting to show his true feelings: hurt and disappointment. As Link and Amelia’s relationship starts to crumble in Link’s mind, Mer and Hayes continue to show how they can have very civil discussions in their OR. Hayes tells Mer that he has seen multiple vaping injuries and that in his experience Mer’s approach typically goes sideways. He reveals that the last vaping case he saw was with Cristina and calls her a nightmare. Cristina apparently had the same idea as Mer and forced it on Hayes, but it didn’t go her way, just like the current patient. Mer is surprised to hear all of this, but it’s unclear if she’s simply surprised by the nightmare comment or everything.


We finally get an update on Bailey and DeLuca’s patient, but things go south fast during her CT scan. The patient starts to code while in the scanner, and Bailey and DeLuca realize that she has fluid building up around her heart. After removing the fluid and stabilizing their patient, Bailey and DeLuca tell the family that they aren’t sure what is causing the problems. The patient assures her kids that she won’t die and that the doctors will figure out what is wrong with her. Bailey confirms that they will solve the case and tells DeLuca to get as many opinions as he can from other doctors.

Jackson, Link, and Jo check up on their patient after surgery, and he asks them for their advice on what to tell his fiance. The friend starts to say that he should tell her the truth, but is interrupted by the fiance showing up. Naturally, the fiance is not happy about her man’s stupidity, and things get awkward for the doctors real quick when she announces that she is leaving him for being so dumb. Her speech about him showing her over and over who he really is hits Link hard.

Richard shows up again at Maggie’s with a bag of groceries. Maggie wants Richard to be mad at her over destroying his family. She says that she deserves to be sued. Richard finally makes his pancakes and tells Maggie that he replays that day in his mind a lot too. He says that he thinks about what he could have done better and knows there is nothing they could have done. He wants his niece’s death to teach Maggie the valuable lesson of knowing that she is imperfect and only human because she has yet to realize that. Richard urges Maggie to let the insurance settle the suit with his brother and continue being a surgeon.

Back at Grey Sloan, Teddy still feels awful about losing the engagement ring. Owen tells that it’s totally fine and not a problem because they know they will get it back. He assures her that it could have been a lot worse. It’s very odd that Owen is so relaxed about the whole situation. This is the type of thing he would usually get worked up about. Leo finally poops and Teddy says she’ll take care of it since it was her mistake.

Hayes tells his patient’s father that he and Mer removed a part of the kid’s lung and that he will have a difficult recovery. The father thinks that he is an idiot for not realizing that his son was vaping. Hayes meets up with Mer outside of the patient’s room. She apologizes for not listening to him and going with the lung removal in the first place. Hayes is fine with it and is glad that Mer isn’t pushing that she was right like Cristina did after their past unsuccessful case. Without thinking, Mer says that that sounds like Cristina. Hayes is a bit confused, but before he can ask if Mer knows Cristina, Mer quickly walks away as she realizes she has said too much.

Bailey runs into Koracick again. She decides to tell him that she was at home recovering from a miscarriage, not on vacation. Koracick says that she should have told him. He reveals that his wife had two miscarriages so he knows how she feels. He reveals that he has never gotten over it and that he lights a candle every year on what would have been their birthdays for remembrance. He says that he will light a candle for Bailey’s baby too. For the second week in a row, we get a very touching emotional moment from Koracick. Maybe he will finally completely soften up. Bailey decides to visit the hospital’s chapel and lights a candle for her unborn child.

Link pages Amelia to the plant room to tell her that she should have told him from the beginning that he might not be the father. Amelia agrees with him that she is a perpetual screw up and apologizes for hurting him. Link wants her to tell Owen and Teddy the truth. He also wants a paternity test. As for their relationship, he wants to take things one step at a time and see what happens, which makes Amelia very upset. I’m not sure what Amelia thought would happen, but her fantasy of Link being as cool about the situation as she hoped was never going to come true.

After her day with Hayes, Mer finds DeLuca and asks if he wants to get dinner. In typical Meredith fashion, she is trying to push aside all thoughts of Hayes because everyone is telling her to accept the gift and she has realized he’s a great guy. DeLuca instead wants a consult on his patient because he still can’t figure out what is wrong. The case is unresolved, so here’s hoping it runs into the next episode. The show ends with Richard getting home and finding Catherine waiting for him. She knows that he skipped out of work today and wants to know what he was up to. Richard tells her it took him all day to convince Maggie to not quit medicine. Catherine tells Richard that they need to have a serious conversation because things aren’t working between them, which makes me think their relationship is about to end.


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