Sunday, April 19, 2020

Grey’s Anatomy 16x21 Recap: “Put on a Happy Face” (Unexpected Hope) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“Put on a Happy Face”
Original Airdate: April 9, 2020

The impromptu season finale of Grey’s Anatomy works better than anticipated. Like a typical season finale, we are left with a bunch of cliffhangers and lingering questions that no doubt would have been answered in the regularly scheduled final episodes of the season if production had not been suspended. This episode gives us the good, the bad, and the ugly and winds up being satisfying because someone unexpected pulls out the best save in Grey’s Anatomy history.


The episode opens with a compilation of the doctors working on finding a diagnosis for Richard over the course of several days. We see Catherine sitting at Richard’s bedside while Meredith, DeLuca, Bailey, and Amelia are in the war room discussing possibilities. Another day shows Bailey playing cards with Richard, who doesn’t appear to be mentally present. Meredith and DeLuca are still working together and have gotten nowhere. The next day Maggie brings breakfast to Richard. Mer and DeLuca are in the war room all day as a bunch of doctors come in and out to work on the case. There is a several day time lapse to show that Mer really did mean that she and DeLuca would not leave the hospital until they figured out what is wrong with Richard (it did leave me wondering who has been taking care of Mer’s three kids in her absence).

We then get to the day the episode takes place within, and Maggie approaches Mer in the war room after DeLuca steps out for a moment. Maggie is concerned that DeLuca hasn’t slept in days and that Mer can’t see that he is still struggling. She also feels that Mer is putting Richard through a lot of unnecessary stress by not agreeing to Koracick and Amelia’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Maggie reveals that Catherine agrees with the neurosurgeons and plans to take her husband home that day, but Mer still won’t give up.

At the OR board, Link and Amelia meet up. Link wants to catch an early movie and dinner before the baby comes, but Amelia has decided to keep operating as much as possible. Link would rather see her lighten her load even though he understands her argument. She slowly walks off to her next surgery and looks like she’s going to pop any minute. We then get an awkward lover’s moment when Teddy meets up with an arguing Koracick and Owen in the hall. Owen and Teddy have planned a last-minute small wedding for that night, and Owen is mad that Koracick didn’t give them time off. Koracick didn’t know they requested time off for an impromptu wedding and is stunned to hear the news. He does the right thing by giving them whatever time they need, and a pleased Owen walks off. Koracick gives Teddy a withering look and thanks her for the heads up before storming off.

Hayes, Jo, and Jackson are working together for the day on a 13-year-old female patient with moebius syndrome, a rare neurological condition that affects the muscles that control facial expressions. The teen is excited to finally have surgery that way she can be a normal girl and smile for the first time in her life. The surgical plan is to transfer muscles and nerves from her legs into her face to correct the problem. The girl’s dad isn’t too keen on the surgery and has apparently backed out of letting his daughter have the procedure four times in the past year. He feels that his daughter is perfect the way she is and doesn’t need surgery, so she tries to explain to him why she wants to be normal like everyone else. The dad agrees to the surgery, but you get the feeling this might be temporary.

DeLuca has found out that Richard is being discharged and decides to yell at Catherine and Maggie outside of Richard’s room, which causes a scene. He thinks they are making a big mistake by discharging him, but Catherine says they haven’t made any progress in weeks, which makes no sense when we were shown the doctors working for, at most, one week on the case. Mer comes running over to see what’s going on and apologizes on behalf of her ex to Catherine. The three women return to Richard’s room to see Bailey attempting to get him in a wheelchair to leave the hospital. Richard is incredibly grumpy and refuses the chair because he wants to walk. When he stands up, his leg gives out. Richard says he has no feeling in his toes or his leg and thinks his leg has fallen asleep. Mer jumps on this new symptom immediately and finds that Richard’s calf is tender and that his fingers are numb and tingly too. This convinces Mer that Richard does not have Alzheimer’s, and she wants to do an EMG to check his nerve function. Richard doesn’t want any more tests, but Mer convinces Catherine to consent to the test for him.


Owen and Schmitt are working together in the ER and meet an ambulance as it pulls up. Their new patient is a 21-year-old male, who has part of a wooden baseball bat sticking out of his chest. The man is a minor league baseball pitcher, and the bat splintered and struck him in his chest. The docs book a CT scan and OR for their patient, who doesn’t want surgery. Owen assures him that he doesn’t want to be awake when he pulls the bat out of his chest, and the patient agrees to the procedure.

In another room Koracick, Amelia, and Helm are conducting an EMG on Richard. The test is causing a lot of pain for Richard, and Koracick and Amelia are surprised to see that he has no motor output to his legs. Seeing signs of sensory nerve degeneration makes both docs rebuff their Alzheimer’s diagnosis because they now know that Richard’s mind and body are failing him. The docs meet up with Catherine, Bailey, Maggie, and Mer to talk about the results. Bailey wants to do a nerve biopsy to rule out a tumor and get a definitive diagnosis. Maggie gets a page for a trauma consult with Owen’s patient and has to leave as Bailey tells Mer to meet her in the OR for the nerve biopsy.

Amelia asks Koracick to take over the case for her, which makes him think he is taking over because he is a better doctor than her. She tells him that her water just broke, so he needs to take over so she can go have a baby. Everyone is stunned when Amelia casually starts to walk away while sending them luck on the procedure. Bailey offers her a wheelchair, but Amelia says she is fine and keeps on walking. Mer calls down the hall to let her know she will call Link. This is easily the most amusing and fun scene of the episode.

Jackson, Hayes, and Jo are bringing their patient to surgery and get stopped at the last minute by the teen’s dad. He wants to stop the surgery because he is frightened. Jackson and the girl convince the dad why the surgery is necessary and that everything will be fine. He eventually consents and lets them go on their way. We then see Koracick join Teddy in an elevator. Teddy tries to make small talk about Richard, but Koracick wants to know why he didn’t get invited to her wedding. Teddy doesn’t know what to say other than that she loves Owen, which prompts Koracick to say that he knows Teddy is in love with both him and Owen. Koracick feels that Teddy is racing to the altar before she changes her mind again, and he doesn’t think this shotgun wedding will work. Teddy tries to convince him that she is making the right choice and will go through with the wedding, but Koracick doesn’t believe her.


Link runs into Amelia’s hospital room and finds Carina finishing up an exam. Amelia reveals that she felt contractions start at 9 a.m. that morning, but didn’t say anything to anyone because she thought it might be false labor again. She starts to freak out a bit when Carina tells her the baby is actually coming this time. Amelia tells Link she doesn’t want him to leave and grips his hand tightly. Over in CT, Schmitt is once again feeling pain for the patient with a baseball bat in his chest. Owen tells Schmitt to calm down. Maggie shows up for the consult, and the scans show that the bat splintered when it entered the patient’s chest.

We then see Jackson, Hayes, and Jo operating on their teen patient. Jo asks the guys if her only hope of finding love again is through online dating, but they ignore her. Jo decides to get them talking by asking Jackson if he uses dating apps and whether his profile picture is him in front of his yacht or his private jet. Hayes is a little surprised by the knowledge of Jackson’s wealth, and both men say they don’t have online dating profiles. Jo says that Hayes doesn’t need online dating when he has his own personal matchmaker. Hayes wants to know what she means, but Jo decides not to answer. It’s a little hard to believe that Hayes hasn’t caught on to the fact that Cristina sent him to Grey Sloan Memorial to attempt to get with Mer, but I’m sure he will figure out her meddling eventually.

Elsewhere in the hospital, DeLuca is still working nonstop to solve Richard’s case. In another room, Koracick meets with Catherine, who tells him she hasn’t gotten word about the nerve biopsy yet. Catherine takes a moment to vent and admit that she isn’t proud of the mistakes she has made this year and feels she has screwed up everything. Koracick tries to make her feel better by reminding her of the time she messed up and wrecked his car. After a good laugh, Catherine tells her friend that she might want him to have a bigger role in the foundation if Richard needs her because she won’t give up on him again.

Mer and Bailey are about to start Richard’s nerve biopsy in the OR. Bailey thinks they should bring in someone who isn’t family, but Mer reminds her that that person doesn’t exist. As they are about to cut, DeLuca runs into the room and frantically tells them to stop. They think he has officially lost his mind, which he practically confirms by acting like a child and slamming their sterile equipment to the ground to stop the procedure from happening. Bailey is instantly enraged, but she quickly settles down when DeLuca starts to spew his theory. He thinks that Richard’s hip replacement from a few years ago is deteriorating and causing cobalt poisoning, which could cause all of his symptoms. Mer says that they wouldn’t have seen the signs of cobalt poisoning, and Bailey wants a blood test immediately. She gives DeLuca a vial of Richard’s blood and sends him to the lab with explicit directions to tell the pathologists to move this blood sample to the front of the line. Mer and Bailey aren’t the only ones in disbelief that DeLuca has saved the day and come up with the diagnosis of a lifetime. It should be surprising to the audience that DeLuca’s efforts actually paid off and show that he is a great doctor, even though he needs to start taking more care of himself at this point.

In the lab Mer, Bailey, Catherine, DeLuca, and Helm are all waiting for the results. DeLuca tells the group that he called the Boston hospital where Richard had his hip replacement to confirm that he has a cobalt hip. The blood test shows that Richard’s cobalt levels are through the roof, and the doctors agree that the cobalt hip needs to be removed immediately. DeLuca pleads with Bailey to let him scrub in on the surgery, as any resident who makes such a diagnosis would be allowed to scrub in. Bailey doesn’t want him anywhere near the OR, but Mer sticks up for DeLuca by saying he doesn’t have to touch Richard and deserves to at least be in the room. Bailey agrees and wants someone to find Link to operate on Richard. Mer reminds Bailey that Amelia is having a baby, and Bailey replies that Link isn’t having a baby anymore and walks out. DeLuca thanks Mer for the help and it is nice to see him get the win.


Amelia is having contractions and nearly crushing Link’s hand when Bailey rushes in and exclaims that she needs Link for a hip replacement immediately. Both Link and Amelia say that he is busy, which prompts Bailey to explain the Richard situation. Amelia tells Bailey that they are almost done, but Carina tells her that it will be a few more hours. Amelia agrees to let Link go. In the second funniest moment of the episode, Amelia sticks out her hand and fully expects Bailey to tag in as her hand holder since she took Link away from her. Bailey gets guilted into staying and resumes Link’s position, even though we all know this is probably the last place she wants to be.

Jackson, Hayes, and Jo are just about done with their patient’s surgery when Helm comes in to see if Jackson is almost done. She tells them that Richard has cobalt poisoning and is going into surgery to take out the bad hip. Helm also tells them that DeLuca figured it out, which is incredibly shocking news to Hayes. Jackson leaves Hayes and Jo to finish up the surgery. Hayes is not happy that DeLuca was the one to diagnose Richard and tells Jo, “The way he’s been acting, I’m amazed anyone listened to anything he had to say, least of all Grey.” This line perfectly sums up the way Hayes has been feeling since his arrival. Jo replies with, “You seem very interested in who Meredith Grey listens to” and Hayes’ coy, “Do I?” finally shows his true feelings to Jo, who is enjoying meddling a little too much.

Maggie, Owen, and Schmitt are operating on their patient when Maggie’s phone starts going off. She makes Schmitt get it, and he starts reading what is probably a private text from Winston. It’s good to know that Maggie didn’t give up on her one night stand, and I wonder if he would have made another appearance if the season didn’t get cut short. Schmitt then reads off a series of messages about Richard having cobalt poisoning and going into surgery. Maggie stops operating for a moment, and Owen asks her if she wants to go watch Richard’s surgery. She says she is okay and just needed a second. She decides to continue her current surgery.

In the moment that we all heavily suspected was coming, Teddy goes to Koracick’s office after getting paged by him. He starts to tell her a story about how he once saw a guy on the edge of a bridge while driving and stopped to try and stop the guy from not jumping to his death. The guy turned out to be making a phone call and not trying to end his life, so Teddy isn’t quite sure what he is getting at. Koracick tells her that he doesn’t want her to throw her life away by marrying Owen. Teddy hates that she is hurting Koracick, who tells her that he loves her. Koracick makes a last-ditch effort to win Teddy over by saying that he will be waiting in his car tonight and will take her wherever she wants to go if/when she decides to not go through with marrying Owen. Koracick kisses Teddy, but she doesn’t want to kiss him. Out of nowhere, Teddy admits that she loves Koracick and kisses him back. Talk about changing your mind in a split second. They start making out and then have a passionate affair in his office.


Richard’s surgery is about to begin, and Jackson meets Catherine in the gallery to watch with her. DeLuca is barely awake in the OR when Link comes in to operate. Link finds an alarming amount of sludge and tissue damage in Richard’s hip and thinks it’s the worst damage he has ever seen. He tells DeLuca that the implant that Richard had was actually the best hip on the market for a while. Link feels that if Richard’s hip deteriorated, then others might be at risk too. He tells DeLuca that his catch could be a huge game changer. Oddly, Mer has just shown up in the gallery, and it is quite weird that she wasn’t there from the start, but we don’t get an explanation on that. Link asks for someone to get him an update on Amelia.

The audience gets an update when Carina goes to Amelia’s room and Bailey tells her that Amelia’s contractions are three minutes apart. Amelia tells Carina again that she doesn’t want any drugs. She then realizes that she should have thought about asking Bailey to stay and never should have asked her considering Bailey had a miscarriage a handful of weeks ago. Amelia tells Bailey she can leave, but Bailey refuses to leave Amelia alone. Both women are being quite strong given their situations, which is a great piece of writing.

Jo and Hayes visit their patient and her dad to tell them that recovery will be slow but the surgery was a success. A woman runs into the room and asks how the girl is doing. The patient is surprised that her dad has been secretly dating her algebra teacher and tries to smile. The dad says that they were set up by his dentist, and his daughter is happy for him. Jo and Hayes leave the room, and Hayes quickly says that he hates set-ups. Jo finds this just as humorous as I do because we both know that he is falling for Mer due to Cristina’s wacky way of setting them up.

Back in Amelia’s room, Carina tells the mom-to-be that it is finally time to push. Amelia doesn’t think she can. Bailey decides to help her through by climbing behind her on the bed and helping her in the exact way George O’Malley helped her give birth in season two. The scene flashes to Richard’s surgery, which is taking longer than anticipated. Link finally gets the head of the femur out and is ready to put in the new hip. After completing the hip replacement, Link gives the gallery a big thumbs up to tell them that the surgery is over and everything will be fine.


In the other OR, Maggie and Owen have finally pulled the bat out of their patient’s chest. Schmitt reads off another text that says that Richard is out of surgery and stable. Owen tells Maggie that she can go if she needs to. She still wants to stay and says that she does her best work when she’s relieved. Owen’s phone goes off next, and Schmitt finds a voicemail from Teddy. Owen asks him to play the message on speaker, and I know I was not not the only one shouting, “Don’t do it!” at the screen. The message starts playing, and it’s obvious that Teddy’s phone accidentally called Owen and recorded the sounds of her having sex with Koracick. Owen laughs it off; it’s super awkward in the room, and Owen might not quite know for sure what he just heard but he looks mighty concerned.

Next, Link rushes into Amelia’s room. Amelia says she is perfectly fine and that everyone is fine. Bailey has the baby in her arms and tells Link to meet his son. Link takes the baby, and the biggest smiles are on both the new parents’ faces. He sits on Amelia’s bed with their baby in his arms for their first family moment, which is quite sweet. Bailey leaves them alone and you can see the sadness behind the smile on her face. Unfortunately, we don’t get to find out what Amelia and Link name their son, so we will have to wait a few months for that answer. Bailey goes to check on Richard and finds Jackson, Maggie, and Catherine in his room. Richard is stable, off his vent, and doing fine. Jackson says they will know more when he wakes up. Bailey decides to stay with the group and wait for her mentor to wake up.

After checking in on their patient, Owen tells Schmitt once again to not feel the guy’s pain. Owen then goes into a closet to listen to Teddy’s message again. He sinks to the floor as he hears Koracick’s voice, which confirms his worst fears. Owen is openly crying when he hears Teddy tell Koracick that she can’t be with him. She says she is going to marry Owen and that this was goodbye. The message ends and Owen looks absolutely devastated by Teddy’s betrayal.

The scene shifts to Richard’s room. Richard has woken up, and Maggie and Jackson are with him. They are very relieved when Richard knows who they are and that he is at Grey Sloan Memorial. Richard tells them that they are going to have to ask tougher questions if they are quizzing him and in that moment, it’s obvious that Richard is back to normal. As he holds up a non-shaking hand, Catherine walks in and tells him that she wants a bed brought in so she can stay the night. Richard is instantly mad and wants to know what Catherine is doing there. He clearly doesn’t remember anything from the time he was sick and wants her to leave. Catherine is incredibly hurt and Jackson feels it would be best to give Richard a bit of time, so he walks his mother out of the room.

Mer is leaving the hospital for the first time in who knows how many days and is stopped by Hayes. He says the catch about Richard’s condition was great, but Mer gives the credit to DeLuca. Hayes asks her to join him for a drink to celebrate. Mer absolutely wants to get a drink with him, but since she is exhausted, she asks him to ask her another time. He happily accepts and lets her get on her way. Mer then sees DeLuca sitting on the floor in front of a desk crying. She tries to tell him that the case is over and that Richard is fine. But that’s not his problem. He doesn’t know what is going on with him and is in a fragile mental state. Mer suggests that she help him home. With the Mer/Hayes/DeLuca love triangle about to fully start, it is agonizing that we will have to wait several months to find out how things will play out.

The final scene shows Teddy getting ready for her wedding in Owen’s house. She walks into the living room and finds Owen’s mom taking down decorations. She tells Teddy that they are going to have to reschedule the wedding, and Teddy is confused. Owen’s mom got a brief call from her son telling her that he got pulled into a last minute surgery and needs to put off the wedding. Teddy is upset because she knows that something must be up if he didn’t call her. Hopefully she is starting to realize that her actions are going to have consequences. The episode ends with many questionable statuses which works well for a season finale. It will be interesting to see what comes of the many lingering storylines next season.


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