Thursday, April 8, 2021

Grey’s Anatomy 17x10 Recap: “Breathe” (Hope on the Horizon) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

Original Airdate: April 1, 2021

After nine episodes of death and darkness, there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel for the characters on Grey’s Anatomy! If you haven’t been enjoying the dark tone of the season, then you’ll be excited to know that this week delivered a happier hour with more joy on the horizon. The return of not one but two fan favorite characters also adds to the lighter tone and the feeling that things are looking up.


The episode starts off on an upbeat note before quickly going south. Meredith is on her beach alone and walks down to the ocean to get her feet and hands wet. A hand reaches out with a towel from the side of the frame, and Mer is surprised to see her deceased half-sister Lexie when she looks up. In reality, Mer is still on a ventilator, but she has been moved from the ICU to a regular room in the COVID ward. We are then treated to another COVID montage, which ends with Teddy looking slightly catatonic while holding Allison staring at a light in the baby’s room.  

Maggie and Winston are spending a few moments together in an on-call room, which are dampened by the revelation that Winston has to go back to Boston shortly. A page takes Maggie away from her beau and to a patient, Marcella, who was admitted the previous night with COVID. Schmitt and intern Sara Ortiz (the daughter of the Ortiz pair) aren’t happy with Marcella’s declining stats, which they will need to keep a close eye on. In another area of the hospital, Jo, who is going by Wilson again, is examining a patient who just came in. Hayes pops into the room and reveals that Jo is treating his sister-in-law Irene, who has MS and may have kidney stones. He wants Jo to rush the process and get Irene treatment immediately, as she means everything to him and his boys. Jo assures him that normal pace is the best way to go.

Outside in a tent, Richard leads the daily morning meeting for the heads of the departments. He informs everyone that Bailey is taking some much needed time off, but we unfortunately don’t get any Bailey relaxing scenes in this episode. Jackson gives the group a positive update on Mer, who is starting to breathe on top of the vent. Richard kills the good vibe by stating that the hospital only has four vents that are not currently being used, which means that putting a patient on a vent has to be the doctors’ last resort. He also grimly adds that he doesn’t want anyone pulling Mer off her vent unless they are 100% certain that she will fully breathe on her own. Richard is worried that Mer could crash and not have a vent to go back on.


Back on the beach, Lexie tells Mer that she likes it on the beach. Mer says that she likes it too, which prompts Lexie to ask if she is staying there. Mer isn’t sure yet, plus she doesn’t know what the rules of the beach are. Lexie doesn’t think there are rules and that that takes some getting used to. She reminisces about how much she loved rules when she was alive, and a male voice agrees that she liked rules too much. Enter Mark Sloan, who looks very happy to be on the beach with the Grey sisters. I’m sure that I am not the only one who would have been very upset if Mark had not shown up in the same episode as Lexie, as getting closure from their reunion has been needed for years. 

Mark tells Mer that she’s too early, meaning it’s not her time to die. Mer says she isn’t sure how to get back and that Derek won’t let her anyway. Mark is amused and breaks the news to her that the decision is hers to make, not Derek’s. He tries to make Mer understand his point by telling her the sand isn’t real, which just annoys Mer because everyone keeps telling her that. Lexie flashes a smile at Mark, which Mer catches. She asks if they are together, and Mark cryptically answers that it looks like they are on her beach. No one is going to be particularly pleased with that answer, but I’m sure all fans truly believe that Mark and Lexie found each other in the afterlife. Mark and Lexie go frolicking off together and enjoy some time playing on the shoreline with Mer watching from afar. Mer again says out loud that she likes it on the beach.

Koracick is back at work after being discharged two episodes ago. There were two scenes cut from that episode showing him being discharged, which can be watched on the official Grey’s Anatomy social media accounts. He is hanging outside of Mer’s room with a sad look on his face as Owen checks up on her. Owen is not too happy to see Koracick after he exits the room, but he softens a little when he hears how worried Koracick is about pulling Mer off the vent too soon. I do hope that Koracick’s concern for Mer leads to a nice friendship between them post-COVID where they can bond over being sick and surviving. 

Over at the sister house, it’s playdate day! Teddy arrives with Leo and Allison in tow as Amelia welcomes them. Teddy knows that Owen asked Amelia to babysit her today and is using the kids’ playing together as an excuse because he doesn’t trust her to be alone yet. Amelia is happy to help and at least have an extra person to handle the six little kids since Link was called into work by Richard. Link arrives at the hospital to perform a surgery on a severely broken leg and is beyond overjoyed to be there. He thanks Richard profusely after seeing the injury.

While Irene gets an MRI, Hayes badgers Jo about her status in the imaging room. He told his kids not to worry about their aunt, but he wants to know if there is anything to be worried about. Hayes is much edgier than normal and isn’t pleased to see that a large kidney stone means a urology consult is needed. He demands Jo to find Catherine, as he wants Irene to have the best doctor. Catherine comes to Irene’s room for a consult, with Hayes and Jo watching. She comes to the conclusion that Irene is going to need a procedure with a laser to break the kidney stone into pieces. Irene is freaked out because she thinks that what Catherine is describing is the same thing that killed her sister. Hayes assures her that it isn’t the same and that she will be fine. Catherine assures her too and asks Jo to scrub in.


In the COVID ward, Marcella’s breathing is getting much worse. Maggie feels that it is time to call her daughter, Veronica, to see what she wants the next steps to be. She calls Veronica and is surprised to hear Jackson pick up. Veronica was just brought into the hospital with a nasty case of COVID too, and Jackson and intern Alma Ortiz (the mother of the pair) are going to be treating her. Maggie tells Marcella that Veronica has been admitted, and Marcella asks the doctors to spend their time treating her daughter instead of her. The team of doctors then goes to Veronica’s room to update her on her mom’s declining status. Naturally, Veronica wants the doctors to do whatever they can to save her mother. She thinks it is her fault that Marcella got sick because she gave her a hug on her mom’s birthday. Veronica’s oxygen stats start falling, so Jackson raises her oxygen intake. Mama Ortiz assures Veronica that she is not at fault and that her mom will not regret the hug.

In the OR, Link is thoroughly enjoying operating with Richard. He’s happy to not be changing dirty diapers and keeping tabs on a horde of small children. Richard doesn’t really want to hear about that, but he’s a good sport. Link notices and tells him that he’s just happy to finally have adults to talk to when their patient starts to crash. Elsewhere in the hospital, Hayes gives Irene a little tour of the hospital while they are on the way to the OR for her procedure. Irene wants to know about the general surgeon he works with and is crushing on, which she heard about from his kids. She asks to meet her, but Hayes shuts her down by telling her how Mer is on a breathing tube. Irene feels bad for Hayes that he has fallen for another woman who is very sick. Hayes avoids further conversation by saying he will check in with her after the procedure and walking away.

Link and Richard’s patient makes it through surgery and is stable in recovery. He had an embolism and will need to be on a vent for a few days. Richard is mad at the whole situation they are currently in because the hospital now has one vent left. He tells Link that he will have to close the doors to traumas and that people will die since they can’t help them. Koracick walks up and hears the tail end of the conversation, which freaks him out even more.

Elsewhere, Owen is being harassed by text messages from Cristina, who wants pictures of Mer’s monitors so she can see for herself how her person is doing. It might be too much to ask to actually see Cristina this season, but getting mentions of her in back-to-back episodes is nice. Owen caves and sends her the pictures, which sends us back to the beach. The trio is now on a grassy hill off the beach, which is the first time that Mer has left the sand. Lexie is off flying a kite, which gives Mark and Mer some time to chat. Mark is happy to have someone to talk to because he can’t normally talk to humans to warn them of their own stupidity. 

He talks about watching over Callie, Arizona, and Sofia and how he constantly yells at them to wake up and let go of their issues. He hates that he couldn’t stop Callie and Arizona from getting divorced, but is happy to see Sofia grow up. Mark is always with them and says he constantly talks to them. He reveals that sometimes they listen and hear him, but they think that what they hear is their own ideas because they don’t know he is there. He’s giving Mer a lesson in the afterlife by implying that her loved ones are always with her whether she knows it or not and overtly tells her that when you love someone, you need to tell them. Mer actually listens and absorbs what Mark is saying more than you might expect.

The scene changes to the sister house, where the kids are enjoying the afternoon playing outside. Amelia and Teddy are watching and talking to each other. Teddy muses that Ellis looks like Amelia more than Mer before sadly saying that Richard won’t let her near the hospital or any charts. Amelia assures her friend that nothing, including DeLuca’s death, is her fault and that a little break will help a lot. She also recommends to Teddy that sharing her feelings might help. Teddy wants to know if there’s a program for broken people without any addictions, so Amelia quips back that she’s describing therapy. Teddy is not a fan of therapy, probably because when she did try therapy, she didn’t like her therapist. Amelia thinks she should try to find another therapist, as that’s what will help her the most.

Back at the hospital, Jackson and Maggie have a conversation about Marcella and Veronica and how they hate that being a doctor isn’t fun anymore. They go into Veronica’s room and find Sara Ortiz trying to get Veronica back in bed. Veronica got out of bed to go see her mom, and Sara found her in the hallway. The patient just wants to say goodbye to her mom and promptly starts to crash. Maggie immediately starts compressions. In the other room, Marcella is getting support from Schmitt and then starts to crash too. Schmitt decides to intubate Marcella right before Maggie comes running in and freaks out. There’s a single vent left and both Marcella and Veronica need it, but Marcella is now intubated and really needs the vent. Schmitt did the only thing he could do to save his patient, but he may have doomed her at the same time.


While operating on Irene, Catherine asks Jo if she’s ever considered changing specialties because urology could use another strong woman. Jo laughs it off and says that she isn’t changing specialties, even though she does want to change to OBGYN. She’s clearly too scared of Catherine to tell her, which is quite funny. Catherine pulls the scope out to finish the surgery, and Irene’s ureter is stuck to it. They quickly have to change course to an open procedure to fix the damage.

At the same time, Jackson, Maggie, and Mama Ortiz are arguing about which patient should get the final vent. They don’t know who to choose, but all agree that Marcella can’t be on a tube with a bag forever. The group eventually decides that Veronica has the best chance to survive, so she will get the vent. Jo finds Hayes somewhere else in the hospital and explains the complications in Irene’s surgery. Hayes starts to tear up while saying that he can’t go through this again. He can’t bear that he might have to tell his kids that they lost their aunt when they are so close to her and already lost their mom. Jo tells him to snap out of it because it’s just a complication, not a catastrophe before going back to the OR. 

Maggie goes back to Marcella’s room to tell Schmitt that they are going to give Veronica the vent. She makes sure that he knows that he did the right thing by intubating Marcella. They have been trying to get vents from other hospitals, but there hasn’t been any luck. Schmitt is going to keep on hoping it will work out, but he doesn’t look convinced. Back in the OR, Jo scrubs back in to help Catherine finish Irene’s surgery. Catherine had to remove her kidney to fix the ureter, which scares Jo. She assures the younger doc that she will be able to put the kidney back where it belongs, and Jo is more than happy to assist on an auto-transplant.

We then see Koracick holding a rosary outside of Mer’s room. It seems like he has spent most of his day watching Mer, which is both sad and touching. Owen finds him and tells him that if Mer keeps breathing over the vent consistently, they will take her off it soon. Koracick doesn’t want Mer to die and him to live. Owen tells the story of when he got back from Iraq, he wondered why he survived while others hadn’t. He wouldn’t wish that feeling on anyone, not even Koracick. With that, it seems like Owen and Koracick might have turned a corner, and it would be great to see Owen mend fences with his adversary. 

Back on the beach, Mer has a one-on-one conversation with Lexie, who wants to know what Mer’s favorite thing about life is right now. Mer doesn’t have anything good to say because there’s so much grief in the real world right now with the pandemic. Lexie thinks it’s stupid to not enjoy life because people are dying in record numbers. She profoundly asks what the point of avoiding death is if you can’t enjoy living. Mer understands her point and thinks a little harder. She smiles while telling her sister about Bailey’s recent birthday during the pandemic and how he wanted a cake for himself. She got him the cake, and he face-planted into it to make everyone in the house laugh. Zola laughed so hard that she peed her pants, making everyone else laugh harder. Bailey wanted to make everyone laugh for his birthday instead of wanting a present because everyone was having such a hard time dealing with the pandemic. Mer says that he looked just like Derek with the sparkle in his eyes when he succeeded. Lexie thinks the story is a pretty good favorite thing, and they enjoy the moment together.

Maggie finds Winston taking a break outside of the hospital by listening to music. She tells him about the predicament of picking which patient to save. Maggie wants them both to quit their jobs and Winston to not go back to Boston so they can just live happily together. Winston tells her that he knows she won’t let herself quit no matter what. Instead, he wants her to take a break and let him check in on the patients. He suggests that they share the wireless earbuds that he has so they can listen to music together while they are apart. His comment sparks Maggie’s creativity and leads her to think that she can get both patients on the same vent.

Maggie gets both patients on the one vent by putting filters in the tubes so they don’t infect each other. She explains to Richard that the vent has more power than is needed to sustain one person, so it can handle the output for two people. Richard is thrilled that Maggie innovated a way to save both patients and double the amount of vents in the hospital at the same time. He announces that he is going to give Maggie a raise, and the group of doctors that has been working on the patients all day celebrates.


Jo checks in on Irene after she has woken up from surgery. Her vitals are good, so Jo tells her that she can go home in three days if she continues to do well. Hayes thanks Jo for all she has done before the latter heads out. Irene asks Hayes if Jo is single because she wants him to set them up. Hayes laughs and says he has no idea, so Irene settles for an update on the boys. It’s nice to see the friendship between Hayes and Jo continue to develop in this episode, and I hope there is more of that coming up. They make a good team and balance each other out well, which makes it fun to watch them work together.

Richard and Owen check on Mer again. They think they can finally get her off the vent and want to try. Her vitals have normalized and her eyes are moving a lot under her eyelids. Back in the dreamscape, Mer, Mark, and Lexie are in a beautiful flower meadow on a hill above the beach. Mer asks them if the point of life is pain. She’s had so much grief, loss, and pain in her life. Mer also states that she hates that Mark knows things that she doesn’t know, which prompts Mark to tell her that she’s still as stubborn as ever. He goes on to enlighten her that she fights change and clings on to what she knows. Both Mark and Lexie tell Mer that doing that is a waste of life. Mer replies by saying how much she misses them both. Lexie says it’s a waste to miss them because they never left her. She encourages her sister to not waste a single moment before lovingly staring into Mark’s eyes. This is surely the last we will see of Mark and Lexie, and this was absolutely the closure the fans needed. It’s nice to get a proper goodbye this time, and seeing them really push Mer back to the land of the living makes their appearance even better.

The scene changes back to Mer’s hospital room, where we see that Richard and Owen have succeeded in taking her off the vent. Mer is breathing on her own, but hasn’t woken up yet. Jackson, Maggie, and Winston stand outside of the room and are beyond thrilled, as Owen and Richard celebrate by dancing inside the room. Maggie and Winston then leave the hospital hand in hand. They are both very happy with Mer getting off the vent and saving Marcella and Veronica and stop outside the doors to talk. Maggie feels inspired after the day she had and declares that she loves her job again. She thanks Winston for inspiring her and knows that Boston needs him, but she will be miserable if he leaves.

Winston suggests they listen to one more song before he goes, and Maggie says she doesn’t want him to leave. He opens the earbuds case he is holding towards Maggie, and there’s a ring inside! Maggie is shocked as Winston gets on one knee. He tells her that he has some loose ends to tie up at home in Boston, so she has an out if she wants it. But, he hopes she doesn’t want the out. Winston professes that he can’t imagine life without her and doesn’t want to try. He asks Maggie to marry him, and Maggie says yes through tears. A crowd has formed during Winston’s speech, and they clap for the engaged couple. This unexpected moment solidifies that the show is taking a turn for the better, and it’s so wonderful to see Maggie finally find the happiness that she has been longing for.

The second to last scene is very brief, as we see Jo and Jackson spending the night together. Jo mentions that Catherine is scary, and Jackson says he doesn’t want to hear about that. Instead, they enjoy some alone time. The final scene shows Owen getting to the sister house with a huge smile on his face. He immediately tells Zola that Mer is off the vent and breathing on her own as Amelia, Link, and Teddy listen. None of them knew, so it’s a joyous moment for the extended family. Amelia thanks Owen, but he says her thanks should be to Teddy as she did all the hard work. Teddy smiles at Owen and finally visibly relaxes with a deep breath of relief. As the leaf turns, everyone is due for things to keep getting better.


Post a Comment