Friday, April 30, 2021

Grey’s Anatomy 17x13 Recap: “Good as Hell” (Decision Day) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“Good as Hell”
Original Airdate: April 22, 2021

It’s time for some big decisions to be made at Grey Sloan Memorial in the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Most of the episode revolves around Meredith, who is still in a COVID-induced sleep, and the group of doctors trying to help her heal. Mer’s COVID beach makes its return, which features some long-awaited moments between Mer and Derek. While everything in this episode is very predictable, there is a large amount of catharsis for the characters and the viewers that makes for a highly satisfying hour.


The episode begins with Mer walking on her mental beach alone. A few seconds later, we see Derek appear and start walking towards her. Mer greets him with a huge grin, and they go for a walk to do some talking, but we don’t get to hear their conversation at first. The scene shifts to inside the hospital, where Owen is waiting outside of an on-call room that Teddy is in. She is quite surprised to see her ex-fiancé waiting for her, and he was waiting to hear how her virtual therapy session was. Teddy’s not the most enthusiastic about therapy, so Owen distracts her by revealing the real purpose for his visit: wanting to show her something.

That something is a Grey Sloan Memorial ICU nurse being discharged from the hospital after a six-week battle with COVID. It is a happy morning for the entire hospital and many doctors, nurses, and hospital staff are waiting in the halls and outside to clap the nurse out. Maggie and Winston are waiting near the nurse’s room for the clap out, and Winston informs the audience that it is his first official day at the hospital. He has joined Meredith’s team of dedicated doctors and informs Maggie that there is no change in her sister’s status. While they are upset that Mer is not improving, they are thrilled that the ICU nurse is the tenth COVID discharge of the week, which is giving everyone in the hospital a fresh dose of hope. The staff claps the nurse out of the hospital, and the nurse’s husband is waiting with flowers for her in the ambulance bay. More hospital staff, including Teddy and Owen, congratulate her outside. Owen hoped that seeing one of their own make a full recovery from COVID would bolster Teddy’s spirits, but it does the opposite. Teddy looks at Owen and says that the nurse should be Meredith before walking away. 

Schmitt and Jo miss out on the morning’s festivities by a few minutes. We catch up with them as they are walking into the hospital and chatting about their plans for the day. Jo is mad that Schmitt is skipping out of their weekly movie night because he wants to hang with Nico. Schmitt thinks Jo is overreacting, but she’s actually manifesting her anxiety about meeting with Bailey to talk about switching specialties. Jo asks Schmitt for his support, as she’s going to need some to weather Bailey’s impending storm. Talking of support, over at the sister house, Amelia accidentally interrupts Link during a virtual exam with a baseball player, Felix, who is a few months post-op of shoulder surgery. Amelia eavesdrops on the conversation and decides to hijack the call when she starts to think that the symptoms Felix is describing might be neurological in nature, much to the annoyance of Link. To be fair, Amelia simply thinks that she is helping her boyfriend and his patient.

Back at the hospital, Teddy, Richard, and Winston check in on Mer. Her stats are starting to get better, but her blood work from the morning shows elevated liver enzymes. They are a little worried about why her liver enzymes are elevated and why she can’t stay awake for more than two minutes at a time, so they collectively decide to order CT scans of Mer’s chest and abdomen to make sure nothing more is going on. Richard wants Teddy and Winston to do whatever they need to do to ensure that Mer doesn’t develop any new problems that they don’t know about. They are in full prevention mode, as they don’t want to see their friend take a turn for the worse again.

Over on the beach, we finally get to hear the deep conversation we have all been waiting for since Derek unexpectedly showed up in the second episode of the season. It starts off with Meredith asking Derek if he was in pain when he died. He explains that the worst part wasn’t the pain, but rather that the doctors were getting it wrong. He didn’t want to leave, but at a certain point he knew that he was going to die, which is what came across in that fateful season eleven episode. Mer tells Derek that she was at the hospital with him, and he tells her he knows with a smile on his face. Derek continues to say that dying is exhausting, which was something he didn’t previously understand. He explains it: “There comes a point where the desire to rest overwhelms the desire to live. You gave me permission to go. You told me it was okay. You gave me everything I needed until my last breath.” 

There shouldn’t be any dry eyes as those lines are beautifully delivered by Patrick Dempsey. These are important words for Mer and the audience, as we have all needed some closure on Derek’s death.


After a commercial break, we get to see the tail end of Jo’s conversation with Bailey. Jo has barely finished her speech about wanting to switch specialties before Bailey gets the word “no” out. Jo gets angry and tells Bailey that she didn’t come to the decision lightly. She would like a recommendation from Bailey that way she wouldn’t have to start over as an intern. Bailey informs Jo that she can’t switch to OBGYN because she signed a contract as a general surgery attending that doesn’t expire for a few more years. Jo attempts to make Bailey understand that she needs to make the switch, but Bailey needs surgeons. Jackson has taken an unexpected leave of absence, so Bailey can’t lose Jo right now, especially with Mer’s recovery status uncertain. At least she hired Winston and now has three top cardiothoracic surgeons on her staff. Bailey tells Jo that they can revisit the topic after the pandemic but for now, the answer is no. I do feel bad for Jo because she is trying to make her life happier and keeps hitting roadblocks no matter what she does.

Link and Amelia are waiting at home for Maggie to arrive to watch the kids so they can go meet Felix at the hospital and get updated scans on him. Link makes it known that he is mad that Amelia stole his patient, but Amelia hasn’t operated in a month and needs this opportunity. He is worried that Amelia is going a bit crazy because of Mer’s status. Amelia doesn’t want to talk about that topic and is saved by Maggie walking through the door. The couple runs out before Maggie can even say hello.

In the ER, Bailey, Schmitt, and Nico evaluate new patient Erica, who suffered some injuries while rollerblading. Nico wants to get an X-ray of Erica’s leg and leaves Bailey and Schmitt to do the rest of the workup. Erica tells the docs all about how she has changed her entire lifestyle since the pandemic began and that she couldn’t be happier, which makes Bailey internally gag. Schmitt is more interested in their patient’s personal life, especially when she offers him some of her homemade peanut brittle. Bailey finds some bleeding under Erica’s abdominal muscles with an ultrasound and sends her for a CT scan to see the severity of the injury.

Over in the CT scanner room, Winston talks to an unconscious Mer before her scans start. He cutely introduces himself and asks her to wake up so they can properly meet. He wants to hear his future sister-in-law congratulate him on the engagement too and cheekily tells Mer, “I heard you were tough, but I didn’t think you were cold.” With that, Winston has more than fully won me over, and he is going to make a wonderful addition to the ever-expanding Grey/Shepherd/Pierce family.

Winston’s talking triggers another moment with Mer and Der on the beach that will tug at your heart strings. Mer wants Derek closer, but Derek thinks that if she gets closer that she’ll never leave. He thinks that’s her fear, which is why she is still on the beach. Mer retorts that his dad died young, but Derek insists that his father’s death almost ruined him. Mer reminds him that it didn’t and that kids get stronger from those kinds of struggles. Derek agrees that that sometimes makes kids stronger, but sometimes it will also create an Amelia. They laugh and discuss Amelia and baby Scout, whom Derek knows all about. 

Derek gets back on topic by telling Mer that people love her and need her. Mer again announces that she is tired, so Derek tells her, “Your body is tired, but your soul won’t let me near you. You’re still fighting.” Mer asks him if he has seen the last year or two of her life and if it was hard for him to watch. Derek simply says that it was harder seeing her alone than with someone, which comforts Mer. This part of their conversation ends with Derek wanting to tell Mer that she is beautiful, but that’s too shallow of a statement. Mer shares that she tells Zola to tell people they are pretty on the inside, so Derek tells her that instead.

Tom finds Teddy in the scan room waiting for Mer’s scans to start. Teddy tells her friend how beyond frustrated she is about Mer’s status and how COVID might affect people in the long run. She fully spirals before she realizes that she is telling her fears to someone who just recovered from COVID and is actively facing those potential bad outcomes himself. Teddy apologizes to Tom, who leaves when Winston pops in to say the scans are ready to start. Down the hall, Owen loses a COVID patient and throws a fit. Richard sees the meltdown and tries to calm him down. Owen doesn’t understand how his patient, a young teacher, died when she was getting better and supposed to be going home this week. He decides to go to a stairwell to call the woman’s family immediately, and he has a full break down crying session while on the phone.


Link and Amelia chat with Felix while they wait for his MRI results to come through. Tom brings the scans in on an iPad, which reveals a tumor on Felix’s spine. Amelia is excited to operate even though Felix’s career might be over if she makes even one small wrong move. Link doesn’t think Amelia should do the surgery because Mer’s status is giving her too much mental stress and Tom agrees. Amelia dismisses Tom without considering their words and tells Link she is doing the surgery. 

Up in the NICU, Hayes finds Jo visiting baby Luna. Jo tells him about Bailey not letting her switch specialties because she needs general surgeons, especially if Mer doesn’t get better. Hayes didn’t know that Mer wasn’t doing well, which is an odd comment considering he can go visit her whenever he wants and you’d think he would, given that he cares about her. Jo fills Hayes in on Mer’s status, which makes him upset. She tries to diffuse the situation by telling Hayes that she needs more from the world than misery and death, so she visits Luna to make her happy.

In another room, Richard asks Teddy and Winston for the results of Mer’s CT scans. The good news is that her chest CT is clear. However, the abdominal CT shows a clot in her liver, which is causing a buildup on ammonia. The increased ammonia is directly affecting Mer’s ability to wake up, so they need to do a procedure to clear the clot. Richard looks to Winston to perform the surgery, but Winston doesn’t feel it is right for him to, since Mer is going to be his family. He makes a very valid point about conflict of interest, so Richard turns to Teddy and asks if she’s up to doing the simple procedure. He asks her three times if she’s sure she can handle it before Teddy coldly replies that Mer doesn’t have time for this conversation.

Teddy starts to prep for the surgery in the OR scrub room and is interrupted by Owen. Teddy wants to know if Richard asked him to check if she was well enough to operate, and it turns out that she is correct. Owen says he told Richard that Teddy can handle the surgery, but if something were to go wrong, he doesn’t think she will recover. He continues to tell her about the patient he lost and even reveals that he cried while giving the news to the family. Owen is embarrassed by his reaction to the death and that it broke him. He ends his speech by telling Teddy that he knows she’s been through a lot lately and just coming back to work and operating on Mer might be too much. Teddy surprisingly agrees and asks him to page Winston for her.

In the other OR, Amelia is ready to operate on Felix. Link is watching from the observation box and assures her over the intercom that she is the best neurosurgeon for the job. She is nervous that one millimeter in the wrong direction will end Felix’s career, but her nervousness is quelled by Link telling her that she’s got this. Amelia takes a few minutes to breathe before starting the operation. Back in Mer’s OR, Winston arrives to join Teddy on the surgery. Teddy explains to Winston that Mer is everyone’s family, so she will have two of the best cardiothoracic surgeons to help her and remove the clot. Winston’s all in after hearing Teddy’s words, and they start the surgery. Teddy’s confidence is immediately and visibly lifted, which is a relief to see.


The show lightens up for a bit with another excellent beach scene. Mer tells Derek about Ellis drawing a picture of their wedding and how she doesn’t like their Post-It note. They laugh about the fact that their daughter imagines them having a big wedding and suddenly, Mer is wearing a wedding dress and Derek has a light-colored suit on. Mer looks at her dress and states that she hates weddings, but she would give this to Ellis if she could. She asks Derek what he wants her to promise as a recreated vow. He responds, “To torture yourself less.” In an elongated moment, they lean in and have their faces inches apart without kissing and continue to talk. Mer comes to the realization that she doesn’t want to leave the kids and Derek doesn’t want her to leave them either. With that, Meredith and Derek share the kiss we have been waiting for. This scene is fan service at its finest since Mer and Der never had the wedding fans wanted. The pseudo-wedding scene is a thank you from the writers to the dedicated viewers and is much appreciated.

At the sister house, Maggie checks in on Zola in her room. Zola’s math teacher told Maggie that Zola had signed out of class early today, so Maggie wants to see what’s going on with her niece. She finds Zola looking at a photo of her parents and crying. Zola exclaims that she’s mad at everything and that she saw the news about the protests. Her teachers tried to talk about it in her classes, but she says they got weird about it. Maggie asks Zola if she wants to go to a protest, but Zola doesn’t want to go without Mer. She knows Mer would want to be there too and doesn’t understand why Mer isn’t home yet. Maggie tries to help her niece by telling her how Catherine suggests screaming when she gets really mad since it helps. She encourages Zola to try screaming and they let their emotions out together. They hug it out and Zola starts to feel better.

Back at the hospital, Schmitt and Bailey tell Erica that she has some bleeding in her abdomen, has a low blood count, and needs to stay overnight for observation. Nico chimes in that she doesn’t need surgery for her broken leg, just a cast will do. Erica starts accusing Bailey of thinking that she is crazy for changing her life for the better during COVID, but starts to fade and crash before she can finish her thoughts. Bailey realizes that she must be actively bleeding internally and needs emergency surgery.

Teddy, Richard, and Winston talk outside of Mer’s room following the successful procedure. Mer is still sleeping, but her stats are improving. Teddy doesn’t know why Mer hasn’t woken up yet since the clot was removed perfectly. She starts to panic and walks away. Owen, who was sort of creepily listening in the background, goes after her. Elsewhere, Schmitt and Bailey operate on Erica in the OR. The surgery is going well, and Erica is going to make a full recovery. Bailey tells Schmitt that Erica’s ideas are growing on her and that COVID is an opportunity to transform. Schmitt says that’s what Jo wants to do, which opens Bailey’s eyes.

In the other OR, Amelia has removed Felix’s tumor. Tom drops in the observation box to talk to Link, but he doesn’t want to talk about Amelia or Mer. He has been trying to avoid the entire COVID wing because it’s too much for him. It’s sad how heavily Tom is still affected by COVID even though he beat the virus. Tom asks Link when they get to scream at God for the sick joke that He is playing on them. Link thinks the sickest joke is that kids are still getting cancer during the pandemic, and they wallow in their suffering together.

Owen finds Teddy having a panic attack in an on-call room. She is spiraling due to thinking that they could have messed up because Mer hasn’t woken up. Owen tries to talk her down and get her to realize that he is there for her. Teddy desperately kisses Owen, but he tells her no. He is there for her and wants her to feel that by holding and squeezing his hand. Teddy cries on his shoulder, and they seem to be finding their way back to their old ways.


At the same time, Winston tells Richard that he wants to try something that might get him fired. Richard likes the idea, so they call Maggie with a proposal: they want her to bring Zola to the hospital to help Mer wake up. Maggie immediately says absolutely not, but starts to be persuaded by the argument of Mer needing to make the choice to live. She thinks it’s too much to put on a child, yet Richard and Winston assure her that it will be safe since Mer is no longer COVID positive. They know that there is a psychological component to recovery so they want to try. Maggie has had the call on speaker phone, which Zola has overheard. Zola interrupts and says that she wants to go see her mom.

In another room at the hospital, Link and Amelia check in on Felix after his surgery. They inform him that the whole tumor was removed and that he will be fully functional again. He tries to move his arms and finds that they work equally again. With that happy news, Link and Amelia are excited to get home and see Scout. Schmitt and Bailey also check out Erica after she wakes up from surgery. Erica will also make a full recovery, and the doctors are surprised to hear that she wants to go back to work. She doesn’t know what she was thinking and feels that she needs to be realistic after her little vacation. Bailey explains that she knows the pressure to keep things running and that rest isn’t a dirty word and doesn’t mean that you are lazy. She tells Erica that she forgot that before she met her. Bailey doesn’t want Erica to give up on her joy and wants her to make it her revolution.

Right outside the hospital doors, Hayes delivers a gown to Richard and Winston right as Zola and Maggie arrive. The doctors get Zola and themselves suited up to go to the COVID ward before bringing Zola to Mer’s room. Teddy walks by as they arrive and joins the group. Maggie tells Zola that it’s okay if she changes her mind, but Zola fearlessly goes in alone. She is so excited to see Mer and cheerfully announces her arrival to Mer. Zola says that she is here and misses her so much before hugging Mer as the other doctors watch from the window. 

Meanwhile, Jo gets paged to Bailey’s office and is shocked to hear that Bailey won’t make her keep a job that doesn’t fulfill her. Bailey says that if she has to hire a new general surgeon, then that is her problem. She tells Jo to love OBGYN with every part of her. Jo elatedly thanks Bailey and leaves for the night. Outside of the hospital, Schmitt confronts Nico when they meet up. Schmitt thinks that Nico is scared of their relationship status, so Nico boldly asks Schmitt to move in with him. He also tells Schmitt that he loves him. Schmitt is stunned and so am I. He then does the most Schmitt thing ever: he spots Jo walking out and says he can’t hang out tonight with Nico because he promised Jo he would hang out with her. He walks away awkwardly without replying to either of Nico’s statements and tries to rush Jo away. I, for one, can’t wait to see how this plays out. 

Link and Amelia are welcomed home by the kids playing in a fort in the living room. They are surprised to see Link’s mom watching the kids, and little Bailey tells them that Zola went to the hospital to try to wake up Mer. Link and Amelia didn’t know Mer had gotten worse and promptly freak out. Back at the hospital, Winston pulls Richard aside and tells him that there is no change in Mer and apologizes. Richard is grateful for the effort, and Winston tells him that he wants Mer to live and wants to meet her. He continues to say that she’s not just Maggie’s sister, she’s Dr. Meredith Grey, so she has to live. They ask God to save her, which is another touching moment.

Maggie, Teddy, and Bailey watch Zola talk to Mer about her siblings from outside the room, and Bailey agrees that this was a good idea. The three are scared, and Teddy talks about how she needs the year to get better. As Bailey agrees, Amelia rushes in. Maggie catches her and tells her that Mer is the same. Amelia is panicking and crying as Maggie explains that she couldn’t think of a better idea than bringing Zola in. That doesn’t matter to Amelia, who explains that she just needs Mer to live. Richard and Winston come back and think that something happened due to Amelia’s state, but quickly realize she’s just letting out the emotions they are all feeling. It’s clear that Mer’s illness has had quite the impact on every character on the show, and it’s nice to see that she means as much to the other characters as she does to the audience.  

We are then given a final scene on the beach. Derek embraces Meredith from behind while watching the sunset. He tells her that it’s not her time yet, and Mer likes that there’s no pain on the beach. Derek shares that the secret to death is that he even misses the pain of living and tells her that she has to go. Mer fights back by saying that she’s so tired, but you can see that she knows she’s not going to win the mental Olympics. Derek assures her again that it’s not her time and that their kids need her. With a final kiss on her head, Derek tells Meredith that she has to go.

Back in the hospital room, Zola is still talking and tells Mer how Ellis and Bailey occasionally sleep with her at night. Mer makes the decision to live, opens her eyes, and says: “That’s so nice of you, Zo-Zo.” Zola hugs Mer, and the two have huge smiles on their faces as Mer says “hi” to her eldest daughter. The group outside sees Mer wake up and instantly freaks out with pure elation. Zola tells Mer that she loves her so much and Mer replies with, “We love you so much,” while fighting off tears. She says “we” of course as in her and Derek, which is a very nice touch. Mer repeats herself and says, “We love you Zo-Zo” to make sure Zola understands what she said. The episode ends with Derek on the beach walking away alone. The closure that the beach scenes have given is the greatest gift of the season, whether you think of it as gimmicky or not. Having former characters return and have proper goodbyes is exactly what we need in these trying times, and it was a great way to have this season play out.


Post a Comment