Monday, May 31, 2021

Grey’s Anatomy 17x16 Recap: “I’m Still Standing” (Six Weeks) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“I’m Still Standing”
Original Airdate: May 27, 2021

The season’s penultimate episode of Grey’s Anatomy has a rather interesting premise: it shows us what happens to the main characters and their patients over six weeks. This is a good tactic to help speed along time since up until this episode, the whole season took place in a period of roughly two or three months. We see the lives of Grey Sloan Memorial’s finest ebb and flow while they try to find some sort of new normal as the world continues to change. While this episode doesn’t leave any major cliffhangers for the finale, it will be good to see which stories wrap up and which will continue into the eighteenth season.


The episode opens with Amelia and Meredith at home, with the former playing caretaker. Mer is looking much better since she got home from her extended stay in the hospital, but she’s annoyed with not being able to immediately go back to her normal life. Amelia, on the other hand, is very happy to be back at work, and she is extra busy since she has inherited Tom Koracick’s service on top of her own. We then get to see the new resident apartment, where Helm has officially moved in with Jo and Schmitt. Jo is a bit annoyed by Helm living there since the place wasn’t built for three people and tells Schmitt not to bring more people home. On a more positive note, Schmitt gets a message that he has been accepted into the COVID-19 vaccine trial being run at the hospital. He and Helm are thrilled that there might be good news on the horizon, but it doesn’t faze Jo.

At the hospital, Winston and Maggie are in the early stages of wedding planning and discuss options in a lounge with Richard listening. They consider mini toasts at the reception and possibly having two or three wedding cakes. Richard can’t hold his tongue and asks the couple how they can have a wedding when the world is shut down. It’s funny how they don’t think the pandemic will deter their wedding plans, and Maggie even suggests that they have the wedding in a remote place, like somewhere with a waterfall near the ocean. Their semi-ignorant bliss brings some much-needed levity to the episode.

Owen and Amelia wait for an approaching ambulance outside the OR, and Owen is happy that Amelia is back and has responded to the incoming trauma instead of Tom. Amelia tells Owen how Tom left to go work with Jackson and the foundation in Boston, which is news that Owen somehow didn’t know. Tom’s decision finally makes Owen respect his former enemy, so don’t expect much bad blood between them if and when Tom appears again. The ambulance arrives with a young female, Skyler, who has a depressed skull fracture. Amelia is worried about a brain bleed and immediately brings her upstairs for a CT scan.

The other two patients of the episode are then introduced, though we are already very familiar with the first: baby Luna. Hayes and Jo meet with Luna’s newly appointed legal guardian who is a CPS social worker named Carmen. Hayes reports that Luna has been spitting up after every feeding and her heart rate is down. He needs to order some labs to find the cause, so Carmen tells him to let her know what he finds. After Carmen leaves, Jo asks Hayes if they have to run everything by her, but Hayes says only he has to because he is Luna’s doctor.

Richard, Maggie, and Helm are treating Gwen, who presents with congestive heart failure. The doctors have determined that Gwen’s blood is clotting and that she needs a filter to stop the blood clots from getting into her lungs. She will also need a heart transplant and will have to stay in the CCU in the meantime. Gwen is all alone for the process, as her husband died the previous fall and she has no family to contact. In the OR, Owen and Amelia scrub in to perform neurosurgery on Skyler. They FaceTime Skyler’s dad to tell him they need to relieve the pressure in her brain by removing a piece of her skull and embedding it into her abdomen until the swelling goes down. 

The last plot of the episode then gets into full swing when Schmitt arrives for his first dose of the vaccine. He gives himself a little pep talk beforehand to calm his anxiety, which immediately starts to go away when he sees the very cute Dr. Mason Post. New guy Post is the doctor in charge of the vaccine trial and asks if Schmitt feels sick. Schmitt reports he is nauseous and feels alone, but he doesn’t feel sick so he can get the vaccine. After getting the vaccine, Schmitt wryly tells Post that all he has to do is not die, and Post assures him he won’t die from the vaccine. A crowd has also gathered outside of the room and applauds Schmitt for getting the vaccine.


Week two starts with Mer playing catch with Ellis in her backyard. Bailey comes to visit, so Mer sends Ellis inside to do school work. They sit down at the table, and Mer is a little winded from playing with her daughter. She wants to talk about anything, so Bailey tells her how she has not found a replacement for Jackson yet, her foster son Joey got an A in A.P. Biology and wants to be a doctor, and Ben’s tumor is gone, meaning he needs no further treatment. Mer didn’t know Ben was sick, and if you didn’t know either, this storyline played out on Station 19. For the Grey’s Anatomy audience, Bailey explains that they found a lump and Ben was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He had his testicle removed, and now the cancer is gone and he doesn’t even need chemo. Bailey apologizes that she has been so stressed that she couldn’t talk about it with anyone, and Mer is sorry that Bailey had to go through that.

At the hospital, Maggie visits Gwen and finds Helm sitting with her. Winston then shows up, only to find out that Helm paged him because Gwen wanted to meet the man Maggie is marrying. She asks them if they have set a date and if she can see pictures if she lasts that long. Maggie jokingly tells Helm not to page anyone unless it’s about work, but it is sweet to see that Gwen has made a support system from her doctors. We then see Schmitt’s next appointment with Post, as he has to check in every now and then to make sure he doesn’t have any adverse reactions to the vaccine. Schmitt doesn’t know why he was so nervous because the vaccine was no big deal and he’s doing great. Post then clearly makes it known that he is interested in Schmitt, which catches the resident off guard.

Nico sees Schmitt leaving the trial room and catches him to ask how he’s feeling and if he’s experienced any side effects. It’s cute how Nico is worried and is showing more affection for Schmitt than ever. Schmitt tries to brush him off and wants to get back to his patients, so Nico stops him again by asking if they broke up. Apparently Schmitt has been avoiding Nico ever since he walked away when Nico asked him to move in, which has left Nico in limbo on their relationship status. Nico also asks Schmitt if he wants to see other people. Schmitt admits he doesn’t know, but Nico only wants to be with Schmitt. He tells Schmitt to find him when he makes up his mind.

In the NICU, Hayes has come up with a good plan for Luna and is telling a very distracted Carmen how he wants to treat the baby. Carmen doesn’t even look interested, which really annoys Jo. She tells Hayes and Jo that she doesn’t have to think about Luna because they are doing such a great job with her, but that doesn’t make Jo feel any better. We then get an update on Skyler when Owen goes to check in on her. Amelia is sitting with her and says for the audience’s sake that it has been two days since they closed her skull, but she hasn’t woken up yet. Amelia is worried that they will have to consider a tracheotomy in a few days if Skyler doesn’t wake up. She goes outside to update Skyler’s dad and tells him that her status hasn’t changed and how she might need a trach for long-term breathing control. The dad is quite sad because he missed a lot of his daughter growing up since he worked too much. He finally got a chance to know her when she moved back in when the pandemic started. He consents to the trach, as he doesn’t want Skyler to be in pain.


Jo and Link pass by each other as one is leaving and one is coming to the hospital one morning. Jo seems pretty happy, until she gets a text about completing paperwork for Luna’s social worker. She tells Link that she hates Carmen and thinks Luna deserves more. Link replies with wanting to know what the holdup is. Jo is slightly confused, so he continues to ask if they are pretending that Jo isn’t going to adopt Luna. Jo admits that the thought has crossed her mind, but she never thought she would have a kid on her own. However, she does think Luna is perfect and she loves her. Link says it’s a pretty great feeling to have a kid and tells his friend to stop asking herself if she can do it because she already is. It has been quite obvious since early in the season that Jo was very drawn to Luna, and the seeds for a potential adoption have been scattered throughout the season. This episode manages to speed up Jo’s emotional response to the baby, but Jo wanting to adopt Luna shouldn’t be surprising.

The wedding talk resumes for Maggie and Winston, who brings up New Zealand as a potential location for their wedding. He likes that New Zealand has effectively gotten rid of COVID-19 and knows it’s not a perfect idea, but it’s something. He hates that the pandemic has their hands tied, but Maggie doesn’t think New Zealand is a viable option. Winston brushes off the rejection by saying that they are both smart and will figure out how to have the perfect wedding. Maggie suggests that they wait to get married until the world opens up a bit more, which upsets Winston. He thinks Maggie has cold feet, but Maggie wants their wedding to feel right instead of having to compromise. She knows what she said sounded bad, and their conversation is cut off when she gets a text that they have a heart donor for Gwen.

In another part of the hospital, Amelia and Owen are scanning Skyler’s brain to see if there’s anything they can do for her. Skyler has yet to wake up, and Owen gently tells Amelia that some patients don’t wake up and she may have to accept that in this case. Amelia refuses to give up because Skyler is someone’s baby, which brings out her protective mother side. Elsewhere, Post and Schmitt meet for their weekly meeting. Schmitt has developed a rash on the back of his neck and didn’t want to say anything because he felt that Post looking at it would be a bit too intimate. Post says he doesn’t have to look at the rash, but lives are at stake. Schmitt caves and lets him see the rash, which must be nothing because it isn’t mentioned again. We then see Richard, Maggie, and Helm performing Gwen’s heart transplant. They have all grown to love Gwen over the past few weeks, and Helm especially has a good connection with the woman who she feels has the best parts of a mom.

The scene changes to show Amelia and Link having sex at Link’s place. It appears that they may have moved out of Mer’s house and back to Link’s. Amelia can’t believe how quiet it is there and that she can actually hear herself think. She asks Link what he is thinking, and he is wondering what if he knocked her up. He says that living at Mer’s house the last few months broke him, and now he loves being a dad and wants more kids. His admission clearly freaks Amelia out, though she doesn’t tell him what she thinks of that.


Bailey visits Mer again and brings her a suture kit to help with Mer’s dexterity. Mer has been reading about future side effects from COVID-19 and is a bit freaked out. Bailey tries to calm her by saying she could be fine, but Mer says the data is terrifying. Bailey replies that reading can’t do the work and attempts to get Mer to go for a walk with her. Mer goes on a tangent about how she can’t operate if she can’t stay on her feet for very long. She reveals she can’t pick up the kids without feeling like she has run a marathon. COVID-19 has taken a huge toll on her body, and Mer wants her old life back and doesn’t want everyone asking how she is every five minutes. Bailey doesn’t appreciate the rant, so she walks out without another word.

At the hospital, Amelia does another brain scan on Skyler, which shows there is still no brain activity. Link and Scout FaceTime Amelia to say good morning, and when Link starts playing a song on his guitar, the scan starts lighting up. Skyler’s brain reacts to the musical stimuli, which excites Amelia. Richard, Maggie, and Helm examine Gwen, who is doing very well. She has no signs of organ rejection, which pleases the doctors. Gwen informs them that she woke up with a headache and is now seeing double, so the team sets up a neuro consult.

Amelia pages Owen to see Skyler’s scan. She is taking it a step further now and is talking directly to Skyler and then playing music through the microphone. Each time the music plays Skyler’s brain lights up in the same area. Amelia then asks Skyler to think about her bedroom at home, and a different part of her brain lights up. This prompts Amelia to tell Skyler that she is going to ask yes or no questions. If the answer is yes, she wants Skyler to think about music. If the answer is no, she wants Skyler to think about her bedroom. Amelia puts two sticky notes on the computer screen showing the scan indicating the yes and no zones that should light up. She asks Skyler if her name is Michelle, and the no zone lights up. Amelia asks if her name is Skyler, and the yes zone lights up. Owen and Amelia are thrilled at the breakthrough, which gives them hope for Skyler’s recovery.

In the NICU, Luna starts coding and Hayes desperately tries to save her. Jo watches as several doctors perform CPR and intubate the baby. Luna pulls through and has a normal heart rhythm again. Hayes tells Jo that Luna aspirated after she was fed, and Jo announces that she wants to be Luna’s mom while crying. Hayes is no more surprised than Link, even though this is the first time Jo is making her intentions known.


Week five opens with Amelia telling Maggie and Richard that she has been doing neuro exams on Gwen for a week. She has found no signs of anything wrong or any reasons for her headaches. Amelia leaves the room to go meet with Skyler’s dad, and Maggie realizes that Gwen doesn’t seem to mind all the tests. Richard thinks that Gwen might be making her symptoms up, so they go to talk to Gwen. Maggie tells her that she has zero abnormalities and that the headaches are a mystery. Richard chimes in that there is a rare complication from transplants that could be the answer and that there’s a simple test to perform, all of which he is making up. He tells Gwen that weakness in downward movement in the left arm is the complication before testing her arm motion. Gwen starts moving her arms, and her left arm immediately drops. Maggie interjects to Richard that she thought the complication is right sided weakness, so Gwen does the “test” again and drops her right arm. They catch Gwen faking and get her to admit that she isn’t ready to leave the hospital because she has friends here and has nothing to go home to. She apologizes for wasting their time, but Maggie insists that she is a miracle and is ready to leave.

Jo sits with Luna in the NICU, and Hayes comes to tell her that Luna’s chest X-ray shows that she now has aspirated pneumonia. Jo wants to call Carmen, but Hayes says they can wait for a bit. Hayes asks Jo how long she has been there, and Jo reveals that she stayed with Luna all night because she didn’t want the baby to be alone. In a hallway, Maggie finds Winston and tells him how they got to the bottom of Gwen’s headaches. He gets how frustrating the whole process was in very clear wedding metaphor overtones. Maggie picks up on it too and tries to explain again that it’s not that she doesn’t want to get married; rather she wants the wedding to feel right. Winston says he hears her, but that the conversation can wait.

The best part of the fifth week comes when Amelia brings Skyler’s dad into the scan room. Owen is waiting for them and explains to the dad how he can ask Skyler yes or no questions. Skyler’s dad approaches the microphone and asks his daughter if she can hear him. The scan lights up in the yes section, which brings tears to his eyes. Amelia tells him to take all the time he wants, and she and Owen leave the room to let the father and daughter have some time together. Sadly, this is the last we see of Skyler for this episode, so it isn’t clear if she will wake up. I’m hoping this story continues to play out in the finale, as it’s a tough one not to wrap up.


The episode wraps up with a longer string of scenes showcasing the sixth week. First, Schmitt and Post run into each other as they get to the hospital one morning. Post thinks Schmitt’s face is cute without a mask on and that his fresh haircut looks good. He asks Schmitt if he would like to see each other out of the hospital, particularly that night at his place. Schmitt doesn’t know what to say, so Post says he will text him his address and see how Schmitt’s day goes.

Inside, Jo and Hayes meet with Carmen to discuss Luna’s status. Hayes reveals that they had trouble extubating Luna, so they had to leave the tube in her throat. Luna is also not responding well to treatment, continues to aspirate, and her overall condition is getting worse. Hayes would like to operate to protect her for the future. Carmen disagrees and feels that until Luna is adopted she can’t have the surgery. She then tells Jo that she was sorry to hear that her adoption application was denied before leaving. Jo explains to Hayes that she didn’t pass the background check and that explaining her past to CPS won’t change anything. Hayes feels bad for her, and it almost looks like he has an idea. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a trick up his sleeve and this isn’t the end of Jo trying to adopt Luna.

Bailey then visits Mer, who is surprised to see her boss. Mer is looking a lot better that week, which Bailey points out. Mer thinks that Jackson and Tom had the right idea, and Bailey quickly says that she doesn’t want to lose Mer too. Mer assures her that she doesn’t want to quit, but she wants to grow and learn and get better. She continues to say that she has spent the last few weeks getting back to normal, but “look where normal got us.” Mer feels no one should ever want to get back to that. Bailey has an idea to propose to Mer and asks her to not say no right away because she’s desperate and wants Mer to at least consider it. Bailey reveals that she wants Mer to take over the residency program. Mer quickly says that Richard runs the program, but Bailey assures her that Richard has too many jobs and that one day in the distant future, he will want to step back. They need to have a plan in place in advance, and Bailey needs someone who thinks like she does. She says that Mer is her plan and she wants Mer to put together a team that reflects their world by personally choosing every residency class. Mer can shape the residents however she wants and can even rewrite the curriculum to set the program up how she wants to in order to “sandblast the bias off them.” Bailey tells Mer that she can make sure this world doesn’t go back to normal, which puts a big smile on Mer’s face. Mer asks if she’s allowed to say yes, cementing her official medical comeback.

At the hospital, Helm and Maggie wheel Gwen out in a wheelchair. Helm assures Gwen that she can call her whenever she wants. Richard greets them with Gwen’s long-lost dog, who he managed to find in a shelter. Gwen is overjoyed at the reunion and all that the doctors have done for her. Maggie tells Richard that she feels better about this exit than replacing Gwen’s heart, and Richard feels the same.

Later that night, Schmitt knocks on an apartment door, which Nico opens. Schmitt says that he panicked because he loves Nico and is not used to feeling it back. Nico assures Schmitt that he always felt it back, but couldn’t always say it. He feels that he has changed because of Schmitt. He continues to say that he has been thinking about Schmitt all day long. Nico wants to take care of Schmitt and watch Lord of the Rings because that’s what Schmitt likes. Speaking of what Schmitt likes, the whole apartment is covered with lit candles, giving it a very romantic atmosphere. Nico lovingly says that he never wants to be without Schmitt. After noticing the candles, Schmitt asks how Nico knew he would come over that night. Nico admits that he has been lighting the candles every night hoping Schmitt would eventually show up, and they share a passionate kiss.

Back at the hospital, Owen finds Amelia resting in a lounge. Amelia reveals that she hasn’t been in her element for a while and is freaked out about Link wanting more kids. She always thought she wanted more kids, but doesn’t think she feels that way anymore. She loves Link and Scout, but doesn’t know if she can love any more kids without losing more of herself. Amelia goes on to say that she hasn’t been to a meeting in two weeks because she has been focusing too much on Skyler. She feels her world is too messy for more kids. Owen replies that kids are more than just work and that it’s not going to work unless both her and Link want it. He offers to go to a meeting with her if she wants. Amelia thanks him and reminds him that the meetings are still virtual. Owen tells Amelia to be honest with Link and that he will understand before heading out for the night.

We then see Jo get home, and Helm asks her roomie if everything is okay. Jo looks dead inside and lies about how she’s feeling. She crawls into bed and tells Helm that she can either live there or talk, but she can’t do both before pulling the sheets over her head to cry. The scene shifts to Amelia sitting outside of what looks like Mer’s house reading a text from Link. He wants to know if she will be coming home soon. Amelia doesn’t appear to want to go home or talk to Link about her feelings, which will continue to play out in the season finale.

The episode ends with Maggie and Winston meeting in one of the hospital’s parking lots. Maggie starts by saying that none of Winston’s wedding ideas are perfect, but she has figured out what’s really bothering her. She has realized that perfect is never going to be an option because her mom won’t be at her wedding. She assures him this has nothing to do with him, and Winston wishes her mom could be there too. Maggie would like to take the engagement ring that her mom gave her and turn it into her wedding band. She also suggests flying her dad and Winston’s grandma out to Seattle as soon as possible so they can have their wedding, then they can have a huge party to celebrate when it’s safer. Winston likes the idea, and we see the door of a nearby car open. Maggie’s dad and Winston’s grandma get out of the car, and Winston is beyond shocked to see them. They all meet in person for the first time, and Winston is thrilled that Maggie set up this surprise. This should set up a very nice wedding finale to cap the season on a happier note.


Post a Comment