Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Grey’s Anatomy 15x19 Review: “Silent All These Years” (The Hard Truth) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“Silent All These Years”
Original Airdate: March 28, 2019

Learning about a past that you didn’t know existed can be one of the toughest things in life, especially when that past is full of upsetting truths. Jo gets a double dose of hardship in what might be the most difficult subject matter ever tackled by Grey’s Anatomy. Whether you know someone who has been physically or sexually abused, this episode is particularly difficult to watch due to its intense sense of reality. Meredith’s voiceovers at the beginning and the end of the episode ring true: trauma affects everyone differently and can be triggered at any time, and its impact never truly goes away.


The episode spends time between present day where Jo helps an abused patient, and a few days prior, when Jo meets her birth mother for the first time. In order to understand the impact of the present-day storyline, you need to know about Jo’s past first. Jo travels alone to find her birth mother and has an awkward first interaction when she knocks on the door of a nice house that she believes belongs to her mother. Jo’s mother answers the door and is very surprised to find out that the woman standing in front of her is the child she gave up at a fire station. Jo is not happy to immediately learn that her mother has two teenage children and a loving husband. She asks her mother to meet her down the road at a diner to talk, but her mother is hesitant and asks Jo to leave.

Jo goes to the diner and waits for a while, to no avail. As she is about to leave, her mother walks in. Upset that she waited for a long time and that her mother doesn’t really want to speak to her, Jo gets defensive with the woman she has traveled a long way to meet. Jo’s mother tries to give as little detail as possible, but eventually caves and tells Jo the whole truth.

Jo’s mother was a college student when she went out on a date with one of her TAs. The TA took her to a remote spot and violently raped her. Nine months later, Jo was born. Her mother tried to hide her pregnancy and never told a soul that she was having a baby. She is the only one that knows she is Jo’s mother. She tells Jo that she pretended that everything was fine for years and thought that once Jo arrived, she could love her baby and start a new life. Even though she loved Jo from the minute she was born, Jo’s mother only saw the man that raped her in the baby’s face and couldn’t live with that pain. She decided to give her baby up to give it a better life than the one she was living.

It is also revealed that Jo’s father died in a motorcycle accident ten years prior. Jo’s mother tells her daughter that even after years of therapy and coming to terms with what happened to her, she still isn’t fully healed from the trauma. It took her a long time to build a successful life and have a family she could love. Jo is visibly shaken from the story and tells her mother about the physical abuse she suffered at the hands of her first husband. She reveals for the first time that she was seven weeks pregnant during one attack and decided to get an abortion because she couldn’t bring a child into such a hostile environment.

It is horrible to hear that both women are survivors of such terrible traumas, but it’s even sadder that their stories don’t really bond them together. Jo eventually softens up to her mother, but her mother decides to walk away rather than suffer anymore.


Back at Grey Sloan Memorial, Jo has been avoiding Alex since she got back from her trip and won’t discuss it with him. She bumps into a woman in the hallway and notices that the woman is frightened and has a large open wound. The woman asks Jo for directions to the ER, and Jo decides to take her down to the ER herself to examine her. Jo gets help from intern Qadri, and the patient quickly becomes attached to the two female doctors. DeLuca pops in on them, and when the patient starts to get uneasy, Jo realizes that there is more to the story than a cut from a random kitchen accident. She sends DeLuca away and asks him to send Teddy.

The patient isn’t happy when Teddy arrives because she doesn’t want the help of any other doctors. Jo convinces her that Teddy is here to help, leading the patient to agree to let Teddy stay. The patient finally allows them to do a full body examination, and the doctors find that the woman has been beaten and most likely sexually assaulted. She is covered in head-to-toe bruises and has noticeable internal bleeding in her abdomen. An ultrasound shows that she has a torn diaphragm, which has caused some of her organs to be pushed into her chest cavity. Teddy asks Qadri to book an operating room, but wants her to delay having nurses prep the patient for surgery since sterilizing the patient would get rid of all physical evidence of the possible attack.

Jo and Teddy urge the patient to tell them what happened to her. The patient doesn’t want to admit that anything happened, but Jo is able to convince her to tell her story by revealing her own past. The patient describes being brutally attacked by a man at a bar, but doesn’t want to report the crime because she feels that neither a jury, nor her husband, would ever believe her story. This heartbreaking moment is the sad truth that abuse survivors face every day, and this scene was not sugar coated to soften the harsh realities of sexual abuse. Jo and Teddy believe their patient and convince her to let them prepare a rape kit in case she ever decides to take action in the future, which is another brutally honest and hard-to-watch scene.

They are eventually able to take their patient to surgery and successfully repair her diaphragm. After she wakes up, the patient decides to call her husband and report the crime to the police with Jo’s help. Jo handles the tough case extremely well given the details and what she learned on the trip that she just got back from. Teddy is especially proud of how Jo helped the patient and was there for her every step of the way. Unfortunately, Jo doesn’t take her own advice about telling your story and getting the help needed to heal. She still won’t talk to Alex by the end of the episode and even tries to avoid him altogether. She is unhealthily bottling up her emotions regarding her unfortunate beginnings, and it’s only a matter of time before the powder keg blows.


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