Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Grey’s Anatomy 17x06 Recap: “No Time for Despair” (Winter Finale Drama) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“No Time for Despair”
Original Airdate: December 17, 2020

COVID trials and tribulations, an unwelcome blast from the past, racial tensions, and struggling to move on are the major themes of the winter finale of Grey’s Anatomy. Even though the start of the season was delayed due to the pandemic, we have seen nearly as many episodes of the show as normal. Yes, we will still have to wait the usual three months for new episodes, but the explosive back half of season seventeen will be worth the wait. 


The main medical and dramatic cases of the week started on the winter finale of Station 19 when the firefighters saved two Black teenage girls from their kidnapper and a fiery blaze, and they are now on their way to Grey Sloan Memorial. Race plays a major part again during this hour, and it’s really great to see that the Grey’s Anatomy writers are not shying away from real world issues. But more on that later. 

We get a quick peek at Tom Koracick, who is now sharing a room with another COVID patient, before checking in on our favorite COVID patient. As the scene changes to her room, Meredith wakes up with a big gasp and is immediately alert. Amelia, Maggie, and DeLuca are thrilled to visit Mer and see her awake. DeLuca tells Mer that she has been mostly asleep for eight days, and Amelia shares stories about the kids. Naturally, Mer thinks that she can leave the hospital now that she is awake, and DeLuca believes that she could be discharged in a week if her stats stay up.

Teens Shanice and Jada are brought into the ER and are examined by Hayes, Owen, and Schmitt. Shanice’s mom recounts her daughter’s tale to the doctors and the audience members who didn’t catch Station 19. The girls thought they were meeting up with another young girl to help them become social media influencers. Little did they know that they were being tricked by middle-aged white man Bob, who promptly kidnapped them and held them in a small, padlocked room of his basement. Jada’s mom, Joyce, tracked her daughter’s fitness band to Bob’s house, which neighbors Captain Maya Bishop’s home. Bishop had the crew over for an afternoon get together when they heard Joyce screaming outside and went to help. Shanice and Jada heard the commotion too and managed to set a fire, which eventually saved them. However, things went downhill quickly as several members of the Station 19 team and Joyce were arrested by some racist cops. The story doesn’t sit well with any of the doctors, who are determined to help make things right. 

Maggie video calls Winston for a short reprieve from the harsh realities of the central storyline. She is ecstatic to report that Mer is awake, and Winston is happy for her. The conversation is oddly cut very short since Winston is in his car in a parking lot and tells her he is going grocery shopping. The brief chat felt off, but it is thankfully resolved later in the episode. In another area of the hospital, Richard and Jo meet up to talk. Richard knows he has been asking a lot of Jo in helping out with Mer and Bailey’s patients, and he very much appreciates her hard work. Jo asks if they can discuss her career path, but that conversation gets stalled until after the winter break because Richard gets the last text that he wanted to see. He ominously tells Jo that no one will be leaving the hospital tonight before walking away.

We then get another brief check up on Koracick as Maggie goes to see how he is doing. Koracick looks much better than he did in the last episode and seems to be more himself. Maggie happily reports that Mer is awake, which gives Koracick a much needed dose of hope. She says that she will be back in an hour and advises her patient to rest, but a lot happens in that short amount of time. Richard has paged the staff to the cafeteria for a somber announcement: Seattle Presbyterian has hit capacity, which means that GSM will be receiving double the amount of patients per day. Richard announces that the hospital is on surge protocol and that they will need to turn the cafeteria into a COVID ward and double up patients in every room to fit the swell of incoming patients. He also proclaims that residents will now be able to treat COVID patients, which should be a big help to our main players. After his speech, Richard approaches Bailey to tell her to go home and deal with the grief of losing her mother. Bailey, who sounds a bit dead inside, refuses to leave or to go home. Richard knows his stubborn protégé won’t budge, so he tasks her with handling the patient transfers from Seattle Pres to Grey Sloan Memorial.


Back in the ER, Hayes wants to order chest X-rays for the girls to make sure their lungs weren’t damaged by smoke inhalation, while Jackson tends to a burn on Jada’s hand. Owen walks back in and pulls Jackson and Hayes to the side to inform them that Bob the kidnapper is en route to the hospital. Jackson immediately says no, but Owen informs him that even though he too isn’t happy about it, there isn’t a choice due to Seattle Pres being at capacity. Owen wants both girls moved into rooms upstairs, stat — that way they don’t have to come face to face with the predator.

DeLuca pops into Mer’s room for a quick exam, and Mer is back to her usual self. She wants to know how her patients are doing and wants to start helping as a doctor again. DeLuca tries to remind her that she needs her rest and to get better first, but he gets paged away. Over in the cafeteria, Teddy is running the show like a tyrant. She is not in a good mood at all and is shouting to the rest of her helpers that the fire marshal will only let them have 30 beds in the cafeteria. Teddy goes off on Helm for not setting up the beds and supplies the way she likes them, and Richard steps in to put an end to her rant. The stress has clearly gotten to Teddy, who storms off like a child instead of speaking properly to her boss.

Things get even more tense when Koracick’s roommate crashes and begins to code. Maggie and a team of nurses rush in to try and save the man, but he unfortunately doesn’t make it. Koracick is horrified and is visibly freaking out over what just happened. He tells Maggie how his roommate’s wife tried to take care of her husband over the phone and that he would like to know the dead man’s full name in order to pray for him. In a panic, Koracick asks Maggie if Mer is still awake. Hearing that Mer is still doing well helps calm Koracick down a little. 

In the ambulance bay, Jackson tells Owen that the girls are now upstairs. Schmitt joins them to wait for Bob’s arrival, and he shares his disbelief over conducting a sex trafficking ring during a pandemic. Bob arrives handcuffed to his gurney and is causing a fuss. He claims that the girls broke into his house and started a fire. Station 19’s Montgomery hops out of the ambulance and tells them not to listen to Bob’s nonsense. As Jackson and Owen wheel Bob inside, a mysterious woman pokes her head around the corner and asks Schmitt what happened to that guy. She goes on to tell Schmitt that she was mugged and hit her head, so Schmitt tells her to follow him inside to get checked out. As he turns to walk away, the woman stops the act and looks totally fine. Could the sketchy lady be a part of Bob’s operation?


Upstairs, Jackson talks to Jada and informs her that his attorney is looking into her mother’s arrest. He fully intends on righting Joyce’s situation. Jada is moved by Jackson’s willingness to help and cries about how she caused the mess by being dumb. Jackson reminds her that she is only thirteen and that it is okay to make mistakes. He reveals a story about how he stole his mom’s car and crashed it when he was fifteen before reinforcing the idea that Jada should only be mad at her kidnapper and not herself.

In the ER, Owen examines Bob and asks him to stop struggling against the handcuffs. Bob wants the cuffs off and keeps repeating how he didn’t kidnap the girls. Owen strongly says he believes both girls and is amazed by their strength. He tells Bob about his own sister’s kidnapping to drive the point home. Owen ends his speech by telling Bob that it’s his job to help his skin and lungs, but he deserves to spend his life behind bars. Bob chooses that moment to crash and pass out, which makes Owen momentarily think that he is faking. When he realizes Bob isn’t faking, Owen quickly calls a stroke alert. In another ER bay, Schmitt checks out the mystery woman, who wants to know what’s going on with Bob. She gets distracted from Schmitt’s questions as Owen goes by pushing Bob’s bed. The mystery woman becomes even sketchier when she asks Schmitt where the restroom is, and she tries to follow Owen and Bob. 

Over in the COVID ward, Koracick wheels himself into Mer’s room in a wheelchair for a visit. Mer is surprised to see that Koracick is also sick, so I guess no one told her. Koracick tells her that he wanted to see that it was possible to beat COVID, but Mer reminds him that she has almost beat it. Koracick also wanted to spend some time in a room where no one is dying because he can’t stand that everyone is dying around him. Mer reaches out her hands, and he takes them. They share a nice moment as Mer assures him that she won’t tell anyone that he broke the rules to come visit her.

We then see that Amelia has stuck around the hospital as she pops in to see how Bob’s CT is going. Owen informs her of the kidnapping situation. Amelia says she is Bob’s best chance to live long enough to rot in prison because he is having an ischemic stroke. Back in the COVID ward, Bailey is moving the new sick patients from Seattle Pres to rooms in Grey Sloan Memorial. She gets distracted when her current patient is assigned to the room where her mom died the night before. She asks DeLuca if he would be willing to take over for her. DeLuca tells Bailey that she should care for herself and either go home or go to her office for a bit. He tries to get her to understand that she needs to take more than a minute to grieve. Bailey sheds some tears over his kindness as DeLuca takes her place with the patient.

Owen and Amelia have brought Bob to the cath lab to take care of the clot in his middle cerebral artery. Amelia asks if the girls are okay, and Owen says that he hopes so. Amelia can’t wait to go home and hug Scout, which makes Owen profess how awful it feels that he can’t go home and see his kids. He feels not seeing his kids is a special kid of torture and is sort of happy that the pandemic is keeping him occupied. Owen goes on to say how not everyone is trying to help stop the pandemic when there are some people trying to hurt others like Bob. 

Back in Mer’s room, Koracick and Mer are sharing a good laugh. Koracick is cracking jokes about how neurosurgeons are the best lovers of all the surgeons, causing Mer to laugh and cough hard. He ignores the protest of Mer’s lungs and continues to talk about how he wants to create a dating app for women who want to date a neurosurgeon after he gets better. The happy moment fizzles out quickly when Koracick settles down and says, “You don’t realize how addicted you are to saving lives until you can’t.” He tries to lighten it up by wondering how the top two surgeons in the hospital caught the plague. They go back and forth on who is the better surgeon, but their ribbing gets cut short as they constantly see dead COVID patients being wheeled by outside of the room, which hits them equally hard.


Richard decides to see how things are going with Teddy and the new cafeteria COVID ward. Teddy is still in a bad mood, so Richard tells her that she can take some personal time if she wants since she has more than earned it. Somehow, this prompts Teddy to finally reveal her problem: she thought that if she could keep Mer alive, that it would mean something. However, nothing has changed now that Mer is awake. Teddy doesn’t feel that taking a break will save anyone, plus she has nowhere to go anyways. Richard gives her a dose of pure truth and tells Teddy that that’s on her and she knows it. He believes that Teddy needs to take the time to figure out why she blew up her life and clean up her messes. Teddy needs to look at herself in order to not repeat the same pattern again. Hopefully this is a real wakeup call for Teddy because she most certainly does need to clean up her life.

Maggie finds Shanice’s mom crying in the hallway outside her daughter’s room. Shanice’s mom is having a hard time with the fact that she almost lost her daughter and has to go on as if nothing happened if she wants her family to survive the pandemic. She can’t take any time off work, which is hard on her. She leaves Maggie in the hall to go back in with her daughter. In another hallway, the mystery woman is talking on her cellphone to a second mystery person about how Bob won’t talk. She wants to go talk to Bob to see how much the girls he kidnapped know. The woman rounds a corner, sees DeLuca, and stops dead in her tracks, but he doesn’t see her. Flashes reveal that she is the same lady who brought in the kidnapped girl at the end of last season. Bob is part of the same sex trafficking ring that caused DeLuca’s big meltdown. 

Back in Mer’s room, Koracick tells her that her stats are looking good, and Mer talks about how much she misses her kids. Koracick says that he used to be so angry at God for taking his son, David, away from him, but now he thinks it’s a blessing in disguise since David doesn’t have to see his father so sick. He quickly says that he is kidding and wishes there was a silver lining because there isn’t anything he wouldn’t do to have more time with his kid. Another staff member comes into the room and forces Koracick to leave. As he’s being wheeled out, Koracick wishes Mer good luck with the plague, and she says the same back.

Schmitt happens upon the sex trafficking ring lady and has brought a police officer along to let her give a statement about being mugged. She distractedly tries to give a fake story while worrying about running into DeLuca. Meanwhile, Jada and Shanice are now sharing a hospital room as Hayes and Jackson watch over them. Joyce comes running into the room, and Jana is very happy to be reunited with her mom. Hayes and Jackson give them some space, and Hayes asks Jackson if he was able to help them. Jackson replies that money got Joyce out of a sticky situation.

Outside in one of the tents, Maggie is giving COVID patient’s families calls about their deaths. Amelia sees her sister and decides to take a break with her because she is sad about saving Bob’s life when she could easily have ended it. Maggie doesn’t know how Amelia had the control to save him, and Amelia says that she didn’t hurt him because she took an oath to do no harm. Amelia isn’t the happiest that Bob will live far longer than he should even if he does die alone in prison. Maggie is sick of everything, and Amelia agrees that it’s infuriating. 

However, Amelia doesn’t understand that Maggie is talking about the monsters from the past that made the world what it is today. She’s outraged about how Black girls aren’t seen as innocent victims but instead tend to be guilty until proven innocent. Maggie discusses the same high statistics for Black girls being kidnapped that were discussed on Station 19 and says that it’s a problem that gets ignored too easily, just like how not everyone is outraged that COVID is killing Black people at crazy rates. She firmly believes if COVID was killing white people at a higher rate, then wearing masks would be the law. Amelia says Maggie is right and doesn’t know how she carries it all. Maggie replies that she does it by the skin of her teeth before walking away.


Schmitt finds Jo on a bench outside at the end of the day and asks if she quit yet. Jo doesn’t feel that she is quitting, rather she is choosing joy. She hasn’t spoken to Mer since she woke up because she doesn’t want to get shamed for leaving surgery. Jo knows that whatever Mer would say would be right, but she gets a lot of joy from thinking about changing professions. It seems like Jo is sticking to her rash decision, even though it seems like an odd choice.

Back inside, DeLuca is impressed that Bailey successfully transferred 27 patients to the new COVID ward in under five hours. He asks if she broke anything, and Bailey replies that she screamed into a pillow for a few minutes. DeLuca tells Bailey that he has no words to describe how bad it felt when his mom died. Bailey says it doesn’t feel like she’s in her body and doesn’t know what to do about a memorial. Her mom had big plans for a service and didn’t want a sad funeral, but none of it can happen now. DeLuca interrupts when he gets an alert on his phone to take his meds and get some sleep since it is the end of his shift. Bailey is so proud of the progress he has made. DeLuca tells her that he is lucky to be surrounded by people that didn’t give up on him.

Mer is sitting in her room and hears and sees the patient in the room across the hall coding. No one is immediately responding, so she pushes her own help button. When no nurses or doctors come running, Mer does the only thing she knows how to do: she unplugs her IV, changes her mask, gets out of bed, and goes across the hall to help the dying patient herself. Mer starts compressions, and a few nurses arrive moments later. The nurses tell her to go back to bed, but Mer says the patient doesn’t have that kind of time. Mer instructs a nurse to take over compressions, while she intubates the patient. Helm shows up and is shocked to see Mer working on the patient. Mer finishes her job and goes to walk back to her room. On her way out the door, Mer asks Helm to get her a wheelchair and promptly passes out as Helm catches her.

The next morning, Owen walks out of the hospital for some air and sees Teddy. Surprisingly, he walks over to say hi. He tells Teddy that he doesn’t want to keep punishing her or the kids and wants to talk about what they are going to do. Teddy takes Richard’s advice to take inventory of her life and reveals to Owen that she was in love with her friend Allison and that they were deeply in love with each other. She isn’t sure what it has to do with what she did to Owen, but she says it was the only secret she kept from him before she slept with Koracick. Teddy just wants to give Owen all the facts and still loves him and their family even if it’s over between them. Owen laughs hard and bitterly. He’s been trying to put it all together since their wedding day. Owen says it turns out she didn’t change; rather he didn’t really know her at all. He then gets a bit mean by saying that Teddy doesn’t know what "true" means and that they named their daughter after a lie. Owen walks away as Teddy gets a page about Mer’s declining status, causing her to rush inside.

Richard visits the COVID ward cafeteria and tells Bailey that he has never seen anything like this. He’s not sure doing his best will be enough this time. He feels that they are going to lose their own to the toll of the pandemic, not the disease itself, because it will hurt them in a way that they can’t even begin to understand. I’m putting money on Teddy being the first of those victims. Bailey and Richard simultaneously get pages about Mer too.

Bailey, Richard, and Amelia have quickly congregated outside of Mer’s room. Maggie hasn’t answered her phone according to Amelia, so she’s missing from the group. Teddy checked in on Mer, who is now unconscious, and updates the group on her declining stats. Bailey thinks the exertion of helping the other patient put Mer over the edge, but Teddy isn’t sure that’s true. Teddy thinks Mer’s lungs were already too damaged and the treatment caused a COVID high. She thinks it’s time for Mer to go on a ventilator, but Bailey is firmly against the idea. Teddy feels Mer’s lungs are at a breaking point and that more patients are surviving because of ventilators now instead of it being a death sentence. Bailey protests, and Richard reminds her it’s his call. He tells Teddy to do it, as they all look incredibly worried.

Out in the parking lot, the sex trafficking ring lady leaves the hospital while talking on the phone. She says that she had to leave the hospital because it’s too risky. DeLuca walks through the parking lot at the same moment and sees her this time. He instantly recognizes her. Carina walks up to him at the same time, so DeLuca tells his sister what is going on and needs her to believe him. She wants DeLuca to call the police, but he wants to follow the woman. They decide to follow her together and call the police at the same time. Unfortunately, we don’t know how this story will play out, and the resolution is a very long three months away.

A quick cut away shows Maggie drunk in her hotel room. Someone knocks on her door, and she drags herself out of bed. When she opens the door, she is very surprised to see Winston standing there with a bouquet of flowers. It was only a matter of time before he showed up in Seattle, and this is the perfect time for his arrival. Maggie needs some moral and emotional support and Winston is the perfect person to help her. The episode ends with Teddy bringing an unconscious Mer to the COVID ICU and putting her on a ventilator. There are some flashes between Teddy putting Mer on the ventilator, Mer alone on her beach, and Bailey, Richard, and Amelia solemnly watching from outside the room. Mer might be in a bad place for now, but let’s keep our hopes up that she will pull through. 

Hopefully we get some good news when the show returns March 4, 2021.


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