Sunday, March 28, 2021

Grey’s Anatomy 17x08 Recap: “It’s All Too Much” (Pain and Suffering) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“It’s All Too Much”
Original Airdate: March 18, 2021

Last week’s shocker doesn’t get any easier to handle in the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy. The grief is fresh and continues to hit the characters and audience hard, especially with the promise of DeLuca appearing again being fulfilled. The show seems content with getting darker and more depressing with each new episode with no end in sight. Even the lighter moments are filled with pain and suffering, which is an accurate depiction of what life has been like for the past year. This episode’s title might be the most apt one yet.


It seems to be a few days after DeLuca’s tragic death at the opening of the episode. There’s a quick montage showing how key members of the hospital staff have been affected by the tragedy, including Richard planning a memorial service in lieu of a funeral and hugging Catherine, Bailey in her office with a solemn look on her face, and Owen cleaning out DeLuca’s locker. Teddy checks in on Mer, who is still unconscious and on the vent, and tells her that her latest COVID-19 test was negative. Mer is slowly starting to improve, so Teddy believes that it’s possible to wean her off the vent later that day. 

Someone calls Teddy’s name from the doorway and she freaks out when she turns around and sees DeLuca at the door. It’s actually Hayes, but it takes Teddy a moment to realize who she is seeing. Hayes has volunteered to help out even more in the COVID ward in the wake of losing DeLuca. The scene changes to Mer’s beach, where Mer finds Derek fishing on the shoreline. The pure joy on Meredith’s face at seeing Derek again will make your heart swell. These lovely moments pop up throughout the episode, but the real levity of the hour comes from Jo’s apartment. Jackson has spent the night on Jo’s couch, and they are still in a friends with benefits situation. Jo is excited to have a day off and decides to tell Jackson that she is switching specialties. He’s a bit surprised, but ultimately gives her the encouragement she is looking for.

Over at the Grey/Shepherd/Pierce house, Maggie, Winston, and Link are outside watching the kids play. Maggie is having a hard time handling DeLuca’s death and doesn’t feel that they can tell the kids due to their attachment to him. Zola asks Maggie to dance with her, Bailey, and Ellis, so Winston wins some brownie points for stepping in and giving Maggie a break. The gesture leaves Maggie in tears.

Back at the hospital, Bailey summons Richard, Teddy, and Owen to her office. Teddy updates the doctors on Meredith’s status and reveals that she will attempt to take her off the vent. Owen states that the hospital is running smoothly, but the staff is discouraged by DeLuca’s death. Bailey reports that she is awaiting the results of DeLuca’s autopsy because she believes that something must have gone wrong. The insinuation that Teddy and Owen didn’t do everything in their power to save DeLuca and may have done something to cause his death really pisses them and Richard off.


Winston has tagged along with Maggie to Grey Sloan Memorial, and she gives her beau full privileges. They respond to a call from a trauma room and find Helm helping a patient who passed out on his porch. Maggie introduces Winston to Helm after the resident asks if Winston works at the hospital. The patient, Byron, picks that moment to wake up and freak out about being in a hospital. He is beyond paranoid about getting COVID, but the doctors need him to stay put until they can get a CT scan to see if he has a heart issue.

At the house, Amelia finds a bottle of whiskey hidden in the back of a kitchen cabinet and confronts Link about it. She accuses her boyfriend of having a drinking problem and being an alcoholic. Link is not surprisingly unapologetic about drinking now and then because he is stressed. He talks about how he likes to have a drink in the garage and play his guitar at night, which he does to be respectful and not drink in front of Amelia. She’s not buying the story, so Link continues by revealing that he is having a hard time dealing with DeLuca’s death and not being able to tell Mer’s kids what happened. Link also admits that Amelia is driving him insane, so he decides to take the bottle of whiskey and leave for a bit before he says something that he will regret. He shouts that he will be back because he is a good guy before slamming the door.

To lighten the mood, we then see Hayes sitting and talking to Mer. Spending time with his unconscious potential love interest appears to be the real reason why he wants to spend more time in the COVID ward, but he’s doing it in the least creepy way possible and has been doing a lot to help Mer. Hayes tells her that they all need her to pull through because they can’t suffer another loss. Teddy walks in and declares that it’s time to lower the vent’s output and see if Mer will breathe on her own. Hayes thinks Teddy should go get some rest and let him handle it with a respiratory therapist, but Teddy needs a win and wants to do it herself. Naturally, the scene cuts to Derek and Meredith on the beach. For the first time in six seasons, the couple can finally talk to each other. Mer feels that it is torture that they are so close to each other but they can’t touch. Derek distracts her by telling her all about how he’s seen their daughter Ellis grow up. Mer is upset that he never got to meet Ellis or even know she existed, but she’s incredibly happy that he knows everything about her. 

Maggie, Winston, and Helm have gotten Byron to CT and gave him a mask, face shield, and gloves to feel more comfortable. They have to assure him that everything is clean before he considers allowing the scan, but won’t agree to it unless everyone agrees to not touch him. As the scans start to load on the computer screen, Maggie and Winston try to find the underlying causes of the nodes on Byron’s hands. Winston turns on the mic to ask Byron if he has had any teeth problems lately. The patient replies that he had a popcorn kernel stuck in his teeth, which makes Winston think that Byron must have had a dental infection that led to endocarditis. The scans confirm Winston’s theory, and the doctors now know how to treat their patient.

Elsewhere, Catherine finds Richard in one of the hospital’s conference rooms. Richard confides that his whole sobriety has been rooted in faith of a higher power but that faith is now being tested after DeLuca’s demise. He is struggling with his faith and trusting anything because he can’t see any wisdom in DeLuca’s death. Catherine responds that she lives with stage four cancer which should be a death sentence. Yet her latest test results show that not one of her tumors has grown. Her cancer not getting worse nor DeLuca’s death make any sense, but she explains that Richard needs to look for the miracle instead of focusing on the bad. Hearing Catherine’s positive results does lighten Richard’s mood and talks him off the cliff.

Jo and Jackson are still talking from the bed and couch about random topics (like Jo asking what the stock market is) when someone banging at the door catches them by surprise. Link has shown up to day drink with Jo and wasn’t expecting to see Jackson there. He already knew about their arrangement, but Jackson didn’t know that Link knew, so it makes things momentarily awkward. Jo is happy to day drink, while Jackson says he won’t partake since he is on call. Link pours some shots to celebrate what he calls “All Our Friends Are Dying Day.”


Byron needs a surgical procedure on his heart, but has a panic attack on the table before being put under. He rips everything off of him, including his hospital gown, and runs out of the room. Maggie and Winston take off running after Byron and eventually find him huddled in the corner of a staircase naked and crying. He apologizes for running away and blames his paranoia for his actions. He explains that his best friend died of COVID one week after being diagnosed, which has made him very careful. Maggie tells Byron that she won’t stop him from walking out of the hospital, but she will follow him because his heart will give out. She goes on to say that she knows his pain because she lost someone close to her too, but she thinks they owe it to the ones they lost to live the lives they can’t. She explains that they can fix his problem, so he needs to let them help. Byron takes Maggie’s hand and agrees to the surgery. Maggie is a total rockstar in this scene and is so unbelievably good with Byron.

Jo and Link are now drunk after consuming most of the bottle of whiskey, and the three doctors have a lively discussion. Jo tells the story of Val, the patient she lost in the previous episode, to reveal to Link that she is switching specialties. She talks about how she wants to hang out with babies, so Link quips that she can hang out with all his kids. Jackson, who continues to not drink, goes on about how he would prefer to live in the woods. Hearing the three friends have a more normal conversation while hanging out makes you want an entire episode to be this light but the dark, serious content comes right back. 

Richard meets with Bailey again, and the autopsy results show that Teddy and Owen did everything they could to save DeLuca and did nothing wrong in the process. Even though Bailey knows what happened, she won’t let it go and wants to hold a morbidity and mortality conference (M&M). Richard gets very angry that Bailey is treating her surgeons in such a cruel manner. He wants her to let them grieve and stop causing them harm. Richard is right in saying that it isn’t fair to parade Teddy and Owen out and force them to recount every moment and step of the procedures that ultimately led to DeLuca’s death. He reinforces his argument by explaining yet again that DeLuca was a victim who lost too much blood and that no mistakes were made. He feels that Bailey’s suggestion that Teddy and Owen didn’t do everything possible is a pain that he wouldn’t put on anybody. That line seems to get through to Bailey a bit more than the rest of the argument, which ends there.

Back on the beach, Mer wants Derek to come closer. He’s trying not to laugh at her and explains that he can’t come to her because it’s her beach and she needs to make it happen. Derek talks about how Zola writes him letters in her journal, while Mer scrunches her face and tries to summon him with her mind. I have to say, it’s really nice to know that Derek has been keeping close tabs on his family from beyond the grave. He tells her to relax, so she takes a deep breath and relaxes. The trick works and Derek gets a little closer. Mer happily laughs at her success. The scene cuts to Mer’s hospital room, where Teddy and Hayes are still waiting to see if Mer will start breathing on her own. Hayes thinks they should lessen the sedation, but Teddy doesn’t think it will help because nothing has changed in the time since they turned the vent settings down. She decides to put the vent back to full power and keep Mer on it for the foreseeable future.

Over at the sister house, Amelia asks Zola how her book report is going. Poor Zola doesn’t want to do her homework because she doesn’t see the point in doing an assignment that requires her to write about living forever. Amelia feels for her niece and talks about how she likes the impermanence of mortality. That leads Zola to say that if she had the correct medicine, she would give it to her mom right now. To cheer her up, Amelia decides to FaceTime Mer. Hayes answers the call and points the screen and camera at Mer. It’s really sad to see Amelia and Zola saying hi to the unconscious Mer and talk to her about their day as if she were awake and well. Hayes leaves the room as Teddy is telling Richard about their unsuccessful attempt with the vent decrease. They are all sad the plan didn’t work, and Hayes doesn’t like that any family, particularly Mer’s, has to process their grief through a computer screen.


There’s enough whiskey left for one shot, so whoever tells the saddest story will get the last drink, Link declares. The scenes at Jo’s apartment are exactly what we all need! Link starts the game by giving the top three reasons why he is miserable: he’s raising four kids in a crazy world, his parents are going ahead with their second wedding despite the pandemic, and his last shred of quality “me time” was ruined by Amelia. Jo tries to top her best friend’s story by talking about how she finally had plans the weekend that everything shut down due to COVID-19. She was ready to move on from being depressed by going on a series of dates, which all got cancelled. She bought a closet full of new outfits for the occasions, and she pulls out each one to show the guys while recounting a horrible COVID ward story with each outfit. She ends by being sad that DeLuca doesn’t even get a funeral, and Jackson declares Jo the winner of the last shot. Link disagrees because Jo has a loft all to herself, so he steals the bottle and downs the last of the alcohol. All three doctors simultaneously get an alert that the memorial for DeLuca will start shortly, which sobers them up.

Back in the hospital COVID ward, Teddy sees DeLuca again in passing. The quick glimpses of DeLuca are quite disorienting. Teddy’s reverie is interrupted, and she realizes she is seeing Owen, who wants an update on Mer. She tells him her plan didn’t work, so Owen gives her the good news that DeLuca’s autopsy showed that they did everything they could and everything correctly. Teddy responds by saying she knew they did everything right, but it doesn’t change anything because DeLuca is still dead. With each human interaction, it appears that Teddy is a little deader inside.

Hayes spends more time with Mer and doesn’t know if she can hear him or the daily FaceTime calls from her kids. On the beach, Derek tells Mer that she looks perfect before she starts to hear Hayes talking to her. Derek says it’s up to her whether to listen or not, but he thinks she should hear him out. Hayes suddenly replaces Derek on the beach and starts telling Mer all about what her kids have been up to. For a brief moment, it appears that Mer and Hayes can talk to each other, but it quickly becomes clear that he can’t hear Mer’s responses. The stories that he tells about Mer’s kids shows how much time he has been spending by her side. He has gotten to know a lot about each of them and seems incredibly interested in learning more. After talking about the kids, Hayes tells Mer that she needs to fight. Mer knows she does, but explains that she doesn’t know if she can fight. She’s so relaxed on the beach and likes that there’s no pain. As if Hayes knows that would be her response, he says she wouldn’t want her kids to be orphans and that he believes she can win the fight. It is crazy how well Hayes seems to know Meredith even though they haven’t known each other that long. Derek reappears and senses Mer’s unease about her conversation with Hayes. He reassures her that he will be right here, so she walks off to think through her options as we see her start to move her head on her hospital bed. 

Bailey continues to torture herself by hanging out in the gallery of the OR that DeLuca died in. Schmitt, who has been trying to process his own grief and guilt over DeLuca’s death, finds her there and takes a shot at getting through to her. He tells Bailey about Richard’s memorial for DeLuca. Even though he questions his faith, Schmitt finds the traditions are the most helpful, especially the ones pertaining to a death, because it starts the healing process. He thinks Bailey needs some healing because she lost her mom and DeLuca in a matter of days. Schmitt also tells her that it’s okay if she falls apart because she has people that will be there for her, and that there are people that need to grieve with her. His words do the trick and change Bailey’s mindset.

On their way to the memorial, Maggie and Winston find Helm crying on a bench outside the hospital. Helm feels like a bad person for not having nice thoughts about DeLuca before he died and now thinks she is turning into Byron. She’s struggling with not having any sort of human contact since COVID began, so Maggie continues her nurturing ways by helping Helm. She stands back to back with Helm to give her some human contact, which causes more tears to stream down Helm’s face. The three doctors then make their way to DeLuca’s memorial service.

The memorial is held outside in the evening in what appears to be one of the hospital’s parking lots. Ben, Carina, and Maya from Station 19 are in attendance, and it’s a little odd that the whole Station 19 cast doesn’t turn up. Before the ceremony begins, Bailey approaches Richard to tell him that she needs to take time off and go home. Richard is relieved that Bailey is going to take care of herself and will give her as much time off as she needs. Bailey goes over to Ben and gives him a huge bear hug. The doctors have gathered, and it is time for the memorial to begin. Richard tells the crowd that they can still honor DeLuca even though he is gone and plays a collection of videos that the staff recorded about their best memories of DeLuca. Unfortunately, we don’t get to hear the messages, but we know they are touching based on the looks on everyone’s faces. Quick cuts show every main and background character that is currently on the show, and even Tom is allowed to be in attendance. Teddy is sitting by herself on a curb in tears, and Owen watches her the whole time from his seat.

Not hearing each individual’s tribute is made up for tenfold when the final video is DeLuca’s residency application video. It’s very fitting and touching that this is the only one we get to hear. Everyone is in tears as DeLuca talks about his life, how excited he is to apply to be a resident at Grey Sloan Memorial and how great of an opportunity it would be to work alongside and learn from “surgical legends” like Richard, Bailey, Jackson, and Meredith. The video ends with DeLuca saying: “I will give you the very best of me,” which is who he was to his core. No matter what you think about DeLuca or his death, he always gave the best of himself every single day. 

We then see the memorial playing on the iPad in Mer’s room with Hayes sitting there with her. It’s nice that the memorial was live-streamed for those who couldn’t be there in person. Back on the beach, Mer is sitting on a log inches apart from Derek, but we will have to wait to see their next interaction. Amelia was also able to watch the memorial online and is on the porch when Link comes home. She has decided that she doesn’t want any more secrets between them and really wants to know him. He says they have a deal, and she hugs him even though he reeks of whiskey. At the hospital, Teddy is still sitting on the curb way after the memorial has ended. She looks like she is in shock when Owen finds her. He picks her up and tells her he will take her home. The ending confirms that it is Teddy who is out of control spiraling from DeLuca’s death, which will continue to play out next week in epic fashion.


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