Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Grey’s Anatomy 18x15 Recap: “Put it to the Test” (Tick, Tick, Boom) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“Put it to the Test”
Original Airdate: April 7, 2022

The latest hour of Grey’s Anatomy will surely enrage fans by the time it ends. The three remaining original characters are given major tests, and not all of them pass. Any Grey’s Anatomy purist should be upset with the outcome of this episode, and we have been gifted a month to stew about it before new episodes resume on Thursday, May 5, and take us to the end of the season. The latest storylines were surely conceived before the show’s season 19 renewal, so there is still time to right the ship.


The episode begins with Bailey and Meredith separately arriving at the hospital in the morning, both eager to start a fresh day. Mer meets a stretch limo in the ambulance bay, which contains Nick and an organ transplant cooler. Nick is thrilled to be in Seattle and that Catherine sent a private jet and limo for him. He’s also excited that he is working on a top-secret transplant today with Mer and a bunch of residents, who have no idea what they will be working on. Bailey comes outside and meets Nick for the first time and profusely thanks him for coming. She believes the timing is perfect, as the hospital needs to be impressive that day.

We then see the reemergence of Schmitt. Helm visits the still-depressed doctor in his basement. She drops off a massive pile of mail for him and asks him to come to work for the residency program’s review. Schmitt doesn’t know what she is talking about, so Helm informs him about the complaints against the program and how people are ripping it apart on social media. Helm tries to convince her best friend by telling him that she knows he has been hurting, but she has worked too hard for the residency program to be shut down. She needs Schmitt to be there for her just for one day and leaves him to ponder whether to help or not.

Back at the hospital, Bailey holds a meeting with the department heads/top attendings about the visitors the hospital will have from the medical accreditation council. Bailey informs the doctors that the visitors will be focusing not just on the residency program, but on them too during their site visit. Winston speaks up to ask how the residents can do grand rounds with Mer and Nick if the residency program is being examined. Bailey feels that the grand rounds showing groundbreaking medicine is great for Grey Sloan Memorial. Owen explains to the group that the program can be shut down if the visit fails, but Bailey assures them that won’t happen because they will show their visitors who they are and impress them. She announces that Richard will be the first person interviewed during the site visit, which Richard quickly nixes. He tells Bailey that his physician review starts shortly, so he can’t participate in the site visit. Bailey’s incredulous look says it all.

Elsewhere in the hospital, grand rounds start with Nick and Mer presenting their patient to a group of residents. The patient is Mason Taylor, who was declared brain dead after being hit by a drunk driver, and he will be the recipient of a kidney transplant. The residents are very confused why they would do a transplant on a brain dead patient instead of harvesting his organs for other potential transplants. Nick explains that the kidney donor is a farm-raised, genetically modified pig. Wright is immediately excited that they are performing a xenotransplant, which we will learn more about later on.

Bailey chases Richard down the hall after the meeting, and she is none too happy that he scheduled his physician review the same day that the residency program is under review. Richard gets her frustration, yet he has to go through with it because he found someone who would be unbiased toward him with the exam. Right on cue, Bailey and Richard walk into Hamilton and Kai. Bailey is shocked to learn Hamilton and Kai will be Richard’s evaluators, and her stress levels continue to increase when two women from the medical accreditation council arrive at that exact moment. They split into their rightful groups of three to begin their separate review processes.


We then get footage of the three major events going on at the hospital weaved together in small bites that are almost shown too quickly to process. Before Richard’s test begins, Amelia finds Kai and tells them that Richard needs to pass the test because he is important to the hospital and her, but Kai knows they can’t be swayed by personal feelings. Hamilton and Kai start the review with a series of brain games (which actually look fun). 

Nick explains to the residents that Mason wanted to donate his organs, but couldn’t due to a long history of cancer. Instead, his wife donated his body to research. Nick goes on to say that seventeen people die each day waiting for a kidney transplant, and his xenotransplant research can make the long transplant lists go away in a few years. They will do the first-time transplant in Mason’s hospital room. Nick helps the residents reason that they are experimenting on a dead guy because they can’t perform a xenotransplant on someone who has something to lose. They fasten the kidney to Mason’s groin, that way they can see the organ while assessing its performance and the area has great blood supply.

While those two things are happening, Bailey is giving the two accreditation women a tour of the hospital. She wants to show them everything it has to offer. One of the ladies would like to speak to all the residents directly and wants to start with Schmitt. Bailey puts them off by saying the residents are experiencing groundbreaking medical innovation, so they shouldn’t be interrupted. The visitor then tells Bailey that it is impressive that such innovative cases are making their way to the hospital considering that Grey Sloan Memorial has lost seven physicians recently. Bailey chalks that up to a higher number of retirees this year, which prompts the women to ask about Hayes. Bailey semi-lies and smoothly tells them that he moved back to Ireland for a family matter. The trio walks up to Mason’s room just as Wright comes out to tell the rest of the residents and Mer that the transplanted kidney is producing urine. The timing is perfect for the visitors to see the success, and Bailey takes the opportunity to introduce them to Mer. They get another quick jab in when one says that it’s a rare opportunity for the residents to get to work with Mer these days.

We get a short reprieve from the challenging site visit to see Schmitt complaining to his mom. After looking at the harmful social media posts that Helm mentioned, Schmitt realized that his mom is responsible for the online criticism. They argue about the situation, and Schmitt doesn’t want his mom to fight his battles. Mrs. Schmitt thinks her son needs help because his teachers failed him, which has led him to want to give up his career and break up with Nico. Schmitt defends the teaching he has had and says that he failed, not the attendings. Mrs. Schmitt goes to leave the basement when her foot slips on a stair, making her fall backward down the flight of stairs. Schmitt immediately calls 911 and tells them that his mother hit her head, is unconscious and unresponsive, and her left leg is internally rotated and shortened, which could be a sign of a femur fracture. 

At the hospital, Richard is still doing neurological tests with Hamilton and Kai to test his ability to process information in short amounts of time. They take a short break to talk, and Hamilton tells Richard that he knows there is a difference between slowing down a bit and being a danger to patients. He has no problem with slowing down and goes off on a tangent about how part of their job as they get older is to recruit the next “you.” The comments lead Richard to figure out that Hamilton is trying to poach Mer, which infuriates the Grey Sloan Memorial loyalist.


If you thought Richard and Hamilton had a bad conversation, just wait for the accreditation visitors’ discussions with Grey Sloan Memorial’s top attendings! The two women interview Winston and Maggie separately, and Bailey is in the conference room for both talks. Winston goes first and is asked why he transferred to the hospital. He talks about how he wanted to work with Maggie, which they see as an issue since they are now married. Maggie is asked if she always dated her students, which Maggie instantly rebuffs. She wants to know how her marriage has anything to do with the residency program, and the women explain that they have heard about Grey Sloan Memorial’s history of inappropriate sexual conduct, which they have to take seriously.

The interviews then go into the actual workplace. The group runs into Owen first, who appears to be working a bit while still on crutches. The women ask Owen when he can operate again, and he thinks he will be back in the OR soon. Bailey touts the hospital’s physical therapy department and how much of an asset Owen is as a former army surgeon. They have read his study on burn-related illnesses in veterans and want to know how the study can keep moving forward after several patients have died. Cut to Teddy’s interview, in which she defends Owen’s study by saying many burn patients die from their injuries and that it isn’t unusual. They next talk to Link while he is in a patient’s room. Link starts off great by saying how he turned his life upside down to work at Grey Sloan Memorial instead for the Seattle Mariners, but it quickly takes a wrong turn when he reveals too many personal details and struggles that make it seem like he hates his life. Bailey is seething to the point where you know she wants to melt him with her gaze.

Elsewhere, Nick asks the residents to get a biopsy of the transplanted kidney to test for viability. He leaves the room and runs right into Mason’s wife, Jan. Nick apologizes for her loss, and Jan really wants to see Mason. Nick says she can see him later, but not right now. Jan gets a little hysterical and tries to push past Nick, but he stops her. He asks Jan to remember what she consented to and how it can save thousands of lives, but if she goes into the room, the study will be over. Jan can’t believe that her husband beat cancer only to be killed by a drunk driver. Nick consoles the grieving wife, which Mer sees from down the hall. 

Over at Schmitt’s house, Mrs. Schmitt is not doing well and an ambulance has not arrived yet. Schmitt remembers his ABCs (airway, breathing, and circulation) and goes into doctor mode to check his mother’s status. He finds that she has a tension pneumothorax, which causes him to panic that the ambulance is taking too long to get there. 

Back at the hospital, Richard can’t focus on his tests because he is too mad about Hamilton bringing up that he is poaching Mer during the assessment. Richard is also annoyed that Hamilton would try to court Mer while Grey Sloan Memorial’s residency program is under scrutiny. He feels that losing Mer could shut the program down for good. Richard is then interrupted by a phone call from Schmitt, who asks his mentor for help since the paramedics haven’t arrived to help his mom. Without telling Hamilton and Kai what is going on, Richard leaves the room to help Schmitt.

Richard instructs the resident to get a knife and sterilize it with alcohol wipes to perform a thoracostomy. Schmitt isn’t sure he can do it, and Richard reminds him that he has done dozens of them. Schmitt cuts into his mom’s chest with the knife and cuts into the chest wall with scissors to relieve the pressure of the pneumothorax. She immediately starts breathing better, but there’s a lot of blood. Schmitt realizes that the injury is significantly worse than he thought and is relieved when the paramedics arrive.

The action switches back to Bailey and the accreditation women talking to Jo about the surgical residency program. Jo sings praises about Bailey, but the women are only interested in why Jo left surgery. She explains why she made such a big career decision, and she is asked if Bailey tried to dissuade her from leaving surgery. Jo says Bailey did, but they still don’t understand why she would throw a promising surgical career away. Jo argues that she uses her surgical skills everyday as an OB resident and urges that there is no better residency program or better chief than Bailey. She excuses herself to deliver a baby. The next person on the interview list is Richard, so Bailey tries to stall by suggesting they take a break while she finds him.

We then go back to Richard, who is still on the phone with Schmitt. Richard asks for an update, and Schmitt reports that they are ten minutes away from the hospital and asks if Richard can get the OR prepared for his mom. They hang up right as Bailey walks up to Richard. He informs Bailey about Mrs. Schmitt’s injuries and in the next breath, he asks if Mer has spoken to her. Richard knows it is not the day to add more problems to Bailey’s plate, so it’s odd that he felt it necessary to bring that up right then and there.


Mer finds Nick near Mason’s room and learns that the transplanted kidney is not making urine anymore. Nick explains that Mason’s blood pressure is plummeting, which is causing the blood flow to his groin to not be strong enough to perfuse the kidney. He sent the residents away and tried everything to fix the problem but can’t seem to reverse it. Nick needs the transplant to work and wants to give Jan some good news. Mer knows the worst part of being a doctor is telling families that a loved one didn’t make it and knows he has that in every case. Nick says that if his study works, that would go away. Mer thinks all the bad news-giving weighs on him and makes him shake a little in his sleep, but if she puts her hand on him, he stops. Nick gently says that no one has ever told him that before. 

Their conversation is interrupted when Bailey walks up and furiously declares that Mer is taking the job in Minnesota. Bailey is rightfully angry that Mer didn’t have the respect to tell her herself about the offer or that she would probably take it. Mer claims that she hasn’t made a decision yet. Bailey escalates the situation by stating that she and Grey Sloan Memorial’s program raised Mer and taught her all she knows. She thinks Mer is selfish to leave in the middle of a physician shortage and the residency program being under review, especially after the hospital made plenty of concessions to allow Mer to work in both Seattle and Minnesota. 

Bailey starts having trouble breathing and grabs her chest. She continues though, saying that Mer is the same girl that’s “following her handsome attending all around the hospital” and brings up all the issues with the beginning of her relationship with Derek. Mer has enough, and Nick tries to step in to stop the argument. Bailey tells him to stop because she knows where he stands. That upsets Mer further, and she tells Bailey not to speak to her or Nick that way. She reminds her boss that Nick is at Grey Sloan Memorial doing them a favor. Bailey starts to stumble, and they help her sit down as Mer pages cardio.

As Bailey gets the help she needs, Mer and Nick talk about what just happened. Mer is pacing in the hallway saying that she needs Bailey to be okay, while Nick informs his girlfriend that Bailey got in her head. Mer tells him that Bailey has been in her head since she was an intern, but she has never seen her go off like that before on anyone. Nick thinks the blowup is making Mer reconsider the Minnesota offer, and Mer says that she loves Bailey, even though she doesn’t like her right now. Nick knows and then asks if Derek was married when Mer met him because he doesn’t remember that part of the story. Mer shoots back that it was a lot more complicated than that, but feels that Bailey just showed how she sees her. This makes Mer realize that a doctor can’t stay at the place they did their residency forever because the doctors there will never see you as anything more than what you were in the beginning and not the person you become. Wright peeks out of Mason’s room to inform Nick that the kidney has started making urine again, so Nick and Mer put their conversation on the back burner to check it out for themselves.

Meanwhile, Maggie checks out Bailey, who didn’t have another heart attack. Maggie assures her that everything is fine, but she needs to slow down. She asks where Richard is, and Bailey tells her about his assessment, which Maggie didn’t know about. Maggie tells Bailey that she needs to start doing less and handing more work off to other people, otherwise she will have another heart attack. Bailey doesn’t think that is an option because the residency program is falling apart on her watch. She’s been stretched too thin at work, has a new toddler at home, and Mer might be leaving, which is all too much for her to handle. Maggie is shocked to hear about Mer because she didn’t know that either. It is and isn’t surprising at the same time that Mer talked to Zola and Nick only about moving to Minnesota and no one else.

Amelia finds Kai outside, and before she can say a word, Kai tells her that they can’t say how Richard is doing on the test. Kai asks if Richard might have dementia or a drinking problem because he took a phone call in the middle of the assessment and left without saying a word. Amelia knows neither are true and has done a lot of things that have shown a lack of judgment herself. Link walks out to meet an incoming ambulance and overhears the tail end of Amelia’s comment. Kai says hi and introduces themself and asks if he is Scout’s dad. Link introduces himself, and Richard walks out right as an ambulance pulls up. 

Kai tries to ask why Richard is assisting Link when Schmitt opens the ambulance doors and explains the situation with his mom. Schmitt is a bit hysterical that they were fighting and his mom slipped down the stairs. He feels it is his fault, and Richard assures him that he saved her life. Schmitt wants to go with his mom, but Richard sternly tells him that he can’t. Kai allows Richard to help the Schmitts before concluding his tests. After Kai and Amelia go back inside, Schmitt reveals to Richard that his mom is responsible for the residency program’s woes and feels that everything, from his patient’s death to his mother’s injuries, is his fault. Richard hugs Schmitt and comforts him as one of the women from the accreditation council watches from the background.


With vintage footage from the early days of Grey’s Anatomy interspersed between new footage, Richard finally gets his chance to talk to the women from the council, and Schmitt talks to Hamilton and Kai about his experience with Richard as residency director. Richard tells the women that teaching is his calling, which is uniquely satisfying for him, and he admits that he asked for a physician’s review himself to make sure he was still competent enough to be a doctor. He doesn’t want to retire, but if that’s what he has to do for Grey Sloan Memorial to keep its residency program, then he will step down. It’s a powerful speech that reminds us yet again what a treasure the character of Richard Webber is. 

After the interview, Richard concludes the rest of his tests with Kai and Hamilton. Kai quickly tells him that they didn’t need the interview with Schmitt because Richard passed with flying colors on his own. Hamilton congratulates Richard, and Amelia busts in to let them all know that Mrs. Schmitt doesn’t have any head trauma and that she is going to make it. They are all excited by both pieces of news, and Amelia gives Richard a big hug when she learns he passed. On his way out, Hamilton tells Richard that not everyone gets a second chance at operating, so he should take advantage of the opportunity. Hamilton and Richard leave the room, and Amelia sticks around to apologize to Kai for her behavior earlier, as she was worried about Richard. Kai completely understands and realizes that Richard is Amelia’s Hamilton. 

Bailey meets with the women from the accreditation council, who tell her that the hospital’s residency program is one of the best that they have seen. They noticed the residents are genuinely excited about their work, and the attendings care enough about the hospital that they were nervous for the meetings. They can feel the sense of community and family at the hospital and they were greatly impressed by Richard. However, what they saw during their visit doesn’t quite override what is on paper: Grey Sloan Memorial doesn’t currently have enough surgeons to maintain a healthy teaching program. They unfortunately have to place the residency program on probation effective immediately and will give Bailey a list of improvements that need to be made if the hospital wants to continue the residency program. The women will be back for another visit in a few weeks to see if the situation has been rectified, or they will shut down the program for good. They wish Bailey luck and leave for the night. 

Elsewhere, Nick and Mer finally allow Jan to see Mason, but the two doctors speak for a moment first. Mer informs him that Bailey will be okay and that she spoke to Maggie, who told her she now knows about the offer. Nick shows Mer that the transplanted kidney has produced a whole bag of urine, which is a major accomplishment. Mer is very proud of Nick’s first step towards changing the face of transplant medicine and says he needed that win. Mer brings Jan into the room, and they tell her that the transplant worked. They leave her to grieve and see Mason, and it’s easy to see that Mer is getting flashes back to when she said goodbye to Derek. She gets a little teary eyed and tells Nick that she is ready to start over. She is going to take the offer, and Nick hugs her. 

Bailey has yet to realize that her actions have pushed Mer further away instead of making her want to stay. The Minnesota offer and potential residency program shutdown storylines were clearly written with the intention of things that could happen at the end of the series prior to another season being picked up. We all know that Grey’s Anatomy only works when all the current characters are working in Seattle at Grey Sloan Memorial. The show is Seattle and can’t survive or thrive elsewhere. It is fun to see a main doctor do something at another hospital for a few episodes, but the novelty tends to wear off quickly (i.e. this season’s Minnesota storyline went on a little too long). Grey’s Anatomy will no longer be Grey’s Anatomy if Mer moves to Minnesota. The good news is that there are enough episodes left this season for these storylines to be rectified. Here’s to hoping that the writers and producers figured this out themselves and fixed it by the end of the season and didn’t wait for the fan reaction first.


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