Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Grey’s Anatomy 19x16 Recap: “Gunpowder and Lead” (Fact Meets Fiction) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“Gunpowder and Lead”
Original Airdate: April 20, 2023

With Meredith and Maggie leaving Seattle, there is no longer a Grey as a main character on Grey’s Anatomy. This week, the focus turns to their sister, Amelia, who is spiraling after a trio of departures, and Bailey’s ongoing struggle to fight for women’s rights. Addison returns for a one-day visit too. There have been several strongly written episodes this season, but “Gunpowder and Lead” is hands down one of the best written hours of TV so far this year. It features knockout line after knockout line in a story that mirrors two of the most talked about topics in the U.S.: abortion rights and mass shootings. I hope ABC submits this episode for Emmy writing consideration because it is a truly powerful script. In fact, if you haven’t watched it, go turn on the episode instead of reading about it, as it is a can’t-miss hour.


As the episode opens, Mika and Simone are nearly ready to leave the house for work in the morning. Mika is doing exercises to keep herself awake after getting home at 3 a.m. Lucas comes in and shows Simone two ties that he wants to wear at her wedding. The bride nixes both and decides to take Lucas shopping for a better one. The three interns leave together. At Grey Sloan Memorial, Jules is getting coffee at the coffee cart when Blue finds her and asks her to go to a bar with him that night. Jules thinks it sounds like a date, but Blue counters that it’s two coworkers getting a drink. She says no thanks and that she’d rather hang out with her older roommate, Max, when he makes a joke about it. 

We then see Link, Jo, and their kids get to work. Scout and Link show Jo and Luna they were learning the ASL alphabet, and Jo is upset since she hasn’t come to terms with her daughter’s hearing loss yet. She is waiting for Luna’s MRI and genetic testing results but it’s odd that she is offended by Link trying to support and help her.

Bailey and Ben walk through the halls of the hospital together. Ben recounts breaking his left arm and two ribs from falling through the roof of a burning house on the same night’s episode of Station 19, and he is at the hospital a few days after the event to visit the man he saved. Bailey happens to spy Addison through the NICU windows while passing by and is very surprised to see her friend. Addison tells her that she needed to restock the PRT and decided to stop by and say hi. She is in the NICU visiting baby Connor, fellow Tia’s baby from Addison’s last episode, who is getting stronger every day.

Jules and Lucas go to an exam room where Schmitt is looking at patient Matt, whom he has just cleared from a C-spine injury. Matt tells the interns he was hit in the throat with a foam sword while LARPing (live action role playing). Schmitt is concerned that the swelling in Matt’s trachea could harm his airway, so he tells the interns to watch him. Matt wants to go back to the game and would be willing to take the risk that he could stop breathing if the odds are right. Lucas thinks it is about a girl, and he is correct. Matt says her name is Princess Astrid, and it was love at first sight. He has loved her for six years and wants to declare his feelings today. Matt believes, “She is my destiny,” which makes Jules believe him less.

Richard and Mika are in a pre-op room with their patient, Russell, and his wife. Russell is at the hospital for a colonoscopy even though he is 31 years old because he has a family history of colon cancer and has been having some odd mental fog symptoms lately. Russell is incredibly nervous about the test, so the doctors try to calm his nerves. Out of nowhere, Russell has a fit of amnesia and freaks out when he learns he is in the hospital. He starts panicking, doesn’t recognize his wife, rips off his hospital gown, and runs to the corner of the room to get away from everyone. Richard tells Simone to forget about the colonoscopy, orders a head CT scan, and wants Amelia paged.


In the ER, Blue goes over to see a man complaining of nausea and pain on his right side. The patient states he has always had trouble with his kidneys and clearly makes up having had a kidney removed when he “forgets” which kidney it was. He asks to see Bailey, as he saw online that she is the best doctor at Grey Sloan Memorial for kidney problems. Blue says he will page her but she is very busy, and he will run labs and imaging in the meantime. Everything about this guy screams “don’t get Bailey involved” especially since she is constantly being harassed by anti-abortionists. 

While Russell is getting his CT scan, Mika does jumping jacks to stay awake. Richard is quite confused at her behavior, but shrugs it off to figure out what is going on with their patient. The blood test reveals minor renal impairment and no toxins, and they are confused as to why he is having brain fog until the scans come up and reveal three bullets in Russell’s chest. They ask him why he has bullets in him, and Russell tells them that he is a mass shooting survivor. He went to the grocery store eleven years ago, and someone shot up the store while he was there. The bullets make Richard and Mika believe that their patient is suffering from lead poisoning, and they go to rush another set of labs.

The scene goes back to Bailey and Addison catching up. Bailey talks about how she is still getting tons of spam calls, and she shakes every time her phone rings. She doesn’t know what to panic about first these days. Bailey tells Addison that her phone never stops ringing and that she wants the lunatics to move on before she has a second heart attack. Addison stops her because she didn’t know about Bailey’s first heart attack. Bailey assures her that she is fine, and then says that nothing is fine. Addison retorts that babies and old friends help fix wounds, which makes both women smile.

Owen and Richard go see Russell and his wife. The second blood test confirms the lead poisoning diagnosis, and the doctors say that it explains all of Russell’s symptoms. Russell says that his surgeon said removing the bullets was worse than leaving them in after the shooting. Owen says they now need to remove them, which will make his symptoms improve. However, there are no guarantees about the mental confusion. Russell isn’t sure he should go through it and recounts being in cereal aisle when gun shots went off. He couldn’t hide, so he got down on knees and prayed to get out alive. Owen tells him he is also a victim of a shooting and “too many of us are.” He wants to take away some of Russell’s physical pain to help with his other pain too. Russell agrees to the surgery after Owen’s words encourage him that it will be a good outcome.

Amelia is hiding out in her home, lamenting being left by the three closest people to her. Mika knocks on her apartment door and tells her Owen says she can’t leave without her. Amelia wants no part of going to work, so Mika tells her that there is a patient with a bullet in his thoracic spine that Owen says only Amelia can remove. Amelia agrees to help, but she refuses to go in Mika’s van and decides to drive herself.

Schmitt goes to the OB ward to check on Jo. She tells her friend she is still waiting for Luna’s test results to find out if her hearing loss is from an underlying disease. Jo is worried she might have huge decisions to make that will affect the rest of Luna’s life. She feels her job as a mom changed in the blink of an eye and isn’t sure if she will be good at it. Schmitt knows that Jo will keep being a great mom, which lifts her spirits. He also gets her to laugh by showing her the few ASL signs he knows. 

Amelia gets to the hospital and immediately runs into Addison. She gives Addison a big hug, but is confused and thinks Mer told her former sister-in-law to check on her. Addison admits that she is at Grey Sloan Memorial because she was worried about Bailey and asks why she should be worried about Amelia too. Amelia simply states that Mer and Maggie moved and Kai left, so “I’m abandoned by everyone. You know how well I do with abandonment.” She quickly leaves for her consult before Addison can respond.

Winston, Owen, and Simone start looking at Russell’s scans. Amelia and Mika come in, and the former is annoyed they started without her. Winston assumes Amelia can remove the bullet in Russell’s spine, which makes Amelia very snarky due to his word choice of “assume.” Once the bullet in the spine is out, they will flip their patient to remove the other fragments. Winston is in charge, and they will go with his plan. Amelia leaves in a huff.

Elsewhere, Jules and Lucas check in on Matt, who claims he is great and wants to leave. They say he needs to stay longer for observation. Matt details how he fought to live after getting hit by the sword to tell Astrid how he feels. He reveals that he doesn’t even know her real name. Lucas and Jules have opposite views of Matt’s situation, and Jules does not want to encourage him. Naturally, Lucas is pro-love, while Jules wants to squash Matt’s every line about the topic, which leads Matt to say, “You look like a princess, but you have the heart of an ogre.” Jules burns him back by responding, “Correction, I look like a goddess, and I have the heart of a person who tells sad men the whole truth.” Jules takes Matt’s shoes and personal belongings so he can’t leave and will hold them hostage until she is ready to discharge him

Blue finds Bailey to tell her about his patient. The labs and scans showed no kidney stones, that he clearly has two kidneys, and no surgical scars. Blue tells her that the patient asked to see her, so even though she is unsure why, Bailey goes to see him with Blue tagging along. Things go south pretty quickly when the two doctors arrive in the ER. The patient tells Bailey he was looking forward to meeting her and asks how her kids are. Bailey asks if she treated him before, since she is immediately confused as to how he knows she has kids. He replies that he is just a fan of hers and asks how her new place is. Bailey starts to realize that the patient knows too many details about her and is bad news. Since the ultrasound was also negative, Bailey bluntly tells Blue to discharge him and starts to leave. The patient asks Bailey if she only gives common courtesy to other murderers and gets out of bed and to go after Bailey as she tries to walk away. He says, “I’m not done with you” and runs after Bailey. Blue tackles the man before he can get to Bailey and pins him to the floor. Blue shouts for someone to call security, and the man shouts at Bailey, “This isn’t over.”


Amelia is scrubbing in for Russell’s surgery, and Winston comes into the scrub room to confront her. He thought “we were friends, or at least colleagues who respected each other.” He wants to know what is going on with Amelia, so she reveals she is mad that Winston let Maggie move to Chicago. He says no one let Maggie move. Amelia thinks his ego killed their relationship, and Winston understands Amelia’s side because she is Maggie’s sister. Amelia tells him Maggie will keep rising to do greater things, and he will always be in her shadow. She can’t forgive him even if Maggie can because Maggie meant too much to her.

Downstairs, Teddy tells the hospital’s security guards that they need to be with Bailey at all times. Security has the attacker restrained in a room. Blue comes over to apologize for attacking a patient and breaking rules. Teddy says the patient wasn’t attacked; rather, he fell while attacking Bailey. That’s the story she knows and will stick to, which means Blue is off the hook. Ben comes in enraged. Teddy tells him Blue took the guy out, so he should go thank him. Ben wants Teddy to “tell that bastard that Dr. Bailey’s husband is a firefighter who breaks into houses with his axe for a living, and I’m going to find out where he lives.” Teddy calmly says she has the situation under control.

Russell’s surgery starts with Amelia, Mika, and Owen trying to remove the bullet in their patient’s spine. Mika accidentally drops a retractor as it is being handed to her by a nurse. The mistake sets Amelia off, and she kicks Mika out of the OR. Owen asks if it is necessary and tries to defend the intern. Mika apologizes, but Amelia says Mika is no longer welcome on her service. Mika leaves the OR rightfully upset. 

Simone goes to give Russell’s wife an update in the waiting room. She says the bullet has been removed from Russell’s spine, so Winston will start on fragments in his lung. The wife starts crying and tells Simone she never knew what happened when Russell got shot. She only knew a guy opened fire in the grocery store, but he never told her the details because he didn’t want to talk about or feel it. Russell wouldn’t talk about having kids after that day either. His wife tried many times to talk to him about the tragedy and felt he had trauma inside of him. She always worried it was eating away at him emotionally and didn’t realize it could kill him physically. Simone sits and listens sympathetically, which is another sign that she will make a great doctor.

Addison finds Bailey outside and brings her hot chocolate for “good juju.” Bailey violently throws the cup on the ground and cries and says she thought that would make her feel better. Addison tells Bailey to yell at her and pretend she is the attacker and all the people that are harassing her to get some of her anger out safely. Bailey goes on a wonderfully written rant that is directed at Addison as if she is the man who attacked her. She talks about how the guy knew her daughter’s full name and threatened her child. She rhetorically asks, “Who would hurt a four year old girl in the name of life?” Bailey rants about how the harassers don’t care about anyone but themselves. She goes on to say, “You are what is wrong in this world, not me. Not my family, not my child, you sick son of a-!” Bailey calms down and stops herself from cursing and tells Addison that her mom always told her to kill people with kindness. She wishes she could kill him with the truth. Addison thinks there might be a way to do both. 

Back inside, Blue tells a nurse the story of how he tackled the attacker and says he only thought about saving Bailey. Jules and Lucas overhear the humble brag. Lucas thinks Jules is jealous based on her reaction, but she denies it. It’s clear that they are both pining for people and won’t admit it, which makes Jules and Lucas more alike. All of a sudden, Matt’s trachea starts closing and he can’t breathe. They run into his room and find that his airway has completely closed. Matt crashes and has no pulse, so they start CPR. Lucas tries to intubate him, but there is too much swelling to get the tube in. Lucas says they need to tracheotomy, and he can’t wait for an attending. He needs to save Matt’s life, and Jules is worried they will be fired for doing a procedure on their own. However, Jules can’t wait either and tells Lucas to put a saline bag under Matt’s neck for support, which she saw Owen do. Since there is no sign of Schmitt, Lucas starts the tracheotomy on his own, and Jules asks him not to kill Matt.


In the OR, Winston is ready to start the second stage of Russell’s surgery. Amelia leaves as Simone and Winston take over with Owen. Winston tells Owen that Amelia is mad that Maggie left him. Owen explains that when Amelia is mad, she is never fair. Winston allows Simone to do part of the procedure that Maggie would never let her do. Simone questions if she can do it, so Winston says Maggie doesn’t work there anymore and that she is ready. Winston teaches Simone what to do when some bleeding starts from a staple she put in, lets her think it out, come up with a solution, and fix it herself. Winston has come a long way and is proving to be a great teacher. 

Schmitt arrives to see how Lucas did with Matt’s tracheotomy and sternly tells him and Jules that their job is to do nothing until he gets there. They argue that Matt would have died if they waited. Schmitt tells them that if Matt doesn’t make it, Lucas’ career is over, and in the future, they need to wait two minutes for him to get there. Jules tells Schmitt that if Lucas didn’t step in, Matt would be dead. Schmitt tells Lucas he did it well and saved his patient’s life. He is admitting Matt to the ICU. Schmitt tells them to remember the fear they are currently feeling next time and wait. The interns are relieved, and Lucas thanks Jules for standing up for him. Lucas thinks she is anti-love, so Jules tells him why she is the way she is. She had a crush on a guy at med school and failed her gross anatomy class because she was at his birthday party instead of studying. He didn’t even know her name and made out with Jules’ friend. She was encouraged by her parents to choose love over grades, which is why she is in a residency program for rejects. 

Elsewhere, Teddy finds Owen in her office. He isn’t okay after removing bullets from a mass shooting survivor and tells her while they were in the OR, two more mass shootings occurred. Owen lets out a big sigh and quietly says he doesn’t recognize the country anymore. No one blinks or is horrified anymore when a mass shooting occurs because they are happening too often. He feels that nothing changes, which makes him feel hopeless. Addison knocks on the office door and comes in to reveal an idea she thinks Owen and Teddy will either love or hate, but more on that shortly.

Mika waits for Amelia outside the OR and wants to apologize again for dropping the retractor. Amelia is very cold and tells her to apologize to the unconscious man on the table. She tells Mika that surgeons have to focus when helping vulnerable people. They have to give them everything they’ve got and stay alert. Addison sees Amelia going after Mika and stops her. Richard sees Addison and wants to say hi, but she says she will find him later as she pulls Amelia into a supply closet to talk. Addison asks if Amelia is high. Amelia says no and that she is not using. She can’t sleep and is a wreck though. Addison throws down the gauntlet and gives one of the most bluntly honest speeches in Grey’s history. She starts by saying, “I’m going to go ahead and love you enough to tell you to pull your head out of your self-obsessed ass and get to an AA meeting because the world is already on fire and we don’t need you burning anything else down.” 

Addison knows Amelia is in pain, but she feels her friend needs to get to a meeting, eat, and “be of service to the broken world instead of adding to everyone else’s pain.” She knows Amelia’s spiral, “starts with you trashing everyone else and ends with you back in rehab if you are lucky.” Addison tries to make Amelia understand that no one has abandoned her; everyone is doing the best they can and barely surviving too. She wants Amelia to make the decision to stop the spiral and get someone to help her do it if she can’t do it herself. Addison repeatedly tells Amelia that she loves her to let her message sink in and asks her to do everything she said before it is too late. 


Teddy calls a big group meeting with all the doctors, including Bailey, to talk about what Bailey is going through. She tells everyone that what the attacker did is somehow not against the law. She discusses how it is easy to hurt a stranger and has Blue hand out lists of Bailey’s most frequent callers to everyone. Teddy wants everyone to call the numbers and talk to the people that pick up. They should be respectful and kind and familiar, and maybe those people will think twice of calling again. We see the interns start calling people, and they tell people that Bailey is busy but she is okay with their views. Even Vic, Maya, and Carina from Station 19 help make phone calls. The doctors, and Addison, help too and say things like their prayers are received and Bailey is praying for them too. Everyone is killing the people on the other end with kindness. It’s amazing to watch everyone come together. Ben asks Bailey how she is feeling while watching everyone make calls, and she says she is a little bit better.

A lady walks into the ICU and finds Jules. She’s looking for a patient, but she doesn’t know his name. Jules asks if she is Princess Astrid, who is happy Matt talked about her. Jules explains that Matt is sedated right now but will be very happy to see her when he wakes up. Astrid takes a seat next to Matt’s bed and holds his hand, which shows Jules that she was wrong. 

In a recovery room, Russell asks Richard and Owen if the bullets are gone. Owen says they are all gone and that they got every last piece. Richard tells Russell he will be okay. Russell lets out his emotions and cries because the bullets are finally gone. 

While walking through the hall, Jo gets a call with Luna’s test results. She hangs up and runs upstairs and through the halls until she finds Link. She is happy to report that Luna is okay, is healthy, and doesn’t have a tumor, cancer, or any diseases. Jo knows technology has come a long way and is open to learning sign language. She apologizes for being rude to him, and it seems she was in a tizzy because she thought Luna had a disease, not just normal hearing loss. Link gives Jo a massive hug, and they make up.

In the intern locker room, Lucas and Simone brag about the procedures they did. Simone gets a call from Trey and goes to take it, but she says she wants full play by play of Lucas’ tracheotomy when she gets home. Lucas turns to Jules and says, “I need you to be Simone’s maid of honor.” Jules quickly turns him down, so Lucas offers to do all of her scut work until the wedding. Jules thinks Lucas must really love Simone to make that offer. Blue comes over to where Jules is, and the nurse he was talking to earlier walks in. Blue looks a little conflicted, but he leaves with the nurse. Jules looks pretty jealous again. We then see Mika go to Joe’s Bar. She very sadly puts her head down on the bar, which Helm sees.

Teddy gets a knock on her office door from Winston. He wants to know if he is being considered for the chief of cardio position because he wants it. Teddy says she will consider him and goes to leave. She is stopped by Helm, who barges in guns blazing. Helm has come to stick up for Mika because when she burned out, no one stood up for her. She doesn’t want the same thing to happen to Mika. Helm explains that Mika can’t afford her student loans and food, and she has no time to sleep while learning how to save lives. She knows something is wrong with the system, and she feels there is no good reason not to fix it even though the system has been broken for a long time. Helm yells at Teddy to solve the problem and storms out. She makes a very good point, and it seems like it is one Teddy will take to heart.

In the parking lot at night, Richard video chats with Maggie. She likes Chicago, is making friends, and has a really nice apartment. Richard sees Amelia walking by and tells Maggie he needs to go tend to her. Maggie thanks him for looking out for Amelia and ends the call. Richard goes over to Amelia and tells her he is also in a spiral about abandonment and could use a meeting. Amelia hugs him, which indicates Addison got through to her.

Bailey is helping Addison pack up the PRT and says she can’t believe Addison came out for one day when she could get supplies shipped. Addison says they are in this together, so she had to visit to check on her. Addison sees a note with her name on it in one of the boxes. When she opens it, Addison sees it is a handwritten note with the letterhead of the Klausman Institute on it.  The message reads, “This should keep you in business for a while. Keep fighting, Yang.” Cristina’s note should give you all the feels after a very emotional episode. Addison and Bailey smile and keep loading supplies into the PRT as the episode comes to a close.


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