Shonda Rhound-Up: Ground is shaky on ‘Grey’s’ and ‘HTGAWM’

JACK FALAHEE, VIOLA DAVIS, MILTON T.J. TAYLOR
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As they reach the midpoint in their seasons, it’s near-inevitable that “Grey’s Anatomy” and “How to Get Away with Murder” would hit lulls in their respective dramatic climbs. This week, both shows seem to be settling into (or still finding) their central conflicts.

‘Grey’s Anatomy’

Last week, “Grey’s Anatomy” said goodbye to Nathan (Martin Henderson) and Megan (Abigail Spencer), who moved with Megan’s son Farouk (Bardia Seiri) to Malibu after her recovery from surgery. This week, now that Owen (Kevin McKidd) is back in Seattle after helping his sister move, he and Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) solidify their decision to divorce. The first scene of the episode is as sweet as a divorce scene can be — the pair decide that their mutual affection will facilitate their post-marriage friendship.

This episode is also Amelia’s first week back at work (if it seemed like it happened quickly, it’s likely a consequence of the way the season fast-forwarded through her recovery from brain surgery). Unsurprisingly, she’s nervous — but her self-aggrandizing mentor validates that she is still one of the best in her field.

Meredith, now on another path to innovation (the first being Megan’s abdominal transplant surgery, which got her the Harper Avery nomination), wants to perform a liver surgery that will relieve her patient of his need for a transplant. The procedure, called an “ALPPS,” had never been performed on the West Coast until Meredith performs it with Jo (Camilla Luddington) at her side.

Since the patient is a sympathetic, justice-oriented judge, Jo also asks his advice on if or how she can safely separate from her abusive husband. By episode’s end, she decides to pursue a divorce.

Despite all of this personal drama, the hospital itself was pretty crisis-free this episode — that is, until a woman came in with strange abdominal pains. She’d hidden a gun in, well, the last place you might expect to find a gun, so that she could smuggle it into jail for her boyfriend. (If you’re confused as to where she hid it, one of the doctors described the situation best: she called it a “gun-gina.”)

While the ladies of the hospital are removing guns from vaginas and conducting groundbreaking surgical procedures, several of the Grey-Sloan men venture onto the boat Jackson (Jesse Williams) has just purchased using his dead grandfather’s money.

KEVIN MCKIDD, JASON GEORGE, JUSTIN CHAMBERS, JESSE WILLIAMS, GIACOMO GIANNIOTTI

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This leads to grilling, a knot-tying competition, jokes about who’s the “biggest one on the beach” and other forms of hypermasculine male “bonding.” In other words, it was an excuse for Jackson to broach the subject of the sexual tension between him and his step-sister Maggie (Kelly McCreary) — the consensus between the men was that it would be “weird” for the two to sleep together.

By episode’s end, the doctors are welcoming new interns to the hospital. During the intern mixer, Meredith’s mentors announce that she’s been nominated for a Harper Avery — poor timing for her, because of the fact that her ALPPS patient had died just moments before. His death wasn’t caused by the procedure, however, so she promises to keep trying the procedure with other patients to save their lives instead.

Meanwhile, Jackson, jealous of Meredith’s nomination for an award he’s excluded from due to family ties, anonymously gives a chunk of his grandfather’s funds to Grey-Sloan, in order to start a new surgical competition that he can participate in.

The competitive stakes have never been higher at Grey-Sloan, and this will no doubt be the show’s new edge as it eases into the second half of this season.

BENITO MARTINEZ, VIOLA DAVIS, LIZA WEIL, JACK FALAHEE

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‘How to Get Away with Murder’

After Bonnie (Liza Weil) sabotaged Annalise’s (Viola Davis) class-action suit last week, Annalise spends much of this episode picking up the pieces. Her therapist Isaac (Jimmy Smits), caught in the crossfire of Bonnie and Annalise’s fallout, spends the hour trying to decide whether to keep Annalise as a patient when he realizes that both he and Annalise have lost children. Annalise’s loss triggers his own depression and grief, making their sessions together potentially unsafe for both of them.

In an attempt to guide her into talking about the loss of her baby, Isaac asks Annalise to write a letter to her deceased husband, Sam. It’s been a bit since Sam’s name has come up, likely due to the deaths that have passed since his murder by Wes in the first season.

Meanwhile, after Bonnie ousted Annalise’s class action suit, the DA’s office has threatened the folks who agreed to have their cases retried for the suit. For example, because of the suit and Bonnie’s work to derail it, Claudia (Yolonda Ross) and her family are in danger of losing their home if they agree to testify for Annalise’s case against the public defender’s office.

While Connor (Jack Falahee)  is working alongside Annalise, the other former members of the Keating crew are working to hold Laurel’s (Karla Souza) father accountable for Wes’s murder.

After Michaela (Aja Naomi King) and Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) hacked into her mentor’s legal account, the pair have been on edge — and neither has told their respective boyfriends about their efforts. The tension rises when Laurel’s father visits his lawyers at Caplan & Gold, where Michaela and Oliver work, sparking concern that he has figured out their plan to oust his company’s malpractice. His visit to town is even more concerning, given that Laurel told him she had an abortion and her pregnancy is becoming harder to hide.

Frank (Charlie Weber), on the other hand, is nervous about his LSAT score results, until he learns that he’s done quite well. This places him in a good position to take care of Laurel’s baby, he tells her.

This week, more than ever, Laurel shows concern over the identity of her baby’s father when she asks her doctor how she can go about getting a paternity test.

Asher (Matt McGorry), meanwhile, is concerned since he saw Michaela at Laurel’s apartment while she told him she was still at work last week. The narratives of the Keating 4 have been relatively split up so far this season, but Asher, more than any of the characters, has seemed a little left in the dust — but not this week.

After Michaela lies to him more than once and he breaches her trust by hiding a teddy-cam in Laurel’s apartment, Asher leaves the apartment he shares with Michaela for Bonnie and Frank’s house. This leads to an intimate moment between Asher and “Bon-Bon” (his nickname for Bonnie), who’s distressed because the DA kicked her off of Annalise’s class action.

Near the end of the episode, Annalise gives Claudia’s son, Tyrone (Milton T.J. Taylor), a media platform to fight back against the DA’s office — lending the family a voice of their own and regaining her control over the suit.

A lot is up in the air on “Murder” right now. Laurel’s due date is looming, her father’s company seems untouchable, Annalise is well on her way with the class action suit and Asher has started spiraling away from the Keating 4. We know that no central characters will emerge from the impending bloody doom of the season’s ending unscathed — but this week revealed that, on that fateful future night, Annalise will be sitting near the drain of her shower, washing away an unknown victim’s blood.

Sophie-Marie Prime is the assistant arts & entertainment editor. Contact her at [email protected].

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