Shonda Rhound-Up: Winter Finales

MATT MCGORRY, KARLA SOUZA, AJA NAOMI KING
ABC/Courtesy

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Shonda Rhimes, the groundbreaking creator of “Grey’s Anatomy,” “How to Get Away with Murder” and “Scandal,” delivered an incredibly moving speech at the Television Academy’s Hall of Fame this week, after being celebrated and introduced by another legend, Oprah Winfrey.

This week’s episodes are the midseason finales for both “Grey’s Anatomy” and “How to Get Away with Murder,” and while both shows leave us with Earth-shattering cliffhangers, neither disappoints in terms of drama. Both shows will return Jan. 18.

‘Grey’s Anatomy’

Last week was the 300th episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.” The show delivered heartwarming nostalgia and celebrated Meredith’s (Ellen Pompeo) Harper Avery win — perhaps in a mirror to Rhimes’ induction into the Television Academy Hall of Fame this week. But highs on “Grey’s” rarely last long, and this week was no exception.

Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital was faced with an apocalyptic nightmare: A hacker gained access to all of its machines and all of the patient files, and they thus held the hospital in the palm of their hand. In exchange for returning access, the hacker asks for $20 million in bitcoin. It’s a drama for the ages — “What would we do without technology?” is an apt question in this era, but it’s rarely ever posed in the context of hospitals, which rely not only on Wi-Fi and electricity for their operations, but also medications and resources protected by digital codes.

In addition to momentary power outages, there are other unexpected bumps in the road — electronic patient charts are inaccessible, heart monitors glitch and the blood bank is out of commission. Dozens of patients require CT scans, but there’s only one CT machine that’s not on the corrupted network.

Bit by bit, the hospital shuts down, and the doctors are forced to move patients, reconfigure treatment plans and decide whether it’s helpful or harmful to inform patients of the hack.

Jackson (Jesse Williams) and Maggie (Kelly McCreary) work together to treat a patient with a lung condition. The pair decide to transport him to another hospital, given that his treatment requires a machine that’s jeopardizes by the outages at Grey-Sloan. Once on a helicopter with their patient, sparks fly between Jackson and Maggie — for whom sexual tension has been building for weeks — that is, up until their patient’s blood spatters all over them and they’re forced to care for him despite rocky turbulence.

Meanwhile, Chief of Surgery Miranda (Chandra Wilson) feels powerless to help the hundreds of patients in her care. Never one to back down, though, Miranda decides that she would rather pay the ransom and save lives than watch patients deteriorate around her. Miranda’s partner in crime, and former chief of surgery, Richard (James Pickens Jr.), also shines when he shares his “stone age” skills of medical mastery sans machines.

For Alex (Justin Chambers) and Jo (Camilla Luddington), the situation is also particularly distressing. They have a very young patient with a heart condition, and without access to his chart, they’re unsure whether he’s been given blood-thinning or -thickening medication. Jo spends much of the episode running around trying to find the nurse who gave the patient his meds. The narrative thread seems to only up ante of the drama at-large, until the end of the episode when Jo’s plot comes to a head.

ALEX FERNANEZ, JAMES PICKENS JR., CHANDRA WILSON

ABC/Courtesy

The episode ends on a distressing cliffhanger. Jo, on her way back to Alex and the patient, comes face to face with her abusive ex — whom Jo decided to divorce after consulting with a judge a few weeks back.

“Grey’s Anatomy” is famous for its representation, its romances and its cliffhangers — season 14, of course, is no exception. The show has been building up the confrontation between Jo and her ex ever since it was revealed that she was in an abusive marriage and Alex, Jo’s current beau, considered confronting him last season. Here’s to hoping that the show gives Jo the justice she deserves.

The fate of the hospital, as well as the doctors and their patients, is ever up in the air.

‘How to Get Away with Murder’

The dramatic lull that “How to Get Away with Murder” has been in this season ends this week, when the flash-forwards finally clash with the present.

At the end of last week’s episode, Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) finally told Connor (Jack Falahee) about the plan that he’d been cooking up with Michaela (Aja Naomi King) and Laurel (Karla Souza) — which, as of last week, includes Frank (Charlie Weber) and Asher (Matt McGorry) as well — to take down Laurel’s father for Wes’s murder. This week, that leads to a confrontation in Laurel’s apartment, where Connor promises not to tell Annalise (Viola Davis) as long as everything goes according to planned. Spoiler: It doesn’t go according to plan.

The plan is for Oliver to use a key card belonging to Michaela’s mentor, Tegan (Amirah Vann), to access the Caplan & Gold server containing the Antares files that will ostensibly prove Laurel’s father has engaged in illegal activity. To cover their tracks, the group decided to pin the security breach on Simon (Behzad Dabu), who’s been a rival of the Keating Four since before Wes’ death. All of this is set to take place during a Caplan & Gold party, to which only employees are invited.

Nearly everyone shows up anyhow, though — Laurel arrives in an attempt to make sure the plan is followed through, with Asher and Connor tagging along as Michaela and Oliver’s respective dates. The first wrench in their plan arises when Simon tells Oliver he has feelings for him; this worsens Oliver’s guilt about framing Simon, a “DACA kid,” for a crime he didn’t commit.

Later, Oliver ends up needing more time to download the files, and it’s too late to return Tegan’s key card without her noticing. Laurel and Asher encourage Oliver to kiss Simon and hide the key card in his pocket.

Before that can happen, though, Simon catches Michaela, Laurel and Asher discussing the plan downstairs. He gets in a scuffle with Laurel before discovering a gun in her purse. Weapon in hand, Simon trips — accidentally shooting and killing himself, which sends his blood splattering across Michaela and Laurel’s traumatized faces.

So begins the most tense series of events the season thus far.

Oliver screams when he discovers Simon’s body. Meanwhile, as if they weren’t law students already experienced in preventing legal culpability for murder, Asher picks up the gun. Oliver tries to resuscitate Simon, but to no avail. Upstairs, Connor senses something has gone awry and calls Annalise for help.

Michaela wipes the blood from Laurel’s face and tells her to go home. The rest of the group (sans Connor, who’s still upstairs) restages the scene of Simon’s accidental suicide. Michaela runs upstairs to the party, screaming for attention.

In the taxi en route home, Laurel receives a call from Annalise and changes her course to visit her.

Annalise, meanwhile, has spent the episode trying to convince Isaac (Jimmy Smits) to keep seeing her as a patient — or maybe as something more, as the chemistry between them further builds. Either way, he’s aided in her growth this season, and she doesn’t want to give that up. A call from Connor interrupts their conversation, however, and Annalise arrives home just in time to hear Laurel scream from the broken elevator behind her.

What follows is the most gut-wrenching scene: Laurel delivers her baby two months earlier than planned, bloodied and overcome by stress in the elevator of Annalise’s hotel. A flashback to the earlier confrontation shows that it may not have even been the trauma of seeing Simon shoot himself, but an accidental punch she caught from Frank, when she tried to stop him from strangling Connor, that caused the potential miscarriage. In fact, the moment is only diffused by a baby’s wail at the end of the episode.

KARLA SOUZA, AJA NAOMI KING

ABC/Courtesy

So much hangs in the balance after this traumatic episode. We know that Laurel will eventually cry for her baby at the hospital, which means that — even though we saw Annalise save Laurel’s baby while Laurel was passed out in the elevator — the baby’s well-being and whereabouts are still unclear.

It was Simon we saw in surgery last week, and thus the man the clan had planned to pin their crime on may not be there to defend himself. In light of Simon’s death and Laurel’s delivery, however, their plan to get Laurel’s father thrown in jail may be moot. It’s certainly in danger after we saw Dominic (Nicholas Gonzalez) listening to Connor in a phone call with Michaela, which reminds us that Asher gets arrested after the shooting.

Thus, Laurel and her baby aren’t the only ones in jeopardy after this week, but we’ll have to wait until January to see where exactly these characters end up.

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

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  • ShadrachSmith

    Career Counseling newsbreak: At the Environmental Protection Agency, for example, the Senate Appropriations Committee proposed cuts of about $150 million compared to fiscal 2017 spending levels. That pales in comparison to the $2.6 billion cut the administration had requested and adds $378 million to what the House has suggested.

  • sparrow21

    Uh. Correction, Shonda Rhimes isn’t the creator of HTGAWM