Shonda Rhound-Up: Doctors fight deportation, disrupt legal battles on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

Shonda Rhound-Up
Richard Cartwright / ABC/Courtesy

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Last week’s episode almost tricked us into thinking Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) had cancer, and that wasn’t even its most tense plot line.

The episode also saw Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) and Alex (Justin Chambers) through their first trial run of using heated ultrasound to remove a tumor from one of their young patients, Noah (Steele Gagnon). Across the hospital, Maggie (Kelly McCreary) and Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) support Richard (James Pickens Jr.) when he learns that his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor is receiving end-of-life care for liver failure.

This week, Alex and Amelia struggle with their trial’s inability to help their first young patient, and several other doctors unite to protect one of their interns when an officer with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, comes to the hospital looking for her.

Sam Bello (Jeanine Mason) stands out in her class of surgical interns; she’s always the most informed on a patient’s well-being, and she’s working with Alex and Amelia on their cancer research. She’s also a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and from El Salvador, from where her family fled from when she was a baby.

When the ICE officer arrives, Miranda (Chandra Wilson) takes him straight to her office, and Meredith begins searching for ways to help Sam. She brings in Sam’s long-term boyfriend, Andrew (Giacomo Gianniotti) then asks Jo (Camilla Luddington), who faked her own name and identity for years, for help.

Although Meredith has good intentions, it’s unsettling to watch her march around the hospital telling several people that ICE is trying to pick up Sam — it could quickly put Sam in more danger.

The doctors that Meredith informs only want to help Sam, but still, without a scene that shows Sam giving Meredith permission to inform her colleagues of her situation, it’s nerve-wracking — especially because no one knows who or what brought ICE to the hospital.

Andrew thinks it may have been his sister Carina (Stefania Spampinato), who has never supported his relationship with Sam. Meanwhile, Miranda has reason to believe that the ICE officer has a heart problem. What could easily be a ruse to keep Sam safe is actually a serious issue that just happens to benefit the doctors’ attempts to help Sam.

Miranda talks the officer through a heart procedure, and he admits to her that he doesn’t know what his work’s purpose is anymore. It’s a powerful moment, if understated. While this scene could be read as politically passive, the rest of the episode sees the doctors denouncing rising deportation rates and the officer’s presence in their hospital.

Near the episode’s end, Meredith works out a solution to help Sam, but it’s less than ideal because it still forces Sam to uproot her life in the United States. Meredith and Maggie retroactively falsify an application on Sam’s behalf to a medical school in Switzerland, which has accepted her. She will work as a cardiothoracic surgical intern under Dr. Cristina Yang, a former Grey-Sloan doctor and Meredith’s best friend.

In light of this politically salient and deeply important plot, the other characters’ plots are weaker than usual this week.

Arizona struggles to balance her research on maternal mortality with calmness while she treats expectant mothers. She delegates Owen (Kevin McKidd) — who decides to foster a child after this week’s episode — to look after a former patient of hers: Matthew (Justin Bruening), who once dated April but arrived a few episodes back with his pregnant wife. His wife delivered their daughter and died soon after — now, their daughter is having heart problems.

April also finds it hard to keep away from Matthew’s daughter. She, too, feels guilty for his wife’s death, and she has a feeling that the problem with the baby isn’t her heart, but something else.

This week’s episode doesn’t give us an answer to what exactly is going on with Matthew’s daughter, but it does insinuate that his and April’s plot isn’t over. Last we see, the two are praying together in the hospital’s chapel.

Throughout the episode, Maggie and Jackson (Jesse Williams) also make brief but tense appearances. While they spent almost an entire season tip-toeing around mutual sexual tension, what’s now going unspoken is that Jackson recently kissed April — or rather, April kissed Jackson, and Jackson doesn’t feel that he needs to apologize to Maggie for it, even though the two were starting to date when it happened.

We get it, “Grey’s Anatomy.” Stop trying to make this love triangle happen. Let Jackson and Maggie be happy together; April and Jackson don’t want to be together, anyway.

By the episode’s end, Maggie and Jackson stop pushing each other away. Maggie frankly tells Jackson that she wants him to be honest with her. She thinks Jackson kept the kiss from her because he doesn’t think she’s capable of understanding his and April’s complicated relationship — but that couldn’t be further from the truth. He tells her she’s powerful, and she is.

That’s why it’s so frustrating that her last line this week is, “I’m not capable anymore.” Sure, the line is intended to mean something like, “I’m not capable of pushing you away,” but, heard literally, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. The line diminishes the scene and undermines her character.

Finally, Alex spends his small moments on screen trying to convince Kimmie (Nayah Damasen), his original trial patient, to stay at the hospital until he can come up with a method for treating her cancer. Last week, Koracick (Greg Germann) and Amelia determined that the heated ultrasound method that worked for Noah would be too dangerous for Kimmie. Alex was devastated.

While Alex talks to Kimmie, Amelia reaches out to a researcher that she thinks can help her adjust the ultrasound trial to work for Kimmie — but the woman refuses to help because of a past legal battle with Jackson’s grandfather, the now-deceased Harper Avery, because Grey-Sloan is a Harper Avery hospital.

Without next steps, Kimmie decides to leave the hospital.

Meanwhile, Jackson tries to help Alex and Amelia get in contact with the other doctor, so he asks his family’s lawyers to waive whatever agreement they made that’s silencing her.

And, according to his mother, that waiver will be everyone’s undoing.

Sophie-Marie Prime covers television. Contact her at [email protected].