Shonda Rhound-Up: Tumors, broken hearts, blind eyes on ‘Grey’s’ and ‘HTGAWM’

Mitch Haaseth / ABC/File

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The drama picks up this week on “Grey’s Anatomy” and “How to Get Away with Murder.” Now that we’re beyond premieres, these two Shonda Rhimes serials can amp up the drama.

‘Grey’s Anatomy’

Last week’s premiere ended with a huge revelation: Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) has a brain tumor. This is exactly the kind of cruel irony we’d expect from “Grey’s,” given that she — along with her late brother Derek — is a neurosurgeon.

At the start of this week’s episode, we learned that Amelia’s tumor has been growing, impacting her judgement and decision-making, for about a decade.

While Amelia sorted out treatment and informed Maggie (Kelly McCreary) of her tumor, the other doctors of Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital pick up the trail of breadcrumbs left after the season opener. Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) is in a mood, which is shocking to no one, especially given that Nathan (Martin Henderson) proposed to Megan (Abigail Spencer), who just effectively returned from the dead. Meredith would probably be happy for Nathan — despite their recent romance — because she encouraged Nathan to be with Megan, knowing that if Derek, her husband, were to magically be revived from his fatal head injury, she would drop everything to be with him too. What has Meredith in a mood is not the proposal, but the fact that Megan declined because she believes that Nathan is in love with Meredith.

All this, and notorious surgeon Harper Avery (Chelcie Ross) visits to meet with the board of the hospital: Chief of Surgery Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson), Harper’s daughter-in-law Catherine Avery (Debbie Allen) and his grandson Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams). Harper has visited the hospital in previous seasons, exuding a baffling level of offensive arrogance and further distancing himself from Jackson. This time, Jackson left Miranda and Catherine — two Black female surgeons — to deal with his repugnancy, and his sexism as well; he says that women clearly shouldn’t be in charge because they make everything “personal.”

After a convincing speech from Miranda, Harper agreed to continue funding Grey Sloan, but attempted to fire Miranda … which luckily became irrelevant when he was humorously found dead of a heart attack a few minutes later. No one grieved for him too long.

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Mitch Haaseth/ABC/Courtesy

Later in the episode, Meredith had a conversation with her therapist, during which she realized that her tense mood since Megan’s return isn’t because she wants to be with Nathan, but because she wishes she could have the “gift” he’s been given — she wishes that the love of her life, Derek, could be revived as well.

Knowing this, Meredith tells Nathan that he should fight for his relationship with Megan, even when Nathan admits to loving both of them. Meredith responded by saying that he doesn’t have to lie and say he’s never loved anyone else, but he just has to make sure Megan knows she’s his first priority and that Meredith and he are finished.

As Amelia struggles to cope with her diagnosis, she frantically tries to prove to herself that her tumor didn’t cause her to harm her patients instead of heal them. Richard (James Pickens Jr.), who was chief at the time Amelia was hired, consoles her by calculating her mortality rate: less than 1 percent, even better than her brother Derek’s. This moment is crucial, because it establishes Amelia’s competency; she’s a character whose screen time has too often been spent confirming her recklessness and not validating her abilities as a surgeon or a human being.

Near episode’s end, Amelia told Owen (Kevin McKidd), her now somewhat-estranged husband, and sister-in-law Meredith about the tumor, with Maggie’s help. The episode concluded with a sentimental scene in which Owen helped Amelia tie on her hospital gown before Meredith joined them to comfort Amelia, ushering in what will likely be a primary season arc.

‘How to Get Away with Murder’

Last week, Annalise (Viola Davis) told her assistant Bonnie (Liza Weil) and the Keating Four — Connor (Jack Falahee), Michaela (Aja Naomi King), Asher (Matt McGorry) and Laurel (Karla Souza) — that they were free to go. Bonnie went straight to the office of ADA Todd Denver (Benito Martinez), who has spent the past three seasons tearing Annalise down, and offered to work for him. The episode ended with a flash-forward of Laurel in the hospital, screaming for her baby.

This week’s episode is structured around Annalise’s first visit with her court-ordered therapist (Jimmy Smits) to help her cope with alcoholism. Since having her license reinstated last episode, she decided to take her former cellmate Jasmine (L. Scott Caldwell), charged with possession of a weapon, as her first client.

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Mitch Haaseth/ABC/Courtesy

Jasmine has spent her life as a prostitute. After being sold to a pimp by her father for drugs at age 13, Jasmine has been in and out of prison for charges of prostitution. Annalise discovers, after unsealing Jasmine’s criminal records from when she was a minor, that Jasmine’s first sentence was incongruent with a pattern of rulings given by the same judge the same year. In 1968, when Jasmine was 13, three other girls weren’t charged with prostitution and instead were sent to rehab, while Jasmine was prosecuted.

Annalise highlights the fact that the four cases from 1968 are all the same — except for the fact that Jasmine is Black and the three other girls whose cases were handled by the same judge were white. In a powerful monologue, Annalise outlines the unjust criminal justice system: stemming from her first charge at age 13, Jasmine was cyclically charged with prostitution and never treated as a victim or a survivor — even when she was a teenager being sex trafficked. What the criminal justice sees as recidivism, Annalise sees as systematic injustice.

“The system that should’ve been protecting this 13-year-old girl blamed her and doomed her to a life in and out of prison,” Annalise demanded. “Because that’s what we do to Black people, women and gay people in this world. We turn a blind eye and we tell them that their lives don’t matter. But they do matter. Jasmine Bromell matters.”

Annalise asks that the judge vacate not just Jasmine’s current charge, but all prior charges as well. When the judge returns with a verdict, he decides not to charge Jasmine and to seal her prior records so that she can be released from prison and apply for jobs that don’t require her to disclose her history. This is a win for Annalise, however cynical she is about it afterward.

The Keating Four, meanwhile, attended a career fair, where they interviewed for prominent firms and nonprofits. Of highest interest was Caplan & Gold — and not just for their wages. Laurel, who is now five months pregnant was determined to either get an internship there herself or make sure that one of the Keating Four got one, because Caplan & Gold represent her father — and she is sure that her father killed Wes (Alfred Enoch). By episode’s end, Michaela is the only member of the Four that got any internship offers. She chose Caplan & Gold before Laurel enlisted her to help investigate her father.

The episode ended with the same flash-forward as last week, now with more details. Frank (Charlie Weber) and Annalise’s therapist are seen with Laurel at the hospital, while Bonnie mills about the ADA’s office, which has turned into a crime scene. Blood has pooled in an elevator. Cops abound. Laurel has been poisoned, and Annalise is nowhere to be seen.

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