Shonda Rhound-Up: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ is ‘caught somewhere in time’

Shonda Rhound-Up
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Last week’s episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” ended with Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) deciding to stop her research and quit the competition after her mother’s ex-best friend, Marie Cerone (Rachel Ticotin), threatened to take credit for Meredith’s research as retribution against her mother. Marie contends that Ellis Grey (Kate Burton) took credit for research that the two of them did together and then later named the surgical procedure “The Grey Method.”

This week, Meredith basically gave up on her research.

It was a surprising turn of events for longtime fans of the series, who’ve seen Meredith through several crises involving her abusive, elusive and manipulative mother, Ellis.

While no tears were shed and no dramatic monologue was delivered, Meredith remains in the mindset of being held back by her mother — so much so, that when Jo (Camilla Luddington) proposes alternative polymers that wouldn’t involve Cerone’s research or permission, Meredith throws them in the trash.

Meredith has been cool and much more emotionally reserved this season than she’s been in the past, signalling a newfound control over her life that’s refreshing and gives strength to her 14-season arc. This revelation that Ellis may have lied about acting alone in her research, and Meredith’s subsequent response, shows that the old Meredith is still in there.

But, by the end of the episode, Jo convinces Meredith that she shouldn’t allow herself to be controlled by her mother so long after her death and that Ellis would have wanted her to fight for her research anyway.

Meredith decides to continue in the competition by finding an alternative polymer, without Marie Cerone.

Another major step for the characters last week, aside from Jo and Alex finally getting engaged, was Maggie (Kelly McCreary) and Jackson (Jesse Williams) finally deciding to give dating a go. This week, things got a bit awkward when their parents caught them kissing in a closet at the hospital.

The couple would have had to confront the fact that their parents are married at some point, but it doesn’t quite cause the conflict anyone expected.

Neither parent is angry, because Maggie and Jackson aren’t really step-siblings — they met after their parents got married. Instead, Catherine (Debbie Allen) worries that their children dating will come between her and Richard (James Pickens Jr.) — she’s afraid of losing him if the kids’ relationship doesn’t work out and they each take their own kid’s side.

This causes a rift between Jackson and Catherine Avery right before they embark on the game-changing vaginoplasty they’re doing for Michelle (Candis Cayne), who rightfully wants the doctors’ full attention before they operate on her and change her body forever. She asks that Jackson and Catherine talk through their concerns before the surgery, and they do. Catherine admits to being concerned for her marriage and impressed by Maggie; Jackson later tells Richard and Catherine that she’s allowed to take Maggie’s side if he’s at fault for whatever fights he may have with Maggie down the road.

Jackson and Maggie are undoubtedly the hottest couple on the show right now (possibly ever), and it’s satisfying to finally see them together after so many seasons — especially because the show didn’t rely on an incest-driven conflict. And, when Richard’s given the chance to give his two cents, he’s actually frustrated with Catherine because he thinks she doesn’t believe Maggie is good enough for Jackson.

It’s great to see that this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The most heartwarming and heartbreaking plot of the episode is that of Arizona (Jessica Capshaw). Her patient, Liz (Caitlin McGee), who has an at-risk pregnancy, must also learn that her adorable son, Noah (Steele Gagnon), has a brain tumor.

Arizona brings her daughter, Sofia (Eva Ariel Binder), in to work with her after Sofia wakes up missing her mother, who lives in New York. Sofia is with Arizona when she meets Liz and notices that Noah seems to have two types of laughs: one is genuine, the other is hollow and concerning to her. She asks neurosurgeon Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) to scan Noah’s brain — he has a tumor, and each time he laughs inappropriately, he’s having a seizure.

Meanwhile, Liz goes in for surgery with Arizona, and she shares the reason that she didn’t notice the onset of Noah’s strange laugh — she was so distressed after leaving her former boyfriend, the father of her second baby. The man would refer to their baby as “ours” and Noah as “your son,” and Liz left him for Noah’s sake.

Arizona empathizes deeply with Liz, and she has a hard time processing everything her patient is going through — especially when she learns that Noah’s tumor is inoperable. Luckily, Alex and Amelia think that their research trial — the one they’re using to help Kimmie (Nayah Damasen) — can help Noah, too.

Still, the episode’s peak isn’t when Maggie and Jackson kiss after having to reschedule their date or when April (Sarah Drew) kisses Jackson after yet another crisis this week (he refuses her, of course, because he’s with Maggie — but April doesn’t know that yet). The peak is when Arizona tells Sofia how lucky she feels to have her and how grateful she is that they’re both healthy.

Something suspicious looms in that sweet mother-daughter scene, especially given that Capshaw and Drew will be leaving “Grey’s” at the end of this season. April’s plot seems relatively obvious, though the writers could still shake it up: It seems like April’s probably going to quit medicine. Arizona, on the other hand, might have a medical crisis looming, given her moment with Sofia at the end of the episode.

‘How to Get Away with Murder’
The last episode of season 4, “Nobody Else Is Dying,” aired March 15. Read our recap of the episode here.

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