Shonda Rhound-Up: Cancer scares, risky measures, violent outbursts on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

Shonda Rhound-Up
Mitch Haaseth / ABC/Courtesy

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Coming off the high of last week’s stellar episode, “Grey’s Anatomy” keeps a steady flow this week.

Last week, we met a potential new love interest for Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and came to better understand April’s (Sarah Drew) crisis of religion. This week, Meredith and Maggie treat a close friend of Richard’s (James Pickens Jr.), while Alex (Justin Chambers) and Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) get the chance to finally run their clinical trial on a young patient.

Owen (Kevin McKidd) returns to Seattle this week after visiting Teddy (Kim Raver) in Germany. His intention was to tell her he loves her and that, after years of being held back by other relationships, they can finally be together — but she doesn’t take it well, and with good reason.

This week, Owen treats a car-crash victim who has cancer — but she doesn’t actually have cancer. He suspects that a fake doctor has been tricking patients into thinking they have breast cancer so that he can take their money and cure them with a “miracle treatment.”

Owen and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) go undercover to visit the doctor’s office and investigate, just to be sure.

When they get there, the scene is rather comical. They pose as spouses, and Arizona lays proudly out in the open for her breast exam, with Owen’s eyes darting to avoid looking at her. The two look excited when the doctor sees a lesion on Arizona’s scan — they think he’s lying and they have their proof.

He turns the monitor so that they can see the lesion themselves. Arizona has breast cancer.

But, when Owen and Arizona return to their home hospital and April does a similar exam for Arizona, she finds nothing. Arizona doesn’t have cancer — the other doctor is faking his patients’ scans.

Across the hospital, Alex and Amelia finally do a trial run of their research for the hospital’s surgical competition. Noah (Steele Gagnon) and his mom (Caitlin McGee), from a few episodes back, agree to be the first test in their trial. The procedure to remove his brain tumor with heat is long, arduous and very uncertain.

Suddenly, Koracick (Greg Germann) returns to take part in the procedure as well — irritatingly, his character is always around whenever other characters need him for their own development, and he disappears when he’s not needed.

After the doctors finish working on Noah, they know they removed his tumor but are unsure whether he will wake up. When he does and he’s fine, they’re not sure why.

They decide that even though they came up with the research idea to help Kimmie (Nayah Damasen), they can’t do the procedure on her because her tumor is much more complex. They need to try with other patients before working on her. Alex is devastated, and Koracick’s refusal to operate on Kimmie sends Alex into a violent outburst — his first since he attacked an intern and was sent to jail, seasons ago.

Alex isn’t the only shattered doctor in the hospital this week.

Richard must come to terms with the fact that his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, Ollie (Mary Kay Place), is dying of liver failure. The two have spoken everyday for 20 years; he can’t imagine his life without her. Richard spends the episode encouraging Meredith and Maggie (Kelly McCreary) to find a medical solution for Ollie, but she doesn’t want one. She only wants Richard to be at peace with her passing.

Ollie and Meredith fear that Richard will cope with alcohol, but Maggie hasn’t seen her father that way — she arrived after Richard got sober.

So, Maggie has a heart-to-heart with Richard. She understands his desire to save someone he loves, even if they don’t want to be saved, because she went through the same process when her mother died.

Near the episode’s end, Richard then has a heart-to-heart with Amelia. The two of them have spoken about their sobriety before, and they seem to silently acknowledge a mutual need for a meeting when they run into each other in the hospital hallway.

Richard brings Amelia to Ollie’s room for that very reason. Ollie gets the peace she needs, and so do Amelia and Richard.

Satisfaction also comes for Arizona and Owen, when she gets to tell the former cancer patient that she doesn’t have cancer, and Owen gets to have the fake cancer doctor sent to jail — but not before a disturbing scene that exposes Owen’s pent-up rage.

Maggie and Jackson had been going strong, if quietly, for a couple episodes now — but that was in part because Maggie didn’t know that April kissed Jackson during her crisis period, and that’s no longer the case after this week.

Amid all the episodic narratives this week, there was the revelation that Meredith’s research is coming along well. One of the mice she’d given her treatment to finally starts growing a new liver, and this proves that Meredith never needed a polymer in the first place.

This week’s episode was pretty par for the course with “Grey’s.” Nothing earth-shattering or mind-blowing was revealed with this episode; the doctors got to do what they do. While it’s not as exciting as a plane crash or a fire, this week was a nice respite from the series’ grind, and it built up some of the arcs that had been underwhelming at the start of the season.

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