I can’t even properly go on the bender I was about to go on over this being a Kepner-centric episode because bigger than how much Kepner-centric episodes tend to suck, and all the in-your-face-religion-turned-doubt, which was arguably well-done, there was a moment in tonight’s episode that gut-punches so hard in the feels, it creates the ugly cry. We’ve got to start with the only case that matters — not Jo’s abuser and the hit-n-run, not April’s jilted ex-fiancé’s wife going into early labor, or any other nonsense — but the 12-year-old African-American boy being shot by an officer for climbing into his own house. Kepner sums it up best at the end of this episode, when asked by the cops for a statement, and she says, “My statement is that your fellow officer shot and killed a little boy while he was at home.”
It isn’t even the fact that this brutal crime — ultimately resulting in an innocent 12-year-old boy’s death — which raises all sorts of tensions all across the episode, is thrust into our faces — but the moment that Ben and Bailey are sitting out on the bench discussing the case, the fact that the boy was 12, and she then says, “It’s time for the talk.” It’s the talk. The talk that no parent should have to have with their child — ever. How to be safe when it comes to encountering an officer of the law because your skin color is different from everybody else’s. Watching William George Tucker Bailey Jones hold his hands up behind his head, repeat aloud his name, that he is 13, and unarmed, and then watching both Miranda and Ben take turns explaining to him the reality of that situation — it hits so hard, I had to pause the episode.
I bawled the ugly cry when we lost George. I bawled the ugly cry when we lost Sloan, and even more so when we lost Derek. But I’ve never in 14 seasons of faithfully committing to this show ever had to pause an episode because I was crying so hard — have the tissues and the pause button ready.
This week’s episode is so brutally aligned with the reality of the world that we live in, it’s dizzying. To think just last week we were supporting and progressively showcasing pride in transgender individuals, and this week we’re being reminded of just how ass-backwards is the world in which we live; it truly is blindsiding. Grey’s Anatomy always manages to stay current — but this affront came as such a shock and it further illustrated the invisible barriers of race, gender, and sexuality that are present — even unintentionally so — inside Grey-Sloan Memorial, and ultimately by reflection, the world. It was brutal. Jackson summed it up best. “I never said anything about race, I said bias. Bias is human. Bias can be corrected. But you’ve got guns. Guns are lethal.”
There could be days and days of discussion about that one aspect of this week’s episode and yet there was so much else happening. I’m both furious and relieved about how they wrapped up the Paul Staddler/Abuser plot-line. It was a little too convenient that as his true colors started to show, he slipped getting out of bed, whacked his head, and became brain dead. The likelihood of that happening is highly implausible. That said, I definitely wasn’t up for another lengthy drawn-out court battle, even if it would give power to both Jo and Jenny. The fact that they showed Jenny finally coming around, finally finding the courage to step up and escape, is a victory for that (even if it does send a false sense of ‘medical maladies might save you from your abuser.’) And I do like what Jo said about “He was a monster in life, but now in death he gets to do good.” Also — her reaction to discovering that she was still the one who had to decide whether or not to unplug him — the inappropriate laughter into utter broken-down hysterics — was spot on. And I do think she made the right call with the organ donation.
Back to Kepner. Since that’s where this episode started. (And is it just me or does nobody care about this crop of interns — chicks & ducks, or whatever we’re calling them … the one she ended up with in the shower— inappropriate-humor-intern … man I miss the days of Cristina and her numbering system!) As much as I generally think Kepner-centric episodes suck, and let’s face it, Kepner is the least popular character of the “standing regulars” (every time something traumatic happens and we’re about to lose a person, I’m constantly chanting “please let it be Kepner, please let it be Kepner.” #sorrynotsorry). That said, tonight’s episode, even without the brutality of #blacklivesmatter was actually drawn perfectly together with all of her biblical analogies.
Lovely to see Matthew return. Really unfortunate that she froze when he asked about her life. Even if she didn’t divulge about her and Jackson’s divorce, you think she would have at least gotten out that they’d lost their first child. Even more unfortunate about how that storyline played out. I love how they aligned her with Jobe. I love how she was struggling the entire episode, and the analogy she made at the end — pointing out that while Jobe suffered, where was God? Winning a bet with Satan. And it’s strategically staged at Joe’s and you can almost picture God and Satan sitting at that same bar, drinking over the won/lost bet. The thing I abhorred about that outro was when she said “and all it got (re: keeping the faith) was replacement children and PTSD. How do you in one breath say Harriet is the light of your life? And in another call her a replacement child? That’s seriously not okay. And did anyone else notice that the chapel got a serious upgrade? Or at least a re-paint? Guess that’s plausible, considering the number of times the hospital has been redecorated/redone since we’ve seen it last.
Overall a superb episode. Meredith hardly featured in it. Maggie’s “because science” was brilliant and really one of the only light moments in the episode. It’s hard to swallow this episode because it’s so heavy, and not just heavy, but so close to the reality in which we live. When an episode of characters that you’ve grown to love, know, and trust, plays hard and fast with your real world, it can be extraordinarily disorienting. That’s the word for this week. Not even sure what we’re going to do next week. If Bailey’s heart attack does prove fatal (I mean that would be a great reason to motivate Ben to shuffle off to his spin-off that much faster) I’m not sure how I’m going to cope with that. Fingers crossed that she pulls through!
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursday at 8:00 PM on ABC.
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