‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 16 Episode 5: Trauma With a Capital T (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 16, Episode 5 of Grey’s Anatomy, “Breathe Again.”]
It’s Jo’s turn in the Grey’s Anatomy spotlight in Season 16, Episode 5 — a.k.a. October 24’s “Breathe Again.” The Camilla Luddington character has a personal connection to the patient of the week: The woman, Carly, was one of the therapists from Jo’s 30-day in-patient mental health treatment. And Carly suffered carbon monoxide poisoning from an apparent suicide attempt, which sends Jo into a tailspin…
In flashbacks, we see Carly treat Jo with EMDR—i.e. eye movement desensitization and reprocessing—to get Jo through her “capital ’T’ trauma.” It’s not so much that Jo is hung up on her abusive ex-husband Paul or even her rapist father. No, what’s really troubling her is the fact that when she met her mom at that diner, her mom pulled away from her touch.
Jo resists the treatment, though, and even tries to flee the center. She’s frustrated that she feels all this shame—and it’s shame for things that were done to her, not things she did. Finally, she barges into Carly’s office, enraged that she’s not making any progress. Carly smiles—because it’s a breakthrough moment. Jo has pushed through the fear and the shame and reached anger. And Jo’s not Paul—she’s not feeling uncontrollable anger. She’s feeling “healthy anger.”
Carly opens up to Jo, telling her that she used to work for Save Haven and saw many mothers give up many babies, and she believes that Jo internalized the memory of her mom leaving her the first time. “Your brain may not have a memory of her hand pulling away from you, but your body does,” she says.
In the present, Jo and Bailey (Chandra Wilson) treat Carly’s carbon monoxide poisoning by putting her into Grey Sloan’s hyperbaric chamber. But Jo melts down when she considers Carly’s situation. If Carly tried to end her life, Jo’s not sure what good that 30-day program was.
To control her anxiety, Jo relies on a tactic she learned, tricking her nervous system into thinking she’s safe: She plants her feet on the floor and recites all the steps to a process. In her case, the process is prepping for a surgery. Bailey—who confesses to Jo that she’s pregnant and “terrified” about the idea of bringing another child into the world—calms her own anxiety by reciting the steps of putting Tuck to bed. Jo also reminds her that happiness and terror are not mutually exclusive.
After realizing that Carly is diabetic, Jo and Bailey adjust the hyperbaric treatment, and Carly eventually regains consciousness. Jo asks her why she would attempt suicide, but Carly reveals she wasn’t suicidal—she was just inadvertently poisoned at home.
Later, Bailey tells Ben that she’s pregnant and that she’s getting excited about it because she’s got “mad skills” that she didn’t when she first became a mother. Ben whoops and hollers and even spins Bailey around in his arms, which isn’t great for her pregnancy nausea.
At Pac North, Richard (James Pickens Jr.) runs into Gemma (Jasmine Guy) after his overnight shift. She convinces him to get breakfast with her at a diner. Over pancakes, she asks Richard how his relationship with Catherine (Debbie Allen) works with Catherine being out of town so often. Richard admits that their marriage doesn’t have the same spark it once did. Gemma says she has found success with a “rotation” of lovers—and she starts hitting on him hardcore. She’s not trying to steal Richard away from Catherine; she’s just offering to keep his bed warm, so to speak, until Catherine gets back. “You’re miserable, and I’m here,” she says. Richard turns her down, insisting that is nothing between the two of them. Gemma digs in her heels, though. “When hard times hit, you either bury yourself in a bottle of vodka or another woman, and we both know which one you can handle,” she says. He holds firm, though, and tells her to find herself a sponsor. “That was not sober behavior,” he says.
Catherine returns home to find Richard asleep. He wakes up and tries to connect with her, but she says he looks tired and recommends that he go back to sleep. And she seems disappointed with him, like she already knows about his breakfast with Gemma. (We wouldn’t put it past her: That woman is all-knowing.) Before he goes back to bed, though, he gets an apology text from Gemma… which includes two heart emoji.
And in other news, Mer is getting ready for her court date—getting ready to face the music after bailing on her community service in last week’s episode—but she’s waylaid when Zola throws up. Mer takes her to Grey Sloan and asks Koracick (Greg Germann) to give Zola a head CT, citing her daughter’s history with spina bifida and the shut that Derek installed. The scan confirms that the shunt needs to be revised, and though DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) offers to watch over the surgery so Mer can go to court, Mer insists on waiting in the waiting room. Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) and Maggie (Kelly McCreary) find her, and she complains to them about DeLuca being “incredibly stupid” for assuming she would go to court and then offering to keep her company in the waiting room. She knows she sounds like an “ass” for criticizing him while he’s being so supportive, but she just doesn’t know if she wants him to be something more than “fun.”
The good news is Zola’s shunt revision goes perfectly, and Mer hugs Koracick and DeLuca… but not Helm (Jaicy Elliot), who was clearly looking forward to a little moment with Meredith.
But the celebratory mood is short-lived. Mer’s lawyer arrives to say that she got the judge to take pity on Mer, but Mer still has to make up her missed community service hours… in jail.
Honestly, can we just get through one season without a Grey Sloan surgeon behind bars? See you next week, Grey’s fans.
Grey’s Anatomy, Thursdays, 8/7c, ABC