'Grey's Anatomy' Season 16 Episode 11: Paternity Truth Hurts (RECAP)

Dan Clarendon
Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 11
Spoiler Alert Kelsey McNeal/ABC

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 16, Episode 11 of Grey’s Anatomy, “A Hard Pill to Swallow.”]

What’s “A Hard Pill to Swallow” about Grey’s Anatomy Season 16, Episode 11? Maybe that the January 30 episode could never live up to last week’s midseason premiere. Nevertheless, some serious drama unfolded this time around, so let’s scrub in…

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At the start of the episode, DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) is panicking because his appendectomy patient, Suzanne (Suits alum Sarah Rafferty) isn’t getting better. She has spiking fevers every night and has a sore throat. Worse, she and her sister and kids are triggered because her husband died after a routine surgery. DeLuca enlists the help of Bailey (Chandra Wilson)—who’s back from a leave of absence—but she’s stumped, too. Suzanne even codes in the CT room after suffering a cardiac tamponade. Bailey promises her that they’ll figure out her mystery ailment, and she instructs DeLuca to create a “war room” of surgeons to figure it out. He starts with Meredith (Ellen Pompeo), who hunkers down with him to go through Sarah’s medical case step by step.

Grey's Anatomy Season 16, Episode 11

Kelsey McNeal/ABC

By the way, before everything went south with Suzanne, Mer told DeLuca that she misses him—in Italian, no less. DeLuca reminded her that he didn’t break up with her, he just gave her time to figure out her feelings.

Trouble is, Mer seems to be bonding with new peds doc Cormac Hayes—especially this episode, wherein as they join forces to treat Kai, a 17-year-old whose vaping habit has wreaked havoc on his lungs and esophagus. Mer and Hayes disagree about the treatment plan, but he defers to her judgment. In the OR, however, Kai develops another bleed, so Hayes takes over and performs a partial lung resection, taking out part of Kai’s lung. He tells Mer that he proposed her plan of attack when he had this kind of case before, and his “absolute nightmare” of a boss, Cristina, set him straight. Cristina was right, of course… and she was smug about it, of course. Mer tells him that sounds about right, and Hayes asks her if she knows Cristina. Mer ducks out of the convo to avoid… what, exactly? Ruining their chemistry?

Hayes in Grey's Anatomy Season 16, Episode 11

Gilles Mingasson/ABC

The third patient of the week is a guy who has a fish lodged in his throat. No, really. He and his buddies were swapping dares during his bachelor party, and he ended up swallowing a bronze catfish from an aquarium at the bar. And on the way to the hospital, he got his hand clobbered by a cab door. In the OR, Jackson (Jesse Williams) and Jo (Camilla Luddington) fish out the fish, and Link (Chris Carmack) patches up the guy’s hand. The bride-to-be, however, is appalled by her would-be husband’s stupidity and dumps him at the hospital, saying that when a person shows you who they are, you should believe them. (Side note: That’s exactly what Grey’s creator Shonda Rhimes told Oprah about her falling out with Katherine Heigl.)

The fiancée’s words hit home for Link, who finally found out in this episode that Amelia’s (Caterina Scorsone) unborn child is more likely Owen’s (Kevin McKidd) kid than his. Amelia tells Link this and then tells him that she loves him and that the paternity doesn’t really matter. But when Link talks to Jo about it, Jo tells him he has a right to be mad. He can be angry with Amelia and love her at the same time, she adds. And when Link catches up with Amelia later, he tells her that, as a doctor, she should be getting all the info she can about her unborn child. He says that he deserves to know the truth about the paternity. He’d like to think it wouldn’t matter, but he’s not sure, he says.

Speaking of Owen, he pops up at the hospital to whisk Teddy (Kim Raver) away for lunch, but she’s freaking out because she can’t find her engagement ring, i.e. his family’s ancestral band. Turns out, his son, Leo, swallowed the darn thing. Luckily for Teddy, Owen is chill about the whole ordeal. He suggests that maybe she can get an “ALTO” necklace—Allison, Leo, Teddy, and Owen—and leave the ring someplace safe while she’s working. And when Leo, ahem, dirties his diaper, Teddy offers to be the one who recovers the ring.

Meanwhile, Richard (James Pickens Jr.) shows up at Chez Grey to take Maggie (Kelly McCreary) out to breakfast. When he sees that she’s moping around in her pajamas, he tells her he’ll make pancakes for her instead. (He quotes his mother, who always made pancakes before tough conversations and liked to say, “Let’s talk about it after you’ve had a chance to eat.”)

Maggie in Grey's Anatomy Season 16, Episode 11

Kelsey McNeal/ABC

Maggie is still in a doom loop about the death of her cousin Sabine, Richard’s niece, and Richard tries to tell her that Sabine was practically dead when she got the hospital. But Maggie comes clean about not asking the Pac-North transfusionist about Sabine’s anti-clotting stats, saying she didn’t realize that those states wouldn’t be volunteered to her in the OR like it is at Grey Sloan. But Richard feels guilty, too. He’s the one who allowed Maggie to operate on a family member. He tells Maggie that she’s only human and that there are so many more lives she’ll save in her lifetime.

Back at the hospital, Koracick spends the episode haranguing Bailey about her abrupt “vacation.” At the end of the episode, Bailey tells him that she had a miscarriage, and he’s empathetic. Sympathetic, even—since his ex-wife suffered two miscarriages before the birth of their late son. He tells her to light a candle in honor of the pregnancy she lost, and she does just that in the hospital chapel.

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In the final minutes of this week’s installment, Richard returns home to find a suspicious Catherine (Debbie Allen), who tells him she heard that he was a no-show at Pac-North that day. He tries convincing her that he was with Maggie all day and that he doesn’t know how their marriage can work without trust.

“Who says this is working?” she responds, coolly. “I think it’s time to have a much bigger conversation.”

How’s that for a cliffhanger? So to recap (this recap), Meredith is working with DeLuca while bonding with Hayes, Amelia has fessed up to Link but might lose the relationship over the paternity truth, and now Catherine and Richard seem to be in trouble, too. Three relationships in uncharted territory? Sounds like a Thursday night in Shondaland!

Grey’s Anatomy, Thursdays, 8/7c, ABC