‘Grey’s Anatomy’: The Virus Claims Another Victim (RECAP)

Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 5 Bailey
Spoiler Alert

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Grey’s Anatomy Season 17, Episode 5, “Fight the Power”]

This week on Grey’s Anatomy, Meredith’s (Ellen Pompeo) COVID-19 outlook is improving, and Koracick (Greg Germann) is in bad shape. But it’s another character whose diagnosis broke our hearts in December 10’s “Fight the Power” (Season 17, Episode 5).

Bailey (Chandra Wilson) provides the episode’s voiceover, which should be your first hint…

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As the episode starts, Bailey video chats with Ben (Jason George) — they’re still quarantining separately to keep each other safe — and then calls her dad to check in, since she just moved her parents into a retirement home. Later, however, Maggie (Kelly McCreary) tells Bailey there was a COVID-19 outbreak at that same retirement home. Bailey calls Ben to ask him to go to the home, but by the time she calls Ben again, he’s already at the hospital with Bailey’s mom, Elena, who’s gravely ill with the virus and who quickly goes into organ failure.

Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 5 Bailey Elena Ben


A distraught Bailey goes to talk to an unconscious Meredith, and we see them conversing on Mer’s dream beach. And it’s there that Bailey tells Mer that her mom has Alzheimer’s, just like Mer’s mom.

“I never told you because she’s older and I didn’t want to bring up any old pain for you or Richard, but it would be a lie to say it hasn’t been hard or painful,” Bailey explains. “Even as a doctor who knows about the disease, I feel like I didn’t know anything. It’s difficult to talk about it with someone who hasn’t been there, been through it. No one understands that you are watching your own mother die — twice.”

And Elena’s case gets even more torturous for Bailey: In a moment of lucidity, Elena tells Bailey she’s not ready to go.

Maggie finds Bailey on a park bench wondering if maybe her mom is happy in the world in her head — and if maybe she should go to extraordinary lengths to try to save her. But Maggie has been in a similar spot, and she says it was easier for her to fall back on her surgical training and search for the answers when she should have been spending all that time with her mom. Maggie also urges Bailey not to feel guilty: It’s not Bailey’s fault that the retirement home exposed her parents to the virus.

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Bailey and Maggie bond over their childhoods and their shared experiences dealing with people’s lowered expectations and racial biases. (No, high school guidance counselor, young Miranda Bailey is not going to state school. She’s going to Wellesley.)

Later, with Richard (James Pickens Jr.) by her side, Bailey holds vigil during Elena’s final moments, and she sings a rendition of The Temptations’ “My Girl” as her mom takes her last breath.

When Jackson (Jesse Williams) hears about Bailey’s heartbreak, he notes how half of the hospital’s COVID patients are Black and brown. “Forget the ‘pre’ — it’s the existing condition,” he tells Richard. “Existing while black.”

Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 5 Koracick


Koracick, for his part, wakes up long enough to hear Teddy tell him how much she needs his friendship — and he promptly makes a dirty joke about her giving him a “friendly” sponge bath.

Teddy, by the way, has a brief chat with Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) about the latest hospital gossip — that Teddy cheated on Owen (Kevin McKidd) with Koracick. Amelia tells her she has feelings about it…but that she’s done worse things, many of them to Owen.

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Meanwhile, Jo (Camilla Luddington) starts the episode in a doom loop that only spins faster when Jo isn’t able to reunite her hepatectomy patient, Val, with her newborn. But Jo still nails a surgery to fix Val’s pseudo-aneurysm, and she leaves a photo of Val’s baby at her bedside.

Jo also gets roped into delivering a baby: She’s the only doctor available when a woman goes into labor, and hospital policy dictates that a doctor has to be present. But the childbirth gives Jo a rare moment of joy… and it’s enough to get her thinking about switching specialties to obstetrics.

“I want to be happy,” she tells Schmitt (Jake Borelli) at the end of the episode. “Everyone’s dying. Tomorrow’s not promised. Not in marriage, not in life. I want to be happy.”

The episode ends with a long list of names on screen —presumably a list of real-life COVID-19 victims. And, as you might imagine, there’s no TV screen big enough for the full list.

Grey’s Anatomy, Thursdays, 9/8c, ABC