‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Winter Finale: Mer’s ‘COVID High’, & Maggie’s High Note (RECAP)
[Warning: The recap below contains major spoilers for Grey’s Anatomy Season 17, Episode 7, “No Time for Despair.”]
Meredith (Ellen Pompeo), brought low by COVID-19, finally regains consciousness in the Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 winter finale, “No Time for Despair.” But her apparent improvement belies her dire condition. More on her in a bit…
If you’re watching Station 19, then you know about this episode’s powerful case of the week, which tackles a powerful issue: how sexual violence in the U.S. disproportionately impacts Black women. Two Black teenage girls, Jada and Shanice, set a fire in a basement to escape their kidnapper, Bob, a member of a human trafficking ring. And as if that weren’t bad enough, Jada’s mom was arrested alongside some Station 19 firefighters in an altercation with cops.
As Jackson (Jesse Williams) treats Jada’s burns, he tells her that he’s getting his lawyers to look into her mom’s arrest, and those lawyers eventually get the mom, Joyce, freed from custody. (“Money did this,” Jackson later tells his colleagues after they try congratulating him. “It’s the only language this country understands.”)
But it gets worse: Opal, the woman Andrew (Giacomo Gianniotti) correctly identified as a human trafficker during one of his manic episodes last season, is back at the hospital. She makes up a story about being assaulted and mugged just so Schmitt (Jake Borelli) will let her in, so she can keep tabs on the injured Bob. And no one seems to recognize her…until Andrew sees her in the parking lot and persuades Carina (Stefania Spampinato) to help him follow her.
Andrew is doing much better these days, by the way. Much to Bailey’s (Chandra Wilson) pride, he’s faithfully taking his medication, getting sleep and otherwise focusing on his mental health. He even convinces Bailey, who’s mourning her mother’s death, to get some R&R herself. “Even superhumans need a minute to grieve the loss of the person who made them who they are,” he tells her.
Meanwhile, Bob suffers a stroke at the hospital and Owen (Kevin McKidd) and Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) grudgingly save his life. When Amelia complains to Maggie (Kelly McCreary), though, Maggie says it’s the system that that allows Black people to be victimized by predators and pandemics alike that should have everyone outraged, not just one individual.
“I want outrage for the fact that we’re seen as disposable and rarely seen as victims,” Maggie says. “If COVID was [killing] white people at the rate that it’s killing Black people, you better bet that people would be wearing masks.”
At least the episode ends on a high note for Maggie: Winston (Anthony Hill) surprises her by showing up at her hotel room in Seattle, telling her that he’s tired of being long-distance.
Speaking of COVID-19, though, Richard (James Pickens Jr.) announces in this episode that Seattle Presbyterian is at capacity and is sending all of its new patients to Grey Sloan, so Richard is instituting “surge capacity protocols.” Koracick (Greg Germann), another doc with COVID, watches the other patient in his shared hospital room flatline and die from the virus. (“I’d like to know his last name for my prayers, please,” he says to Maggie.)
And with the situation worsening by the minute, Richard tells Bailey that, for the first time in his career, he’s not sure the Grey Sloan doctors’ best work will be sufficient. Plus, he’s afraid for his colleagues. “Pretty soon we’re going to start losing our own, not to the disease but to the toll it’s taking,” he says.
Speaking of Richard, he also gives Teddy (Kim Raver) tough love after he watches her chew out Helm (Jaicy Elliot) for not putting a trash can in the right place. By now, of course, Richard has heard the hospital gossip and knows that Teddy cheated on Owen with Koracick, and he tells her she needs to figure out why she blew up her life. “You need to take inventory, name your demons, clean up your messes,” he says.
Later, Teddy finds Owen in the hospital bay and tells him, finally, about her years-old affair with Allison. She explains that she knows that what she did to Owen is connected to what she did with Allison, and that she doesn’t have all the answers but she wanted to clue him into her process. “I love you,” she says. “And I love our kids, and I loved our family, even if it’s over.”
But Owen laughs in her face. All this time, he says, he’s been wondering when she changed into a person that could do things he can’t understand. But now, it all makes sense to him: “You didn’t change. It just turns out I didn’t really know you.” (And he leaves her with one last cutting comment, remarking on Teddy finally telling him about Allison. “You named our daughter after a lie,” he says.)
OK, back to Meredith. After she wakes up, Mer gets updates on her kids from her sisters, updates on her patients from Andrew, and compares notes with Koracick. “I wanted to be in a room where no one’s dying,” he tells her, as he wheels himself into her hospital room. (As they chat, they have a cute debate about which one of them is the hospital’s top surgeon.)
But later that night, when a patient in another room codes, Mer crosses the hallway and starts administering CPR on the woman and intubating her. But when Helm shows up, Mer collapses in her arms.
Teddy, fresh off that painful conversation with Owen, gets the fateful page about Mer, and her tests reveal the worse: Mer’s stats are tanking. Teddy blames a COVID high and proposes putting Mer on a ventilator, doing her best to assure a distraught Bailey that many people who are put on vents make recoveries. But still, everyone seems to be expecting the worst as the unconscious Meredith is wheeled to another ward of the hospital and put on a vent, with Teddy cradling her face in her hands.
And that, dear fans, is what will keep us in suspense for the next two-and-a-half months…
Grey’s Anatomy, Midseason Return, Thursday, March 4, 9/8c, ABC