‘Grey’s Anatomy’: A Hospital in Mourning, and Mer Fights to Stay Alive (RECAP)

Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 8 Bailey
Spoiler Alert
Ali Goldstein/ABC

Grey's Anatomy

It's All Too Much

Season 17 • Episode 8

rating: 3.5 stars

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Grey’s Anatomy Season 17, Episode 8, “It’s All Too Much”]

In the March 18 episode of Grey’s Anatomy, “It’s All Too Much,” the doctors of Grey Sloan are trying (and mostly failing) to process Andrew’s (Giacomo Gianniotti) death in last week’s installment.

As the episode starts, Catherine (Debbie Allen) is comforting Richard (James Pickens Jr.) despite their marriage drama; Owen (Kevin McKidd) is clearing out Andrew’s locker; Helm (Jaicy Elliot) and Schmitt (Jake Borelli) are recording video eulogies; and Teddy (Kim Raver) is even having visions of the late doctor in the ER.

For her part, Bailey (Chandra Wilson) is insistent about getting Andrew’s autopsy results, much to the surprise of Owen, Teddy, and Richard. She wants to know exactly what went wrong in the operating room — and, presumably, who’s to blame.

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Meanwhile, the COVID-afflicted Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) is still unconscious and visualizing her dream beach, where she finds Derek (Patrick Dempsey) again. Derek knows all about their daughter Ellis, even though he died before finding out that he and Mer were going to have another kid. Back in reality, Teddy notes that Meredith’s vitals are improving and says that Mer could be weaned off the ventilator that day.

At Meredith’s home, Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) realizes that Link (Chris Carmack) is drinking alone in the garage to get through the pandemic, and she tells him that hiding his alcohol use is “an objectively bad sign.” He somehow complains about not being an alcoholic like her — saying that at least Amelia doesn’t “get” to drink — before he storms out of the house.

As for Jo (Camilla Luddington), she spends the day with friend-with-benefits Jackson (Jesse Williams). (They’re “friends who bang, not friends who judge,” as she says.) She tells Jackson she’s switching to obstetrics for an escape from the misery of general surgery.

Link shows up at Jo’s place, and they immediately start drinking as they hang out with Jackson. Maybe Amelia is right to be worried! At the end of the episode, though, Amelia and Link reconcile, and she says that she just needs him to be honest.

In the hospital boardroom, Richard tells Catherine he always believed there was a grand plan to the puzzle that is life — a “meaning and a wisdom that I’m just not elevated to see or understand,” he says. But now he’s struggling with that faith. Catherine tells him her take on that puzzle. She’s living with stage IV cancer, a cancer that should be killing her, but she says that her new scan shows that her cancer isn’t growing. “You can look for the pain, the loss, the unbearable,” she tells Richard. “Or you can look for the beauty, the grace, the miracle.”

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Later, Richard goes to Bailey and tells her that she’s causing him, Teddy, and Owen harm by investigating the Andrew’s surgery. “To say that we didn’t do everything possible to save his life is a pain I wouldn’t put on anyone,” he says.

Meanwhile, the patient of the week is Byron, a 52-year-old who developed a dental infection — and then bacterial endocarditis — after picking his teeth with a paper clip. He’s freaked out about being in a hospital, despite the staff’s COVID-19 precautions, so much so that he runs naked from the OR. Maggie (Kelly McCreary) finds him cowering in a stairwell and tells him that he’s free to go, but that she’ll follow him if he does because his heart is that endangered. And after Byron agrees to the surgery, Maggie even gets him to put on a gown!

Elsewhere in the hospital, Teddy and Cormac (Richard Flood) try to lower Mer’s ventilator settings, but Teddy declares the test a failure.

Back at Mer’s house, Amelia talks with Zola (Aniela Gumbs), Mer, and Der’s oldest kid, about the impermanence of life and how the prospect of death is what makes life precious. Amelia and Zola then video-chat Mer — just on the off chance that Mer can hear their voice.

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Later, when Cormac has a private moment with Mer, he urges her to fight to stay alive if only for her family. And on the dream beach, Mer hears his voice and hears the stories he has to share about her kids. Mer is torn: She loves her children, but she’s not sure she wants to leave the warmth and the light of her limbo. But Derek tells her it’s OK, that he’ll be there when she’s ready.

Bailey is alone in the operating room gallery, apparently not ready to join the other docs at Andrew’s memorial service. Schmitt finds her and tells her that even though he’s a bad Jew, he finds Jewish traditions helpful, especially sitting shiva. “We force ourselves to sit in the pain and cry and laugh. And we eat a lot,” he says. “And it doesn’t bring the person back, but it does start the healing.”

For the memorial, the docs gather in the hospital parking lot and they watch their colleagues’ tributes to the fallen doc. The montage ends with Andrew’s application video, in which he said he couldn’t wait to work with docs of Mer, Bailey, Richard, and Jackson’s caliber.

Afterward, Owen finds Teddy sitting by herself, and he takes her home, literally carrying her off. And the preview for next week’s episode shows that the shell-shocked Teddy is in bad shape, refusing to eat or sleep, much to Owen’s concern. See you then, Grey’s fans!

Grey’s Anatomy, Thursdays, 9/8c, ABC