The staff at Grey Sloan is all abuzz over the Surgical Innovation Contest in season 14 episode 12 of Grey’s Anatomy. The surgeons, most of whom are suffering from a lack of creative juices, struggle to come up with brilliant and life-saving ideas, picking their teams and drafting proposals in time for the first round of cuts (the pool narrows with each subsequent round and the last competitor standing receives $5 million and a shot at greatness.) Throughout the episode, those vying for the big prize find inspiration for their passion projects in different ways, some even from personal experience. As in any competition, there are winners and losers. Here’s a glance at who comes out on top, and who has their hopes dashed.

Grey’s Anatomy Recap: On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!!!>>>



Arizona, still reeling from Karin’s death (the wife of April’s ex-fiance), decides to sit out the competition. But after a discussion with Carina, who has apparently never lost a mother, Arizona does some research and discovers that the U.S. has a very high maternal mortality rate. Arizona wants to figure out how to fix the problem. Her proposal gets the greenlight, and Arizona asks Carina to be her partner. But Carina wants more than just a professional relationship with Arizona, and the two renew their romance. Arizona’s passion for the contest and Carina are reignited. 


Catherine reunites with an old friend who also happens to be a trans woman and a world-class plastic surgeon, Dr. Michelle Velez. Velez wants to work with Catherine and Jackson on a surgery that would revolutionize vaginoplasty, a procedure which can lead to multiple complications. Velez has an idea for a technique that would be life-changing and orgasm-inducing not just for trans women, but also women with congenital defects. Jackson already has his own idea, and he isn’t eager to abandon it to work with his mother, especially when it involves genitalia (this leads to several awkward vagina conversations between the two.) 

Catherine isn’t one to take no for an answer, and she informs Jackson that 41% of people with gender dysphoria attempt suicide. The surgery isn’t just about changing lives, it’s about saving them. So, Jackson has a change of heart. Sometimes mothers do know best.


Jo confides in Meredith that she can’t believe Paul is really dead, stating she has bruises on her arms from pinching herself to prove she’s awake. While working with Meredith on a case, Jo inadvertently gives Meredith her idea for the competition, and Meredith asks Jo to be her partner. Again, Jo has to pinch herself, and Meredith tells her to stop, reassuring Jo that all of this is real, Paul is dead and she’s free. Meredith asks Jo if there’s another name Jo wants her to put on the paper, and Jo decides to go with Josephine Brooke Wilson, finally reclaiming the name she was forced to abandon after fleeing Paul.

Maggie and Richard

With the anniversary of her mother’s death looming, Type-A Maggie is out of sorts. She misses her mom, and things aren’t exactly clicking along with Clive the stockbroker. Maggie agrees to take dance lessons with Richard, so he can surprise Catherine on her birthday. The father and daughter use this time to do some bonding, and Richard provides a strong shoulder for Maggie to cry on.

She tells Richard how when she was little and feeling blue, she’d pretend a stick from the yard was a magic wand, wave it, and the bad feeling would go away. When her mother got sick, she wished she’d had that wand. This story gives Richard his idea for the contest — a device that immediately identifies healthy and cancerous tissue during surgery and has the ability to make it go away. Richard calls it a Path Pen, but Maggie realizes it’s really his version of her magic wand.

The Transgender Community

Grey’s Anatomy
has been putting the spotlight on issues facing transgender people. The show has introduced two transgender characters: Casey Parker, the trans male intern who saved Grey Sloan from the hacker and who has become Owen’s go-to guy, and the new character of Dr. Velez.



April’s attitude hasn’t improved since she began to question her faith. Her one-night stand with sexy intern Dr. Vikram Roy has become an ongoing thing, but she has zero enthusiasm about her clandestine affair. April’s wracked with guilt over Karin’s death and relies on a bottle of wine to get to sleep at night. She’s still on the outs with her Lord and Savior, telling Roy “God is asleep at the wheel, and humanity is locked in the trunk.” She’s also still salty about being tricked out of participating in the contest by agreeing to supervise her ambitious co-workers — a decision she regrets.

Alex and Amelia

Alex and Amelia join forces to treat a young girl, Kimmie, an aspiring actress and singer with a recurring brain tumor. Amelia realizes she can’t remove the tumor without causing Kimmie to lose the ability to speak. Amelia comes up with an idea to use ultrasound waves to shatter the tumor. All she and Alex need is time and funding to perfect the procedure, the kind of funding the competition could provide. Sadly, the committee rejects their proposal, and they have no idea how to save Kimmie without destroying her hopes for the future.


The recent Harper Avery winner is obviously the one to beat. A former patient returns with what appears to be complications from a splenectomy, but it turns out the remaining tissue regenerated, creating multiple mini spleens. Meredith believes there’s a way to replicate this process with other vital organs like the liver and kidneys. The only problem is she fails to secure a very expensive patent she needs to execute the idea. Meredith can’t seem to break this news to an exuberant Jo. This duo’s project appears to be DOA.


Bailey’s stuck at home on bed rest, but that doesn’t stop her from throwing her hat in the ring. Sadly, her idea of an “ass jack” that allows for an easy-access colonoscopy is the least interesting and grossest of all the winning proposals. Let’s hope we’re not going to have to learn all the gory details and endure tons of poop puns.

What Type of Grey’s Anatomy Couple Are You?>>>

Will Meredith find a way to save her project? Is it a bad idea for Jackson to work with his mother? Will all this competition breed discontent and hard feelings? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8/7c on ABC. Want more news? Visit our Grey’s Anatomy page on Facebook.

(Image courtesy of ABC)

Jennifer Lind-Westbrook

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Jennifer has worked as a freelance writer in the entertainment field since 2012. In addition to currently writing feature articles for Screen Rant, Jennifer has contributed content ranging from recaps to listicles to reviews for BuddyTV, PopMatters, TVRage, TVOvermind, and Tell-Tale TV. Links to some of Jennifer’s reviews can be found on Rotten Tomatoes.