Grey’s Anatomy tackled some pretty deep issues in episode 10, titled “Personal Jesus.” The arrival in the ER of a young African-American boy who was shot by a police officer while entering his own home was the trigger for some in-depth exploration into racial bias and profiling. Jo’s ex, Paul Stadler, was admitted to the hospital after a hit-and-run, and Jo and Paul’s fiance, Jenny — bound together by horrific circumstances — finally got some closure. But the person most deeply affected by events that transpired at Grey Sloan was April Kepner, who found her faith in God perhaps irrevocably shaken after the deity proved to be a no-show on multiple occasions. In the final moments of the episode, viewers saw the usually plucky surgeon end up in a very dark place.
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Leave a Message
In the opening voice over, April tells viewers how Job — of Bible fame — received four messages over the course of one day: each bearing separate news of how his livestock, servants and children had all died. Job’s faith was tested, he persevered and he was rewarded.
A theme throughout the episode was the similarities between the story of Job and April’s interactions with four patients (or messengers), all of whom wound up testing her faith to varying degrees.
She delivered the baby of a woman named Karin who turned out to be the wife of her ex-fiance, Matthew; tended to Paul Stadler when he showed up broken and battered; attempted to provide spiritual guidance to a troubled man who tried to cut off his hand as penance for masturbating and helped Jackson as he worked to save the young shooting victim.
Each case she initially approached with confidence and optimism, but it steadily waned as the messages were delivered in agonizing and steady succession.
When April reunited with Matthew, he admitted he was hurt after their breakup, but he told her, “God used that pain and turned it into something beautiful. Guess he knew what he was doing all along, huh?” Matthew believed everything had worked out perfectly for the both of them. He didn’t know Jackson and April are divorced or that their first child died, and April didn’t have the heart to tell him. But the shattered look on her face made it clear that the whole God-has-a-plan thing was a hard sentiment to swallow, given her life has turned out to be anything but perfect.
April continued to try and persevere — even as she learned Jackson was harassed just for being black while growing up in an affluent neighborhood, or as she watched him struggle to save an innocent 12-year-old boy as he also dealt with unapologetic, and at times, combative, police officers.
When Karin suffered from unforeseen complications, April went to the chapel, only to encounter Matthew, who immediately left her there alone.
Are You There, God? It’s Me, April
In spite of her prayers, the messages came anyway. Jackson’s patient didn’t survive. April learned Paul Stadler died. She didn’t know the exact circumstances (a freakish accident) or about his abusive behavior. He was just a patient with a concussion who should have lived. She got dragged into a theological debate with the man who mutilated himself that opened her eyes to how dangerous the Bible can be if taken literally and followed blindly — a different and potentially scary and misguided show of faith. Their conversation also left her pondering the meaning behind any of it. Finally, Matthew’s divine intervention theory got blown to bits when Karin died from organ failure.
Instead of heading to church, April made a beeline for Joe’s. She got drunk, hooked up with an intern and questioned God’s very existence. Is this just a brief lapse of conviction, or is April ready to give up God cold turkey?
It’s not an entirely unappealing prospect that April could put her sometimes grating piousness on hold temporarily and reexamine some of her beliefs. It would be a compelling storyline (the Grey’s Anatomy equivalent of Grease’s good Sandy turned bad Sandy makeover.) A spiritual quest or reawakening could endear April more to some fans but also runs the risk of diminishing her popularity with others. Just about every doc (minus the interns) at Grey Sloan has proven fallible and demonstrated morally-questionable behavior during some professional or personal crisis. The end result is usually a more well-rounded, deeply-layered character if not necessarily a more likable one.
April’s had far better reasons to abandon her religion than a bad day at work. So, if April bounces back, maybe just a touch more cynical than before, that’s okay too. What good is having faith if it isn’t shaken once in a while?
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Could April be headed down a dark path? Is April’s spirituality the most appealing thing about her? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
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