Remember the last episode of Grey’s Anatomy? The one where all the patients lived? Good times. And now those good times are gone. In their place are bad times. And by “bad,” I mean awful. An April Kepner-centric episode, “Personal Jesus,” save one delicious twist regarding Paul Stadler, was a dark and twisty stew of depression and gloom. Add to that mix lots of stilted, preachy dialogue and the well-intentioned but heavy-handed treatment of not one, not two, but three social issues (domestic violence, police shooting kids of color, and interpretation of Christian scripture) and I honestly don’t know where to begin, except at the beginning.
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As the episode opens, April Kepner is in the shower as she delivers the opening voice over. It’s mostly about suffering and references the Biblical story of Job, who continued to praise God despite experiencing unfathomable loss. Kepner ponders whether or not it is virtuous and worthwhile to be a faithful servant of God and proceeds to spend her work day interacting with four patients whose cases push the boundaries of her faith.
First up is Paul Stadler (Jo’s soon-to-be-ex-husband and Jenny’s fiance) who is on April’s table in the ER, having been struck by a car in a hit and run accident. We literally pick up the action directly after last episode’s cliffhanger. But in the spirit of “the last shall be first and the first shall be last,” we’ll get to Paul later.
April is pumped (soooo pumped!) to be running the Grey Sloan Medical Innovation Contest. After all, as she tells Owen, “Who wants to compete when you can be the judge?” His reply? “Um…everyone?” Hunt reluctantly confirms to Kepner that she’s been played by Webber. Annoyed, she tries to get Jackson to takeover administering the contest, not knowing that he’s behind the contest in the first place. No dice.
A pregnant woman arrives at the ER looking for her doctor, Arizona Robbins. Karin isn’t due yet, but her baby doesn’t seem to know that. Karin frets that her husband might not get there in time for the baby to be born. He does arrive just in the nick of time and he turns out to be Matthew, April “jilted fiance,” whom she left at the altar to run off with Jackson. Things are beyond awkward between Matthew and April and super-weird between Karin and April as well. Matthew says Karin in the love of his life and assumes April is happily married to Jackson with a three-year old child. April tells Matthew they have a one-year old named Harriet and leaves out the parts about baby Samuel dying and April and Jackson divorcing.
Baby Ruby is great and Mom Karin seems fine, too, until she is not. Unbeknownst to both April and Arizona, Karin’s baseline blood pressure is low, so her seemingly normal blood pressure is really a sign of preeclampsia. Karin goes into organ failure and dies, leaving a devastated Matthew and their newborn daughter behind. Though it’s not her fault, April feels responsible.
Next up is a 12-year-old African American boy who was shot by police when they caught him climbing through a window in an upper middle class neighborhood. Trouble is, the window was to his own house. Eric forgot his keys. When Eric reached for his phone to call his parents, the police thought it was a gun and shot him. Miraculously, Eric is expected to survive his injury, until his carotid artery bursts, killing him and leaving his heartbroken family in shock and enraged. April’s lost another patient and is particularly struck as Jackson, his fury barely contained, recalls a similar situation from his own youth.
Affected by the tragedy, Miranda and Ben decide it’s time for their teenage son, Tuck, to have “the talk” and we get a scene of them explaining to Tuck, point-by-point, how to handle himself if he finds himself in a confrontation with the police. The most important thing of all? “Never, never, never run,” Ben solemnly intones.
A 20-year-old who tried to cut off his right hand. No, he wasn’t attempting suicide. He was following the Bible’s directive literally (Matthew 5:30) in an effort to squelch his habit of masturbation. Since Psych is running behind, Richard calls in the “expert,” Carina DeLuca, to talk with David. (Related Aside: Why is this character still around? Do something with her or ditch her.) Anyway, in an earlier exchange, David discovered that April “knows scripture” and she shares her views that “when God created the world, he also created metaphor.”
It’s all very laborious and somewhat condescending. Why is that the tendency in portraying Christian people and perspectives? They always seem to be shown as strange and exotic creatures who have weird beliefs and odd world views. It would be refreshing to see a more balanced portrait. Sometimes that’s the case with April Kepner but often not. Do better, writers. On the upside, David did not die. I repeat. David did not die. We’re one for three.
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Ah, Paul. I told you we’d come back to him. Last week’s episode had Jo and Alex looking on horrified as April worked on Paul. It turns out, Jo and Alex were at home during the incident. The hospital only called Jo because her card was in Paul’s pocket. Meredith believes them, but advises Jolex to keep their distance, perhaps literally saying “I still think you could make it to Canada by lunchtime.”
Paul’s fiancee, Jenny, turns up at the hospital and tells Jo not to worry as she didn’t tell the police that Jo did it. What? Jo says she didn’t do it. She thought Jenny did it! Jenny was at the hotel when it happened. She assumed it was Jo. The women compare notes on Paul and Jenny apologizes to Jo for treating her so badly the day before. They describe in clinical detail how smart women get sucked into the world of charming, persuasive, abusive men. Again, the intention is good. Domestic violence is a critically important issue. I just wish the dialogue had been more organic conversation and less roadrunner and coyote anvil on our heads.
Anyway, Paul has fractured ribs and a concussion, but he’s going to live. Pity. Then Jenny informs Paul that she’s not only leaving him, she’s going to testify in court so he goes to jail. Jo agrees to testify as well. Paul goes bananas and when he tries to attack Jenny, he hits his head on the foot rail of his hospital bed. This leads to Second Impact Syndrome: Paul got a second concussion before the first one had healed. He is toast. Ironically, it’s up to Jo, still legally Paul’s wife, to decide whether or not to pull him off life support. After laughing hysterically at it all (a result of shock and emotion, I think) Jo makes the decision and, together, Jo and Jenny donate Paul’s organs so some good will come of his miserable life.
Upon learning of Paul’s death, April can’t believe it. Another patient dead. Another patient who seemed fine. April is reconsidering her stance on being a faithful servant of God. We can see the wheels turning in her head. What is the point anyway?
- We finally spend some time with two more interns: Dr. Dahlia Helm and Dr. Vik Roy.
- Maggie inexplicably does a Science Camp for Tuck and his friend when they have to spend the day at the hospital. WHAT was up with that? Seriously. It felt so out of place.
- A drunk driver was the culprit in Paul’s hit and run. What’d I tell you? Karma!!!
- April drags herself to Joe’s bar where she encounters Vik. The episode closes as it opened, with April in the shower. But now we know that scene was a flash-forward. Vik steps into the shower (!) and asks April if he can join her (!!!) — WHAT??? “Yep,” she tersely replies.
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays 8/7c on ABC.
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