I’m not gonna lie. This episode of Grey’s Anatomy is a hard one to watch. Beautiful and bleak, “Be Still, My Soul” centers around Diane Pierce’s battle with Inflammatory Breast Cancer. As friends and family rally around her, Maggie struggles to accept her mother’s diagnosis. Meanwhile, tensions between Richard and Miranda come to a head.
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I Can’t Hear Myself Think
How I dread red scrubs. In the world of Grey’s Anatomy, red scrubs mean oncology and, as the episode opens, we quickly learn that Diane Pierce has been getting both radiation and chemotherapy treatments following her mastectomy. There’s more bad news, though, as Diane’s cancer has metastasized and spread to her liver. Meredith argues that more surgery at this point wouldn’t be beneficial but would risk pain and complications. Maggie, gung-ho to give her mother every possible chance, insists that the surgery should take place. It’s a crucial step in getting Diane to qualify for a clinical trial that might make all the difference in Diane’s outcome.
Weary of witnessing the sisters arguing over her care, Diane gently fires Meredith, figuring — I’d bet anything — that Maggie’s going to need Meredith after Diane is gone, so their relationship needs to be preserved.
Despite the reservations of Meredith, Jackson, Miranda and Richard, Diane does qualify for the trial, much to Maggie’s relief and delight. Richard warns Diane that the treatment is going to be “aggressive” and that it will take a tremendous toll on her body. Miranda concurs and tells Diane to be “prepared for anything” and, indeed, viewers are treated to a montage of scenes depicting Diane’s suffering.
It’s awful, and Meredith finally confronts Maggie about it, saying that the treatment is doing Diane harm. Maggie then turns on her half-sister and (in reference to Ellis’ illness and ashes) icily remarks that at least she loves her mother enough “not to say ‘screw it’ and throw her down a damn drain!” Ouch!
Nobody Will Let Me In
I know Maggie can be a lot sometimes. But before judging her too harshly, consider her position. She’s just found out — months later than she really should have — that her mom is really, really sick. As someone who lost my own father to a swift and brutal leukemia in record time, I can relate to Maggie’s laser-like focus and desire to cure her mother. I understand her denial, her desperation and even her inability to grasp what’s happening in the present because she’s still clinging, however improbably, to her hope for a future. So I can’t judge Maggie too harshly, despite the hopelessness of her cause.
Meredith, remarkably gracious and forgiving in the wake of Maggie’s outbursts, gives sage advice. Maggie’s going to have to push through this. “Listen to her,” Meredith commands. “Talk about whatever she wants to talk about and record her voice in your mind. And memorize everything.” Maggie finally does just that. She sits with her mom and talks and listens. She paints her nails. She thanks her mom for the ring she wants to give her. She opens the window when Diane complains that the nail polish smell is too strong. And when Maggie turns back around, Diane has died.
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Poor Richard. It’s been a hard season for him. Eliza Minnick is running his residency program, and his wife and protegee are behind it all. The tension between Bailey and Richard in this episode is thick and terrible. She tries to help with Diane, and he coldly refuses. But the Ellis and Maggie of it all finally changes his mind and heart … at least a bit. Richard is the odd man out in this very strange dynamic.
As Diane’s condition worsens, Richard tries to comfort Maggie, but she cries out that she just wants her dad. And by that, she means her adoptive father, not Richard. Richard, being Richard, brings Maggie her dad. He doesn’t arrive until after Diane has died (they were divorced), but Maggie rushes into his arms as Richard looks on with so many conflicting emotions swirling on his face.
Later, in the surgical gallery, Bailey sees Richard and sits down beside him. He confides in her that Ellis never forgave him before she died. He doesn’t elaborate, but my inference is that she never forgave him for not leaving Adele for her (Ellis) and for the fact that Ellis gave Maggie up for adoption. Anyway, Richard tells Bailey that he was robbed “of so many things” because of that. “Let’s not do that to each other,” he says, as Bailey nods. Forgiveness? Can you imagine? Maybe. Meanwhile, Maggie sits at the kitchen table with Meredith and Amelia as the sisters all eat leftover lasagna that Diane made.
Memorable Moments and Quotes
Meredith (about her mother, Ellis Grey): “We didn’t exactly talk a lot in those days. I regret that. I wish we had.”
Diane (to Meredith, about Maggie): “I’m really glad she found you.”
Jackson: “Does anyone think that this is a good idea?”
Richard: “Not at all.”
Jackson: “So we’re together on that.”
Diane: “Where is [Ellis] buried?
Richard: “A place where she loved … by the water…”
Meredith (overlapping Richard): “We dumped her ashes down a scrub sink in OR 2.”[The dinner guests look stunned.]
Diane: “Oh my god!”
Meredith: “It was her favorite OR and it seemed like the right thing at the time.”[And everyone bursts out laughing.]
Miranda: “Go take care of Maggie. Let me do this for you.”
Richard: “Don’t pretend you’re doing this for me. You made it clear for some time that my well-being is the lowest of your priorities.”
Miranda: “I’m just trying to help.”
Richard: “If I needed help, you’d be the last person I’d call.”
Diane (to Richard): “When I die, [Maggie] needs to know that she did everything she could.”
Maggie (to Nathan): “I feel like I left the house with the oven on and went about my business and came back to find the whole house engulfed in flames.”
Maggie: “She’s gonna go. And I’m not ready.”
Meredith: “You’re never ready. You just do it.”
How will Maggie cope with Diane’s death? Will she follow her mom’s advice about living a bigger life? And, on that front, will Maggie make another play for Nathan, unaware of his feelings for Meredith? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
Grey’s Anatomy season 13 airs Thursdays at 8/7c on ABC. Want more news? Like our Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of ABC)