You know how sometimes reality just can’t live up to the hype? That’s how I felt about the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy. After two weeks of anticipation, speculation, and rumination about how the other shoe would drop now that Meredith knows that Penny is a new resident at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, I got answers…and they weren’t pretty. Fortunately, there were a few bright spots in “The Me Nobody Knows” as we learned more about an old favorite, welcomed a newcomer to the cast, and got first glimpses into a new mystery.
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You’re Cold As Ice
When the episode opens, Meredith and Amelia still aren’t speaking in the wake of the disastrous dinner party during which Penny’s true identity and new job status were revealed. In an effort to “rise above” because it was “the right thing to do” Meredith agreed to fulfill a requirement of her job as Chief of General Surgery: have Penny on her service on Day One. It wasn’t rocket science to figure out that that wasn’t going to go well. In fact, it was a train wreck. Meredith deluded herself into believing that she had really tried to be a good teacher to Penny (oh, the lies we tell ourselves) when, in reality, she (and Amelia, too) was generally awful to Penny the entire day. Self-righteously insisting that Penny wasn’t cut out for a surgical program of this caliber, Meredith declared Dr. Blake to be “impossible.” That felt both good and right until both Callie and Richard called Mer out and made her see the truth: She was the one being unreasonable.
There was very little subtlety in this story line. I felt as if the other shoe was being used to bludgeon the audience into submission. Still, there was some measure of redemption as Sara Ramirez and James Pickens Jr. gave their usual stellar performances along with the quiet, powerful work of Justin Chambers as Alex Karev, once again supporting Meredith at a vulnerable time. To her credit, Meredith did own up to her bias and requested that Penny continue to be on her service.
There’s Nothing Here To Save
Meanwhile, in the episode’s “B” plot, April arranged to have a young boy, Kamal, whom she had met in the Middle East, brought to Seattle so that Jackson could perform a miracle surgery and save the boy’s tumor-riddled hands. Turns out, April was less than truthful about Kamal’s condition. She was afraid that if Jackson knew the severity of the problem he wouldn’t agree to help. Jackson was immediately pessimistic about the outcome but hunkered down and found a way to save the boy’s hands. YAY! However, it is important to note that while this entire shared experience led to a slight thawing in the Japril relationship, it means very little in the overall scheme of things. One hug does not a marriage save.
In related news, it’s been reported for some months that an actor named Martin Henderson would be joining the cast of Grey’s Anatomy, although no details had been given as to the nature of his role. Surprise! He showed up tonight as a doctor friend of April’s (with whom I think he shared some definite chemistry – Jackson noticed, too). They worked together during her Middle East tours and he accompanied Kamal to Seattle, serving as escort and advocate. Interestingly, Henderson’s doc (whom I think is named Nathan Riggs?) had a frosty encounter with Owen Hunt in the ambulance bay. They clearly know each other and Hunt was none-too-pleased to see Riggs. I wonder what’s up with that. Hmmmm….
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Richard Webber, Superstar
Can we all just agree right now that James Pickens Jr. is a national treasure? His Richard Webber is one of the most compelling of characters on GA and he was given the chance to shine on two fronts in this episode. First, when Meredith was completely coming apart over the Penny situation, Richard reminded Meredith that he knows exactly how she feels. In fact having Meredith at Grey Sloan Memorial has been a challenge for him for years. Her presence is a constant reminder of both the best and worst times of his life (i.e. his relationship with Ellis Grey). He didn’t want her in his program, working at his hospital. But that wasn’t Meredith’s fault, so he got past it. Likewise, Mer is going to have to pull herself together and learn to deal with Penny. Secondly, the arrival of an old friend and his daughter led Richard to reevaluate his complicated relationship with his own daughter, Maggie. There were too many good scenes to recap here and a least a few juicy monologues, but, suffice it to say, Pickens knocked this episode out of the park. Love. Him.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS AND QUOTES
Riggs calls April “Keps” (!) and her nickname in the Middle East is”The Machine” (!) because she is so unrelenting and indefatigable…and usually right!
April: “I didn’t lie…”
Nathan: “You bent the truth a bit…”
Jackson: “Until it broke!”
Richard (to Meredith about Penny): “You were hazing her.”
Amelia: “Say it again.”
Amelia (with a smirk): “I was right.”
Callie (to Meredith about Penny): “You’re being a bully. You don’t teach by shoving someone’s face in the dirt. That’s not teaching. That’s just being mean. And small.”
Richard (telling Maggie that it’s up to her if she tells people that he is her father):
“For the record, I’d be fine with it if you did. Very fine.”
Callie (to Penny): “We make mistakes. We need to be forgiven. I will if you will.”
Meredith (to her — wait for it — Anatomy Class):
“They say shame controls every aspect of human behavior. Our shame can choke us. Kill us. It can rot us from the inside if we decide to let it. Don’t let that happen to you.”
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8pm on ABC.
(image courtesy of ABC)