As soon as Meredith’s opening voice-over referenced the Biblical story of King Solomon and the two mothers, I had the feeling we were in for a long and difficult night on Grey’s Anatomy. Scratch that. As soon as “previously on Grey’s Anatomy” hit all of the highlights of the Calzona relationship in 30 seconds, I was filled with dread and I steeled myself for a grueling hour of custody battle nastiness. I was not wrong. “Mama Tried” proved to be every bit as cruel and mean-spirited as I had feared as Callie and Arizona went toe-to-toe over Sofia. Unfortunately, while Kevin McKidd ably directed, the writing was a hot mess as viewers were hit over the head with stereotype after stereotype in this odd “medical drama meets courtroom procedural” hybrid episode.
We Are At An Impasse Here
Full disclosure: I was never a fan of the Calzona relationship and have concluded that Callie and Arizona are much better apart than together. That said, up to this point, they had done a stellar job of co-parenting their daughter, Sofia Robbin Sloan Torres, even after Callie embarked upon a new romantic relationship with resident Penny Blake. Then, somewhere around mid season, Penny received a prestigious grant which would relocate her to the east coast for a year. Instead of riding it out and pursuing a long distance relationship, Callie lost her mind and decided to relocate as well, intending to take Sofia with her, thinking Arizona would be totally cool with it. So, with that sound reasoning in mind, we found ourselves witnesses to a custody hearing, because… REALLY Callie? Arizona was just going to take that lightly? After attempts to settle went nowhere, it was ON.
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Things That Cannot Be Unsaid
Witnesses were solemnly instructed that this was not a popularity contest. All parties were to act in the best interest of the child who is, apparently, six years old (Grey’s Anatomy’s time never makes any sense, but whatever). Anyway, a parade of witnesses was trotted out. Owen, Meredith, and Penny were Team Callie. Richard and Andrew were Team Arizona. Miranda did her level best to be impartial. Things went badly on both sides as Arizona’s lawyer pointed out that Sofia’s entire support system would evaporate with a cross-country move and Callie’s lawyer called both Arizona’s character (see Trivia Nights with Richard) and her long workings hours (Fetal Surgeon) called into question.
While it was refreshing to see the rights of adoptive parents set on an equal plane as those of biological parents, the heavy-handed attacks on working moms and the over-the-top tactics of both lawyers were so ridiculous that I was cringing. Bailey was right. A woman’s success in her career should never be a “con.” And Callie’s lawyer’s snotty statement that Arizona continually chose work over her daughter? At this point, I wanted to throw things at the TV, because a father would never have to defend going to work. As someone who has been both a working mom and stay-at-home (working!) mom, I say on behalf of all moms: STOP. Ugh. Enough.
Though attacks came from both sides, Arizona kept things about Sofia and Arizona’s desire to be with her daughter, while Callie went for the jugular and, despite what she told Arizona at the end of the episode about AZ being a good mom, tried to undermine her ex-wife personally in every way. I found myself on Team Arizona and was pleased, yet not entirely surprised, when she won full custody of Sofia. Callie, of course, was devastated and was already recoiling from Penny’s touch. Yikes.
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In Other News
* Pregnant teen, Jenny, and her mom, Tara, returned after Jenny took a bad fall which put her baby in danger. Dr. Russo (whose presence affirmed that other doctors do work at Grey Sloan Memorial) was assigned the case since Arizona was in court, with Alex and April on the team as well. When things went south with Jenny’s baby, Arizona left the custody hearing to return to the hospital. As she explained to the judge, Sofia would survive, no matter the outcome of the hearing. Jenny’s baby would not live without Arizona’s help, so she helped, which spoke volumes about her true character.
* Stephanie regretted breaking up with Kyle. Jo stopped her friend from drunk dialing him to ask for a second chance. By episode’s end, Kyle was readmitted to the hospital with a case of possible meningitis. He wanted nothing to do with Stephanie, as Amelia and Jo worked on his case, while Stephanie watched helplessly.
* Jackson and April had a civil (and oh-so-sad) conversation about the custody of their unborn child. When they were dividing up holidays (including the Super Bowl!) I wanted to say, “Or you could stop being stupid and work things out and celebrate all of them TOGETHER!!!” Sigh.
* Next week’s penultimate episode looks craaaaaazy! Two proposals? One unexpected hookup? Count me in…is it Thursday yet?
Memorable Moments and Quotes
Jo: “I can’t believe you dumped Kyle with a note. Brutal.”
Stephanie: “Yeah, not my finest moment.”
Jo: “That’s like dumping somebody by text – only in 1980.”
Miranda (while testifying): “Objection. Speculation.”
Lawyer (to the judge): “She can’t do that.”
Judge (to Miranda): “You can’t do that.”
Alex: “Should you be here? Shouldn’t you be at home getting ready for court or something?”
Arizona: “No, I shouldn’t be here. I should be at home fixing my daughter ice cream and reading her Charlotte’s Web.”
Ben:” I mean, just because you’re not the parent who gave birth to the kid, doesn’t make the kid any less yours,” (speaking about Arizona and Sofia himself and step-son, Tuck).
Jackson (about the baby): “We make a plan.”
April: “We respect the plan. We don’t fight.”
Jackson: “We don’t fight.”
Callie and Meredith’s conversation (how far has that friendship come – seriously) and the many references to the late (sob!) Mark Sloan
Callie: “I tried. Not to love Penny, Mer. I tried so hard.”
Meredith: “I know. This sucks.”
Arizona’s testimony and its aftermath – kudos to Jessica Capshaw for her portrayal of Arizona
Lawyer: “To be clear, Dr. Sloan and Dr. Torres were Sofia’s parents and then you…came around.”
Arizona: “No. I didn’t ‘come around. I’m Sofia’s mother. I legally adopted her.”
Arizona (to Callie): “The things you let them say about me. I would never have done that to you. Never.”
Callie (sobbing in Meredith’s arms): “How the hell did this happen?”
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.
(photo courtesy of ABC)