Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. That has been my guiding principle in thirteen seasons of watching Grey’s Anatomy. Through bombs, drownings, ice storms, shooters, plane crashes, super storms, and earthquakes, that motto has served me well. The plan for this year’s season finale, “Ring of Fire,” was no different. When last we left our surgeons of Seattle Grace Mercy West Grey Sloan Memorial, Stephanie was missing and the hospital was aflame. My assumption was, of course, that Stephanie was a dead duck and the hospital would soon be in ashes. Was I correct? Read on.
As the episode opens, Chief Miranda Bailey has her hands full. “Because one emergency wasn’t enough”, she must transition the crisis at hand from lock down to patient evacuation all while fervently hoping she won’t have to tell Catherine Avery that her hospital was “burned to the ground”. Stephanie is missing and was last seen with the patient only just revealed to be a rapist. Meanwhile, the father of the little girl, Erin, turns up to report that she is missing. The surgeons immediately go into crisis mode with April running the evacuation, Jackson searching for Stephanie, and Meredith looking for Erin.
We quickly learn that Stephanie survived the explosion that killed the rapist, but she and Erin are trapped in a laboratory and Erin’s leg has been impaled by some equipment. Stephanie tries to free Erin’s leg but realizes quickly that the girl will bleed out in no time unless steps are taken. Using the rubber tubing from a Bunsen burner, some scissors, and some gauze, Stephanie manages to form a tourniquet and pack the wound. She and Erin try to leave the lab but the flames are everywhere. Undaunted, Stephanie wets a blanket and herself as much as possible with water from the sink’s faucet and, shielded by the blanket, she carries Erin to safely in the stairwell, though she is badly burned in the process. Unable to go down the stairs due to the fire, Stephanie realizes that their only escape is to get to the roof. They make it, but can’t get out the locked door. Stephanie’s lost her key card but spots it on some stairs below them.
Despite Erin’s cries, Stephanie goes for the card, knowing it’s their last hope. She returns with the card and drags Erin to the roof, but there’s so much noise that no one hears her shouting. Erin passes out and Stephanie performs CPR, still calling for help. Eventually, firefighters and Ben Warren (who went back into the burning hospital to show the rescuers where he last saw Stephanie) emerge onto the rooftop. Stephanie and Erin are saved. Erin is immediately taken to surgery in a makeshift OR in the ER. She’ll recover fully and keep her leg. Stephanie’s burns are severe and the trauma leads her to reassess her life. She thanks Richard for all he’s done for her and quits the residency program to travel and explore and live her life somewhere other than in a hospital. She lives! I am stunned but pleasantly surprised.
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Meredith never does find Erin but in her searching she does stumble across Nathan, who’s in the middle of surgery. He’s trying to finish before evacuating. Meredith steps in to help him, saying things will go faster if they work together. Later, Meredith warns Nathan that she has big news for him, so he’d better prepare himself. Meredith calmly and kindly tells Nathan that Megan’s been found alive. He’s shocked, but thrilled. He’s also torn, of course, because he and Meredith definitely have something going on between them. “I’m sorry,” he stammers, but Meredith shuts that down. “Don’t apologize. If this were Derek, I would already be gone,” she reassures him. It’s a stunning display of maturity from Meredith Grey. Yet, as Nathan drives away, there are tears in her eyes because her finally-rebuilt life has just imploded.
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Odds and Ends
* April is furious when she learns of Jackson’s repeated trips into the burning building. She tells Maggie of the time Jackson went into a burning bus to save a child, acidly noting that he’s the kind of guy who runs into the fire. April also observes the interaction between Jackson and Maggie and encourages Maggie to tell Jackson about her feelings for him. Because Jackson seems to have feelings for Magge, too. What? Seriously? April! What are you doing? #TeamJapril #SorryNotSorry
* Due to the fire, the Grey Sloan Helipad is closed, so Megan Hunt is being taken to Madigan Army Medical Center, a few hours away from Seattle. Amelia drives Owen there. Officers greet Major Hunt and Dr. Shepherd and in the closing moments of the episode a red-haired patient is taken from the helicopter, presumably Megan Hunt, but time will tell. And even if it is Megan, what sort of condition will she be in?
* Despite a press release to the contrary, the Alex/Jo storyline is MIA in this episode. I can only assume it’s being saved for next season. We get just a glimpse of Karev, who is worried about his pediatric patients. When Meredith asks him about his trip (to snoop into Jo’s husband), he declares it a “waste”.
* Miranda finally rallies around Richard, praising his teaching and affirming both his methods and his focus on the humanity of both doctors and patients. Meanwhile, Eliza – who was so busy “clinging to procedures and protocols” that she forgot to tell the firefighters that Stephanie was missing (oops!) – was fired.
So what do you think? Is this the last we’ve seen of Stephanie? Are Meredith and Nathan over now that Megan’s back? Does Maggie have a chance with Jackson or is April his true love? And how will Arizona react to Eliza being fired? Hit the comments!
MEMORABLE MOMENTS AND QUOTES
Miranda: “Fire in the hospital trumps rapist on the loose.”
Meredith: “There’s a rapist on the loose?”
Miranda: “Where have you been?”
Erin: “Is that man gone?”
Stephanie: “He’s very, very gone.”
Meredith: “I found him in OR 2.”
Miranda: “OR 2? We evacuated that floor ages ago!”
Nathan: “I was in the middle of a thoracotomy.”
Stephanie:”I deep-fried a rapist. I dove through a wall of fire. I did not do all of that so that this little girl could die, okay?”
Meredith: “Nathan, they found Megan. She’s alive.”
Eliza (to Arizona): “I just got fired.”
Stephanie (to Richard): “You changed my life, Dr. Webber. Thank you.”
Grey’s Anatomy returns this Fall for season 14, Thursdays at 8/7c on ABC.
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(Image courtesy of ABC)