Meredith knocks on Amelia’s bedroom door in the middle of the night, asking if she wants the tumor that Derek had drawn on their wall eons ago. She grows impatient waiting for a reply, and leaves it in the hall. Amelia and Maggie emerge from their rooms a moment later, confused about why Meredith is cleaning at 3:30 in the morning. I suspect it’s part of moving on from her dead husband, now that she is with Riggs.
At the hospital, Eliza goes over the files of residents with Bailey and Webber. Jo, she notes, is strong in ortho, plastics, and pretty good with neuro. Stephanie has a clear interest and talent for neuro. Eliza hesitates when she comes across Ben’s file, since he is Bailey’s husband. She says that Ben is a utility player, and good wherever you put him, but he tends to play it safe. Ben took a lot of risks the year before and was reprimanded. He was even blocked from the OR because of his risks. Eliza says that after a mistake like Ben had made, residents either play it smarter or play it safer. Ben plays it safer.
DeLuca asks Stephanie if Jo is back with Alex. She says that she doesn’t know, and then it hits her that DeLuca likes Jo. (It has only been a few episodes since DeLuca told Steph that he thinks he may be in love with Jo, but I understand that Steph has more important things to concern her with than this.) Stephanie thinks he should let it go, since Jo hasn’t made a move.
Eliza pages Arizona, telling her that it’s urgent. When Arizona gets there, Eliza tells her that the emergency is at her place or Arizona’s tonight, and to cancel any plans she may have. She notices that Arizona might be acting a little weird, and then a little boy walks into the ER by himself. They ask where his parents are, and he says he doesn’t have any.
DeLuca is on April’s service today, and their patient is a woman named Holly Harner, who has chest and abdominal pain, as well as a fractured forearm, after falling. Holly tells the story of how she fell — she was having a one-night stand, went looking for the bathroom, but instead fell down the stairs. April tells DeLuca to page general and order a pan scan for Holly after finding free fluid in her chest, and that her arm is broken in two places. As they prep the pan scan, Meredith is waiting to see the scans. She calls Maggie over and asks if it’s okay to invite Riggs over tonight. Meredith just doesn’t want things to be weird, but they instantly seem weird, so she tells Maggie to forget about it. Once April joins Meredith, Holly’s voice comes over the loudspeaker to warn them about something weird they might see in their scans — she has a huge inoperable heart tumor.
Alex asks the parent-less kid, Liam, what his pain feels like. Is it sharp or is it throbbing? Liam just says that it hurts and he’s dizzy. Next Alex asks where and with whom he lives. “With Charlotte on a farm.” Stephanie says they need to get the kid a head CT because there’s something neurologically wrong, but they aren’t allowed to do anything without consent. They’ve placed a report with the police for a missing kid, in hopes to find his parents.
When they go over Holly’s scans, they bring Maggie in, as head of cardio, to talk about Holly’s heart tumor. Holly tells them that it’s an inoperable left atrial sarcoma, and that she has less than a year left. Maggie says that ‘inoperable’ means different things to different surgeons, but Holly has already been through this with six surgeons, and tells them the different stages:
- Excitement, think you’re the only ones who can tame it
- Make a plan unlike any who have come before you. Get consent
- Realize it doesn’t work. Feel weird and sad about disappointing her, and make it her job to convince you that she’s okay so they feel better
Holly asks how long until she’s healed enough to get back in the saddle. April says it depends on what kind of saddle, and Holly tells them that her plan is to have sex with as many men as she cares to until she dies. April said it’ll only be a few days, possibly a week.
Jackson and Ben’s patient du jour is a 27 year old who jammed his hand in a revolving door. The two are looking at scans when Webber comes in. He asks what their game plan is. They’re in a grey area between salvage and amputation. Ben says that reconstructive surgery is out because there’s a high likelihood of failure, and they’d end up right back here in six months. Amputation is simpler, but some patients can’t mentally process amputation. He continues to tell Webber about the particulars of the case, but Webber cuts him off — “you’re not doing a research paper.” When told to make a call, Ben says to amputate. Jackson makes a buzzer noise to indicate that that’s the wrong choice, since the patient has already expressed that he wants to keep his hand. Jackson’s plan is to do a rotational flap with antibiotic beads in an attempt to save the hand. Webber sees what Eliza was saying earlier.
Maggie tells Amelia about Meredith asking if she could bring Riggs over. Suddenly getting rid of the tumor drawing, and other reminders of Derek, makes sense to Amelia. She can tell things are getting serious, and Maggie declares that they have to support this. Maggie tells Meredith, who is operating on Holly, that she is going to be home late tonight, and that she’ll be looking over Holly’s records again.
Liam’s parents show up to the hospital, happy to have found their son. They live an hour away, and Liam says he had taken the train. Alex tells his parents that Liam had had a seizure. When they did a CT scan, they found a very large tumor (a pituitary adenoma), and they say that he will need brain surgery. His mom recognizes that that must be why he’s been getting headaches and been tired. His father asks when they can take him home. The doctors begin to say that it depends on how quickly the swelling goes down after surgery, but his parents interrupt, informing them that they don’t believe in medical intervention. Liam won’t die, if it’s God’s will. Later, Stephanie talks the mother through the discharge forms, making sure she understands that this is against medical advice and that there is a very real chance that Liam will die. Eliza interrupts, sending the mother on her way. She lightly reprimands Stephanie, reminding her that it’s not okay to talk to patients in that way. Stephanie says that that woman isn’t her patient.
Meredith updates Holly that she was able to stop the bleeding on her spleen. In hindsight, Holly realizes that she should have just turned on the light. At the time, she hadn’t wanted to wake up the guy, because if he’s awake, he might talk to her, and the way he talked annoyed her. She hasn’t been looking for a ‘keeper,’ since, as a dying woman, she isn’t really able to keep anyone. April comes in the room, saying that Holly’s boyfriend is here. Holly is mortified. She assumes his neighbor must have blabbed about her accident, and asks if they can tell the guy that she died. When they talk to him, they just tell him that she’s had a long day, and doesn’t feel up to visitors.
Webber finds Eliza to admit that she was right about Ben. She says that it helps that she has fresh eyes, whereas he has known these residents for years. She goes on to say that she was reading Stephanie’s file, which notes that she went back to work almost immediately after her short-term boyfriend and patient, Kyle Diaz (played by Wilmer Valderrama) died, without seeking any therapy. Webber doesn’t understand why Eliza is interested in this, and Eliza says that she noticed some red flags. Webber says she can be arrogant and snarky, like any surgeon. Eliza doesn’t like how Stephanie gets triggered by patients. Webber says that Steph knows more about patients than most doctors, most likely referring to Stephanie being a sick child.
Arizona cancels on Eliza due to a patient being in labor. The baby has CDH. Eliza is disappointed but understands. After a silence, Arizona admits that when she’s walking down the halls of the hospital, she looks to see if Eliza is around. All she can think about is Eliza, and she doesn’t think one more day of anticipation will kill them.
Meredith calls Riggs to cancel their plans, and they agree to try for tomorrow instead. Meredith stares at the framed post-it on which she and Derek had gotten married. She walks across the room and puts it face down in a drawer.
Alex walks up to Eliza, pissed that she let Liam be dragged home. Eliza knows that they aren’t allowed to treat minors against their parents’ wishes. Everyone has the right to have their religious beliefs respected. Alex thinks the fact that Liam traveled an hour by himself to get medical help should count for something. Stephanie asks if they can get a court order, but state law protects families against prosecution if their faith prevents seeking medical care. Since Alex was just on the brink of incarceration, Eliza figures he should want to be careful when it comes to the law.
Amelia tells Maggie that Riggs never came over last night, and she heard Meredith call to cancel. After that, Meredith didn’t come out of her room all night. Maggie updates Amelia on the tumor she’s been trying to figure out, and she thinks she has found the way. Amelia says she wants a giant, scary tumor, too, but Maggie says for her to get her own.
Maggie argues with Holly that the reason that all of the other doctors failed was because they weren’t thinking outside of the box. She is beyond confident that she can definitely get this tumor out. Holly says “nope,” but Maggie doesn’t give in. Only six surgeons in the world that can do this surgery, and that includes her. Holly reminds them that she had say no more new plans. She’s accepted that this is her life, and she doesn’t need a future.
Liam stumbles into the OR once again. This time, Ben finds him, followed by Stephanie. He’s looking for Alex, and Stephanie takes his hand to lead the way. Their hands let go of each other, and he runs into a medical tray, knocking it over. Stephanie quickly realizes that Liam can’t see anything anymore. Alex does some vision tests, all of which Liam fails. Liam says that everything went dark so quickly. Liam apologizes and says that he prayed and he prayed, but God didn’t help him. He asks if Alex can help him. Off the the side, Alex tells Stephanie that they need to page neuro and book an OR. Stephanie asks why they’re not paging Eliza, and Alex says it’s because this is emergent and Liam is having a seizure (he’s not). Stephanie thinks this is wrong, but Alex thinks watching a kid die and not helping is what’s wrong. Stephanie starts entering the information, but Alex takes her tablet, saying that today they are using Eliza’s method, where attendings write up the orders. This way, if there is backlash (which of course there will be backlash), Alex will take the heat, not Stephanie.
After loitering outside of Holly’s room, unstealthily, Maggie approaches her again, expressing that she understands that Holly is scared. Only Holly isn’t scared of death anymore. Sex and death is all she wants. Meredith speaks up, as someone who has been around a lot of death. She explains that, with someone like Maggie who may be able to fix her, she shouldn’t settle for death. “The scary thing isn’t dying. The scary thing is surviving and accepting that you actually have a life to live.” Holla. Maggie lays her plan out for Holly. She’ll put Holly on bypass and then remove her heart so that she can safely remove the tumor. With Maggie’s confidence never wavering, Holly agrees to the surgery.
Eliza comes down to the OR to see if Alex and Co are operating on Liam. She’s stunned that they managed to get consent. Alex admits that no consent was given, but says that it was emergent. After the surgery, family shows up at the hospital enraged at the situation. Bailey explains that, although they are unhappy with what happened, removing their son from the stable environment of the hospital after brain surgery would be a terrible mistake. We find out that Amelia was able to remove all of the tumor, but they have to wait until Liam wakes up to see how his eyesight is. The father says promises to make Alex lose his medical license. Once it’s just Alex, Eliza, and Bailey, Bailey warns Alex that he may be sent to jail over this, but Alex thinks it will have been worth it.
Stephanie checks Liam’s sight, which seems to be fine. He thanks Stephanie with a hug before Eliza calls her out of the room. Eliza asks Stephanie all kinds of questions, but Stephanie says that what matters is that Liam is alive, can see, and the tumor is out.
While operating on Holly, the surgeons see her tumor, and April marvels at Holly’s stamina to even have sex, since April is too tired to put on socks when she gets home. Maggie removed Holly’s heart and puts it on ice. Once the heart is out of the way, Maggie sees that the tumor has invaded to her posterior pericardium. She decides to go to Plan B, where they will see if they can debulk the tumor off of the pulmonary veins. They manage to do that, but while following the tumor, Maggie realizes that it has extended into her esophagus, and Meredith notes that can’t reconstruct her entire chest cavity. Amelia comes in to see the massive tumor, since she just successfully removed Liam’s brain tumor and has ‘tumor fever.’ She calls the tumor beautiful, but April says it’s smart and terrifying. When Amelia hears that it’s in the esophagus, she adds that the tumor is likely affecting the spine as well, and they would be risking paralysis by removing it. Maggie throws out a nearly impossible solution, but Meredith points out that it may be risking any quality of life Holly may have left, and Maggie is already accustomed to the way her life is now. Maggie realizes she’ll have to be surgeon #7 to realize they can’t save Holly.
Webber takes Ben to the OR schedule board. He asks Ben what he sees, and Ben says surgeries. Webber points out that it’s residents doing surgeries, while Ben covers the pit. He says he likes to go where he’s needed, but as a senior surgical resident, he’s needed in the operating room. Finally Webber comes out and says it — it seems like Ben is playing it safe, which may affect his fellowship recommendations.
Stephanie is with Liam’s father while he signs the discharge forms (why did Eliza let her do this again?). He says he wants to get out of the hospital before she makes any more decisions for his child. She responds that Liam made his own decision to seek help. He points out that Liam is his child, and that it isn’t her job to help him. She agrees, saying that it’s his job as Liam’s parent to tell his child that everything will be okay, and move heaven and earth to make sure that it is. He falls back on religion — “That is up to God.” Steph points out that God delivered Liam safely to the hospital, even when he couldn’t see. She had a great point, but kind of ruined it by throwing in insults that he’s being too weak and stupid and was going to kill his son. He goes to leave and Maggie throws her tablet against the wall by his head and storms out, past Eliza.
Eliza meets with Bailey and Webber and recommends that Stephanie be suspended. She brings up Kyle’s death again, really thinking she should have had counseling or time off. Webber doesn’t think Stephanie showed any signs that that’s what she needed, but Eliza says that students like Steph won’t show you what she needs until it’s too late. She points out that Stephanie connects with patients to the extreme — either overly attached or stone cold. All of these things are indications of resident burnout. Stephanie knocks on the door and comes in to clarify that she was not aiming for his head. She was just mad, not stupid. She apologizes for losing control.
Walking out of the hospital after work, Eliza complains to Arizona about Stephanie’s behavior. She says it’s because of this environment where there is little to no supervision, and that Alex isn’t the best influence. Arizona cuts her off because she has been thinking about tonight since last night, and she’s wearing very sexy underwear, and Eliza is ruining the mood. “Respectfully, shut up.”
Before Jo leaves work, DeLuca decides to talk to her. (Hey Camilla is back! I assume she’s been on real life maternity leave following the birth of her daughter, Hayden.) He asks if she wants to get a beer, but she rain checks. He smiles at her for an extended moment and then tells her that the two of them talking is the best thing to come out of this year. Jo is apprehensive, and when he continues to speak about how they went through this together, she asks him to stop. She knows what he’s going to say, and it will change things. People say that as if things haven’t already been changed by acknowledging that both sides know what almost happened. He abides and walks away.
Alex is updating Liam’s mom on her son’s sight. She is so relieved that Liam is okay. Alex points out how difficult it would be for Liam to make his way to the hospital while blind, and suggests that maybe someone had helped Liam get here. She claims this to be one of God’s blessings.
Maggie breaks the news to Holly that they couldn’t remove her tumor. Holly starts laughing, because she told them that this would happen. They did manage to remove some of the tumor, and Maggie expects that to lessen some of the symptoms and give her a little more time. Meredith notices, as Holly talks, that this was Step 3. The doctors made her comfort them.
Ben tells Stephanie that she’s in trouble because he’s stepping up his game. She says that her privileges have been revoked and she has to go to counseling. She snarkily adds that Ben actually has a chance to be the best now that she has to step aside.
Alex calls his lawyer because he needs help to find someone. Arizona and Eliza finally have their sexy night together. Maggie, Meredith, Amelia, and April leave work together. Maggie and April make plans to get a drink and meet men. Meredith sees Holly’s guy still in the lobby. Meredith advises him to let her go and live his life, because sitting around and waiting isn’t working out. Walking away, she sees Riggs walking out of the hospital and she grabs his hand.
Only two episodes left of season 13! Catch Grey’s Anatomy Thursdays at 8/7 on ABC.