The mood of Grey's Anatomy sure has improved this season (so far, at least).
Sure, we're still seeing people go through some of life's biggest traumas — as is customary in a hospital scenario — but there's an upbeat vibe to it all that feels more like pressing forward with hope than woefully dwelling on the past or dreading the uncertainty of the future.
Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), for example, has already forgotten all about Nathan Riggs and all their sweaty parking lot romps, and why shouldn't she? She's just made the cover of a fancy medical journal for her groundbreaking work on Megan, with a flattering photo to boot. She's also up for a Harper Avery award and feels gung ho about the fact that she might be able to save half a dozen patients with liver cancer who aren't eligible for a transplant.
While much of the episode's focus is placed upon her peculiar ear-to-ear, kitten-gloved treatment of Jo, who had to remove herself from said publication due to privacy concerns (more on that later), there's some real growth to be witnessed in how she responds to seeing her patient pass away after her first attempt at bringing the revolutionary procedure to the west coast.
Instead of blaming herself for suggesting that he undergo the procedure, rather than just enjoying the time he might have left without it, and engaging in a mope session that can only be cured with a dance party, she saddles up with a glass of wine and gets to work on gathering a patient list for who she'll present the option to next. Sure, the patient did give her a pep talk about appreciating even a chance at surviving this thing, but it's her own inherent sense of self worth and competence that's driving her decision to press forward.
After all, it wasn't her work that killed her patient; he had a bad ticker, and these things just happen. She'll get 'em next time. And, much like the best part of her mother before her, she recognizes that all the fancy honors that are being thrown her way mean nothing if she doesn't do the work in the OR, where results actually count.
Congratulations Meredith Grey indeed!
Jo (Camille Luddington), too, is having something of a moment of reckoning. She's not so much hung up on the fact that Meredith's getting all the credit, when she was definitely involved in the much-fussed surgery (we'll wait to see if that sense of generosity lasts through the Harper Avery gala). And she's not exactly fuming that Alex has asked everyone to be nice to her in light of any possible disappointment, either. Instead, she's just tired of being considered a victim of her estranged and abusive husband, and more importantly, she's tired of being on the run.
At first, she's given the bad news by her patient with Meredith, who happens to be a judge, that an attempt to divorce him will expose him to her whereabouts and leave her vulnerable to his aggression. But she decides that it's worth the risk of coming out of hiding to cut the cord from him at long last, and Alex (Justin Chambers) is supportive of that decision as well, come what may.
Meanwhile, Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams) is finally starting to realize that the only thing missing in his life is love ... and some prizes. He's got enough cash to buy a yacht by phone without ever even seeing the thing, and a new apartment too, but there are a few things money can't buy: love and the ability to win a Harper Avery.
After playing hooky with the boys on his fancy new yacht and spearheading some impromptu time challenges over knot-tying and filleting fish, he realizes (1) Maggie Pierce (Kelly McCreary) is not actually his sister, as much as his family dinners might make it seem that way — sorry Japril shippers — and (2) the only way for him to get out of his rich guy malaise is to be in competition with his peers.
Nepotism has long prevented him from being eligible for his profession's most prestigious prize, so now that he has a bunch of cash he'll never use, he's free to fund a new celebratory foundation that he can win, as long as Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) establishes it with his money and gives him no preferential treatment.
Of course, Miranda's already got her hands full, what with being the Chief of Surgery and all, but sure. She'll do it. After she restores the femoral artery of a man who's been shot by a "gungina" and deals with the news that her husband Ben Warren has been slyly pursuing a new career interest in the field of firefighting, at least (cue the spin-off segue!).
Speaking of her patient, it's the shooter that has the most consequence of this episode. Bailey's patient is merely a known hypochondriac who takes up space with his claim of a headache until he catches a bullet in his regular bed in the trauma unit. But the perp is no Gary Clark. Instead, it's a 17-year-old girl who stashed a loaded gun in her nether regions while trying to sneak it into the jail where her boyfriend is housed because love makes people do very weird things — this being one of the strangest.
Arizona (Jessica Capshaw), who's very nervous about the prospect of her daughter Sophia returning home at long last and has accidentally broken up with Karina DeLuca, seizes this opportunity to go full-on mom on this girl and remind her that she doesn't have to store deadly weapons in her crotch to please her man. It's sound advice, to be fair; on the other hand, she's not so great with the relationship advice, since now Karina has found a new bed buddy to make orgasms with outside of the MRI room: Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd).
Yes, Owen and Amelia (Catarina Scorsone) are still dunzo, despite an awkward conversation in the beginning, wherein they both seem hesitant to admit as much. 'Cause if you chalk up all the bad times to her tumor, which they are (naively?) deciding to do to keep the peace, there were some good times, too. She really did love him, and she wants to remain his pal. But she also wants to sleep with other people, particularly her mentor Koracick.
Sure, she gets him to agree to hang back from his first-class flight to a Knicks game under the guise of being afraid to perform her first new surgery since her own — especially since this patient has a husband and three young children who need her to come out of this thing alive and herself — but, really, she just wants some on-call room lovin'. Probably.
But Owen's quick to get himself back in the game, too, and finds himself in the sultry arms of Karina just as soon as he gets the all-clear from Amelia, so who knows? Maybe they will be the rare exception of a divorcing couple who can stay friends.
As for where that leaves Andrew DeLuca (Giancomo Gianniotti), who was looking forward to moving in with Owen so as to get out of a house where the owner was sleeping with his sister, well, it appears he's on the market again, too.
Speaking of which, there's definitely something strange brewing between Maggie and Jackson. When Jackson brings up the idea that Maggie's his sister, he definitely makes mention of the fact that he'd believed her to be off-limits, sexually speaking. And while Maggie did buck up to swipe right on a Tinder match and invite him to the intern's mixer at the hospital ... she ducked out of the situation and ghosted the guy. Why? Well, she certainly looks pleased when Jackson eventually walks up to her table at the soiree — even if he is just there to coax Bailey into backdoor hosting his own awards campaign.
It's gonna happen between them ... eventually.
Grey's Anatomy airs Thursday nights at 8/7c on ABC.