But - spoiler alert, ABC! - the episode opens with Meredith teaching the hospital newbies how to perform a laryngectomy with a huge scar on her throat, all the while giving a voiceover dissertation on male privilege. So clearly we know right off the bat that she makes a full recovery - but as we'll soon learn, it takes quite a while to get there.
As the day begins, Meredith, Alex (Justin Chambers) and Maggie (Kelly McCreary) are running to work because Maggie overslept (apparently after a night of sexing with Andrew). When two fire trucks roar by, they hop out of the car and chase them to the scene of an accident on foot.
The hospital soon sees an influx of patients from a nasty pile-up. One man who hit his head pretty badly makes friendly small talk with Meredith in a triage room before having a sudden, nasty seizure. After it passes, when Meredith is in the room alone with the patient (after Amelia, still sore from their argument, refuses to respond to a page), the attack we've been hearing about for weeks finally gets underway.
The patient, named Lou, wakes up from his seizure with scary red eyes and stumbles out of bed. As Meredith tries to get him to lie back down, he flies into a rage, pushing Meredith, choking her, and repeatedly slamming her head against the glass windows. (The doctors outside the room, distracted by their own patients, don't notice any of this.)
Next we see, Meredith is lying on the floor, appearing to regain consciousness, as the patient seizes again behind her. The first one on the scene is Penny (Samantha Sloyan), but soon most of the Grey Sloan doctors are pitching in to save Meredith, whose injuries include a broken elbow, dislocated jaw, several cuts and bruises, a collapsed lung and ... hearing loss?! Yep, it turns out Meredith can't hear anything the doctors are saying, including Jackson's (Jesse Williams) warning before he makes the stomach-turning move of popping her dislocated jaw open so that they can insert a breathing tube. (Raise your hand if you hid your eyes here. Just me?)
The next Meredith montage appears to take place over the course of several days (judging by the progression of her bruises). She has yet to regain her hearing, but is having no problem pushing the button on her morphine drip. At one point, she notices Webber (James Pickens Jr.) yelling at a disheveled-looking Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) and kicking her out of Mer's room. More time passes and we see that Meredith's jaw is wired shut. Frustrated about not being able to communicate, she asks Penny (through gestures) to show her X-rays of her injuries, and Penny obliges, but it's too much to bear.
Meredith's frustration turns to depression, and at one point when Alex comes to visit her, she's just lying in her hospital bed sobbing. But all of a sudden, her hearing returns - just in time for Alex to make a crack about how much snot she's expelling. Thanks, Alex.
Several weeks have passed, and Meredith is slowly but surely regaining her hearing. She asks about the patient who attacked her and learns that he woke up after his seizure with no recollection of the attack, was discharged, and, according to Bailey (Chandra Wilson), has reached out and wants to apologize to Meredith, who is less than receptive to the idea.
Alex is keeping vigil at Meredith's bedside and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) is on makeup duty, but at the opposite end of the care spectrum is Amelia, who refuses to go into Meredith's room. And Meredith isn't the only one Amelia is avoiding - Stephanie (Jerrika Hinton) tells Meredith that Amelia and Owen (Kevin McKidd) are not speaking either.
One day, Meredith's children come to visit. Holy hell, have they been in a time machine this whole time? I'm not great at judging kids' ages, but Zola looks to be approximately 12 and Bailey is not that far behind. Ellis is still a baby, but looks to have quadrupled in size since we last saw her. Anyway, since Mommy looks like Optimus Prime thanks to the wires in her mouth, the kids get scared and run out of the room (well, Ellis gets carried by Alex). It probably also doesn't help that Meredith screams "Come here!" at them through wired-shut teeth. Suffice it to say, it's not exactly a Norman Rockwell family reunion, and being rejected by her children is the last straw for Meredith. She goes into a full panic attack, which Penny combats by snipping the jaw wires and letting Meredith take deep breaths through her mouth - leading to a harsh rebuke from Jackson. But Penny gives it right back to him, and you can see the ice between Meredith and Penny possibly starting to thaw.
After the disastrous visit from her kids, Meredith is pissed-off enough to kick out any visitors - except Amelia, whose attention she grabs by hurling projectiles at the nurses' station where Amelia is lurking. A sheepish Amelia tells her sister-in-law that she's been trying to figure out how to make amends and rambles on about her preferred methods for staying sober. Meredith reacts ... well, how most people would react upon hearing such self-indulgence from someone else after having a near-death experience. Sorry, Amelia.
Meredith's next visitor is Webber, who tosses her into a wheelchair and takes her outside, singing an off-key but heartfelt rendition of "My Girl." He tells her that Amelia showed up drunk at the hospital the night of Meredith's attack, harboring guilt because she responded to another case when Meredith paged her that day. "You need to forgive her," Webber tells her. "Forgive her for not being Derek, for being the wrong Shepherd. ... You don't have to like her, you don't have to love her, but you have to forgive her."
Back in the hospital, Meredith sees Jackson and April (Sarah Drew) fighting and learns that Jackson has served April with divorce papers. She also agrees to meet Lou, who's come to Grey Sloan with his wife and kids to apologize. He gives her a heartfelt mea culpa (and a potted plant) and Meredith reaches for his hand. Someone's already taking Webber's words to heart!
Or maybe not. Amelia returns to Meredith's room with a 30-day sobriety chip and the news that she's returning to work on the following Monday. And Meredith speaks! Turns out her jaw was unwired that very morning. But, neither she nor Amelia is ready to forgive Amelia yet. They part on cordial, if not exactly friendly, terms.
Before she's discharged, Meredith returns to the scene of the attack. Six weeks have passed and her ordeal has taught her to speak and listen more - a lesson she's all too happy to share with others, starting with Alex, who finally stops ignoring his fiancée(?) Jo (Camilla Luddington) at Meredith's urging. Interestingly, he knocks on the door of their loft rather than walking right in ... seems like Jackson and April aren't the only couple on the rocks.
What did you think, Grey's fans? Were you surprised by Meredith's attack and its aftermath? Do you think April and Jackson are really getting a divorce? And will Amelia stay sober? Sound off in the comments!
Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8/7c on ABC.
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