There've been a lot of natural and human-caused disasters to strike Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital over the years, but rarely have they ever been quite this all-consuming. Tonight on Grey's Anatomy, it's a 21st century problem that's plaguing the doctors as we head into the winter hiatus, with hackers having overtaken the hospital with a ransom demand of upwards of $20 million to restore use of everything from patient records to door codes to critical supplies to very electricity upon which they operate.
There is someone who can afford to pay that demand right now, of course, but with the boardroom overrun by FBI agents, there's also a bundle of bureaucracy barring the hospital execs from clicking send to take the easy way out, and the patients are made to suffer in spectacularly terrible ways as a result.
First, there's Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams) and Maggie Pierce (Kelly McCreary)'s patient, who's got cardiac and respiratory issues to contend with right now. Then, there's Alex (Justin Chambers) and Jo (Camille Luddington)'s pediatric patient, who's already had a stroke by the time he's reached kindergarten, and the lack of access to his medical records right now sends Jo on a wild goose chase. Meanwhile, Karina has to call in Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) to help her with an expecting mother, and Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) is smack dab in the middle of abdominal surgery with the world's worst intern — Glasses himself — just as the you-know-what hits the fan. So, you know, good times.
Let's take it from the top.
The episode begins with Ben Warren making a quick cameo to remind us that, yes, he's still busy beefing himself up for firefighting school (a sly scream for us to get ready for that spin-off, natch). Meanwhile, Meredith's being interviewed about her illustrious honor of being this year's Harper Avery award winner and declares that, not only is she ready to match her mother's accomplishment of earning two, but she wants to nab three before it's all said and done because it would, quote, "drive her crazy." Confirmed: She is her mother's daughter. And Jo is doing her darndest to seem even slightly intimidating as she assumes her new role of chief resident, without much luck.
On the relationship front, Owen (Kevin McKidd) and Karina are still doing the nasty, which makes for awkward elevator moments because IT'S ALWAYS ABOUT THE ELEVATOR ON GREY'S ANATOMY, always. And Jackson and Maggie are still ... at arm's length, for now.
The docs first catch wind of the troubles when patients begin to code en masse, with one of the interns actually zapping a guy in his sleep (what a way to wake up). Before Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) gets wind of what's going on below, Richard Webber attempts to bully her into revealing the name of the anonymous donor for the new contest, which she's trying to hand off to him for selfish reasons — i.e., she wants to be eligible for it herself because Grey Sloan is full of gunners, always. She dubs the donor "Aretha Franklin" because anonymous is anonymous for a reason, but she manages to get him to agree to host it without divulging her cash source, like the consummate professional that she is.
Once everything starts to go south, though, the screens light up with a notice that, yes, there's a reason everyone's monitors are flaking, and it's because some nerds with too much time on their hands have taken the hospital hostage and wants beaucoups of cash before they'll restore Grey Sloan to its formerly functional glory.
Bailey realizes that it's because she announced the contest, and all the foundational loot behind it, that they've been targeted. Someone out there noticed the sudden influx of cash and wants a piece. Once they figure out that 5,000+ Bitcoin is worth $20 million, though, no one's offering up their own bank accounts to satisfy the request, and Bailey decides to bring Jackson into the equation, arguing that she doesn't want to expose her anonymous donor (aka him) by bringing them up.
Jackson's down to donate the funding — just say the word — but the Bureau knows that this is a slippery slope. If these hackers pull this stunt and win out, what's to stop them from targeting every hospital in the country and endangering thousands upon thousands of patients' lives? The prudent choice, then, is to let their own patients' fates hang in the balance, while their lackeys on standby set-up their little investigatory hub and try to figure things out. It's all very reassuring for the staff, to be sure.
Especially since Jackson and Maggie's patient is reaching a critical point, at which they'll need to decide whether to just transport him elsewhere that still has the requisite equipment and supply line. And Alex and Jo's patient, a spritely little gent, is having extreme headaches and no one knows what medications he has or has not taken. And Meredith's splenectomy should be a cinch, if not for the fact that she's having to do it via mini-cam instead of her ordinary stethoscope station. The least worrisome of all is our new mom, but she's already freaked enough without being deprived of her epidural. It's all just a mess.
The doctors are forced to resort to old school approaches — leaning a patient back to certain degree to relieve his heart palpitations, standing straight up to deal with labor duress, and relying on the cartoon schedule to determine when the little boy has last received his meds and who gave them to him. It's a circus, but everyone does their best.
On the bright side, it does give Arizona and Karina a ~moment~ to realize they've missed each other, and Jackson and Maggie are pretty attentive to one another on the transport helicopter, even as they're being sprayed with the patient's blood. Most importantly, Glasses finally earns some redemption once he donates some blood of his own to transfuse to the open-cavity patient in need in Mer's OR.
Even so, Bailey decides it's time to plow through the red tape — arrest her all you want — and agree to the hackers' demands and dials Avery up for the transfer order. Unfortunately, he's eyeball deep in his patient's blood spurts on their rocking helicopter and it's not clear if he answers it. Meanwhile, Jo's just figured out that her patient can't have a certain medication just as Alex goes to insert the little dude with a syringe of ... we don't know what. Because before she can get to the room to stop it, her worst fear is realized. Her ex shows up just as she's exiting the elevator (again with that mischievous central locale for everything) and gives her one of his smile daggers that puts her in a daze.
And here we are.
The hospital's patients are in peril and Jo's looking into the eyes of a nightmare.
We'll have to just wait and see how all this turns out, but for now, let's just cross all the phalanges we have that Alex doesn't get his shot into the kid's IV before receiving Jo's text.