The beautiful thing about Grey's Anatomy is how most episodes tend to center on a singular theme but run in half a dozen different directions with it. Tonight, the name of the game is making a breakthrough, from April (Sarah Drew)'s rediscovery of her relationship with God to Amelia (Catarina Scorsone) and Alex (Justin Chambers) having a successful laser surgery with Tom and DeLuca to Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) finally convincing her husband she's not some porcelain doll after having one teensy little heart attack, it's all about pushing through a pivotal threshold. Every now and again, though, there are social casualties to all the critical course correction.
Let's walk through all the major developments for this week, then, shall we?
First, we see not one but two medical feats unfold. Remember Noah, the boy who laughed as a result of his brain stem-squishing tumor? Well, he's candidate numero uno for Amelia and Alex's big laser trial, and although Noah's mom's a little hesitant to sign on the dotted line at first, she's kindly instructed that this is her best shot at the kid's survival ... and that Amelia and Alex are badasses who do the Superman pose to pump themselves up (okay, maybe they didn't tell her that last bit). During the surgery there are some unforeseen complications, of course, like the laser's heat getting too high too quickly, requiring them to cool the machine off with mini-rounds of treatment that put Noah's vitals at risk. And Amelia really wants to keep going, even when the other doctors insist on calling it quits. In the end, Noah wakes up from the procedure and the next laughter we hear from him is authentic, cartoon-inspired gigglage this time, which means this surgery has been a success.
The bad news? Koracick refuses to do the same surgery on Kimmie, Alex's favorite patient whom they designed this whole thing for in the first place. The variables with Noah's surgery were intense — Koracick compares it to skiing down a mountain blindfolded and somehow making it to the bottom — and Kimmie's case is much more complicated. Instead, Tom wants to take some time off work and take the girl all around Broadway so that she can soak in all of the things she's missed and will miss as a result of her waiting on the cure that might never come. Alex ... well, let's just say his reaction to this letdown is almost as fast and furious as what got him into trouble not too long ago. He's still got some rage, to say the least.
Second, there's Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Jo's (Camilla Luddington) race to save lives (and, let's be real here, stick to "Marie Frickin' Cerone"). They've named all their lab rats over iconic, and mostly dead, rock legends and seem surprised that their new polymer-plus-serum injections aren't working out so well. Not only are they dying off at troubling speeds, but they're not getting the results they'd been hoping for ... but then. BUT THEN
Janis Joplin David Bowie makes it through, and he's the control patient, which means he got the ordinary injections but not the polymer. In other words, Meredith and Jo don't need "Marie Frickin' Cerone" and her special elixir to do their magic. Win! Or at least a start in the right direction!
Speaking of which, Owen (Kevin McKidd) needs a distraction, bad. Things with Teddy Altman aren't working out, and despite one very awkward phone call from Amelia to her, aren't going to work out. So, when they see a patient who's going on and on about this miracle-working breast cancer doctor who can guarantee a successful outcome, well, it totally spells P-R-O-J-E-C-T. See, Dr. Hanson here isn't willing to hand over the patient's records to the hospital, so Owen and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) decide to run a little recon mission. How they manage to get a same-day appointment is something we'll just have to chalk up to the magic of television-storytelling, but never mind that for now. She poses as a potential patient, and he as her husband Otis, and guess what? Dr. Hanson finds a lesion in her left breast. Arizona's immediately upset; she can see the scans herself, and while she thought they might be able to catch him in the act of feigning results by seeing them for themselves, the scan is clear: there's breast cancer there. Only, the Grey-Sloan machines show nonesuch. Hanson's faking the results (which explains his lack of certification by the oncology board). Owen pays him an after-hours visit to walk him through what it's like to be injected with chemo meds when a person's perfectly healthy, but rather than let his anger get away from him and get himself into trouble, he lets the authorities take over from there. See ya, Dr. Scumball.
There's also the matter of Bailey and Ben Warren (Jason George), who is not picking up the romantic signals his wife is putting down, no matter how many suggestive negligees she puts on for him. See, Ben's more concerned about her having a stylish new pill box than giving her the medicine she really wants — wink wink, nudge nudge — so Bailey plays him at his own game and calls in an emergency. Can the doctor (er, anesthesiologist-turned-surgeon-turned-firefighter) see me now? Rawr.
Things are also heating up between Maggie (Kelly McCreary) and Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams). He accidentally gives her some amazing advice for how to deal with Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) as he stares down the prospect of his sponsor — and closest confidant for two decades — Ollie succumbing to her illness. Jackson reminds Maggie of the time that he had to deliver the news that her mother wouldn't survive and how difficult it was to watch her suffer through that, and suddenly she's inspired about how to relate to Webber and effectively block him from reaching for the bottle over it. This brings Maggie closer to both Richard and Jackson, but then April's 12-step-ish series of "I'm sorry"s reaches Maggie, and then we have the kicker. April sweetly made it right to everyone else, Jackson included, now that she and God are [crosses fingers] like this again. So, when she gets to Maggie, she wants to make amends for ruining game night. The two start gabbing about their many mistakes — Maggie dating a married man in Clive, April hooking up with an intern — but when April gets to the part when she made a move on Jackson in the closet in a moment of emotional unwinding, well, Maggie's not so enthused anymore. She didn't know about that little escapade, as innocent as Jackson's part in it may have been, so now he's gonna have some 'splaining to do.
Looks like April owes him one more apology after this!
Grey's Anatomy airs Thursday nights at 8/7 on ABC.