No matter how hard we try, or how carefully we plan, no one can decide who they fall in love with. Sure, we can place ourselves in situations that allow us to be near people who fit a certain set of requirements for us, who we think might be able to fill us with an emotion so overwhelming that we cannot stop it. Love isn’t something we have control over. Not when we’re married for a long time, or newly broken-up, or just starting out.
“Attraction is messy,” Meredith says at the beginning of the episode, “It happens when you least expect it.” Last week, we watched a very dramatic plane crash. And yes, Meredith Grey did save a man from death by inserting a cocktail straw into his head and creating a blood geyser which she caught in a small plastic cup. The aftermath of that heroism isn’t more medical drama for Dr. Grey, it’s something more complicated than that: a crush. After weeks and weeks of a blossoming love between Meredith and Dr. Nathan Riggs, they're no longer able to hide their mutual attraction.
But, as these things go in Sloan-Grey Memorial Hospital, Meredith’s new boo was formerly the crush of her coworker/roommate/half-sister Maggie Pierce. Despite prepping a plan for how to tell her, though, Meredith’s crush gets out before then. A press conference is happening because of Meredith’s absurd plane work, and while on the stage Riggs defers the credit for the mission to Dr. Grey. “ She is your story. Not me.” He rests his hand on her shoulder for a few beats too long, petting her gently, and Maggie knows immediately. This is mostly a big problem because Maggie always behaves like a middle schooler in any conflict. “Did you join the mile-high club?” she nags her sister. She’s so passive aggressive that at one point Meredith forces her into a closet to explain. “You were all I had left,” Maggie says, as if Meredith killed her best friend in front of her instead of just daring to have a crush on a man her sister once had a thing for.
This episode, every chapter is about sudden love. The first patient tonight is a girl named Mary who shows up with her very mushy new boyfriend. Dennis calls her Boobear and hugs her constantly while she writhes in pain. “I never thought I could fall in love so fast,” she says to him. The doctors roll their eyes, and the girl vomits right onto Dr. April Kepner who, while washing her hair, finds a giant squiggly, squirmy worm.
This is the worm episode. They are populating this poor girl’s stomach, and her small intestines. They are gross and long. They are roundworms. Her entire abdomen is full of them, and quickly Dennis leaves spouting some excuse. The worms come out in surgery to much attention. Surgeons take photos of the worms. They hold them up triumphantly and measure them on rulers. They are silly and the whole thing is ridiculous and funny.
Of course, these 20-year-olds in a new relationship become stand-ins for another broken relationship: the one between Richard Webber and Catherine Avery, whose marriage has been on the rocks for weeks. Miranda is on a mission to get them back together, and she finally makes progress after the worms are removed. Kepner tells Bailey that she and Catherine are very similar women, and so Bailey uses the only technique that ever works on her: a lecture.
Dennis arrives at the end of the episode, and says that he doesn’t care about her sickness. “I know what I’m doing, which is how I know that you do not,” Bailey says. Catherine might be a full grown woman, and a brilliant mind, but she’s still pretty new at marriage. She’d only been with one man, who was boring and cruel, before ending up with Richard. Bailey’s lecture combined with Richard’s discussion with the newly reunited love children Mary and Dennis, leaves them together at the end of the night.
While the worm story is funny and mostly feel-good, the episode’s second story is only filled with sadness. It features a woman who is 34 weeks pregnant, with a cancer that has rapidly metastasized. With only two to three months to live, she decides to have a C-section. And so she does, getting an epidural and prepping for surgery with her best friend Jeremy who is going to take care of the baby after her death, which comes sooner than anyone expects.
Before the C-section, she signs a do-not-resuscitate so that were she to die on the table, she would not be saved. But before that, before the final words and the tears, she gets to have her baby. The tiny baby is pulled from her abdomen, handed over the barrier and rested against her chest. Together she and her friend and the baby nuzzle each other. They are blissfully happy, so obsessed with each other that they are consumed so deeply with their own happiness that they hardly notice the sounds of the machines, sounds saying that something is going wrong. Amelia and Arizona, who are leading this surgery, get Jeremy and the baby out of the room, and decide to open up her chest to stop a clot, but the woman refuses.
“I got what I wanted,” she says. “My baby is okay." And she refuses to get off the table so they can open her chest and save her. Rarely on Grey’s Anatomy are we reminded that sometimes the most frustrating and emotional thing for a doctor is not getting to do the job they know they can do. As this woman fades out, her breathing becoming more labored and her states dropping, Amelia hugs her head. With tears in her eyes she listens as this woman utters her last words. The baby’s good. The baby is left with the friend, and the doctors are left with the heartache of knowing they could have saved her, of only for a little while.
The episode ends with two broken relationships headed toward the mend. The first is Amelia’s long-broken marriage to Owen. She is sobbing in an elevator and when it opens, Owen is there and he hugs her for his ride to the floor he needs to be on. Even Maggie and Meredith manage to find some middle ground to stand on, heading out for the night with Amelia. The only thing even more impossible to control than falling in love, the episode reminds us, is who your family is.
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