Grey's Anatomy Season 13, Episode 23 Recap: "True Colours"

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
“There are moments when all the stars align,” Meredith Grey’s voiceover narrates as this episode opens. “You feel so good, you wonder if it’s real.” Roberts cuddles in bed with Dr. Minnick. Meredith wakes up in a bed with Andrew Riggs, and the bliss of this presumably great day, this wonderful moment, begins.
But any good Grey’s Anatomy fan knows that any day that starts off well will end very, very badly. A smiling beginning has already brought us a secret wife, a bomb scare, the death of a beloved husband, and a dozen other tragic events that have turned into iconic episodes. That good feeling has to disappear, be replaced with one of dread, and because we know that twist is coming, the audience must sift through half a dozen potential catalysts to find it.
It seems for a brief moment at the beginning of the episode that the twist will be instant: two officers have showed up at Owen’s door and delivered him news that sends him into a spiral of PTSD. All we hear clearly before their words are blurred out by the ringing in his ears is “my sister.” His sister, the former love of Dr. Andrew Riggs’ life, has been M.I.A. in a war zone and presumed dead for year. Here, it seems is his confirmation.
Owen’s PTSD has always manifested as harshness and this is no different. The first patient he sees is a baby, blue in the face and gasping. Owen flips the baby over, smacks it on the back, and out pops a penny. The baby is the second child in a family built by fairly negligent parents. Not only has their baby choked on a penny, but their eldest child, Erin, is constantly missing. Erin, played by Big Little Lies’s Darby Camp, isn’t ill-willed so much as bored and unparented. Meredith finds her playing with medical tools, and then later on playing with the lightboxes in the radiology lab. She’s wandering around the hospital without her parents knowledge.
It’s while talking to this family that Amelia sees Owen’s roughness, and calls him on it. Only to find out that Owen’s sister isn’t actually dead. The officers arrived at his doorstep to tell him that she had been found. She is alive. Owen beats himself up because he “gave up on her,” he feels that he should have looked for her for longer. But then suddenly it is clear that this isn’t the thing that will go terribly, horribly wrong.
Option two is Alex Kerev, who is in Los Angeles at the same conference as Jo’s abusive husband who she fled from. Despite several very overly-wrought fantasies of scaring him and beating him up, though, Kerev ultimately does nothing and this isn’t our big bad tragedy either.
The crisis then, has to come from our Emergency Room intake couple: a man and a woman who arrive after their car was driven off a cliff both in states of serious injury. They both arrive in various states of undress, she with her shirt unbuttoned, him without pants on. As they both wake up, they ask desperately whether or not the other is alive. But both are seriously injured and end up in surgeries.
Dr. Webber has allowed Stephanie Edwards back into the hospital even though she’s not done with her counselling, and though Minnick is mad, the most she can do is relegate Edwards to working easy jobs that are boring. The patients (Keith and Allison) become the centre of speculation for the doctors. Were they in love? Were they desperate for each other? Why would anyone choose to have sex in a car?
What they miss is that even people who are at the height of their love for one another are rarely willing to unnecessarily risk their own health just to be close to one another the way Keith is. And the minute Allison wakes up, they know why. Allison immediately says she hopes that he’s dead. That he had jumped into her car with a knife and held it to her throat, made her drive into the woods, and tried to rape her. Instead of allowing it to happen, Allison drove the car off a cliff.
Security is called; the doctors begin scurrying about. But they forget that Edwards is already in motion with Keith to take him to see Allison when she wakes up. As she gets closer, they see the security guards, and Keith in one motion has her captive, holding a scalpel to her neck and forcing her to help him down hallways and stairs to get out of the building.
By the time Bailey gets enough sense in her to call a Code Orange and shut down the hospital, Stevens and Keith have ducked into a hallway where they have come face to face with -- who else -- but Erin, this little child who refused to stay with her parents and finally found herself an excellent mess.
The only way out, Stevens reveals, is if the code is lifted or a fire is started. Obviously, Keith picks fire, and with Erin’s help starts a fire in the middle of the hallway to set off the sprinklers. While he’s not looking, trying to start the fire, Stevens squirts his body with alcohol and suddenly he is ablaze. Here is our terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day after all.
This rapist is ablaze, our heroes Erin and Stevens are safe in a small room, but then he is stumbling, leaving the hallway, laying down in a room that is full of explosive canisters. Stevens tries to stop him, but she’s too late.
The episode ends with Meredith arriving back at the hospital to tell Riggs that the woman he loves is alive and arriving in Seattle the next morning when, from the parking lot, we see the explosion, the giant ballooning orange ball of fire leaving from the building and making this another tragic day for this incredibly cursed hospital. Almost all of this action takes place in the last 30 minutes, set up for what is sure to be a very dramatic, very ridiculous, and utterly watchable season finale next week.

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