“When life forces us to do something impossible, an explosion happens inside the body,” Meredith’s voice says as the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy begins. We, the audience, already know what this explosion really is. Last week’s episode concluded with a dramatic action sequence. Dr. Stephanie Edwards and a child named Erin (Darby Camp) have been held hostage by a crazy rapist who, near the end of the episode they set on fire and he rolled into a room full of gas canisters that exploded in a giant fiery ball out the side of the hospital.
Got that? Because this week’s episode is all fear and fury and fire. Things are moving fast. The rapist has died in the explosion, but the fate of everyone else is up in the air as the episode opens. The fire has sent the rest of the hospital, previously on lockdown, into chaos. Bailey orders all the urgent care patients transported out of the hospital. Doctors are carrying patients down flights of stairs. It’s complete chaos. Dr. Minnick, ever the enemy, is mad that no one is following protocol. Especially Meredith, who is on a quest to find Erin after hearing she was missing; and Jackson Avery who is looking for Stephanie Edwards. Avery demands Minnick tell the police about Edwards, and leaves in search of her.
We cut to the fire and the whole world is smoke and flame and fear. Stephanie is somehow, very improbably alive despite a massive massive explosion that happened literally right in front of her. She can walk, but Erin is stuck underneath a very heavy piece of equipment. In some very smart moves, Stephanie wets her coat and spreads it over some fire like a path, I guess, and gets to Erin. She lifts the machinery off of Erin’s leg and using found supplies from the room, tourniquets her leg and performs a very brief surgery to do something I don’t really understand but that is very painful.
Stephanie tells Erin that when she was a kid, she spent a lot of time in hospitals. Doctors would do a lot of things that hurt her too and to cope she would clench her hands as tight as she could. Stephanie has Erin clench her hands, and she does the procedure enough to get her blood flow to stop and get her off the ground. The get to be standing, but a metal pole on fire falls in their path. Stephanie, who is practically a fire fighter in scrubs, wraps them in a wet blanket and they leap through a wall of fire. Our heroes, then, seem home free and we are only 20 minutes into the show. But of course they’re not.
Meanwhile in the parking lot, Kepner is is coordinating a ton of patients out in the parking lot. And Grey enlists Alex Kerev to help him look. Jackson Avery is still galavanting around the hospital trying to be a hero. “Typical,” Kepner says. “He’s the kind of guy who runs into a fire apparently.” Riggs is still in surgery when Meredith finds them in an operating room. The firefighter gives them 15 minutes to finish the operation, and then they go out to the parking lot with everyone else. Avery, while looking for them, comes into contact with a woman in labor and stops looking for Stephanie to carry them out. When he gets out, Maggie and Kepner scream at him. “You are a surgeon not a firefighter,” Kepner says. But in the conversation it’s obvious that there’s something between Maggie and Jackson, and Kepner realizes it.
Now laying on the floor of the stairwell, Stephanie and Erin seem well on their way. Except the stairs are on fire. They climb the stairs to the roof slowly and painfully. The camera zooms in on her hands, gripping the railing covered in burns. Eventually they reach the door to the roof and it’s locked. Stephanie’s badge is missing and all seems stuck. They wrap themselves in a blanket to try and survive, and while admitting defeat, Stephanie see her badge on a landing a few stories down. She again, goes into the smoke and emerges victorious. The get out onto the roof and while Edwards is screaming for help, Erin loses consciousness. Edwards begins performing CPR to try and save her, screaming all the while.
Down in the parking lot, we find out that Minnick didn’t tell the police that Stephanie is missing, and that the last person to see her with the rapist was Warren, who knows where she is. He dons a firefighter uniform and leads a team into the building where they find first the rapist, and then Edwards and Erin on the roof.
They are safe now. There is some fear that they won’t survive, but quickly Bailey and Webber operate on the girl, and she’s stable. Edwards is severely burned, but she too is fine. It’s a resolution a little too neat, but emotional none the less.
In the episode’s secondary plot. Owen and Amelia have to travel to a different hospital to meet Owen’s sister when she arrives by helicopter. In the parking lot, Meredith joins Nathan Riggs in an ambulance where he has oxygen to finally tell him what she came to the hospital in the first place to tell him. She makes him take deep breaths first, and then she tells him: “Nathan they found Megan; she’s alive.” Unlike Owen, he doesn’t have the trauma to keep him from being ecstatic. But Meredith was right, and it sends him into a coughing fit before he hops into a Range Rover and peels off to meet Owen and Amelia at the other hospital.
Back at Grey-Sloan, the fire is under control and everything is returning to normal. Webber, Minnick, and Bailey in a conference room with Dr. Catherine Avery. Together, Bailey and Webber decide to fire Minnick after a season of build up. This, her inability to save a child instead of following protocol, was the final straw. “We make doctors.” Bailey says. “Thinking, feeling doctors, and we will teach them right.”
Edwards is one of those doctors. But the episode ends with her laid up in a bed while DeLuca treats her burn wounds with salve. “I spent my whole life in hospitals,” she tells him, and she quits her job, saying she wants to go out into the world, to experience things outside the world of the hospital.
This season struggled with plots strung out far longer than they needed to be, but by doing this, the writers have neatly wrapped up all of them. Minnick is fired. Edwards is leaving. And Riggs is returning to his first true love. When Grey’s Anatomy returns in the fall, it’ll have shed all it’s dead skin -- ready to start anew.