Grey's Anatomy Season 13, Episode 17 Recap: "Til I Hear It From You"

Once a fight begins, it’s almost impossible to stop it. People who love each other know exactly which old wounds to reopen to start a fight that accelerates out of control, until no amount of apologies or backtracking can stop it. For most of this season, everyone at Grey-Sloan Memorial hospital has been teamed up in fights that have progressed at an unrealistically slow pace.
This week’s “Til I Hear It From You,” gives us two surgeries as perfect catalysts to finally kick a couple of those fights into their next phases. Like last week’s episode, “Til I Hear It From You” is directed by Kevin McKidd, and where they both really shine is in taking dozens of plot lines and really focusing in and making one or two of those plots really matter. For a few weeks, Grey’s Anatomy had completely lost its emotional core. But here, for this week, the emotion is back. And boy, is it a doozy.
The second plot brings back Maggie’s mother. A few weeks ago, viewers learned that Diane (LaTanya Richardson Jackson) had breast cancer and that she came to Grey-Sloan to be diagnosed by Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams). We know that, but Maggie (Kelly McCreary) does not, because on the evening when her mother was going to tell her, they got into a giant fight, and her mom went back to her home in Hawaii without telling her. This week, she’s back. An oncologist has been giving her chemo, and now Jackson is going to give her a mastectomy. She wants to have the surgery and tell her daughter afterward that she had cancer.
But because Maggie doesn’t know that her mother has breast cancer, she's behaving childishly and chastising her for what she thinks is a boob job. “I hope you enjoy being a nice self-involved lonely person with an incredible rack.” Somewhere in the back of her brain, though, Maggie knows. Her mother told her that nail polish was for strippers, and wouldn’t let her get her ears pierced until age 10. But it’s not until Jackson gives Lydia an ultimatum — tell Maggie or no surgery —that she actually tells her daughter.
This is one of the most heartfelt scenes the show has had all year. Kelly McCreary does an incredible job using her face to act out her frustration and fear. Jackson hands her the iPad and she does a phenomenal job of crying gently while looking at the results. It's the kind of stoicism her character would absolutely have. Instead of staying with her mother, Maggie goes into doctor mode, researching the case and eventually supporting Jackson’s surgery.
Maggie’s mother-daughter drama has a lot of emotional heft, but most of it (once she learns about the cancer) is based in sadness. On the other end of the spectrum is a husband-wife fight based entirely in anger. Owen (Kevin McKidd) and Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) have been fighting for what feels like an eternity — including a few episodes where Amelia wasn’t even coming into the hospital. Tonight their fight hit a new cadence.
Tonight Owen and Amelia are working together on a 95-year-old woman who fell while hiking. She and her husband of 60 years are both famous surgeons. They are deeply in love, very old, and incredibly adorable. For a group of surgeons, this is the greatest love story ever told. And so, of course, Owen (who is obsessed with his own fairy tales) can’t keep their love separate from his own marital troubles. So he confronts Amelia on trying to act like nothing is happening between them. “We took vows. For better or for worse,” he says. “I need you to tell me right now if you’re coming home so we can work this out…or not.” It’s an ultimatum, and one that Amelia doesn’t take well. She says nothing. Their relationship, though, is a mess and they are yelling at each other in the hallway.
The elderly woman, Elsie, isn’t doing well. She has a brain bleed. They fight over whether or not she should get the surgery and Elsie demands to talk to her doctor alone.
But Elsie gets the surgery, and she survives for a little bit. “Wanna know the secret? Everyone wants to know the secret,” Elsie’s husband Louis says. And Owen’s eyes brighten. “There isn’t one. Just stayed married to her. If there’s some other secret, she’s the one who knows it.”
Elsie, though, doesn’t make it much longer. She dies later that afternoon while Amelia is out of the room, and sets off a fight of epic proportions. “You are suffocating me,” she screams at Owen in the hallway of the hospital. Bailey has to force them to stop and they go to a stairwell where Amelia forces him to come face-to-face with why he wants a child. Owen’s dream of a family and a love story is based in fantasy, and always has been. Amelia reminds him that he has already suffocated one woman before her, and claims that his rules about normalcy don’t make a marriage that will last. Ultimately, their patient Elsie dies, and her husband is left all alone after 60 years. What that means for Owen and Amelia, though, is completely unclear.
Two other small plots happen this episode. In the first, Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) confronts Dr. Webber (James Pickens Jr.). Last week, he saw her kissing Eliza Minnick (his enemy), and he is obviously hurt by their growing relationship. But the two of them have a very adult conversation about it, and though it will probably take some time, this feud seems like it’s on the mend. The second story is setup for another Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) love line. Andrew DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) wants to date Meredith, but she's unclear. “I’m not joking; this isn’t funny to me.” Meredith says. “Everybody that I know that knows you, they don’t like you” she tells him and asks for a reason why she should give him a chance. By the end of the episode, he’s given one, and their relationship is moving forward with a dinner date. Neither of these stories hold a candle to the emotion of the two main stories, however.
Both main plots are left open as the episode comes to a close. Owen and Amelia exchange an uncomfortable look as they head out for the day. But for the first time since their fight over children began at the end of last season, they actually had a productive fight. Whether their relationship will fracture or become more solid is yet to be seen, but at least it’s going to go somewhere. Maggie’s mother is still in surgery when we see Jackson Avery leave the operating room, obviously frustrated. Maggie is in a room with all of the scans, crying, promising Meredith that her mother is "very sick." In a week, maybe, we’ll get some resolution. But for this episode, the fights actually work.
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