It's time for Meredith's (Ellen Pompeo) hearing to find out if she'll get to keep her medical license. At the top of the episode, Helm (Jaicy Elliot) speaks for all viewers when she says, "No one is suspending Meredith Grey's license. She won the Catherine Fox award. She's a legend."
So it's no surprise when her license is reinstated. But it's a pretty great ride along the way. Grey's Anatomy is so good at doing big episodes and this was a biggie.
The hearing with the medical board plays out like the bizarro version of This Is Your Life (at least at first). Instead of running down all the good Meredith has ever done, her friends and colleagues are forced to testify about all the big mistakes she's made over the years. What's really fun is that because this is a TV show, there's flashback footage to intersperse and wow — Pompeo looks like a baby in some of the clips.
Bailey (Chandra Wilson) is asked about a number of infractions, including the infamous cutting of Denny's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) LVAD wire back in season 2. DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) is asked about Meredith freezing him out after he and Alex got into a fight a few seasons ago. Schmitt (Jake Borelli) is asked about the ID bracelet with Meredith's daughter's name on the patient in question, and it comes out that he's the one who alerted Bailey to the insurance fraud. He’s crying as he apologizes to Meredith.
Owen (Kevin McKidd) testifies that he had concerns about Meredith's abilities after she botched his sister's first abdomen surgery. Dr. Webber is asked about whether Meredith helped him secretly get his wife into a trial for an experimental Alzheimer's drug and he flat-out commits perjury by lying and saying he did it all himself. Webber's old administrative assistant testifies that Meredith didn't even originally match with Grey Sloan (Seattle Grace back then) when she was an intern, but Webber pulled some strings to get her there.
But then the big moment comes when it's Alex's (Justin Chambers) turn. He is asked about the time Meredith was fired and it almost cost her Zola's (Aniela Gumbs) adoption. One doctor on the panel, Castello (Mike McColl), is particularly prickly about that incident and Meredith snaps — because Castello is the doctor who didn't order a head CT and couldn't do Burr holes and cost Derek (Patrick Dempsey) his life.
The speech is chilling. Meredith stands up and repeats the names of the spouses of every patient she has ever lost. She then dresses Castello down so thoroughly for not only the fact that he doesn't remember her but also for how massively he screwed up Derek's care after the car accident that he is visibly shaken. The stunned doctor then has the audacity to say they should postpone the hearing because of "Dr. Grey's conflict of interest" and Meredith slaps the table and shouts, "My conflict of interest?!" and has to be physically restrained by her lawyer. It's amazing.
And then Castello has a seizure. He's quite fortunate to do it in a room full of doctors, as they begin helping him immediately. When the paramedics arrive, Meredith sends Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) back to Grey Sloan to oversee his care and it didn't even register that that's Derek's sister at this point.
But back at the hospital, a head CT shows that he has a massive hematoma in his brain and Amelia asks Koracick (Greg Germann) to operate. Tom makes a flippant remark because he has a full day, until she tearfully tells him this is the man who killed her brother so she can’t do it. He quietly says he'll cancel the rest of his day.
Unfortunately (fortunately?), Castello codes on the table and dies while Amelia watches from the gallery. There are a lot of emotions playing over Scorsone’s face, it’s great work on her part. But later, Amelia can barely contain her glee when she tells Meredith later. Heh.
Back at the hearing, the panel wants to postpone and get a new panel for the next hearing... until Alex brings in dozens of former patients who want to speak on Meredith's behalf. You guys, it's like that scene in Rudy where all the players give up their jerseys so he can suit up. Pass the tissues, please.
Also, how amazing is it that they got the real guest-stars who played Meredith's patients? It's particularly impressive that they got Skyler Shaye, who played Katie Bryce, the young girl Meredith treated in the pilot episode. Well done, show. *slow clap*
And then the icing on the cake is that Bailey decides she wants to speak up. She says that Meredith deserved to lose her job and pick up trash because she committed a crime. But she's too good of a doctor to take that away. All that does is hurt people.
Obviously, after a display like that, the panel votes to recommend to the state board that Meredith keep her license and Bailey asks Meredith to come back. Awww.
Odds & Ends
There are a few side plots here. The big one is that MerLuca is finished. Two things happened during the hearing that made DeLuca realize he's not enough for Meredith. First, she told him that if she loses her license and he can be a surgeon and she can't, they won't make it. And second, he heard the way she talked about Derek.
Now, she's right to tell him he can’t compare himself to Derek. Anyone who is going to be with her has to just deal with the fact that they'll be No. 2 in her heart. But as to the first part, she says she didn't mean it. He knows better and it made him realize she doesn't respect him and his abilities because she's a better surgeon than he is. He can't be in a relationship like that (nor should he be, he deserves someone who feels about him the way Meredith feels about Derek).
The second side plot is that poor Maggie (Kelly McCreary) is not managing well after what happened to last week with her cousin Sabrina (Crystal McCreary). Webber can barely even look at her and she is so wracked with guilt that she gets drunk in the hotel bar in the middle of the afternoon. Jackson (Jesse Williams) checks on her and ends up taking her home where they share a moment and almost hook up, then he pulls away and says he can't. She promptly kicks him out.
Finally, there's a great little conversation between Bailey and Webber where they get real about their complicated relationship with each other and with Meredith. Bailey's kind of jealous of how he dotes on Meredith, plus she's incredibly hurt that they pulled the insurance fraud shenanigans behind her back and put her in the position she was in. But Webber fires back that he was really hurt she didn't stand by them. It's nice that they aired all of those feelings; maybe now everyone can start healing.