Over the 2019-2020 winter break, Grey’s Anatomy proved it could still surprise us by announcing OG star Justin Chambers had left the show. The past tense was used because Chambers’ final episode as all-star doctor Alex Karev had already aired without fans’ knowledge. This was the a terrible surprise.
However, with Grey’s 2020 midwinter premiere, the ABC medical drama — now in its 16th year — proved it could still shock audiences in the best way possible: with genuine pathos. This “Help Me Through the Night” reveal is led by original cast member Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson), who suffered a miscarriage in 2019’s final installment, “Let’s All Go to the Bar.”
After more than 350 episodes of pain, Bailey is finally given the chance to break down in “Night.” Not only does the opportunity create wildly riveting television, but it shows us a necessary new side to Bailey 16 seasons into the series.
Bailey’s big moment comes in the final act of the midseason opener. At last, the countless near-death injuries of the “Night” car accident are mended to the best of their ability. Most of the at-risk patents following the freak accident — where a car drove into a bar filled with Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 characters — were Bailey’s latest crop of residents. But, somehow, everyone is saved, including the critically injured Taryn Helm (Jaicy Elliot), whom Bailey directly operated on. Bailey should be relieved. Instead, the calm of the moment gives her space to think about what she has lost amid “everyone” she rescued, as mentor Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) says.
“Everyone I touched today, everyone I held in my hands or gave to another surgeon to put back together again — fine,” she begins, before noting all the doctors who recently left Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital due to career drama (Webber included). “But I made that fine. I made that work. This… this… This, I… I am not fine.”
It is here that Bailey finally mourns for the child she lost, whom she believed was a girl. “Bar” in fact suggested that Bailey was particularly in tune with her unborn baby, as she explains her theory about the baby’s sex by happily chirping, “Just a hunch,” when asked about it. Less than 20 minutes later in the episode, Bailey realizes she is standing above a small pool of blood. By the time Miranda’s husband Ben Warren (Jason George) arrives at his wife’s hospital room, it is clear the baby has died. As expert OB-GYN Carina DeLuca (Stefania Spampinato) suggests, Miranda must wait for her body to expel the remains, which is its own singular trauma.
This misfortune brings Bailey to the crescendo of her “Night” monologue to Webber.
“She isn’t fine. And I can’t even hold her in my hands. Or put her in someone else’s hands who can put her back together again,” Bailey begins to sob about her late daughter. “She just was! And now she isn’t. And I can’t do anything but just stand here — stand here and lose her.”
All Webber can do is hold Bailey as she weeps in his arms. It is a rare sight to see Bailey — usually the rock in the stormy Grey's seas for fifteen-and-a-half seasons — fully allow herself to feel the depths of her emotions. However, this display of grief doesn't make her appear weak. Instead, it's impossible not to recognize how very strong Bailey is in this moment.
Considering how maudlin Grey’s Anatomy can be, there is a world where the series ends Bailey’s “Night” story with her crying in an operating room. Mercifully, we do not live in that world. The episode closes with Webber visiting Bailey’s office with Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), flowers, and a box of pastries. After a season of discord between the trio, it is nice of Grey's to show us just how close these three doctors actually are. Meredith reminds Bailey she had a miscarriage way back in season 6, a full decade ago. At the time, Grey’s creator Shonda Rhimes told Entertainment Weekly the loss was integral to “the story of Meredith Grey.”
“I never felt so lonely,” Meredith now admits to Bailey. Bailey is visibly thankful for the honesty — vocally hungry for a donut. 2020 may not be as bleak as we thought for Miranda Bailey.