Grey’s Anatomy has been sad this season. Fans may be able to point to a few bright spots — like the fantasy beach wedding of Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), two people separated by the mortal coil — but, as a whole, Grey’s Anatomy season 17 was shattered by the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. The trailer for Thursday night’s new episode of the medical drama, “I’m Still Standing,” suggested viewers may get one unabashedly sweet moment: Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington) adopting baby Luna Ashton, the premie orphan Jo has cared for since the beginning of the season, and becoming a mom.
Then, “I’m Still Standing” actually aired, blowing that optimistic theory to shreds. Jo is blocked from adopting Luna, only adding more emotional devastation to Grey’s Anatomy. Yet, the other pieces of the episode — which is the lead-up to next week’s sure-to-be-wild 2021 finale — hint that Jo’s journey to motherhood isn’t actually over. That road may just be more complicated, and classically Grey’s Anatomy dramatic, than anyone could have predicted.
“I’m Still Standing” takes place over six weeks, likely in an effort to speed up Meredith’s in-series recovery and get Grey’s closer to our more hopeful present stage of the pandemic. In the first half of the chapter, Jo’s best friend Link playfully criticizes Jo for “acting like she’s not going to adopt Luna,” who has been parentless since her mom, Val (Mackenzie Marsh), died nine episodes prior in “Helplessly Hoping.” Jo admits Luna is “perfect” and she “completely frickin’ loves her.” The next time we see Jo, she is tearful and panicking as Luna suffers a life-threatening health emergency (she aspirated her food, leading to complications). “I’m her mom. I want to be her mom,” a weepy Jo tells fellow doctor Cormac Hayes (Richard Flood).
We’re meant to assume she put in an adoption application for Luna soon after this moment.
In the final act of “I’m Still Standing,” social worker Carmen Delgado (Marlene Forte) casually mentions that Jo’s adoption application was denied. “I didn’t pass the background check,” Jo, obviously dejected, explains to Cormac. Considering the dearth of information on Jo’s case, it is possible Jo is coldly being punished for her teenage years as an unhoused person, her decision to change her identity to hide from her abusive ex-husband, or her stay in a mental health facility two years ago. Each of these details have valid and important rationales. But, Jo knows Child Protective Service doesn’t care about her story. “Explaining it won’t change anything,” Jo says gloomily. The last time we see Jo in “I’m Still Standing,” she is sobbing in her bed over the maternal loss of Luna.
However, a much earlier “I’m Still Standing” scene points to a different avenue for Jo to become a mom, if her connection with Luna has awakened that desire more generally. While CPS can deny Jo’s request to adopt Luna, no one can stop Jo from parenting her own baby, should she have one. It’s easy to assume someone as smart as Jo — and now studying to become an obstetrics surgeon — would come to this same conclusion. Jo’s solution may just be Link.
At a basic level, Link is the one who actually urges Jo to see that she could become a parent. “I never pictured myself doing this alone,” Jo says. Still, Link, who recently welcomed a baby boy with Amelia Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone), and Jo can’t deny how “great” it feels to have a kid. “You can stop asking yourself if you can do it, Jo,” Link encourages Jo. “You already are.” Link is the reason Jo believes she can be a mom — and is the first person to see her potential as one already.
In Grey’s Anatomy, nothing is a coincidence — and Link just so happens to spend the episode pondering his own future as a father. After sex, Link tells partner Amelia he is considering “knocking her up” again and he “loves being a dad” — “I think I want more [children with you],” he says. Amelia, who had a mentally challenging pregnancy last season, is quietly horrified by the idea. In a late-episode conversation with friendly ex (and former co-parent) Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd), Amelia talks through her feelings on growing her family. She may love Link and their baby Scout, but, “I don’t know if I could love more than them without losing myself,” Amelia confesses. The simple work of trying to save a patient has kept Amelia from Narcotic’s Anonymous meetings for two weeks — she is worried what another pregnancy and the pressure of raising two children will do to her already “messy” world.
Amelia closes out “I’m Still Standing” by dodging Link. He asks when she’s coming “home” to his apartment. Amelia claims to be in surgery when she’s really mulling over life from Meredith’s porch. Amelia has clearly concluded she does not want to have another kid.
That’s why it seems sensible in a Grey’s Anatomy way for longtime best friends Link and Jo to decide to co-parent a child together. It’s easy to imagine a future where Jo asks Link to be her sperm donor. This way, he can have another child without forcing Amelia into an unwanted pregnancy or losing out on his own parental dreams. Jo did say she didn't want to tackle motherhood on her own — who can be a better support system than one's platonic best friend? Link and Amelia have already agreed to an unconventional romantic partnership for the time being (see: Amelia avoiding Link’s self-conscious proposal earlier this season). It’s not entirely out of the question that they would be open to such a non-traditional way of welcoming a new baby into their family.
Now this prospective parenting throuple is the kind of pregnancy twist worthy of a season finale.
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