Alright! A good episode that discussed a lot of different and important character dynamics. I really enjoyed this one.
Meredith is back at work, and excited to be scrubbing in on a heart/liver transplant with Christina (I know nothing about anything, but apparently this is a big deal sort of surgery, and it's very exciting to be involved with one). Bailey, who had initially been the surgeon dealing with the liver, is bitter about being replaced, but Meredith and Christina are just excited about doing groundbreaking surgery together.
There's only one problem - Meredith is too preoccupied with Zola and baby Bailey to be prepared for the surgery. When Zola gets mildly hurt at daycare, Meredith goes to her as Alex gives her stitches. Meredith arrives late to the surgery, and Christina announces that Bailey will be scrubbing in instead. Meredith is angry about this, but Christina announces that Meredith's priorities have shifted. As Christina says consistently throughout this rather heartbreaking speech, it's okay that Meredith has let up. She wants to be a better mom than Ellis Grey, but she has to acknowledge that it affects her skills as a surgeon. This scene was actually quite intense, and I enjoyed seeing an interesting conflict introduced into the epic "twisted sisters" friendship of Christina and Meredith.
The episode ends with Meredith yelling at Derek, as she blames him for not answering his phone when Zola got hurt, thus making her miss her surgery. I have to say I'm not a fan of that ending... after everything MerDer have been through, another conflict like this seems a rather cheap way to add drama. Hopefully their fight is just a product of exhaustion and new parenthood.
Meanwhile, Callie works on a patient whose sister is a donor baby. The patient has been in remission for quite some time, but now is a total dare devil, constantly getting injured and causing her poor little sister to have to continually donate body parts to save her. Being born strictly to save another human being has got to be really difficult, and it was certainly an interesting topic for this show to attempt to address. It was paralleled to Callie's own willingness to give everything for other people.
Funniest moment in the episode: Callie, who has been helping out with Meredith and Derek's crazy schedule, helps to prepare the kids for daycare at home and then as she leaves the house she and Meredith go in for a goodbye kiss. It was really funny. Later, Callie remarks to Owen that she seems to have rebounded from Arizona and into the arms of the McDreamy's. She even calls Meredith her sister wife. In the end, Callie discovers, with the help of the donor sister, that she needs to learn how to say "no." She kicks Arizona out of the apartment and moves back in, where she once again finds the will to dance around in her underwear.
I really loved Callie's plot. It was the second strongest in the episode. (I'll get to the best one in a minute). There were moments when I thought it might cheapen the donor sister's story to compare Callie's situation with hers, but in the end I thought it really worked. However, I do wonder... is this the end of Calzona?!
Speaking of Arizona, she had a funny little plot this week as well. Leah Murphy the intern has been acting super friendly with Arizona, and Arizona is worried she may have made a move on the night of the gala. She was really drunk and doesn't really remember, but she does have vague memories of Leah in her apartment. As it turns out, nothing happened other than the making of grilled cheese and watching surgery videos. Leah says she really felt a bond with Arizona, because it finally felt like someone understood her. There was a bit of a flirtatious vibe going on between Arizona and Leah, but I can't say I'm rooting for something to happen. Ultimately, I want Arizona and Callie to find their way back to one another.
Alex and Jo's plot was probably the weakest one for me. Jo and Alex's drug addict father form a bond, and he seems like a really nice guy. Only one thing: he refuses to attempt rehab, even at Jo's insistence, because he doesn't want to make anyone promises he can't keep. Clearly the guy feels terrible about what happened between him and his family. Jo tries to convince Alex to go talk to his father, but Alex angrily refuses. In a tense moment, Alex and his dad are actually in an elevator together alone, but Alex's father does not appear to recognize him, and he leaves before Alex gets up the nerve to say anything.
Ultimately, this plot with Alex's father seems like overkill. Alex is a character who has had a lot of troubles, and we already know that. I was excited to see him pursue his new relationship with Jo, but now we have this external force already driving a wedge between them. I guess it just seems like a disingenuous way to introduce conflict. Perhaps this story will become more interesting in the future.
Richard Webber is struggling with his recovery, in part because the interns are too scared of him to give him the tough love routine that will push him into working harder. Catherine Avery wants Webber to come home with her, because she'll be able to take better care of him. Richard refuses. He takes the "tough love" part of things into his own hands and encourages Murphy to treat him like a patient. I'm happy to see that Webber has his spark back and is on the road to recovery. I also like seeing Catherine's more vulnerable side as she admits that she loves and needs Richard.
This plot line was also related to another one, the strongest in the episode by far. Stephanie is nervous about meeting Jackson's intimidating mother for the first time, and even tries to pick out a nice shirt for the occasion. That plan goes to hell when Catherine walks in on Jackson and Stephanie making out in the on call room. Catherine spends the rest of the episode looking down on Stephanie for her promiscuous behavior. Things get even worse when Stephanie needs help with a patient who apparently enjoys a little pleasure with his pain. That might be an understatement, however... the guy stuck his penis in a hornet's nest. Like, ouch. Anyways, Catherine helps out on the patient, all the while grumbling about Stephanie's incompetence and unprofessional behavior.
At the end of the episode, however, Stephanie officially became a really interesting character to me. She confronts Catherine, and says that she understands how it must have looked. She says that she understands that where people choose to have sex can say a lot about their values and how they think of themselves. She says that Jackson is important to her, and that she knows that Catherine will always imagine her hooking up with him in an on call room, but that there are so many more interesting things about her. And, what do you know? Her moxie impresses the intimidating Catherine Avery. It looks like Catherine might be able to approve of Jackson's girlfriend after all.
I loved this plot. In all honesty, I just loved this whole episode. It added more depth to both Stephanie and Leah's characters as interns. It showed Callie confronting one of her flaws and being proactive about it. It showed how Meredith's new job as a mother to a newborn might threaten her job as a surgeon, which adds an interesting tension for her to explore throughout the season. Webber is on the mend, which is obviously a good thing. Even the slightly weaker plot with Alex, Jo, and Alex's dad has potential to improve in the future.