TV Recaps

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Recap: ‘Staring at the End’

There are so many things I want to address about tonight’s brilliant episode of Grey’s Anatomy that I’m not even sure where to start.

Let’s catch our breath first and give our heart rate a chance to regulate itself because this episode was nothing short of a pressure cooker.

Stacy McKee. Stacy McKee. She penned an exceptional script for tonight’s episode and has consistently written some of Grey’s Anatomy’s more exquisite episodes over the course of the series’ run. She gets the show. She gets the characters. She gets the fans. She just gets it. And it translates beautifully on screen.

Ok…

Grey’s, why do you do this to us. Why? You drop Dr. Nicole Herman onto the Season 11 canvass like a mic on stage after a killer speech. You make us loathe her early on. Then you give her the. worst. tumor. ever. and a certain death sentence. Through this we begin to see glimpses of the real Herman. Ever so slowly her hard exterior, mean-spiritedness and seriously-lacking social skills give way to a likeable, snarky hardass, who has cultivated this wonderful, professionally-driven and mutually-respected friendship with Arizona, all the while teaching her these truly badass fetal surgeries.

So, after you’ve transformed her into this incredibly awesome, relatable character, why must you kill her?

Tonight’s cliffhanger left us watching in agony as Herman is feverishly prepped for surgery to remove her massive brain tumor, both her and the audience not really knowing if she’ll make it out alive. I’ll admit, because of previous events on Grey’s Anatomy, I do have my doubts she’ll live; however, I really, really hope I’m wrong and here’s why:

I need Amelia to succeed during this surgery as much as I need Amelia to believe she can succeed during this surgery. Her character has come so far, and I want nothing more than for her to be able to distance herself, professionally, from Derek. He’s this dark cloud with perfect hair, hovering over her ability to be great. She needs to succeed so she can let go. Despite her self-doubt, Amelia’s genius is captivating to watch, and I very much applauded that the writers showcased this by having her document her process for Herman’s surgery through successive speeches to a room full of eager-to-listen doctors. Everyone realizes how big and potentially ground-breaking the way Amelia is going to try to perform this surgery is. It is essentially seven surgeries wrapped into one. 18 hours long. Every doctor better be Cristina-Yang prepared and have their diapers handy.

Hasn’t Arizona lost enough? Between losing her leg, her best friend, her baby, her marriage and herself, can the woman catch a break? She’s slowly been able to rebuild herself and find a newfound happiness through work, and Herman is a big reason why. The emotional toll it would take on her if Herman dies…I can’t even think about it. That being said, we did see in tonight’s episode that Callie still worries about Arizona. What was even better was that she was able to verbalize it and not sulk around in the shadows, watching from a distance. It seemed to catch Arizona off-guard, but in a good way.

Herman can’t die. I like her too much now. Can’t Amelia just kick ass during the surgery next week, so Herman lives and we all have one giant party after she wakes up with all of her mental faculties in working order? Then Geena Davis can become a series regular. It’s never that simple in Shondaland though. Never.

What was so great about this episode though, aside from the writing and acting, was the palpable build up, both emotionally and entertainment-wise. That speaks to the editing, which was more than on point, highlighting pivotal emotions at just the right juncture. You could really feel the tension, anxiety, hope and fear swirling around the OR as Herman was being prepped for surgery at the end of the episode.

Arizona all but begs Herman to finally let go and put her trust in Amelia, something she has yet to do to this point. When Herman turns around to have Arizona tie the back of her gown, Arizona fights her entire being to keep from crying. They’re friends now. They truly care for one another. And c’mon, earlier in the episode they got drunk and roasted Herman’s radiation mask over a bunsen burner. Now that’s friendship.

During the last scene of the episode, Arizona starts to turn away just as they’re about to administer Herman’s anesthesia, but Herman grabs her arm to stop her from leaving. The look they give each other is one that makes your heart want to break into a thousand pieces. You can see how hard Arizona is trying to keep a brave face. She firmly instructs Herman to not even think about uttering a goodbye. By now, Herman has learned it’s kind of counter productive to fight with her, so she takes a deep breath, squeezes Arizona’s arm and says, “time to go.”

…and everyone’s heart sinks as the anesthesia mask hovers over and the screen blurs, fading to black.

Small sidebar: when Arizona walked into Herman’s hospital apartment crying after she had just told a mother that they lost her baby during surgery, and Herman told her to stop it…did anyone else get the urge to yell, “there’s no crying in baseball surgery!” No? Just me?

Until next week.

Do you think Herman will make it through her surgery? Does Amelia have what it takes to get the job done? Don’t miss next week’s episode when it. all. goes. down.