[Mary H.K. Choi is the founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Missbehave magazine and currently writes for TheAwl. She will be bringing her love of superhero comic books and action movies to bear on this season of Grey's Anatomy, which is neither, admittedly, a superhero comic book nor an action movie.]
HOLY SHIT, this episode of Grey’s Anatomy was AWESOME! And it wasn’t even because everyone peeled their clothes off in a feverish daze and conjoined in a festival of carnality like the bloody orgy scene in the Sam Neill space epic Event Horizon or anything. This episode was HELLA suspenseful, with 80 percent more thunder, and MURDER. OK, so that last bit is maybe not that impressive since at this point, these scrub-clad screw-ups should be forced to paint spirals on their faces and call themselves Jigsaw because they like to make the death so much. Or at least hold a sickle with a bell around their neck so we know they’re coming.
Kinda like a classic Alias episode (classic in the sense that it is in either season 1 or 2), we open with something bad already going on and in a full-blown cliffhanger moment. Somebody gets killed and finding whodunnit is like a roleplaying parlor game like Clue, except it’s not the butler or Colonel Mustard or Daphne from Frazier it’s one of the surgeons and trying to discover who immediately sets off an gratifying game of mentally taking a hit out on someone and rooting really, really hard that they get offed. It’s basically exactly like The Running Man were it not for like, four or five things that make it very different and yes, I have to learn some new things so I can make metaphors that don’t need special punctuation. ANYWAY, the chief is still on his taking-names game and doesn’t allow anyone to leave his hospital before he gets to the bottom of it.
Guess who I was voting for? All my hopes and dreams bore down on the weak shoulders of that asshat with the notebook and the face that has no face. You know, the white girl whose name is April. A name that is pretty and unmemorable like a piece of paper with a flower drawn on it in pencil. Anyway, her. I want her gone. You know she’s not even there to make friends or anything, she’s there to win and I just don’t appreciate the attitude in this economy.
There’s a huge trauma. A massive hotel fire. And as if to flout reason, it’s POURING rain on some water-water-everywhere-but-not-a-drop-to-drink shit and it’s galling and spooky like a special Halloween episode. And life, that BASTARD, keeps going. The stone-cold ethnically ambiguous fox who you just know has these perfectly symmetrical areolae [cue "tune in Tokyo" hands], Dr. Jackson Avery, is STILL cute and Dr. Alex Karev the day-old chopped-liver that Izzie left last episode still reels like a Catherine Wheel from Katherine Heigl wanting a sabbatical to bond with her brand new Asian baby in real life. Later, the two dudes fight and it’s hot.
Becker, a female burn victim comes in with her son. Her son is maybe five and blonde and wearing camouflage like their family is in the lowest tax bracket but we know immediately they’re not poor because the mom is really kind and understanding. She feels fine and waves off most of the attention after her son’s health is confirmed especially since one dude gets rolled in with an axe in his throat and another is screaming because over 70 percent of his skin looks like socarrat which is the crust that paella makes if you spring for the really good pan. Sloan has to slice up his arms in order for the meat to get air.
The trauma wing is crazytown and everyone is tending to someone. Yang is initially administering to Ms. Becker until Bailey needs her on the axe-neck guy and Yang pawns Becker off to Dr. Reed Adamson, the Mercy Wester with the pixie haircut and Dr. April “no face” Kepner who is also from Mercy West. Then Adamson and Kepner pawn her off to Sloan for a plastic surgery consult and he pawns her off to Little Grey for wound cleaning just as Cro Magnon from Mercy West (a.k.a. Charlie) attempts to pluck the axe from the Adam’s apple of the dude and passes out from having given blood earlier that day. Ugly caveman guy falls on his over-pronounced brow which splits open like overripe stone fruit JUST AS IT SHOULD because, let’s face it, the genes that built that thing need not proliferate and they fucking know it.
Bailey tells Karev to stitch Ugly up. What she should’ve done is told Karev to stitch him up but FIX it like that one episode where Bailey and Yang and George mess up the HUGE SWASTIKA on the torso of that one racist EMT many seasons ago. Karev is majorly distracted because he still hasn’t talked to Izzie and stalk-calls her and her mom like a million times and you can see his lady-hitting arm twitch like it needs something to do.
Then Becker complains of chest pain and still NO ONE has claimed her as their patient. Yang, thinking that she’s covering for Alex, gives her morphine. Ray the fireman of thirty-some-odd-years comes in on a stretcher because in order to help paella guy he somehow slipped and fell off his ladder. Sloan and Arizona are still with paella guy and they want Little Grey to talk to him about living in Seattle and distract him from the pain except she starts bawling and blubbering like an imbecile because paella guy might hurt on the outside but she hurts on the inside. Little Grey gets kicked out of the room. Then we start totally wringing our hands and furrowing our brows thinking that she’s the one who killed someone. This is only fortified when Becker can’t breathe and Little Grey gets to her first but CAN’T fix her pneumothorax by getting the tube into her 5th intercostal space and not puncture her diaphragm because she’s stalling and shaking and Dr. NewHottie has to do it for her because she totally forgot a step.
Ray the fireman starts coding and Adamson shocks him back to life. Then Becker’s kid fools around with the EKG paddles and Cristina screams on him. This is typical Yang who is bad at children and their development. The kid should’ve just played with the things because what’s better than a friendly electrocution to learn EKG paddles are not a plaything.
Then Becker still can’t breathe. Adamson and Ugly try to intubate but her airwaves are swollen. Karev, who just right then finally gets Izzie on the phone demands to know when she’s coming home. In the corner of his eye, he sees that Becker is fishing out like a Nitrous huffier, waffles between the wife and the medicine and finally chooses the medicine and runs to Becker to crike her. This involves praying that he “not cut the corotid”, sticking his tongue out like he’s Jordan and making a lot of moist squelching sounds while he roots around with a scalpel in this lady’s neck. He gets in and saves her. Good shit.
But life is life and despite the morphine, despite the chest tube, despite the crike, despite it all Becker starts coding. Every single one of her organs fail. Every resident and attending bands together to try to help this woman whose child is kind of a shit and wandering around the hospital, yet they all fail. She dies but her memory lives on in the mondo epic lawsuit that her husband will file on Chief’s chaos monster of a hospital.
Nobody can call the time of death because nobody has claimed her as their patient. After a flashing montage of different, negligent blame shifting heads, and more grueling chief questions, Adamson figures it out. From her bird chest comes the ominous words, “I know what happened. I know why she died.”
I KNOW!!!!! HOW GOOD IS THIS EPISODE? SOOOOOO GOOD.
At that point, Adamson comes out and tearily starts apologizing to April and even though we don’t know what happened we start whooping like a lunatic because our horse has come in and our number is drawn and we are going to WIN so April can die. It’s sooooo tense. Chief, that scary bastard with his magical career-ending capabilities, start blitzkreiging her with questions, and she can’t answer them. She stutters. She sweats. Like a Byzantine mosaic, they piece together the intricate narrative but OH GAWD if it’s not hard and OH MAN the night’s been long and harrowing and THEN and ONLY THEN do we figure it out. And how simple it is.
April, like a long-armed mongoloid had forgotten the most basic lesson of med school. She never checked her patient’s throat! PSHAWW! In her zealous rubber-necking of axe-neck guy, she neglected to check Becker’s airway. Had she done this one simple thing she would’ve found soot. Soot that later worked its way through her system and killed her. Soot that in turn saved us. From every having to look on this girl’s amnesia-inducing face again or ever having to learn more boring shit about her. Thank you Grey’s Anatomy, you win BIG this week.