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An Explosive Cliffhanger Leaves Stephanie's Fate In Question On Grey's Anatomy

A disturbed patient holds Stephanie hostage, but is it the episode's most disturbing moment?

Huh. I didn't expect that to happen.

I don't usually say that while watching Grey's. But then, there were several moments in the latest episode when I didn't feel as if I was actually watching Grey's. Sure, Grey's has had every possible disaster occur: bombs, crazed gunmen, drownings, earthquakes, mudslides...you name it. So a hostage situation and a fire should be rather tame, considering. And yet, the tense pacing, close camera work, and well-plotted storytelling made it feel a little out of control. It's as if the Grey's writers took a page out of Scandal's playbook.

I suppose I could just be a little in thrall to a tense -- and dare I say exciting -- episode after a rather lackluster season, and am over-praising it a bit. Maybe. But I can't deny this is a really good episode in a somewhat upsetting way. Let's rank the moments from least to most disturbing.

  1. She's Alive!

    Two military personnel, one a chaplain, appear on Owen's doorstep with news about his long-missing, presumed dead sister. Well, she's been presumed dead by Owen and Nathan. The viewing audience? Not so much. We don't actually hear what the officials say, because as they're talking, Owen immediately zones out into a befuddled fugue state, complete with hazy camera action, and stays there for a while.

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    We are left hanging for a good fifteen minutes before we actually find out whether Megan is still alive. Theoretically, it was possible that the show would actually surprise us and pronounce her dead. But nah, Grey's knows its lane. Yes, Megan is alive.

    Since Owen can't process this news, Amelia becomes his support system and springs into action. She confirms that it really is Megan, learns that she is in a German hospital -- where Teddy Altman (!!) has spoken to her -- and also speaks flawless German.

    Since Megan has been held prisoner and probably tortured for ten years, her return won't be a case where she swans in à la Addison and gives a variation on the infamous "you must be the woman who's been screwing my husband" line. But she will definitely be another bump in the already rocky road to the Meredith/Nathan pairing.

  2. Alex Goes On A Trip, And Starts Trippin'
    Alex has tracked down Jo's husband, Dr. Stadler, played by a slick-looking Matthew Morrison. He just radiates domestic abuser with his oh-so-coiffed hair, blush-colored shirt (oddly flattering), and shady eyes. Alex stares moodily at Stadler across the lobby of the hotel before making his move: he befriends Stadler, and they pound some beers, have multiple shots of whisky, high-five a lot, and basically become the best of bro-dudes. Until they stagger out of the hotel bar drunkenly as Stadler complains about his "bitch" of a girlfriend and basically gives off more abuser vibes.

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    Alex, suddenly stone sober, pushes Stadler against a wall, and introduces himself as a friend of "Brooke Stadler," the doctor's wife. (Jo's real name!) Alex then proceeds to beat the ever-loving shit out of Dr. Abuser. This is a rage-induced ass whoopin', ten times worse than what Alex did to DeLuca. Dr. Abuser is hamburger meat on the ground with his natty pink shirt now speckled with blood. Police appear, and we get a quick cut to Alex in jail. At this point, my mouth is agape and I ask myself, "What the hell am I seeing right now?"

    But wait: it's a fake-out. None of that really happens. The scene shifts right back to Alex sitting in his chair in the hotel lobby, staring at Dr. Abuser and apparently still mulling his approach. After one more scene of Alex raining vengeance on Dr. Abuser -- another fake-out (I admit I was fooled again), it turns out that Alex never does anything, and Dr. Abuser leaves the conference to go catch a plane. However, Alex's Walter Mitty-esque fantasies rage monster are as gripping as they are shocking, and I imagine that, like Megan, Dr. Stadler will be showing up at Grey-Sloan very soon.

  3. He's Not My Lover, He's My Rapist
    A couple arrives at the hospital after police find their car at the bottom of a ravine. Since both are initially unconscious, the doctors all speculate about what happened. Given the state of the pair's clothing -- they're both partially undressed -- the doctors all conclude that it was car sex gone comically wrong. Stephanie makes a joke about "premature acceleration," since it appears one of them inadvertently stepped on the gas during their tryst. Bailey opines that "people need to get busy where God intended: parking lots, where it's flat." Jackson and Maggie debate whether it was true love versus sex: Maggie decides it's true love, but Jackson scoffs that this is "emergency sex and they were too damn horny to remember the emergency brake." Even Eliza and Arizona weigh in.

    The male half of the couple, Keith, wakes up first, and seems to confirm the true romance angle. He is desperately in love with Alison and wants to be the first person she sees when she wakes up. He convinces Stephanie, who conspiratorially decides to wheel him to see her, of his devotion to Alison.

    But Alison awakens and tells a horrified Bailey and Jackson that Keith is just some strange man who got in her car, held a knife to her throat, and tried to rape her. She is the one who stepped on gas, determined she would not be his victim.

    Bailey alerts security...as Jackson realizes that Stephanie is alone with that man.

  4. Stephanie's Quest For Fire
    The final quarter is what elevates this episode to be one of the best of the season.

    As Stephanie wheels Keith toward his "true love," she notices all the security movement. A passing intern tells her that one of the patients attacked a woman, and that they're looking for him. Realizing the jig is up, Keith -- who had hidden a scalpel on his person -- jumps up from his wheelchair, holds it to Stephanie's neck, and threatens to kill her. Now, Keith has a liver laceration and should be debilitated. Stephanie could easily have taken him via a quick elbow jab or kick in the midsection, imo. But he has crazy eyes, determination, and a scalpel. Therefore, I'll let the plot fairies have this one for a minute.

    Stephanie maneuvers Keith down a stairwell, where they hustle off into another floor. However, by now Bailey has called a code orange and the building is locked down. Stephanie is trapped with this monster -- which is a positive thing: now she has some time to strategize and possibly wait for Keith to bleed out.

    But the plot fairies are working overtime. Steph and Keith are not alone. A little girl named Erin is trapped with them, and instead of working to get herself free, Steph has to now protect her.

    Myself, I would have left that little hellspawn on her own. Erin is at Grey-Sloan because her parents brought in her baby sister for choking on a penny. While her mother is preoccupied with the baby, Erin's father -- who is supposed to be watching Erin -- ignores her and spends most of his time glued to his phone. Hence, Erin wanders around the hospital, opening drawers and pulling out syringes, pushing all the buttons on the elevators, and messing around with X-rays. Meredith wrangles the kid a couple of times, hilariously pointing out the merits of investing in a good nanny.

    By now, Keith is desperate to get off the floor they are trapped on. Stephanie tells him that nothing short of a fire will override a lockdown. His eyes get just a bit crazier when he hears this and looks around for something to start a fire.

    Erin helpfully finds a flint spark lighter just lying around. Gee, thanks Erin. Keith gets busy with some handy rubbing alcohol and his sparker. However, Stephanie finally sees her chance. Telling Erin to turn her back and close her eyes, Steph douses Keith with the alcohol. A stray spark lights him on fire.

    I am so happy and hyperventilating and cheering that at first I don't realize why Stephanie later runs toward Keith instead of away from him: he's near an oxygen tank that explodes seconds later.

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    Steph is caught in the blast. Damn you, plot fairies!

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