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Do The Physician Instructors On Grey's Anatomy Deserve Failing Grades?

And other questions sparked by the latest episode, like are we surprised Meredith's file is thicker than everyone else's?

Meredith is largely missing in action in this episode. Did we miss her?

The show is called Grey's Anatomy, after all, and Meredith is indisputably the lead character. Arguably, the show could not exist without her. But I can honestly say that I didn't really miss her. In fact, I barely realized she was absent for most of the hour. Everyone else steps up to the plate so ably, effortlessly carrying a strong episode that moves briskly and kept me interested in all the storylines. Her two smallish scenes are completely in service of supporting Alex, and work well as bookends to the episode. But overall, I think Meredith's absence actually makes the episode stronger.

Do we need to start seriously considering that Alex and Jo are really, truly over?

Up to this point, my assumption has been that Alex and Jo are on the obligatory couple-in-crisis break. I just figured we'd get a series of anguished looks, and then finally that one conversation that opens the door to reconciliation only for the reconciliation to derail again once Alex learns about Jo's past. But this episode is making me rethink some of that. It definitely feels like the possible Jo/DeLuca romance has become more probable. Pretty much every scene DeLuca is in also includes Jo in some way. There is also an expression on his face as he watches Jo and Alex talking in the stairwell that telegraphs that there are burgeoning feelings involved. Also, his assertion that Alex is a "bad guy" and that Jo deserves a "good guy" -- delivered in a soft voice, complete with a side of doe eyes -- leads me to believe that their pairing is being amped up. Additionally, Jo and Alex's body language while they are in each other's presence feels more like indifference than angst. And finally, Alex's wistful desire to have Sunday waffles with his "family" includes only the Meredith-Maggie-Amelia twisted sister trio, and very definitely does not include Jo. So yeah, I think we need to start looking for a fork to stick in this.

Is the tendency for the medical cases to act as revelatory moments for the doctors overdone at this point, or simply part of the fabric of the show?

I can't dispute that I get a little exasperated about how often the medical cases act as some sort of mirror reflecting the doctors' own reality back to them. The case of the chatty pregnant woman who has a rash on her hands that turns out to be an indicator of pancreatic cancer is rather sad and scary. I know that it's beyond stupid to use Grey's as a diagnostic tool, but man, I totally started checking my body for rashes. But then again, I also let WebMD convince me that my eight-year-old kid had a hernia. (He didn't.) But even in all its inherent sadness, this case was more about Alex's role in the hospital, him knowing his place, and even his relationship with Meredith. I felt metaphorical anvils falling on my head during Alex's conversation with the pregnant woman's male best friend/baby daddy.

However, the second case -- with Road Rage Bob and his poor son Robbie -- is an example of why this convention works so effectively. The car accident that brought them in is a result of Road Rage Bob's reckless need to get back at someone who cut him off in traffic. All Robbie wanted was for his dad to take him to buy comic books. Having Robbie -- who seemed okay, having only presented with a minor head laceration -- die unexpectedly from an underlying condition is almost a given. However, it's Amelia's reaction to the loss of this child and having to witness his mother's grieving that leads to one of the episode's most powerful and gratifying scenes. Her quiet confession to Alex about her misgivings about having children would not have worked so well without her interaction with Robbie and his parents that led her to that point.

Is Catherine's assertion about the bad teaching a good development?

I think it is a great development! One of the frustrations I sometimes have with the show is that too much of the personal drama is mined from either romantic relationships or big traumatic events.

Catherine's critique also offers an opportunity for Richard to have a meaningful storyline of the sort he hasn't had since Adele died. It's also a great way to incorporate Catherine in a manner that doesn't require her to be just a meddling grandmother or smothering parent. I really enjoyed her scenes with Bailey and the fact that, when she accused Bailey of being lenient with the doctors, she brought receipts! Ahem, Benjamin Warren.

And while I was not at all thrilled to have Leah Murphy return, using her return and the circumstances of her leaving as the catalyst for this is really quite clever. The instructors may not match it, but this is a grade A episode.

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