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The Doctors Of Grey's Anatomy Become Enmeshed In An Emotional Cell Block Tangle

Jo tries to bond, Arizona gets judgey, and Bailey is completely out of her element during a house call at the big house.

Arizona is needed to consult in the case of a pregnant inmate. The woman's fetus is showing evidence of a rare condition called TRAP syndrome; the prison is ill equipped to deal with it, and the only way Arizona can see the prisoner is to go to the prison because for plot reasons the prisoner can't be transported to the hospital. And since a good way to deal with a large ensemble cast is to break them up into small working groups once in a while, Jo and Bailey tag along.

You know what? I am here for this. I like it when Grey's tries to do something a little different. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I think this one largely works because even if I do think that our three intrepid doctors didn't actually show themselves to best advantage in this one, the three guest actresses are all fantastic. But that is beside the point. This is Grey's Anatomy goes to prison! Of course it needs to include all sorts of prison-y things or else what's the point?

Let's rank the stand-out prison-y moments from maximum security to work release.

  1. The Rock
    How do you know you are in a prison? The first person you encounter is the granite-faced guard who has no time for Arizona's friendly greeting talk.

    ABC

    ABC

    Nor, apparently, for full sentences because he speaks in terse commands which I imagine come out of his mouth in all caps. "NAME?," "INMATE NAME?," and "AGAINST THE WALL!" he barks, barely letting them speak in full sentences either. He is tough and has a mean side-eye. And he is just the welcoming committee.

  2. The Green Mile
    Bailey, Jo, and Arizona meet with the prison doctor, Dr. Eldredge, another hard case like the guard, who walks them through the prison hospital ward. This part is so extra! We get treated to dark ominous music; an inmate in full leg and waist shackles growls like an animal as they walk past. The woman actually says "Grrr!" I howl in response. We get close-ups of feral-looking women in locked rooms with signs that say things like "violent and volatile" and "high escape risk." The three from Grey Sloan all take it in with wide-eyed trepidation.
  3. Caged Heat
    The pregnant inmate is actually a minor named Kristen Rochester. She is a "K-10" prisoner, which means she's either a murderer or super-violent gang member or something equally sinister -- basically she did something really, really bad. We are told she is separated for the safety of the other prisoners. We get an immediate crash course in Kristen. She and Dr. Eldredge practice their thousand-yard stares at each other until the disparity in power causes her to finally give in. Seeing she has an audience of fresh newbie meat with the doctors of Grey Sloan, she moves to wheedling manipulation. Finally, when that gets her nowhere she explodes into violence, attacking Dr. Fletcher, breaking the doctor's finger. This results in Kristen being strapped down and shackled to the bed, all the while writhing and screaming.

    ABC

    ABC

    Kristen is 100% pure women-in-prison perfection. She effortlessly moves from sweet to psycho back to sweet in no seconds flat.

  4. Cool Hand Luke
    Well.

    ABC

    ABC

    Yeah, I'm just gonna leave that there.

  5. Stir Crazy
    Bailey is out of sorts and completely out of her element. She wigs out about being somehow trapped inside forced to become an inmate on trumped up charges. She deplores the conditions of the place, but not in a social justice way, but rather in a social snobbery way. She loses a dominance challenge by Kristen. Basically this is not a good look on Bailey. I imagine a lot of people would act like this in a maximum security prison, but somehow I expected better of Bailey given all the traumatic things she's had to deal with.
  6. Monster's Ball
    This is where we go from prison story straight back into Grey's soapy territory. The plan is for Kristen's mother to adopt the baby once it is born. And it has been prearranged through Kristen's kickass lawyer that her mother be there during the delivery. Arizona's consult and quick procedure turns into early labor (of course it does), and Kristen's mother is called. Except...she doesn't want to see Kristen and doesn't want Kristen to know she's there. She just wants the baby. Arizona just doesn't understand how the mother can turn her back on her daughter. Speaking of the baby, she asks, "Will you turn on this one when she makes a mistake?" Arizona gets incredibly judgey and passive-aggressive with the mother, and I get it: this is a young girl who is giving birth and wants her mother. But this the story of a white, female minor from an affluent family who is serving twenty years to life in a maximum security prison, where she is considered one of the more violent inmates. Our justice system is predisposed to be lenient toward people who fit this profile, so the fact that she is there shapes the story.
  7. Shawshank Redemption

    Jo's woe face makes multiple appearances as she attempts to understand and bond with Kristen. This gets unintentionally funny as Jo brings out her 'hood bona-fides, telling Kristen that she also had a crappy life -- bad foster homes, petit larceny, and living in cars. But Kristen is all cynical sneers and deflates Jo with the revelation that she grew up in the lap of luxury -- island home, tony private school and loving mother. But still, having managed to tell Jo some of her younger happy memories, she does let her guard down and we get a glimpse of the younger, happier girl she was before she did whatever it was that landed her in prison. There is a sweet very Grey's moment, where she looks at her child lovingly and cries before handing her over to the guards. For a few minutes, even Dr. Eldredge's hard edges soften.

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