Thursday night’s “Grey’s Anatomy” was a meditation on the difficulties of balancing work and family, and how women almost always shoulder more than their fair burden.
“Grey’s” is usually dismissed as fluff, but it’s one of the few shows on television that allows women to both be devoted to their work and to have families.
Each storyline dealt with women making choices about work and family and dealing with the consequences.
Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) returned to work after her maternity leave. She was determined to both get back in the operating room and make it home in time to have a tea party with Zola. It was all about her fear that she would neglect her children in the pursuit of her career the way that Ellis did with her.
But at the hospital, her two goals proved to be at odds with each other. Cristina (Sandra Oh) agreed to let Meredith scrub in on a heart-liver double transplant. However, Meredith had not read all the relevant research.
While talking to a patient, Ross (Gaius Charles) referred to Cristina as a groundbreaking surgeon and Meredith as a mom. When Zola suffered a cut at daycare, Meredith left to take care of her. She got back late, so Cristina cut Meredith from the surgery in favor of Miranda.
Meredith angrily insisted that she was as good a surgeon as Cristina. Cristina dished out some tough love, telling her that was no longer true since Meredith’s priorities have shifted since she had children. Christina pointed out that neither Callie Torres nor Miranda Bailey cut back on their workload when they had kids.
Meredith no longer pursues research. She does not perform as many surgeries. Cristina told Meredith she made valid choices, but they resulted in her skills falling behind Cristina’s. Meredith was devastated to realize that being the type of mother she wanted to be meant that she could not be the type of surgeon that she wanted to be.
After work, Meredith blamed Derek (Patrick Dempsey) for having his phone turned off when Zola was injured, so Meredith had no choice but to pick her up from daycare. Derek did not understand why she was upset. He was performing surgery, so of course he had his phoned turned off. He did not see how Meredith’s career has been impacted by parenthood, while his has not.
Of course, unlike most mothers, Meredith could afford a full-time nanny, so it truly is up to her to decide whether it’s more important to her to perform cutting-edge surgery or be home in time for tea parties.
Alex’s (Justin Chambers) long-lost junkie father was still in the hospital. Alex was determined to avoid a man who brought him nothing but pain, but Jo (Camilla Luddington) kept encouraging him to introduce himself and attempt to forge a relationship.
She never knew her own father but spent her childhood fantasizing about the perfect dad. So she ended up projecting her own daddy daydreams onto Alex’s dad. She found him a free rehab facility and encouraged him to change his life. Instead, he turned down the spot. Alex and his dad ended up sharing an elevator. He did not even recognize his son. Alex looked tempted to say something, but he let his father leave without a word.
Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) was concerned that she slept with Morgan (Tessa Ferrer) when she got drunk after the gala because Morgan was acting overly friendly. Arizona was not concerned that she may have cheated on Callie again, though they have not discussed whether they are allowed to see other people during the separation, just that she might have hooked up with an intern.
Yet, she was surprised that Callie (Sara Ramirez) was frosty towards her when she handed her the mortgage bill for the condo that Arizona was now living in by herself. As it turned out, all Arizona and Morgan did was eat grilled cheese sandwiches. But Morgan was clearly interested in more.
After advising a woman who was conceived to be her sister’ bone marrow donor that she was not obligated to donate a kidney to her sister decades later, Callie got up the courage to kick Arizona out of the apartment. She celebrated her independence by dancing alone in her underwear.
Stephanie (Jerrika Hinton) wanted to make a good impression on Katherine (Debbie Allen). Unfortunately, before she could introduce herself, Katherine caught her and Jackson having sex in the on-call room. Katherine decided Stephanie was a tramp who was unworthy of her precious son.
Stephanie dug herself an even deeper hole when she sought Katherine’s assistance with her patient, a man with numerous bee stings on his penis who concocted an obviously bogus explanation for how it happened. Katherine quickly gets the man to admit he deliberately stuck it in a hornets nest.
Stephanie missed the signs that his bladder was about to burst. Stephanie ended up making an impassioned speech about how much she admired Katherine, and how she knows it looks like she has no self-respect, but that there is far more to her than her sex life. She managed to win Katherine over.
Richard (James Pickens Jr.) was still weak and depressed. Katherine told Richard she was not going to coddle him. Her tough love worked. Richard once again assumed the role of the hospital’s unofficial dad. He lectured Murphy on how to examine and treat him, and decided to remain in the hospital, where he could continue training the interns, rather than recuperate in luxury with Katherine.