S8E16: One element Grey's Anatomy prides itself on is its ability to make the audience deeply feel for its characters. Grey's won't let us sit idly by, not feeling the emotional pull of each and every character. We've grown to know and love them on their journey as both doctors and regular people, so when they hurt, we hurt as well -- a fact made abundantly clear in this episode.
Normally Shonda Rhimes draws our attention to the younger couples: Callie/Arizona, Mark/Lexie, Cristina/Owen, and of course Meredith/Derek. These pairings have become the major focal point for most of the show's romantic stories, however, this episode temporarily shifted the primary focus away from them and onto Richard and Adele, whose story has thus far been more of a subplot. But with Adele's Alzheimer's worsening, Richard soon realizes he must face one of the toughest decisions any spouse ever has to make. It's a heart-wrenching topic to undertake, however, Grey's handles it will the delicacy and care it deserves, making us root for their happy ending just as much as we have for Meredith and her McDreamy. You might want to have tissues on hand.
"Ever seen a baby that weighs less than a pound?" - Alex
"No because babies that weigh less than 16 ounces don't survive." - Lexie
Lexie joins Arizona and Alex in pediatrics for the day in the hopes of getting a break from Derek's "lost cause" brain patients. However, she finds that everything isn't all pacifiers and cute baby noises in peds when she's assigned to work with Alex on the intern, Morgan's, premature son. The baby is dangerously small and in constant need of observation, which causes Morgan's boyfriend (and the baby's father) to give up based on all the negative odds. He suggests that maybe the baby just wasn't meant to be born, which ends in Morgan kicking him out of her life. And good riddance too, since it looks like things could be heating up with Morgan and Alex somewhere down the line. Now that he's back to being the sweet, adorable Karev we all know and love, it will be easy to get onboard with this pairing. It's about time Alex was shown some love.
"This is sexual harassment - you know that, right?" - April
"I like to think of that as sexual encouragement." - Mark
When an espresso machine explodes in a coffee shop, Meredith and Cristina are assigned to Devin: the victim of the explosion who's hopelessly in love with the coffee shop's barista. However, it turns out she doesn't feel the same way about him, a fact that Cristina makes him aware of in the bluntest way possible. And while this would normally seem like just another insensitive Cristina thing to do, it's very reflective of just how much she's hurting over the whole Owen ordeal. Throughout the episode, she's overcome with the fear that Owen is cheating on her, which quickly grows into an obsession. She, like Devin, can't bear the thought of being forgotten -- something that the old Cristina would have never cared about. This preoccupation shows how much her character has changed since meeting Owen. But as for whether suspicions are actually true, the truth remains unclear. Although, if this distance and lack of communication continues, it could very well be possible.
Meanwhile, Avery accidentally snaps at his patient thanks to his obsession with studying for the boards. This prompts Mark to offer some sage advice: get laid. He even tells April that she and Avery could become something a little more than just study buddies -- an idea she doesn't exactly get too thrilled about. And although this doesn't initially seem like a pivotal plot point, it reveals a significant piece of intel. After Mark tries and tries to pimp Avery out, he confides to Mark that he just can't be with someone right now. And even though he doesn't come out and say it, Mark takes it to mean that he's still in love with Lexie. And since Mark probably still has feelings for Lexie too, that could mean trouble for their newfound bromance. Let's hope not.
"I have Alzheimer's, don't I?" - Adele
Then we come to the most significant story line of the entire episode. After Adele accidentally starts a fire in the kitchen, Richard considers moving her to an assisted living facility. But when they go visit, Adele comments that it's too small for the both of them, especially if they want to start a family. Of course, this is an example of one of her Alzheimer's episodes - in that moment she believes they're a young couple just starting out. Overcome with sadness, Richard changes his mind and immediately takes her home.
But as Adele's condition worsens, it slowly takes a toll on Richard's emotions. Eventually he breaks down crying at the dining room table, literally at a loss of for how to handle his wife's affliction. But then Adele enters the room, fully returned to her cognitive state of mind. She now realizes the extent of her condition and pleads with Richard to let her go to the assisted living facility. He tries to fight it, but she insists, not because she really wants to go, but because she knows it's the best thing for Richard. The fact that they're both trying so hard to do what's right for the other shows just how much love the two of them share. It's downright heartbreaking and proves that there are things even the finest medical surgeons can't prevent. It makes their characters excruciatingly real and truly added an extra layer of value to the relationship - and to the series itself.
What did you think of tonight's episode? Were you pleased to see the Adele-Richard story take center stage? Will a romance spark between Alex and Morgan? Is Avery going to let Lexie know his true feelings? Sound off in the comments or get at me on Twitter @KellyBean0415.