It's difficult to conjure up the words to adequately describe Grey's Anatomy Season 15 Episode 19, and no amount of them could do the hour justice.
The hour was teased as powerful, astounding, and unlike anything the series has presented us with before, and it didn't stray or fall short.
Bottle episodes are hit and miss, but this installment is an example of a bottle episode at its best. It stripped away an often bloated cast and whittled it down to a handful of characters, notably the women.
The focus on Jo Karev and by extension Vicki and Abby -- placing survivors of abuse at the forefront with their stories to tell in different stages of their lives was a wise choice.
Jo is a character who has been around for a long time but lacked substance and an adequate storyline outside of her relationship with Alex.
I was born at Emerson hospital and soon after I was left at a Fire station on 47th Street. I think you're the person who left me. I think you're my mother.Jo
For years, fans have been clamoring for more information on her and craved background exploration for a character who had a difficult life and overcame so much to become the woman she is today.
We caught a glimpse of her story upon the arrival of her abusive husband during Grey's Anatomy Season 14 Episode 9, and it was another instance where Camilla Luddington put on an exceptional performance, but nothing compares to her extraordinary performance during this hour.
At the end of Grey's Anatomy Season 15 Episode 18 we saw Jo was not in the best place after she returned home from Pittsburgh. The worse part about it was how she was shutting out Alex.
The behavior continued when she avoided mentioning anything about her trip no matter how often Alex broached the topic.
However, life has a way of hitting a person hard and making them face things they would rather not. Abby waltzed through those doors shocked, battered, and visibly traumatized, and Jo not only went into action helping this woman, but it likely prompted her to think about her trip to see her birth mother.
While it was evident from the promos Vicki's story would likely be one of rape, it was no less breathtaking to hear the woman reluctantly recount her story.
I actually had to work to calling it rape, to begin with, because I did say yes to the that date, and I did say yes to getting in that car. Someone, somewhere along the way, a man most likely decided they wanted to qualify this word rape be it "date rape," acquaintance rape, somehow it isn't as real unless it happens to a woman running through the park at night or walking down a dark alley. Somehow because I knew him what he took from me didn't matter, but it did. I found a way to hear that; I found a way to believe that, and I found a way to move forward.Vicki
It made every second leading up to the moment when she revealed what happened to her excruciating. You had to wait with bated breath for a gut punch, one which would knock the wind right out of Jo and shift the direction of the meeting.
All one could feel is sympathy for Jo when she stood on Vicki's doorstep, stammered her name, and attempted to state who she was and inquire as to her relation to Vicki. At that moment, the myriad of feelings Jo was experiencing was palpable; Luddington expertly conveyed the awkwardness, excitement, concern, and more.
Every microexpression hit the mark with both Luddington and Forbes as Jo heard the voices of her half-siblings in the background, or Vicki realized she was standing face-to-face with the daughter she had given up.
Jo's crestfallen expression at the stark difference from her lifetime of imagery of how the moment would play out was one of many punches throughout the hour. The same goes for Vicki's horror and panic when Jo's identity sunk in.
Jo helplessly scrambling and pleading with Vicki to give her answers and meet her at a coffee shop for a talk was one of many moments where she was at her most vulnerable.
Jo: Wow. You're just a monster huh.
Vicki: Please sit down.
Jo: You abandoning me wasn't enough you just got to spread the pain around a little bit.
Vicki: Sit down.
Jo: It's my father you're talking about.
Vicki: No it's not. He hurt me.
Jo: I am so sorry that your childhood sweetheart didn't pan out.
Vicki: He hurt me. Please sit down.
Every stylistic choice utilized during the coffee shop scene was superb. Debbie Allen is a visionary and a gift, and we hardly deserve her, but we have her and thus should be eternally grateful.
The loud clanging of dishes and background chatter as Jo nervously awaited Vicki's arrival and the shots of life going on and bustling as usual unbeknownst to the pain and hurt for which Jo was bracing herself, or Vicki felt was particularly notable.
Everything around them was business as usual as the two women sat down and aired out their dirty laundry, telling their stories and stepping into vulnerable places it took years for them to get through even if they still haven't fully overcome them (because how can you?).
Forbes and Luddington both nailed their performances with their body language and delivery.
Vicki walked into the diner a timid, guarded woman so unlike the woman who opened the door when Jo knocked. She slid into the chair across from Jo, and her body language screamed she didn't want to be there at all, but she felt compelled to be there anyway.
She was very closed off and buttoned up, and every movement was as if she was the embodiment of fight or flight -- she wanted to flee the situation, and every furtive glance around indicated it.
Of course you deserved better. I didn't have better to give you.Vicki
Jo was on guard as well, after her rejection -- more rejection from this woman -- so when she came in hot and angry and unleashed the full force of it, you sensed it was years in the making.
We learned more about Jo's background in those few minutes she spit out everything she felt about being abandoned as a child and her terrible life than we have in years.
It was Jo's moment to speak from the position of an abandoned child who was not left at a foster home but rather at a firehouse and who spent her life homeless and in shitty positions.
You could understand Jo's anger upon realizing her birth mother had a seemingly perfect suburban life as an educated career woman with a lawyer for a husband.
It would be easier to make sense of matters if the woman who gave her up was a poor, teenage girl who worked at a minimum-wage job. Only then would Jo have accepted Vicki's bland statement about how Jo deserved better.
The less emotional and affected Vicki came across as she gave basic answers the angrier Jo became and understandably so. You could see the internal battle Vicki had as she determined if she was prepared to unpack her truth and go back to that place.
When she made her choice, everything came to a grinding halt for them (but life continued to carry on around them). Again, Forbes was extraordinary with every line she delivered.
I spent most of my life doubting everyone I ever met. Leaving them before they could lead me. I am a grown woman with a job that I love, and friends that I love and a husband who loves me, and still, still, I was walking around waiting, wondering if you would ever find me. Wondering if you would ever say that I was sorry.Jo
Vicki's despondence as she recounted how her TA assaulted her was raw and real. In certain moments, Vicki would evoke more emotion when reminding herself and Jo how it wasn't her fault.
She spoke like a woman who had gone through extensive therapy and learned how to not only reconcile with what happened but also how to unpack the trauma safely and repack it again.
God, there were many profound quotes about who gets to define rape and why it has to be broken down into so many subsections. I would imagine it was difficult for survivors of acquaintance rape in the '80s. She was right; people associated rape victims with a woman jogging at night, not someone headed to dinner with a friend.
Vicki shared her story and truth with Jo, and she didn't sugarcoat it. It was what Jo asked and wanted to hear, and it's what she received. She knew Jo deserved better, and she knew she would never be better for Jo.
Vicki's description of how she let Jo go was painful, but it was brutally honest. She could never be what Jo needed, and even at the moment, she was a woman barely keeping it together and taking everything day by day.
What was also gratifying about their scene was Vicki could share her story with Jo, and she was not a terrible person for doing the best she could and surviving, but Jo was allowed to be angry and hurt all the same.
It's your choice. It is all your choice.Teddy
Jo sharing more of her story made the moment even more powerful. In the aftermath of Paul's death, she speaks so freely and bluntly about his abuse, and she didn't hold back with Vicki, either.
They spoke as women, not women who shared blood or a bond, but two women who lived hellish lives and came out the other side the best way they knew how.
Abby, this was not your fault. You didn't ask for this. There is nothing you did to deserve this.Teddy
Jo revealing she had an abortion wasn't so much surprising as it was heartbreaking. She knew she could not bring a child into this world with Paul, and it was a brilliant way of showcasing how women have the right to choose what's best for them. Jo and Vicki did what they felt was best for them and their children in different ways.
The way they left things felt unfinished, but it was realistic. I flinched on Jo's behalf when Vicki recoiled from Jo's attempt to hold her hand, but given she stepped into her trauma to share it with Jo, you couldn't fault the woman.
Jo got answers, and it wasn't as simple as Jackson's situation with his father, and it wasn't as pleasant as Maggie's situation with Richard and Meredith.
An then we have Abby. If guest-star Khalilah Joi doesn't get a nomination let alone an Emmy for her guest-starring role, it will be a disservice. She gave such a stunning performance; it brought tears to my eyes.
If you're a long-time Grey's fan who happened to watch Private Practice, Abby's case may have taken you back to another outstanding hour of television where (like this) all involved work extensively with RAINN for the most authentic storytelling for a rape victim, Private Practice Season 4 Episode 7, "Did You Hear What Happened to Charlotte King?"
And make no mistake, that was a remarkable hour, but Abby's case took me back to another underrated female medical drama that (in my opinion) was the Grey's before Grey's; Strong Medicine.
It was the first time as a young person I ever saw a series portray the rape kit process during an episode titled "Rape Kit."
From the moment Abby walked into the hospital to her final moments with her husband, the arc was nothing if not emotional, powerful, and chilling.
We wait and we give Abbie the chance to talk without taking away any more of the agency she already lost.Teddy
The choice of which characters to bring into the fold was perfect. Naturally, it was Jo's hour, and given everything she has endured and how it related to her mother, it was not a question she would be there.
Teddy was a brilliant choice given her experience in the military, of which there are staggering statistics on sexual abuse and rape. Qadri was a fantastic choice as well; she has a quiet presence but also brought it around the point of how it affects all women.
I've seen the process more than once, but the invasiveness of the rape kit process still makes my stomach turn. Grey's Anatomy tended to every detail.
The assault is already a violation, so it's important to give a woman some agency, whatever she's clinging to when performing the procedure. The significance of each "are you ready" followed by Abby's consent was not lost.
Abby had some provocative statements of her own. She captured all the fears and realities of being a survivor of sexual assault. She knew, no matter what she did or said, she couldn't escape the scrutiny of her alcohol intake, her clothes, or body language.
Her one line about how her alcohol intake would be used to indict her and his alcohol consumption would be used to excuse him was striking.
We all know if I do that kit it ends up in the back of some police station ignored for years. While I sit there wondering when a bomb will go off waiting to see if a jury of my peers will believe -- will believe a woman who wore a skirt a few inches too short, who had a few cocktails too many at a bar last night after having a fight about laundry with her husband. And you know the tequila I drank will make it my fault, and whoever did this to me whatever he drink, that'll be his excuse. Is your kit going to convince them I wasn't flirting at the bar? If I give them my story in my underwear will it prove to them or to my husband that I didn't cheat on him or made up some story just to save my own ass? Well, your kit do that?Abby
Abby's battered and bruised body was horrifying, but the unwavering support displayed by Jo and Teddy throughout the ordeal was moving beyond words. Abby clung to Jo, holding her hand throughout the process, and Jo connected to her by sharing her experience with Paul and how unsatisfying it was that he didn't pay for his sins.
Teddy said all the right things, from every reassurance it wasn't her fault to her making sure she felt safe the entire time. I even enjoyed the brief appearance by DeLuca who upon Jo's wording knew he had no place there.
It was an hour where there was no place for the men, and it was OK. It was never more symbolic than when DeLuca kept Richard from passing the doors and didn't bother to elaborate on why the women were allowed to enter but he could not.
He was the perfect male ally at the moment and stepped back when he needed to step back.
However, the most incredible moment was Jo orchestrating the wall of women. Abby was terrified of being put under to go to surgery for her internal bleeding because she saw the face of the man who attacked her every time she closed her eyes.
Jo's response was exemplary; she called the ladies of the hospital to stand in the hallway on Abby's way to surgery to form a wall of women. It was the most spectacular display of sisterhood and solidarity I have seen in a long time.
It was a scene people will be talking about for a long time. The piercing moment was one of television's best, and I will not soon forget it.
It was a scene made more beautiful by knowing many of the people behind the episode were in the crowd seeing Abby, a survivor, through and supporting her in a way only fellow women can.
Teddy: What you did today with Abby that was not protocol.
Jo: I know, I know, and I'm sorry.
Teddy: I'm saying that it should be.
The hour also slipped in some family time with Ben, Miranda, and Tuck. I understand the importance of it and where the series was going, connecting teaching young Tuck about consent and respecting women.
If only more men learned about consent and not to feel entitled to women's bodies, sexual violence wouldn't be so prevalent. It was meant to connect to the story and serve as hope for the future.
It was a great moment, one of which echoed the moment in Grey's Anatomy Season 14 Episode 10 when Ben and Miranda had to give Tuck "the Talk." However, the installment could have done without it. It was jarring every time it veered to the Bailey-Warren family and took us out of the moment.
Ben: Being with someone you like, there is nothing like, and I want you to be safe and happy, but that only happens if she is too.
Ben: Say it. Say it.
Tucker: If she stops having fun then plain stop. Game over. It's over.
Given the heaviness of the hour, maybe a reprieve was necessary.
Over to you, Grey's Fanatics. I've said all I could bring myself to say, and I look forward to reading your thoughts below.
The RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline is 1-899-656-HOPE, or you can go to online.rainn.org.
You can watch Grey's Anatomy online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.