Bailey's centric hour ended in tragedy.
Bailey's mother succumbed to COVID-19 on Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 5, while Mer's health improved and Tom survived for now.
Join Meaghan Frey, Jasmin Pettie, Berea Orange, and Jasmine Blu as they discuss the hour.
Despite misleading promos, Tom lives! For now. React!
Meaghan: I am thrilled that he is and that he didn't kick the bucket. It was far too soon to lose Tom from our lives. His near-death experience gave us that Teddy and Tom scene that I never knew I needed until we were in the thick of it.
Despite how awful Teddy has been, I could get on board with her and Tom giving it another go. The only thing that I can't get past, though, is the fact that both he and Meredith cannot survive. Obviously, in the real world, they both could as they are healthy adults, but not in the world of Grey's Anatomy.
I'm still on team Meredith is going to die, and this episode did nothing to sway my thinking. They made it clear that the only way people get into this clinical trial is if someone else dies, so I think that Meredith will die as Tom is declining, and he will get her spot in the trial.
Jasmin: I'm glad that Tom lived because I really like him as a character, but the whole thing felt very anti-climactic to me. I was expecting more action! I like Tom and Teddy as a couple, so I'm also hoping that they reconcile and get back together at some point.
I'm not sure where they're going with this 'let's be friends' plot. We'll see how long that lasts.
I don't think Meredith will die because, as I said before, if that was the plan, I think they would have introduced this plot later on in the season. It's also possible that they are faking us out with Tom and making it seem like he's okay when in reality, something is about to happen.
Berea: I’m so happy Tom is doing better! I’m just unsure about being too happy because I’ll never forget Mark’s “surge” right before he died. I hope he stays healthy and fights this.
I also enjoyed the scene with Teddy because I was always Team Tom in that triangle. I was just tired of her putting him through everything.
Jasmine: I'm thrilled Tom survived. I adore him, but it was anti-climatic AF. No one else outside of Teddy genuinely cared, and it took a backseat to everything with Bailey. I'm also worried it could be a Mark repeat.
It's no secret how much I loved Tom and Teddy, so their moment reminded me of that, but I just need Teddy to treat Tom better than she has. I'm tired of waiting on her to be a better character, or at least the Teddy I used to enjoy.
On a scale of 1-10, how emotional and/or devastating was Bailey's journey leading up to her mother's death?
Meaghan: To be honest, not as emotional as I thought it would be, so I will give it a 7. Chandra did an incredible job taking on this journey with Bailey, but the problem for me was that it all came on so fast.
We were given the news about Alzheimer's and COVID so quickly that there wasn't enough time for the storyline to warm up and take off in the way that I would have hoped.
Perhaps that was the point, though. COVID has taken so many people from their families before anyone had the chance to even process what was going on. I just wish that we had gotten at least one more episode to see this play out over.
Jasmin: On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give Bailey's journey with her Mom this episode an 8. It tore me up, and I teared up at all of the parts of that storyline.
But because we learned that Bailey's Mom suffered from Alzheimer's in this episode and then she died, it didn't pack the emotional punch I think it could have if we'd had more lead up. I agree with Meaghan on that, and I also agree that Chandra did a fantastic job!
Berea: I’ll give it 7. As Meaghan said, the whole story happened so quickly. I sort of wish it was at least two episodes before they killed her, sort of like Maggie’s arc with her mom’s illness. Chandra, as always, did a fabulous job. I just wish all of Bailey’s centrics weren’t so tragic (but I guess most centrics are).
Jasmine: I'll give it an 8. Chandra Wilson owned this entire episode, and as per usual, her performance was superb.
But I do agree with the rest of you about how they dropped everything on us in one episode. I also wish they had taken more time with it (though, I get the point). We never got to know her mother well, and then they surprised us with her suffering from Alzheimer's, something Bailey never told anyone before, and BOOM, she's dead.
I also agree about depressing centric episodes. Bailey is always going through it. Leave her alone!
Were you surprised to learn that Bailey's mother battled Alzheimer's too? What are your thoughts about her moment in the dreamscape with Meredith?
Meaghan: Only that a main character hid such a huge secret from the rest of the characters and the audience. That feels like a trend on Grey's Anatomy the past couple of seasons -- Telling us instead of showing us.
They did it last season when all of a sudden Richard had a hip replacement that we never saw him get or heard about, and it almost killed him. It relies too much on the "shock" factor instead of natural storytelling.
I did like the beach sequence with Bailey and Mer. It was beautifully done, and Ellen and Chandra both did a great job. I did love that she confided in Meredith and recognized she should have talked to her about it sooner because Mer would know what she was going through.
Jasmin: I agree that on the most recent few seasons, the show has been relying a bit too much on telling rather than showing. I often felt in Grey's Anatomy Season 15 that they told us stuff that they should have shown us and showed things they could have just told us quickly.
While I think they have improved upon that significantly, there are moments like this one where it does creep back in. I think having a least an episode of lead-up or some hints dropped before her Mom's appearance would have helped. I also loved the beach sequence and the scene in Meredith's hospital room. That got me.
Berea: Yes, you guys! There has been WAY too much storytelling off-screen in recent seasons, and the show has honestly suffered because of it. When they just tell the audience, it doesn’t have the same effect.
This whole thing with Bailey is interesting because I saw someone say Grey’s is just recycling storylines now, and this keeps proving to be true. Yes, it was sad and surprising to find out Bailey’s mom had Alzheimer’s, and she hadn’t told anyone, but that’s exactly what Meredith did.
Mer was the perfect person for Bailey to have opened up to about her mom’s illness, and I really enjoyed their beach scene. I love their friendship moments that go past mentor and mentee.
Jasmine: YES! I agree with you all. They have a terrible habit of tellings us random things when it suits the plot when they never showed us any of it. It's number one in storytelling, show, don't tell. It drives me nuts!
And yes, I adore it when Bailey and Mer have genuine friendship moments, so the beach scene was one of the best of them all, and it was about Bailey and not Mer.
Do you think Maggie was the best person to support Bailey during this devastating time? Did you enjoy their scenes together?
Meaghan: No, I really don't think so. It feels like they are just throwing characters at the wall and trying to make them stick with Bailey at this point. Last week Owen, this week Maggie.
Another thing that makes me think that Mer isn't making it through this season, and they are trying to figure out if they could continue the show without her. Mer and Richard are the only people who have a connection with Bailey left on the show at this point, so it is like they are trying to see if they could find a substitute for Mer in that department.
The right person for Bailey to go to would have been Richard. He dealt with Adele having dementia, so he would have been able to support her in that aspect. While Maggie did lose her mother to a horrible disease like Bailey was losing her own, it just didn't hit in the way it was intended, for me at least.
Jasmin: While I agree that Richard and Meredith, along with Ben, were the best people to support Bailey, I did like the park scene with her and Maggie. It felt real and authentic in the way they talked about their struggles both with losing a parent and as Black female surgeons. I liked that the dialogue was clearly drawn from real-life experiences.
How, how do I tell my dad that the love of his life won't make it through the night?Bailey
Berea: I have to disagree with Meaghan. Maggie was THE perfect person to support Bailey during this time. They already have a friendship they’ve been building over the years. When Maggie found out about Diane’s illness, she was so upset because it was too late and not much she could do about it.
Bailey was also upset that no one told her her mother was sick. Additionally, Ellis was Maggie’s mother, who also had Alzheimer’s, something she wasn’t around for and had no control over. She can relate to Bailey’s pain in more than one way.
I really enjoyed their scene in the park. It was so important to Black women to hear a dialogue that’s just so relatable. This is another reason I love their friendship because Maggie can connect with Bailey in a way she doesn’t necessarily connect with Meredith and Amelia.
Jasmine: I, too, thought Maggie was the perfect person for many of the reasons Berea mentioned above.
Bailey had special moments with the three people still at the hospital who could comfort her through all of that, Mer, Richard, and Maggie. I also think that Bailey and Maggie are very similar in ways that fall under the radar, so it was lovely to hear them bring up some of them while recalling their experiences growing up.
Maggie was the same person there for Bailey during her heart attack and advocating for her like a Boss, so there's this sisterhood they share, unlike what Maggie gets from her sisters or Bailey gets from others.
My biggest critique would probably be that the park bench scene was a smidge too long. But other than that, I enjoyed their moments together. And some of their dialogue resonated with me.
How do you feel about Jo's new career change into OB?
Meaghan: It feels very sudden. She delivers one baby, and now she is going to up and change the entire course of her career.
This obviously isn't the first time we have seen this on Grey's before. We saw it when Mer decided to pursue general surgery over neuro, when Arizona switched to fetal surgery, and when Ben went from anesthesiologist to surgeon to firefighter. All of those made sense. This wasn't given time to make sense.
I actually thought that Jo was going to decide to do doctors without borders type of thing after the intern, whose name I can't recall, pointed out how incredible it was that she could do what she does when in so many places in the world that isn't possible. Instead, she is going to give up something she is truly amazing at that can so save so many people, to pursue a specialty on a whim.
Jasmin: I think it's the dumbest thing ever, and it makes no sense to me. It came out of nowhere!
Jo spent years being with and then married to the Head of Pediatric Surgery and was decidedly lukewarm on the idea of having kids or even being near them. And now she and Alex split up, and in the wake of that, she randomly decides she wants to be an OBGYN and deliver babies?
When those other doctors switched, as Meaghan said, they gave us an explanation. Meredith changed because Derek couldn't handle it. Arizona switched because she wanted a new challenge in an emerging field. I don't know why Ben switched, but they built it up over time enough that I was able to accept it.
Jackson: Why are you being so weird about it? It's about sex, isn't it?
The Doctors Without Borders idea is cool, and I honestly wish they'd gone with that. I also feel like Hayes should have been there because it was a Peds case, and if Jo wants to re-specialize, it would make sense for her to talk to Carina or Hayes.
This confuses me even more because Carina’s a main character on Station 19 and is still reoccurring on Grey’s, so she can talk to her for an episode or two, but any more than that, and I think that would fall under Hayes purview because he’s a main character. But he’s currently MIA, and we don’t know why.
Berea: I don’t care that much about Jo or her career choice, but it makes a little sense to me, actually. Jo has been in her “woe is me” funk, and she was looking for a little joy in her life. Amid all the death surrounding covid, she got a bit of happiness when she delivered that baby, so why not continue to chase that high?
I guess I’m in the minority for liking the change, but I never understood why she was in general in the first place. We have enough general surgeons.
To Jasmin’s point, I don’t think Hayes had any place in that story. Peds and Obstetrics are two different specialties. Plus, this was just her first time getting the thought, so I don’t think a whole consultation with him and Carina was necessary this time. However, I do hope she works more with Carina eventually. Hopefully, this makes Jo interesting.
Jasmine: I'm of the "it doesn't make sense, wtf?" camp.
Jo got into General because she was trying to impress and be like Meredith. Before that, she was interested in Neuro, I think, or was it Cardio? She's had ample time between being with Alex and the many times over the years she's been on Peds cases to show interest in this, but somehow, she was acting as if this was a new revelation.
I guess if we're basing it on how she behaved with the abandoned baby last year, that served as the build-up. I don't know.
What I do know is that it did nothing for me. Jo brings out the cranky in me when it comes to many of her storylines. In this case, I couldn't bring myself to care and thought the screentime could've gone elsewhere. But we'll see what happens.
Who was the MVP of the hour? What was your favorite scene or quote?
Meaghan: Bailey. Like I said before Chandra did amazing throughout this episode. Even if I didn't love the storytelling, she sold it. My favorite scene would have to go to the beach scene. I thought it was extremely well-executed and a great way to keep Mer involved in the storylines when she otherwise wouldn't be.
Mer: I can be your tree.
Bailey: My mother has alwheimer's. I never told you because she's older and I didn't want to bring up any old pain for you and Richard. But it would be a lot to say that it hasn't been hard or painful. Even as a doctor who knows the diseason. I feel like
Mer: I didn't know crap.
Bailey: I didn't know anything. It's difficult to talk about with anyone who hasn't been through it. No one nows what it feels like to know that you're watching your mother die twice. I wish you were awake.
Jasmin: I agree! Bailey was the MVP of this episode, and Chandra's acting was amazing!
Coming in second for me would be Richard. I loved how he supported Bailey and told her what she needed to hear to get her to go into her Mom's room and then stood by her and sang with her to give her Mom that moment of peace and a death with dignity.
My favorite scene was of Bailey and Richard singing to her Mom while Bailey does the voice over talking about all of the patients she's lost to COVID.
Berea: Bailey obviously was the MVP of the episode. My favorite scene was her and Maggie in the park. But second place goes to Bailey singing to her mom as she passed away, because it was just so sad, man.
Jasmine: Bailey, hands down. Chandra Wilson slays me during her centrics. Holy crap, she's amazing! All the Bailey scenes were my favorite, and the tribute at the end was beautiful.
Is there anything else you'd like to touch on that we haven't covered?
Meaghan: If you couldn't tell from my answers, this wasn't my favorite episode.
I have praised Grey's throughout this season so far for how well they are handling the pandemic, but this episode felt heavier in many ways, and it stopped allowing it to be enjoyable for me. I worry about next week because I think it is going to be extremely difficult to watch them reach the early peak of the pandemic.
Jackson: You realize half of our COVID patients are black and brown?
Richard: I know.
Jackson: In a city that's 7% Black, like, how does that even compute?
Richard: It doesn't.
Jasmin: I agree! The previous episodes this season have been really exciting and action-packed, and I've been excited each week to find out who's on the beach and what our heroes are up to.
This week I was excited, and then I felt let down because there was no one new on the beach, and apart from Bailey, none of the other characters' storylines moved forward at all.
This episode felt very stagnant to me. It felt like Grey's has been on an upward swing, and then it plateaued with this episode. I hope they get that excitement back with the new episode. This episode made me feel the COVID fatigue that everyone has been talking about in a way that the other episodes didn't.
Berea: Hmm, I actually felt like this was the best episode of the season so far. It felt like a more cohesive streamlined episode, where last week felt all over the place. I feel like the show has too many people on the cast again to where the show isn’t giving enough focus on their stories.
Jasmine: It's funny, I've been feeling the COVID fatigue in all the episodes leading up to this, and they've all been heavy in their respective ways.
Also, if I'm not mistaken, the surprise guest-appearances were every other episode or something to that effect, so I didn't anticipate anyone new.
But I enjoyed this episode because of how close to a bottle episode it felt.
The series has so many characters that they struggle to focus on everyone enough, but this one felt cohesive, and it gave us some forward movement for things that were dangling for a bit (Tom and Teddy and how Richard and Catherine are doing in their relationship), so I appreciated that.
Do you have any mid-season finale predictions? What would you like to see before Grey's signs off for the new year?
Meaghan: I think that Mer is going to continue to improve because of the clinical trial, and at the last second, she will take a turn for the worst, and they'll leave on a cliffhanger of: will she live or die?
I think we will see Lexie as well, and Mer will consider the idea of crossing over and being with Lexie and Derek or staying.
My main hope for this first half of this season is they leave our characters in a hopeful place. With so much darkness in the world, I would love to see the majority of our characters getting some much-needed light.
Jasmin: Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 1 taught me to expect the unexpected, so I don't have many predictions for the Mid-Season Finale.
I think we are going to see Meredith wake up as she's been unconscious and hanging out on that beach for a while now, and as she's the star of the show, she has to wake up sometime. Plus, it's the mid-season point, so it would be a good place to do it.
I think it's likely that we will see Derek again, and I'd love to see Lexie! God, I miss her.
I want the characters in a hopeful place too. I'd also love to see Meredith have some scenes with Hayes as he's been absent from the previous two episodes, and I'm not sure why.
Berea: What would I like to see? Mark and Lexie on the beach would be nice. Then I would not be mad if Meredith dies and goes to Derek. End the show at this point.
Jasmine: I think Mer will wake up from her slumber, but I do hope we get a Lexie sighting at least before that happens. Maybe Lexie is the one who flat out tells her to get her ass back to her kids. I mean, she lost her mother to hiccups, so Lexie can come from the angle of Mer's sister and a child who lost a mother.
I hope we reach a turning point in the COVID-storylines, and not so much see an end to them, but the show manages to incorporate other things as well. I still feel as though they abandoned some storylines and characters to make room for all of this.
Over to you, Grey's Fanatics. Do you agree with us or disagree? Hit the comments below!
Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays on ABC.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.