Bubble Boys and Bionic Buttholes, on Grey's Anatomy

Somewhere along the line, the interns got the (coy, meta) idea that one of them won't be returning "next year," meaning next season on the show that they are on. This causes Jo Wilson to break into an ugly rash and act like a fucking Kepner-level lunatic all day, Shane to who even cares about Shane, Leah to belch in front of a farting ballerina, and Stephanie Edwards to continue ramping up toward her ultimate fate of becoming one of the series' all-time classic characters. Mark my words. Leah was my favorite and Jo is clearly already indelible, but Most Improved of 2014 definitely goes to Edwards, who went from parsley to main course in like five episodes.

(Okay, I take it back. Shane blew up a baby while trying to resect its bowel or something, which is the most interesting thing Shane has ever done. Besides manslaughter everyone he meets.)

The farting ballerina I did not love, although Leah's genius idea to put a magnetic sphincter in the ballerina's faulty butthole was pretty neat. (Man once this show discovered the word butthole they were like, lean into it. Butthole is to this show what Republic was to Scandal this season. Buttholes buttholes buttholes.)

Jo goes hard and gets really annoying, cloying and aggressive by turns, and Kepner gets to play "wise resident," so it's like everybody switched personalities: Jo is the Kepner one that won't shut up, Kepner's grinning wisely like a Meredith/Callie the whole time, and Meredith just kind of sits around doing nothing until the end of the episode, like her husband usually does.

Shocking nobody, Alex is "drowning" in the Butthole Boiler Room that is his lucrative new career. His response to this anxiety is to lurk and loiter around Grey-Sloan Memorial, stealing infant surgeries and even blackmailing Shane into helping him (because of that one time he fully murdered Alex's hot dad while on drugs). Eventually Arizona loses it on them both, but once Alex explains his Richie Rich sadness of life, she smacks him on the head and says next time he should just come to her and say he's in trouble, and then she will help him fix it, because they have one of the best friendships and mentorships on the entire show, and he's always forgetting that.

Meredith is still in "calm before the storm" mode about Cristina's departure, noshing on Amelia's homemade waffles and enjoying having a sister/wife/sister-wife at home for once. Supposedly this is because Derek's in DC doing mystery medical adventures, but really it's because Amy has no intention of leaving the show, which it takes her all episode to explain, once she is done being a complete butthole to Meredith for no reason. Meredith takes it all in stride, because she is chill like that now.

In fact, it's my favorite thing about this show (or any very good show, Firefly/Serenity did it, Battlestar did it, Teen Wolf does it on the reg): When the crazy person stops being crazy (but they still have problems). In a hundred years the arc of Meredith Grey's transition out of darkness and into the light will still be one of the achievements of the Golden Age of Television and I wish people would talk about it all the time. Our group refrain in the early seasons with Mere was "Here comes fuckface, fuckin' it up for everybody!" and she never let us down – but once she got so crazy that she went through it and came out the other side, she became my favorite character on the show, and Top Five in all of TV. She's boring now, to a certain extent, but there is something so vindicating about even that.

So Amelia McDreamelia later has a giggle fit about Meredith's coolness toward her characteristically inappropriate bullshit, remembering how on Private Practice that would have been a three-episode arc of recriminations and constant bitching, because those people were the fucking worst. (Except Charlotte, the greatest television character of all time.) So she's stressing now not because of her life status but because it means breaking up with her fiancé, the mysterious James. I say even a trainwreck as incredible as Amy will still have competition here in Seattle, where everybody is a million planes flying into a million mountains at all times.

Speaking of: Owen puts Cristina in charge of interviewing applicants for Cardio Chief, which is of course a manipulative move on his part that Meredith calls out, but Cristina's not even feeling that and in fact gets this idea in her head that it's Mere who is running a con on her. Of course she hates all the applicants – especially this one guy who she tells will never win a Harper Avery because he is the shitty kind of person who wants a Harper Avery – but that's not too telling. It's not how Cristina works first of all, because she is in competition with literally nobody on Earth except one Dr. Cristina Yang, but also it's not even a metaphor: This show is kind of literally about how surgeons are assholes and why that's okay.

Eventually Owen sits Cristina down for a chat about how he's not actually trying to run any kind of game on her, but – having said that – he is awfully afraid of being left out in the cold. They end this episode, like every episode this season, by fucking in a new location. I have to say that I have never cared one whit about Owen but I have always loved his effect on Cristina's life and how he works as a mirror to her. They're both soldiers, obviously – it's why the love triangle with Teddy was so equilateral – but more than that, he's just...

It's very inspired to take a case like Yang post-Burke, who cut off little pieces of her and whose momma took her eyebrows – and make her next LTR a guy who literally chokes her in his sleep. The fact that she could go from a passively unintentional abusive situation to a scarily active abusive situation and be like, "You guys, I got this, I know the difference" is another thing I loved about this show. He challenges her in very specific ways she needs to be challenged, and he deserves to be a part of her story. (But that's IT.)

April and Jackson are finally happy about their dumb baby, which is a dumb secret, because secrets are all that keep their love alive and once this baby is born, they will have to graduate to doing smack together, or killing hobos such as Jo Wilson.

Callie eventually figures it out, and makes it all about her, and is a monster to Kepner for repeatedly calling a "grumpus," all of which is delicious, but soon enough we learn the sad truth: Her depression about Kepner's pregnancy goes far beyond the natural trepidation anyone would have about that doomed child, because she's incapable of having children after that dumb musical episode. It's terrible because nothing bad should ever happen to Callie and yet continually does, but when Arizona offers to carry the kid Callie realizes that she's putting way too much pressure on their still-tender marriage and bravely gives up her dream, at least for now.

But the best thing in the whole episode was the end of the Bubble Boy Saga, which laid me out on the floor for reasons we will now discuss. Bailey puts on her strongest face to notify the Board – via Cristina, whose "Up top!" high-five reaction was a thing of beauty – and then the parents of Bubble Boy that there is good news and bad news. The good news is, he is no longer a bubble boy. The bad news is, I injected him with tons of HIV like you told me not to.

The parents don't take it well! But there's something so delightful about how shocked Bailey is by this, like, yeah it was fucked up but also you get to hug your kid, so bygones. Owen's entire mind is completely blown by Bailey's insane, life-saving activities, and they have to go to Legal, and the parents are real buttholes about it – understandably – and then Owen won't even let Miranda get Stephanie Edwards off the hook for knowing about it and not reporting her to the goddamn authorities for being a mad scientist.

Somewhere in the middle of this shitshow, Miranda's husband Dr. Ben Warren finds out about her latest insane secret mess and yells at her about it until she calmly explains the actual point of this show, over all ten seasons: She turned HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, into nature's perfect device for treating this boy's immunity disorder. The most horrible, darkest and most twisted thing – Meredith's mom, Cristina's dad – turned by ingenuity and faith and very hard work into the brightest and most beautiful things there are: 3-D printed conduits, and Zola; the smile that comes so easily to Meredith's face now.

The parents declare war on Miranda, who is probably just wondering what mental illness she's going to end up with this time, and – after an incredibly unexpected, poignant moment where Bailey and Edwards get to watch him leave the bubble from afar – Edwards throws herself on the grenade and says it was all her. And suddenly the whole thing goes away with a week's suspension for Edwards and that's the end of it, thanks to yet another in a dizzying series of the mom changing her mind about major shit on a dime. That mom of Bubble Boy is always flipping the script on everybody!

After her brilliant idea – which involves a magnetic butthole I can't even go into – goes well in surgery, Webber sits Leah down to tell her she'll be a great doctor, but never a surgeon. Which is exactly the kind of call Webber can best make, and even Leah – my favorite one! – knows it. She weeps, and even throws down a "is this because I'm a lesbian" kind of deal about the sexual harassment suit against Arizona, but very quickly turns back into a grownup. The saddest thing is the last scene, where she tells the other interns they'll be fine but not why, promises to meet them at the bar, and I think vanishes from the show forever. (I love your fucking face, Tessa Ferrer! Please be on another show tout suite!)

Along the same lines, Derek comes back from DC with big news relating to POTUS, but of course Meredith has to tell him hers first, about how Amelia is going to be their wife from now on because she doesn't want to leave Seattle. Derek says this is half right, because actually – just like Alex, just like Cristina – they are proceeding to their next step, which is living in DC, since without Cristina Seattle is just going to be a neverending parade of tragedies anyway. Why DC? Oh, because the President of the United States and some damn thing about science or something. Maybe more Kryptonian hologram technologies like Burke has? Or robot bodies? Who knows.

I tune out with Derek, it's a huge problem. Here's what I heard while he was talking: "We have to move to DC because I met with the President and he grinded on my booty and we touched the Constitution."

With the threat of firing over Stephanie's head, Bailey screams at her for risking herself, and then Edwards lays down literally the best part of the episode, as she explains herself so rationally and kindly and brilliantly and compassionately that Bailey bursts into tears. (Me too.) Basically her point is tripartite:

One is, if Bailey went down for ignoring the parents' wishes, that would have taken down the HIV treatment she developed, which would have been a very dark thing. A beautiful new magic in the world would be snuffed out, for no real reason, and Miranda with it.

Two is, Miranda risked everything to save that kid, so where does Stephanie get off doing any less to save this new kind of medicine and possibly an entire generation of people.

And last of all, she's probably getting fired anyway so fuck it.

I mean, it was everything I love about the show. Complete with the scene's ending, which... To the best of my knowledge I have never been a black woman with a high-stakes career, but seeing Miranda proudly pull Stephanie into a classically rough Bailey embrace, on a primetime network show that nobody even thinks to credit for its diversity anymore, made me feel like I was seeing something new and special. I can't think of too many memorable scenes that they've had together, but there was a sort of infectious pride in that embrace that made me very homesick for the future. It was bright and acidic and funny and wise and blisteringly compassionate, and that's this show at its best.

Next week, finale time. Say goodbye to Cristina Yang. And if it doesn't involve a car accident that eerily parallels the death of her father, I just ... don't know what this show is even about.

[Image via ABC]

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