Time is working against Herman and is not helping Amelia or Bailey. Find out why in our Grey’s Anatomy season 11, episode 13 recap.
Case of the Week: Herman’s tumor and 27 babies who need her help.
The opening to this week’s Grey’s Anatomy season 11, episode 13 takes the voiceover and overlaying scenes to set the tone of the episode. Amelia presents Herman’s case and her plan to tackle the beast that the tumor has become. The surgeon likens the tumor to a fetus. The fetus tumor is adapting, struggling to survive in the womb of Herman’s brain. But it is a threatened by an outsider, a combination of radiation and humans clawing their way in to force it from its safe home. Amelia treats it with respect, with humanity, and the good thing about the tumor is that it is only a baby. It cannot talk back.
Herman on the other hand, cannot only talk back, but she can make demands. Amelia is trying her best to make sure the tumor fetus doesn’t spill anymore of its sippy cup in her brain, but Herman is refusing to take the steps to make Amelia’s process easier.
Six to eight weeks is the best case scenario for Herman and she plans on using her limited time frame to tackle the board of babies and mothers who need her to ensure new life will carry on. There is no time to make it personal, something that does not come easily to Bailey or Arizona.
As Amelia continues her weekly meetings in front of the hospital, her plan of attack morphs into the lessons Herman wants to instill in Arizona. If Arizona wants to take the reins, she cannot let the process intimidate her. If Amelia wants to start this surgery, she needs to make the perfect first cut. The first move of the scalpel determines everything from that point forward.
Bailey’s tactic to appeal to Arizona’s heartstrings does not fly with Herman. There are cards left on the board, everyone representing a life that needs saving. If Arizona can pick one to give up, another baby can take that place. But when another index card baby’s emergency delivery leads to catastrophic results, index cards are swapped and we can’t help but think Herman threw Arizona that one case.
Edwards throws Amelia into the battle she has been pushing further and further to the back of her mind. Can she ever break out of her brother’s shadow? Is this the right moment to try to do that? Edwards offers Amelia the “Call Your Brother” lifeline, which is greeted with the same enthusiasm as if she asked the surgeon to give him the surgery. But Edwards is not there for the pity party. She wants her mentor; she wants to watch the surgeon work. As Amelia gets the kick in the pants she needs, Herman gets to burn her radiation mask.
Callie begins to express concern for Arizona as she watches her ex become closely bonded with a dying doctor. Arizona handled their break up with a rebound that provides all the fun and none of the drama. Well, minus the whole ticking time bomb tumor thing. Arizona assures Callie that she is fine. Amelia and Herman are less so.
The auditorium is at maximum capacity to hear what will be Amelia’s final battle cry against the tumor. Owen offers her the floor to release all her secondary Shepherd baggage before she faces the wall of his and her colleagues. This is her case, she is the right Dr. Shepherd. Finally, the “Other Dr. Shepherd” refers to Derek.
As Amelia marches in to face her toughest panel, Arizona takes on her first emergency surgery. With Herman over her shoulder, Arizona sticks to the Herman doctrine, but breaks from it when she faces a roadblock. Her innovation makes Herman proud, but something else besides pride is clouding her vision.
Amelia likens her surgery to picking up grains of salt with oven mitts on — a nearly impossible task where a million and one things can go wrong. The case will take 18 hours, give or take, and she will be going in confident, nervous, and with Edwards by her side. She is the only Dr. Shepherd on call.
While Amelia distresses from her talk with her scans, Herman arrives at her door. Blinders and darkness are creeping in, and the tumor has crossed the threshold of no return. Two ORs are about to be prepped: one for Amelia to begin and the other for Arizona to handle her first solo surgery.
Herman’s final minutes are spent prepping Arizona for the surgery on Bailey’s referral. As she put on her gown, she runs through platelet counts and fluid levels. But as Herman gets Arizona ready, Arizona prepares Nicole Herman for the darkness. Herman may not know what lies beyond Amelia’s scalpel. There could be her mother’s vision of people in robes and whiteness everywhere or something unknown. Arizona is entrusted with the doctor’s postmortem plans, but she refuses to acknowledge the possibility to have to act on those wishes.
Now, it is time to trust the primary Dr. Shepherd.
Watch Grey’s Anatomy season 11, episode 14, “The Distance,” Thursday, March 5 at 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC.