Thursday, March 28, 2019

REVIEW: 'Grey's Anatomy' - Jo Reaches Out to Her Birth Mother to Learn More About Her Life in 'Silent All These Years'

ABC's Grey's Anatomy - Episode 15.19 "Silent All These Years"

When a trauma patient arrives at Grey Sloan, it forces Jo to confront her past. Bailey and Ben have to talk to Tuck about dating.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of ABC's Grey's Anatomy.

"Silent All These Years" was written by Elisabeth R. Finch and directed by Debbie Allen

Jo was struck with curiosity about her history very recently and suddenly. People have been making decisions about her future without always involving her in the process. Alex and Helen were planning on their eventual children. Casey tracked down Jo's mother before being asked to do so. In both of those instances, they are actions that Jo supports. She wants children and did ultimately ask Casey to do that cyber-stalking for her. But now, she is actually sitting down with her birth mother, Vicky, getting the answers she has always wanted in her life. Since Jo first joined the show, the narrative has told numerous tragic stories about her life pertaining to growing up in the system and facing off with an abusive ex-husband. And now, the tragedy is only increased by finding Vicky and seeing the life that she has for herself. She isn't a put-upon waitress at a disastrous diner. She actually has a nice house and a family. She sneaks away in order to have this one conversation with Jo. It's devastating because the two of them are so far apart on what they need from this and whether or not they can actually give it. Jo wants to know her mother and her history. She wants the details beyond what she learned from getting her genes tested. She didn't have to reach out in order to have clarity and awareness over the risks that come from getting pregnant. But she chose to do this anyway. It may just be to vent at someone whom she has always blamed for her fear of abandonment and impulse to run away in any situation no matter how good or bad. She felt accepted and loved by Paul because he was the first person to show her those emotions. She didn't have a happy childhood. And yet, Vicky's story is just as devastating and complicated. The audience is trusted to recall every aspect of Jo's life that has been seen so far. New details are added here that further show the longterm effects of this psychological trauma from so many people in her life. She may be in a good place now with Alex but many things still linger for her to deal with. The same is also true of Vicky. She was raped when she was a freshman undergrad. Her TA wouldn't take no for an answer. She spent years blaming herself for saying yes to a date and getting in that car with him. It also took years for her to find the tools to cope with all of this. She never chose to come forward and speak up. She hid this aspect of her past from those she loves. Her family doesn't know about Jo. She kept it a secret. She felt that connection of love that is so often talked about as a parent. She just wasn't capable of giving Jo all that she needed as a parent. It doesn't matter that Jo still had a rough and traumatic life in the system. Things wouldn't have been demonstrably better with Vicky. She may have the allure of a seemingly perfect life now with a nice job, a loving husband and two children. But it took her a long time to actually reach a place of love and acceptance. She continues to struggle with it all just like Jo does. This interaction is tense and has an abrupt ending. There's no certainty if they will ever see each other again. There's no understanding if what was said will do any good in either of their lives. All that's left is the example of how Jo lives her life in the aftermath.

When Jo returns home to Seattle, she is cold and distant from Alex. She doesn't want to talk about what happened. He believes he is open and understanding because of everything that has gone on with his own family over the years. But Jo doesn't have the words to describe what happened or share it with the man she loves the most. And yet, she is still more than capable of standing up and supporting another victim of despicable violence. In the emergency room, a woman comes in following a rape with extensive injuries. Jo connects with her immediately and understands that she can never leave her side. She never does until she is comfortable and secure. She has the power to make this entire situation work for her. It's a heartbreaking story because of just how broken the justice system can be. In this society, women are left with the burden and agony of going over every single decision they made to figure out where it all went wrong. The blame should all be placed on the man who violated her. But the system is so broken that everyone fears that trying to come forward won't lead to anything resembling justice. It may only cause further pain and suffering. Jo can speak as an advocate and ally because of her own story of abuse. She also understands that it's not the same situation. Hers is completely different. It also gives her a way in to talk about these difficult and complicated feelings. She shows compassion while holding firm with her beliefs that the evidence should be collected now so that her patient has the freedom to do whatever she wants in the future. This moment of despair doesn't have to be the thing that defines her for the rest of her life. The shame still permeates through so much though. She doesn't want to tell her husband. She is afraid to close her eyes. She is afraid of any man at the hospital. That's what makes it so empowering when the hospital only allows women on the floor when she is being rolled into surgery. They don't even know the full extent of what's going on. They just know it's in service of a patient who needs it. That's enough for them and so meaningful to the doctors and people closely associated with the case. This woman isn't alone even though it feels like so much was taken away from her. Jo is by her side through everything. It does eventually end with her feeling the confidence to tell her husband and file a report with the police. There is the hope that things will have a conclusive ending in the pursuit of justice. But all of this still weighs on Jo too. It makes her first day back at the hospital even more difficult. It may further alienate her from Alex. She gets some encouragement from Teddy for the actions she took. But she needs a champion now to also make sense of everything she has gone through. Alex wants to fill that role as her ally. It is just going to be more complicated than that.