Saturday, April 3, 2021

REVIEW: 'Grey's Anatomy' - Meredith and Maggie Embrace Some Beauty and Hope Amidst Dark Times at the Hospital in 'Breathe'

ABC's Grey's Anatomy - Episode 17.10 "Breathe"

The hospital ventilator shortage has the doctors gravely concerned when both a mother and daughter are in critical condition with COVID and fighting over the last ventilator. Hayes' high-risk sister-in-law with multiple sclerosis ends up in the hospital with a kidney stone. The sister house has a few more kids join it as Amelia plays babysitter for the day.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides 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.

"Breathe" was written by Mark Driscoll and directed by Linda Klein

This season has been defined by the dark and depressing stories centered around the COVID-19 pandemic. That is the reality in hospitals across the country. This show chose not to shy away from that. Unfortunately, it has largely had the side effect of removing the element of fun that was so often present throughout the series. It hasn't been completely eliminated. It's still a noticeable difference though. One where the audience suddenly becomes more aware of the pacing issues pertaining to the season-long arcs. Everyone is understandably happy to see all the moving reunions on the beach as Meredith remains in limbo. However, that has been the status quo for almost the entire season at this point. In this episode, the device basically amounts to Mark and Lexie showing up to remind Meredith that she shouldn't waste any time in life. She should continue to love as deeply as she has ever done before despite the tragedies and heartbreak that have also been so prevalent for her. Both of them tragically died. Meredith still imagines them happily together. That's the fate the audience wants for them as well. It's sad that didn't get to play out on the show with them still alive. However, they still have this connection. It's just as apparent now as it was all those years ago. It still fills Meredith with joy and happiness. Her life is different now. She has been removed from it for awhile too. Her family has worried about her condition. And now, the concern is that the doctors will try to remove her from the ventilator only for it to fail once more. In that case, they would essentially be giving up on her in order to save another life. That's what Meredith would always strive to do. She wants to save as many people as she can. The show just needs to offer this reminder to embrace the happiness and joy even amidst a worldwide pandemic. That's the lesson that needs to be learned and remembered. It just also happens to be paired in an episode where the show continues the darkness before that moment of hope can return. That glimmer comes when Meredith is successfully taken off the vent while Winston also proposes to Maggie. These are both welcome developments. Sure, it's still clear that Winston is only defined through this relationship. However, he brings out such a genuine joy and love within Maggie that allows her to feel confident and protected in a way she has struggled with for a long time. He allows her to be a better character because she has those qualities in her life. She's no longer the annoying character whose struggles make the audience question what the creative team was thinking. Of course, that's still present elsewhere This engagement between Maggie and Winston may be rushed. It still feels earned though while also needing a bit more depth in order to hook the audience with the emotional payoff. That is still felt in the design of this episode though. Richard is furious by having to close the hospital to trauma. People will die because that access is no longer available. It comes from the hospital running out of ventilators. A mother and daughter have to share one. It's not a perfect solution. It's still enough for Richard to dance with joy over this innovation. That's the beginning of the more hopeful, happy note that is on the horizon for these characters. Some have been planning big changes in their lives in order to embrace even more of that. That's why Winston proposes to Maggie. That's why Jo is considering leaving surgery to help deliver babies. This structure is understood and recognized. The show is yet to fully come together for a meaningful episode this year though that delivers on all of these notes in an equally compelling way. Nothing about the medical emergency and complication of Hayes' sister-in-law is inherently bad. It's simply rushed amongst a crowded episode. As such, it feels a little thin when she teases him to pursue things with Meredith should she wake up. It's a forced development that seems inevitable. But again, the season has reminded the audience of just how special Meredith's connection was with Derek. She still cherishes that. She can find meaningful love again. Right now, the show is simply saying a lot in that regard. It needs to show that even more to make the audience invest as passionately as possible.