AMELIA AND ANDREW - TECH LAB - LOOKING AT SCANS OF AMELIA'S BRAIN TUMOR:
Andrew: Dr. Shepherd.
Andrew: It's been a week. Shouldn't you tell someone? Your family? A friend?
Amelia: I don't need your advice or your concern. What I need is for you to follow HIPAA and keep your mouth shut. And my latest labs. And a triple latte.
Tonia: I love this scene because it shows Amelia clearly advocating for herself and protecting her own privacy. Additionally, she reminds Andrew of her position, and who she is (his superior.) I love that she does not allow Andrew to begin speaking to her differently, or looking at her differently, because of her tumor.
CHIEF BAILEY - LOBBY - FOR A MEETING:
Chief Bailey: This is not every department head! I said every department head! Pierce! Where's Shepherd?
Maggie: I haven't seen her all morning.
Tonia: Yeah... She's been in the tech lab for about a week, presumably studying her "lovely tumor".
AMELIA AND TOM KORACICK ENTERING TECH LAB (ANDREW IS STILL THERE):
Amelia: ...CT, MRI, biopsy results all confirm it is a benign Grade I Meningioma. I have it up on the board.
Tom: Ah. Slow down. Who's he?
Amelia: My resident.
Andrew: [stands, extends a hand] Andrew DeLuca.
Amelia: DeLuca, this is Tom Koracick, head of neuro at Hopkins.
Tom: Oh, he's heard of me. See Shepherd's hands, DeLuca? [shows off one of Amelia's hands]
Tom: All me. I should charge every time she uses them.
Amelia: [Pulls her hand back] He is the most ARROGANT teacher I ever had. I didn't want to call him for this, but...
Tom: Say it. You have to say it. Out loud.
Amelia: [grudgingly] You're the best.
Tom: Damn straight. [Studies Amelia's tumor scan] Oh! I like this.
Amelia: Never should've called you!
Tom: Well, I need a MR angio to check the venous outflow and the tumor vasculature.
Amelia: I got one two days ago...
Tom: And I need to know what it looks like today.
Amelia: I have a consult in half an hour.
Tom: You've got a grapefruit sized tumor on your frontal lobe. Your chief of surgery doesn't want you anywhere near a consult. You--oh. You haven't told her.
Amelia: Tom, I removed an inoperable Osteoblastoma from a kid's jaw a week ago. I just--need you to just follow my plan.
Tom: I'm not gonna follow your plan. Because the part of your brain that makes plans is compromised. Your plans, your judgment, your decision-making, your impulse-control? It's all tumor. You understand? You are not of sound mind now, and you haven't been for years.
Tonia: I hate that Dr. Koracick tries to undermine and unmoor Amelia in this way. She does have a tumor, she has had it for a long time. Just because they found out about it, everyone around Amelia has suddenly gone from trusting her judgment to feeling sure that she isn't of sound mind.
Tara: Having a brain tumor does not automatically negate every judgement call Amelia has made. But it is completely understandable that Tom will follow his own surgical plan in this case. Amelia is the patient.
AMELIA AND CHIEF BAILEY - CONFERENCE ROOM WHERE BAILEY'S ABOUT TO HAVE A MEETING:
Amelia: [knocks] Chief. Could I have a minute?
Chief Bailey: Oh, uh, now isn't a good time.
Amelia: I understand, but it's urgent.
Chief Bailey: Then, please speak with Dr. Webber and he'll fill me in.
Tonia: Chief, you want to hear this, though...
AMELIA AND RICHARD - OFFICE - WHERE HE IS STUDYING HER SCAN (ANDREW AND TOM ARE ALSO PRESENT):
Richard: Does Owen know?
Amelia: [shakes her head no]
Richard: What about Meredith and Maggie?
Amelia: No. And I don't want them to know.
Richard: How long has this thing been growing?
Tom: I'd say close to 10 years.
Amelia: He can remove the entire tumor.
Tom: I can help cover her service but she doesn't go near patients until she's tumor-free, and I clear her. That's the only way I stay.
Amelia: Richard, he can't just decide.
Tom: Frankly, the entire neuro community wondered what kind of a surgeon tackled the tumor in Nicole Herman's brain, and now we know.
Andrew: Who's Nicole Herman?
Amelia: Nicole Herman was a fetal surgeon who was diagnosed with an inoperable Astrocytoma and I saved her life.
Tom: Yes. We all read the case report, but you also permanently blinded her.
Amelia: That was unavoidable!
Tom: We don't know that now. Do we?
Tonia: Here he goes again, second guessing every single call Amelia has ever made, even the ones that ultimately saved patient's lives! He's maddening!
Tara: Tom, if you did not question Amelia's skills and judgement at the time, questioning them now is just saneism.
ANDREW AND MAGGIE - TECH LAB - (AMELIA'S BRAIN SCANS ARE ON EVERY LIGHT BOARD):
Andrew: I wanted to talk about how things ended between us.
Andrew: You and I.
Maggie: Uh... Why?
Andrew: Well, I've been thinking a lot about us. And, you know, things ended so poorly. I wanted to try to...AMELIORATE...the situation and SHEPHERD in a new era.
Maggie: ...I thought we were fine now.
Andrew: I mean, define "fine." Are we friends? Are we colleagues? Do we tell each other things? Important things? [gestures plainly to the brain scan on the biggest light board with A. SHEPHERD clearly visible in the corner, as it is on every screen.]
Maggie: I mean, I'm fine now. But I wasn't. You dropped me like I was severely burning your hand and then never said a word about it. It was kind of humiliating.
Andrew: Right. Yeah. I shouldn't have done that.
Maggie: And you told Richard Webber, my biological father, what I'm like in bed. He knows what sex noises I make now because of you. I'll never live that down.
Andrew: Well, to be fair, I didn't know--
Maggie: You know, you DID owe me an apology! Thank you for manning up. I'm good now. We're good.
Tonia: I appreciate this scene so much. Because if you are going to do a scene where a subordinate doctor tries to blatantly violate privacy laws and out his boss's private medical information to her sister-in-law? I love that it was done in a way where that other person remained completely unaware. So no privacy was actually breached.
On a show where the surgeons are all doing things like violating HIPAA because of good intentions, I really appreciated that Andrew's attempt to do the same fell flat here.
Tara: Yes, and with the failed attempt, we got a little much-needed humor.
AMELIA - GETTING READY TO HAVE ANOTHER BRAIN SCAN - MRI MACHINE - RICHARD, ANDREW AND TOM ARE IN THE BOOTH:
Tom: She's still seeing patients.
Andrew: Consults only. She tried to schedule surgery a couple days ago, but I told her I'd report her to the chief.
Richard: You should have reported her to the chief regardless, DeLuca. I understand it's complicated but the patient's safety ALWAYS comes first.
Tara: Richard brings up an interesting point. What happens when HIPAA and patient safety collide?
Tom: I don't know how you all didn't catch this. There had to be signs. Was she erratic? Impulsive? Obsessive?
Amelia: Can you guys hear me in there?
Richard: Just waiting on the contrast.
Amelia: DeLuca, I need you to go to medical records and pull charts on Nicole Herman, Katie Bryce, Kyle Diaz--
Richard: You're not working right now.
Amelia: --Robbie Reeves, Elsie Clatch, Veronica Kay's. I need my notes. I need the operative report, imaging studies, everything. DeLuca?
Tom: [Takes the pen Andrew is using to take notes on what Amelia is saying away from him] DeLuca is MY whipping boy now. Not yours. Contrast is in, and we need you to stop moving. Got it?
Amelia: Never should've called him...
Tonia: What I appreciate the most about this scene is that despite all the ways Dr. Koraccik is trying to attribute every single legitimate action Amelia has taken and call it a symptom of her tumor, Andrew remains diligent. Though he is in close proximity to Dr. Koracick and his super-saneist views, Andrew's still jotting down patient names so he can pull the charts Amelia is requesting. And even though Dr. Koracick takes Andrew's pen, he doesn't take his notepad.
Tara: Grey's uses every opportunity to show that Tom's viewpoints are wrong.
AMELIA - OFFICE - PERHAPS STUDYING HER NEW SCANS WHEN RICHARD WALKS IN:
Richard: [hands Amelia a tablet with a scan on it]
Amelia: What am I looking at?
Richard: Uh... Years ago, I also had a brain tumor. Derek removed it. But I had some bad days. What I'm saying is, I've been where you are. I know how frightening this is.
Amelia: This is you? Optic nerve looks pristine. Clean margins. No shift. You were lucky.
Richard: No, those are my pre-op scans. Okay. You see the tumor right there? [points to a tiny dot on the scan]
Amelia: [squints and looks closer] That? That's not artifact?
Richard: No, it's a tumor!
Amelia: [squints again, zooms in on the tumor to get a better view]
Richard: I was dizzy for weeks! I almost went blind!
Amelia: [squints at Richard, incredulous. Points to her own scan up on the computer screen, with its easily visible 10 centimeter tumor] THAT'S a tumor!
Richard: What's this? Some kind of competition?
Amelia: I could've removed this tumor [back to Richard's again] before breakfast, with my eyes closed.
Richard: Oh, now you're just being unkind.
Amelia: Koracik would LET me remove this tumor WHILE he removed mine!
Richard: I have patients.
Amelia: Did they even have microscopes strong enough to see this tumor back then?
Richard: [takes the tablet back from Amelia; leaves]
Tonia: I love that this scene was included, because Tara and I just rewatched 1x09, which centered around the discovery of Richard's tumor. I love it, too, because Richard is making himself available as a confidant, should Amelia need one. And he treats her reaction to his tumor, not as a symptom of her own, but just what it is: unkind. Amelia having a tumor does not suddenly make her incapable of unkindness. She remains fully human to him, capable of even mean-spirited humor.
Tara: There is a certain amount of disability-policing that goes on within the disability community, and I like that Grey's shows that in a relatable way.
AMELIA AND RICHARD - ON-CALL ROOM:
Richard: [reading Amelia's text as he arrives] "Meet me in an on-call room." Well, my wife might get the wrong idea... [finds Amelia sitting on the floor surrounded by all the charts Andrew pulled for her.]
Amelia: All these people... I-- They came to me for help and I messed up their lives. I either killed them or I broke them. And these-- These are just Seattle. I still have to contact LA and get the files--
Richard: Um. Before you do that...um...how about I take a look?
Richard: [offers her a hand to stand and step over all the files]
Richard: I've checked your mortality rates since you arrived at Grey-Sloan. It's a 0.9%.
Amelia: [stands, focused on Richard]
Richard: Derek's was 1.3% Yours is better than his. And he didn't have a brain tumor.
Amelia: [sits, breathing hard, blinking back tears]
Richard: All I see here is successes and surgical firsts...
Richard: You didn't hurt these people, Amelia.
Tonia: Thank you, Richard! Seriously! So glad to see somebody - especially somebody in authority, somebody Amelia respects - pushing back against Koracick's idea that having a brain tumor makes Amelia dangerous. She needed to hear this. And so did the audience. We so needed that contrary voice here. We need to hear that Amelia still has the respect of the former chief of surgery.
(And we can see here that despite Dr. Koracick trying to commandeer Andrew for his own purposes and for all of his attempts to diminish Amelia's authority, Andrew has still pulled every file Amelia requested.)
Tara: And while it is Andrew's job as Amelia's subordinate to do as she asks, it would have been easy to dismiss her here as essentially a patient instead of a doctor. Andrew does not do that.
Richard: But you are hurting the people who love you, if you don't let them help you through this? You'll hurt them a lot worse.
Amelia: [takes a deep breath; nods]
Tonia: While this did seem a bit pushy to me, I am reminded of just how often the surgeons on Grey's make it clear just how important having a support system around is for someone about to undergo surgery. Especially as Derek is no longer alive, and that she seems estranged from her mother, and possibly her sisters, it is very important that Amelia find a way to tell her sisters-in-law and her husband.
OWEN AND MEGAN - HALLWAY:
Megan: Just because you are in an unhappy marriage doesn't mean that everyone else has to be unhappy with you.
Owen: Wait. That's not what I'm doing!
Megan: You went to go break up with your wife, she was EXTRA MEAN to you, and so you STAYED with her.
Owen: It's more complicated than that.
Megan: Except that it's not.
Owen: Okay. Alright. Okay. My marriage sucks and I don't know what to do about it, but just because you're right, that doesn't make me wrong.
Tonia: Megan, Amelia was "extra mean" to Owen because he came to her and basically said, "I think something's wrong with you," because his family didn't like her on sight.
AMELIA AND MAGGIE - TECH ROOM:
Maggie: Sorry, I was in surgery. What's wrong? Who died?
Amelia: [pats the chair next to her]
Amelia: [flips on all the screens in the tech room so that they all show Amelia's tumor scans] These are mine.
Maggie: A patient of yours?
Amelia: No...um... This is my brain. I have a tumor in it. A benign Meningioma.
Maggie: I'm sorry. What?
Amelia: Maggie, I have a ten-centimeter tumor in my left-frontal lobe, and I'm having it surgically removed.
Maggie: [tears up]
Amelia: [tears up, too] Maggie, don't cry...
Maggie: My mother died. I am allowed to cry. I cry all the time.
Amelia: It's not malignant! It-- Come on! It's kind of hilarious. I'm a brain surgeon, and I got a brain tumor.
Maggie: ...All these MRIs and angio? How long have you known about this?
Amelia: A little over a week.
Amelia: Owen and Meredith don't know either. I'm gonna need your help telling Owen, and um, you are gonna have to tell Meredith because I can't do it. She's been telling me I'm crazy for years and um -- this kinda makes me -- it kinda makes her right. [Starts to break down] And I hate that. I think, more than anything, I hate that.
Tonia: This is my very favorite scene of the episode. Because even though Maggie does have feelings about Amelia's tumor, and they aren't shied away from, the focus remains squarely on Amelia. Grey's does not fall into the trap so many other shows do where any illness, injury or disability is automatically about how difficult it is on friends and family. Amelia remains at the center of her own story.
We see that the only time Amelia actually cries in the episode is not because she has a tumor. She cries because her own sister-in-law has regularly called Amelia "crazy" for all the years they have known one another. I really, really appreciated this aspect, as it rang so true to everything I know about disability. So often, it isn't the disability that is the hardest part of being disabled. It's how we are treated.
Tara: Yes, this part hit me really hard too.
Tonia: I hope Amelia knows, too, or learns at some point, that having a tumor does not make her crazy. It in no way legitimizes the way that Meredith spoke to her. It doesn't make what Mer said true. Amelia has had this tumor since before she met Meredith. Her body adapted to it. She is who she is because of it.
Maggie: [hugs Amelia hard, crying silently]
Amelia: [hugs Maggie back, crying, too]
Tonia: Again, this is a thing that Grey's does so well here. Because Maggie's feelings are not unimportant, but she has them, and she supports Amelia. It's not a mutually exclusive phenomenon where the scene is suddenly all about how hard this all is on Maggie because of her recent loss. The audience knows she experienced it. She mentioned it. But her focus is on Amelia and being there for her in this moment.
Maggie: [leaves the tech room]
Andrew: [arrives at the tech room]
Maggie: Hey. ....Oh...
Andrew: [Amelia's tumor is visible on a light board inside the tech room] Yeah.
Tonia: Again, I love how this was handled. Maggie does not connect the dots about Amelia's tumor having been on every light board in the tech room until after Amelia shares her medical information with Maggie herself.
OWEN - OUTSIDE:
Cell Phone [vibrates with a text] AMELIA: Meet me in the tech room. URGENT!
AMELIA AND MAGGIE - TECH ROOM - THEY HOLD HANDS AS THEY LOOK AT AMELIA'S TUMOR ON THE LIGHTBOARD:
Owen: Hey. You paged me?
Amelia: I did.
Owen: You paged me. We haven't spoken in weeks.
Amelia: [lays a hand on Maggie's shoulder; to Owen] I know. But I need to talk to you now.
Owen: Oh! Oh, so all I've wanted to do is talk, and every time I come looking for you, you're holed up in this room, staring at people's tumors. I needed you, and all you've done is blow me off. And, honestly, I'm at the point where I don't care-- [Owen focuses on Amelia's name on the corner of the biggest tumor scan on the light board behind Amelia and Maggie] Why is your name on those scans? [Looks back and forth from the scan to Amelia until he realizes that it is Amelia's tumor.]
Tonia: Another scene I loved because we heard Amelia tell Maggie that she would "need her help telling Owen." For Amelia, this ended up meaning that she needed Maggie in the room with her. When Maggie tries to speak up and tell Owen, Amelia puts a hand on her shoulder, and Maggie responds by going quiet. Though a small moment, it shows that Amelia having a brain tumor does not lessen Maggie's respect for her. She doesn't continue to try and tell Owen, because she thinks she knows better than Amelia. She stays quiet, stays with her, and lets Amelia say what she needs to.
Tara: And yet another example of a family member's reaction that does not override Amelia's.
MAGGIE AND MEREDITH - PATIENT ROOM:
Maggie: How's he doing?
Meredith: Back in sinus rhythm. Sats are good.
Maggie: Do you have a minute?
Tonia: This is another positive aspect that I noted initially. Where often we see significant moments with surrounding characters (Maggie and Mer would qualify) in this scene it's the family that has the scene off page. We stay with Amelia for every significant moment. We cannot forget that this is about her. This is her life. This is her tumor.
Tara: I think this is extra significant as Meredith is the main character in this show. It would make complete sense to show how she reacted to news of Amelia's tumor. But the writers chose to do it off-page. The result? Read on...
AMELIA AND OWEN - PATIENT ROOM:
[Owen helps tie her hospital gown]
[Amelia gets a patient bracelet; it's scanned]
[She gets blood drawn]
[She's in the hospital bed, Owen in a chair at her bedside, when Meredith arrives]
Meredith: [offers a small smile, gets in bed behind Amelia, spooning her. Mer says nothing, just strokes her arm]
Amelia: [looks relieved and content]
Tonia: This final montage depicts so much: the support Amelia now has from Owen, and also the arrival of Meredith, post conversation with Maggie. I appreciated so much that Meredith didn't attempt to say anything to try and smooth over what she had said. Her actions communicated love and support, and Amelia was able to receive that.
Tara: We see here that not seeing Meredith's reaction to the news has not hampered the storyline. The final scene between the two women remains touching and powerful.