Amelia via Voiceover: There are 100 billion neurons in the human brain making and remaking connections.
Amelia: [turns to reveal an L-shaped patch of hair she's shaved, beneath a top layer, which she has pulled aside with a clip]
Maggie: That's it? That makes you look fierce.
Amelia: [touches the shaved area briefly, studying herself in the mirror]
Meredith: Are you sure you don't want me to call your mom?
Amelia: No. She didn't come for my wedding. She doesn't get to come for my tumor.
Amelia via Voiceover: It's helping us with math, remembering our keys, our dad's voice, working hard all the time. So when the brain is faulty, it's a big rewiring job. And there's no margin for error.
Tara: My head was shaved more severely than Amelia's, but a layer was left to cover what would have otherwise been hemispheric baldness.
Also, the @GreysMedical Twitter noted that, according to their neuro consult, it is bad luck to completely shave a head.
AMELIA - HOSPITAL ROOM JUST BEFORE SURGERY -
Tom: I'll go in through a subfrontal craniotomy - real clean - small incision in the dura and then scoop the tumor out. I don't like the edema around the tumor but I gotta dance with the girl who brought me, so... I imagine you have questions.
Chief Bailey: How many of these have you done?
Tom: So, so many.
Richard: And what's the recovery time?
Tom: I took a 13-centimeter tumor out of a cop in roughly the same place. He was walking day one, talking day three, back at work in a week.
Amelia: Thank you, Tom.
Tom: Yeah. See you at the after party! [Tom leaves]
Maggie: He seems arrogant enough...
Amelia: He's a showboat. And he works best under pressure, so, DeLuca, ask him questions during surgery. Make him show off. And if I make it through--
Owen: When. When you make it through.
Andrew: --Early ambulation protocol.
Amelia: Thank you. Okay. Meredith. If I die--
Meredith: You are not going to die.
Amelia: --But if I do. You call my mom. I'm sorry, but she likes you. And you. [Turns to Maggie] Take my room! It's way better! I kinda scammed you on that!
Maggie: Stop it.
Alex: [under his breath] No, she's right. It's way better.
Amelia: Owen. If I'm gorked. Do not overthink it. Do not visit me. Just park me somewhere and go on with your life.
Owen: Amelia, please. Cut it out.
Amelia: And, if I need unplugging, April has been named my power of attorney.
April: [smiles weakly]
Everyone: [turns to stare at April]
April: What? Was I supposed to say no?
Amelia: She likes me. She'll be there for you. But we're not so close that she'll let emotion dictate her decision. [Gets a little choked up] I don't know what's me and what's tumor talking. [Shakily] In this moment, I love you people tremendously.
[Camera pans to all the doctors' faces, as they take in Amelia's words. The pan ends with Amelia in the center of the frame, looking back at them. Owen puts a hand on her arm, in support.]
Tonia: I really appreciated this scene. Amelia is clearly in charge here, and even though everyone in the room is uncomfortable with the topic and they keep trying to stop the conversation, Amelia will not be detoured. She is focused on giving everyone instructions. I like that we see Alex backing her up, too, when she tells Maggie to take her room, because it shows that he has confidence in her words.
AMELIA - OPERATING ROOM - SHE AND HER ENTIRE O.R. TEAM (INCLUDING TOM AND ANDREW) ARE STANDING IN SUPERHERO POSE. MEREDITH AND MAGGIE WATCH FROM THE GALLERY:
Tom: [softly] I love this. Are there really studies on this?
Amelia via Voiceover: When you're going into surgery, you worry you won't wake up...
Amelia: [still in superhero pose, waves to Meredith]
Meredith: [waves back]
Amelia via Voiceover: ...But with brain surgery, you worry you WILL wake up...
Amelia: [lies on the O.R. table. Is secured in place with straps across her body. Gets an I.V. and a mask with anesthesia. The screen goes white.]
Amelia via Voiceover: ...But you won't be there when you do.
Tonia: I love that Amelia's neurosurgeon loves the superhero pose! Of course he would!
Tara: Amelia's voiceover speaks of the common worry of being changed post-brain surgery. The way she phrases it, she's worried that pre-brain surgery Amelia - the only person she knows - will be gone. And while she's not entirely wrong, this feels as if it has been done for dramatic effect, as it is not something I have ever seen given the proper time, attention and through-line it deserves.
OWEN AND MEGAN - MEGAN'S HOSPITAL ROOM:
Owen: [takes her temperature]
Megan: If you say a number I don't like, I am going to hit you with this magazine.
Owen: Still over 100...
Megan: Barely a fever...
Owen: A fever's a fever.
Megan: It's minor. It's not like I'm having...brain surgery or something...
Megan: She avoided you during my surgery. You're avoiding her now. I suddenly understand your marriage completely.
Owen: Amelia has a lot of support.
Tonia: They do have a very strange relationship.
Tara: To me, it makes perfect sense that Owen would steer clear of Amelia until she had made it through surgery.
APRIL - ALONE IN THE HOSPITAL CHAPEL, PRAYING:
April: Please don't make me have to unplug her. Please don't make me have to unplug her. Please, Lord, let her be okay. Please let her be okay. Please don't make me have to unplug her.
Tonia: I love that this scene is included, because it is taking time to make clear that Amelia's life has value to April. It's also clear in this scene that April respects Amelia's words, and will follow through on them if she has to. But only if she has to. It is not something April wants to do. Where this could have easily been April rationalizing about Amelia's potential 'quality of life' post-surgery, she does not do that. We hear no such words from her.
April also does not say "Please let her be normal." She says, "Please let her be okay," which was very much my own prayer while waiting. We just want our people to survive and be okay.
Tara: I love this scene too.
AMELIA - IN SURGERY:
[Close-up on Amelia's face. It is draped and she is on a vent.]
Tom: [singing with the music playing in the operating room as he does Amelia's surgery] And she'll have fun, fun, fun 'til her daddy takes the T-Bird away!
Andrew: Any issues with the edema?
Tom: [still singing as he operates] Well, the girls can't stand her 'cause she walks, looks, drives like an ace now!
Andrew: Also wondering if you're all the way around the dura?
Tom: [singing] She makes the Indy 500 look like a Roman chariot race now!
Andrew: Also, why did you choose this particular music?
Tom: DeLuca? Sing along or shut up. [Starts singing again] ...Goose chase now! She drives like an ace! And she'll have fun, fun, fun, til her daddy takes the T-Bird away!
Tara: I was understandably worried about having to watch this surgery. But I was so pleasantly surprised by how easy, how "fun" surgery is for Tom.
SURGEONS IN THE GALLERY WATCHING AMELIA'S SURGERY:
Carina: I still can't believe...
Arizona: What? That masturbation diagnosed her brain tumor?
Carina: [nods] God works in such mysterious ways.
Maggie: The Beach Boys seems like an odd choice. Like inappropriate.
Tom: [still singing down in the O.R. as he operates] Well, you knew all along that your dad was gettin' wise to you now! And since he took your set of keys you've been thinking...
Alex: Why did he stop singing?
Maggie: He stopped singing.
Meredith: This is the crucial part. He has to cut the last vessel and sometimes it's a feeder to the--
Maggie: [gasps] What was that?
Alex: What happened?
Meredith: That was the vessel en passant. It looked like it was going into the Meningioma, but in fact, it was going straight through to the brain. He didn't have a choice. It's okay.
Maggie: Is it?
Alex: It is?
Meredith: It's probably fine. It could be really bad. I'm sure it's fine.
[Fade to black on Amelia's face, draped, still on the vent as The Beach Boys' Fun, Fun, Fun plays in the background.]
Tonia: I feel like it is a very intentional choice in these scenes to keep showing Amelia's face. And it is significant as there are many depictions of illness and disability where every scene ends on a family member's stricken face. But here, we know, the narrative remains centered on Amelia.
Tara: Yes, thank you, Grey's Anatomy.
Meredith: --I'm saying you clipped the vessel.
Tom: The tissue went a little dusky. It doesn't mean that--
Owen: She's 11 hours post-op!
Maggie: Shouldn't she be awake by now?
Tom: I'm not concerned yet. With that amount of bleeding, recovery time can be--
Meredith: She's awake.
AMELIA'S PERSPECTIVE (A BIT FUZZY; LIGHTING IS DIM) - HER HOSPITAL ROOM:
April: Thank God! Thank you, God!
Meredith: Amelia. How do you feel?
Amelia: I'm okay. How'd it go?
Tom: Amelia. Can you hear me? [fingers snap]
Amelia: [sarcastically] ...Yes...I'm right here...
Owen: Is she awake?
Maggie: Or did she just open her eyes? Amelia?
Amelia: They can't hear me.
Meredith: I don't think she's--
April: Oh, my God...
Tom: Listen. Everybody's recovery time is different. Let's not panic.
Amelia: Oh, crap. Am I gorked?
[Close up on Amelia's face. Her head is wrapped. She's on a vent and unable to speak. She's looking around, blinking]
Meredith: It's okay. She's okay.
Amelia: Oh, crap!
Tara: This scene - Amelia's perspective and sarcastic inner voice - rang super true to me. I loved the choice made to shoot from her viewpoint and perspective. And the choice to include her inner voice allows us access to Amelia's thoughts - which are central to a story that is about her.
Tonia: Having been through many surgeries, and one, where I was very slow to wake up from anesthesia, this rang very true to me. Hearing people's voices, having people say things to / in front of me that they probably would not say otherwise? This felt so, so accurate to me.
AMELIA'S HOSPITAL ROOM - POST-OP DAY ONE:
Andrew: [checks on Amelia. Then wakes Meredith, who's asleep in a chair in Amelia's room] Hey.
Andrew: There's no change. But it's 5:30, in case you wanna get a shower or something.
Meredith: Okay. Thanks. [Walks to Amelia's bed; takes her hand; addresses her] I'm gonna go take a shower, okay? I'll be back soon.
Amelia: [inner voice] Okay. It's sweet you slept here.
Meredith: [looks at Andrew]
Meredith: I think she just squeezed my hand. Amelia? Did you just squeeze my hand?
Amelia: [inner voice] Ow... Stop talking... My head hurts, Meredith... I'm trying to sleep...
Meredith: [to Andrew] Maybe not.
Meredith: Oh my God. She's breathing over the tube. Let's get her extubated.
Andrew: Okay. This is good.
Meredith: This is good.
Amelia: [inner voice] Ow... God... So much talking...
Meredith and Andrew: [put gloves on in preparation to extubate Amelia]
Tonia: I appreciated this scene because it showed so much: that Amelia had someone with her all night. It showed Meredith speaking directly to Amelia, respectfully, presuming competence. And it let us know Amelia's thoughts. She is not just asleep / recovering in the bed, a silent non-participant. The inner-voice being included is a fabulous way to keep us with Amelia and up to date on her thoughts as they happen.
Tara: And her inner voice indicates that it is far too loud with people talking at normal volume. A nice touch of realism.
RICHARD, CATHERINE, AND TOM KORACICK - HOSPITAL LOBBY:
Richard: How's Shepherd?
Tom: She's responsive. Not yet verbal. It's early.
Tonia: I like that even when Amelia is not there, it's obvious she is on peoples' minds.
I also love Koracick's answer about Amelia's recovery thus far. It reminds me of an earlier episode where a doctor said of Cristina (who was traumatized and nonverbal at the time) "She's violent and uncommunicative!" and Bailey responded, "Oh, she's communicating! She just hasn't talked yet."
Similarly Koracick, Meredith and others we will see, don't assume that not being able to speak has bearing on Amelia's ability to communicate.
Tara: Right, to Tom, being nonverbal after this particular surgery is par for the course early on, and not cause for alarm (or pity).
AMELIA AND ANDREW - AMELIA'S HOSPITAL ROOM:
Andrew: [putting Amelia's arms around his neck] Here we go.
Amelia: [moans in pain]
Andrew: Just a little bit more. [Helps her to sit on the edge of the bed]
Amelia: [sobs] [inner voice] Please stop. No. It hurts.
Andrew: [helps Amelia to her feet]
Tom: DeLuca. What the hell are you doing?
Amelia: [leaning against Andrew; eyes still closed against the daylight]
Andrew: It's early ambulation. Dr. Shepherd does it with all her patients.
Tom: This patient is post-op day one! Put her back in that bed--
Andrew: She told me to do this.
Amelia: [grimacing, eyes still closed] [inner voice] I changed my mind. I changed my mind.
Tom: No. The giant tumor that was pressing on her frontal lobe told you to do it! It also made me promise not to give her any opioids which is so incredibly stupid. Put her back in this bed now!
Amelia: [inner voice] Agreed. DeLuca, I agree.
Andrew: Sir, she made me promise.
Amelia: [inner voice] Damn it!
Tom: [chuckles softly] Hey. You sleeping with her?
Amelia: [inner voice] What?!
Tom: You heard me. You getting some extra office hours in with Shepherd?
Andrew: No! Okay? Just-- It's her protocol. And her patients have a high recovery rate. Higher than yours, which she wanted me to say to you, because she knew you wouldn't like this.
Amelia: [gasping in pain] [inner voice] I am such an ass.
Tom: If her intercranial pressure increases? It's on you. [leaves]
Andrew: Okay, Dr. Shepherd. You've got this, okay? Just to the chair.
Amelia: [inner voice] I mean, we could-- It's probably effective, but I--
Andrew: [helps Amelia to her feet]
Andrew: [helps Amelia pivot and sit in the chair just beside her bed]
Tara: I definitely did this post-brain surgery almost 20 years ago. I was on the edge of my hospital bed and in a chair Post-Op Day One. I was not a screamer, but it was not pleasant by any means.
Tonia: This was a tough scene to watch, with how much pain Amelia is clearly in, but also a great one. We see Andrew keeping his word to Amelia, despite how much pain she is in. Andrew's respect level for her never wavers. We see it, too, in the way he refers to her as Dr. Shepherd, and does not take the vulnerable position she is in as permission to be overly familiar with her and addressing her by her first name.
AMELIA'S HOSPITAL ROOM - NIGHT:
Amelia: [through tears] [inner voice] In.... Ow, ow, ow... Out...
[Camera pans out. We see Maggie and Richard in the room with Amelia. Each are holding one of her hands]
Richard: Amelia. The body can't heal as quickly when it's experiencing so much pain.
Maggie: [cries silently; strokes Amelia's hand]
Amelia: [crying; trying to keep breathing]
Richard: A.A. has no opinion on drugs for pain relief as long as you follow the doctor's orders.
Amelia: [breathing heavily] [inner voice] Opioids are my drug of choice. What if they told you you could have just a drink or two if the doctor says it's okay?
Richard: You're sure you don't want to reconsider?
Amelia: [looks at Richard, determined] [inner voice] Please. Stop.
Richard: I didn't think so...but I had to ask.
Tonia: Again, I love how Grey's shows Amelia being supported here. She always has people with her. In this case, Maggie and Richard. Especially given the absence of Amelia's own biological family here, it's great to see her surrounded by people who are essentially her sister and the closest person Amelia has to a father figure.
I appreciate how they support her here, holding her hands, and just being there. We can see, particularly for Maggie, that this is difficult, and she cries silently that Amelia is in so much pain. But she stays. She holds Amelia's hand. She doesn't make it about her. This scene could have ended with Maggie leaving the room, overcome with emotion. A choice could have been made to follow Maggie, to hear about how difficult it is for her in this moment, but Grey's does not do that.
Additionally, Richard speaking to Amelia about options for pain relief is significant. He gives her the opportunity to communicate whether or not she has changed her mind. Amelia hasn't. And Richard recognizes, accepts and respects Amelia's nonverbal communication as valid. Instead of deciding for her that Amelia's own pain was too much.
Speaking of pain, I've read a comment by someone whose father is a surgeon, who claimed that no one should be in this much pain post-surgery because there are no pain-receptors in the skull. I feel like no one but people who have been through brain surgery should get to comment on the accuracy of pain post-op.
Tara: The pain Amelia feels is real - especially with no opioids.
SURGEONS OUTSIDE ON A LUNCH BREAK - AMELIA IS NOW POST-OP DAY TWO:
Meredith: I used to scream at her to shut up all the time in my head.
Alex: No, I heard you a couple times.
Meredith: I mean, now I wish she would just say anything.
April: How is she?
Arizona: Is she talking?
April: [to Meredith] Did you call her mom yet?
Alex: [to April] Did you unplug her yet?
All but April: [laugh uncomfortably]
April: That's not funny! At all!
Tonia: While Alex's comment initially struck me as crass and awful (and it remains crass and awful) his comment to April actually serves to remind April about Amelia's boundaries here. Meredith was instructed to call Amelia's mother only if Amelia did not survive surgery. Alex asking "Did you unplug her yet?" is a reminder to April that as long as Amelia is alive, Meredith won't be calling her mom.
Meredith: I mean, seriously, so she left a thriving practice and a fiance in L.A. to come and live with her brother, who she resented.
Meredith: THAT was the tumor!
Maggie: Wow! How did we miss this?
Alex: Man, I just wish I had a tumor to blame my stupid crap on.
April: No. Guys!
Alex: "DeLuca, I'm sorry I hit you. Tumor."
Maggie: This is not cool.
Meredith: Riggs. Tumor.
April: Do not encourage them!
Arizona: What? You have to laugh, April. I mean, in situations like this? You have to laugh.
April: No. She trusted me with her life--
All, but April: Tumor!
April: [laughing in spite of herself] Stop!
Tonia: Here's another example of a scene that could have exclusively been about Meredith, Alex and Arizona chalking up Amelia's "stupid crap" to her tumor. But in this scene, we have April, repeatedly speaking out against this.
Maggie saying "This is not cool" remains extra poignant, given that Maggie was just in with Amelia for at least part of the previous night and witnessed just how much pain Amelia's in.
In a scene where people are crossing a line in some way when it comes to disability, it is beyond helpful to have those contrary voices speaking out against the majority. Well done, April and Maggie.
[Cell Phone rings]
Meredith: Oh. Speak of the devil. My tumor's calling.
Maggie: Are you gonna answer it?
Meredith: No. Once that's diagnosed, you cut it right out!
[Maggie and Mer's phones chime]
Maggie: It's DeLuca!
Meredith: Amelia's talking!
Maggie: She's talking!
MEREDITH, MAGGIE AND ALEX RUSH TO AMELIA'S ROOM:
Meredith: She's talking?
Andrew: Well... Sort of...
Amelia: [speaks French]
Andrew: It's weird, right?
Amelia: [turns to Maggie, continues speaking French]
Maggie: It's French!
Amelia: [repeats herself in French]
Alex: She speaks French?
Maggie: I speak French. She speaks German.
Meredith: What is she saying?
Amelia: [repeats herself in French]
Maggie: Sorry. She said she needs a glass of water.
Alex: [pours Amelia a glass of water]
Meredith: You know...all the Shepherd children went to French preschool!
Andrew: And that's still in her brain somewhere?
Alex: [hands Andrew the water]
Andrew: [holds the cup for Amelia; steadies the straw so she can drink]
Meredith: I've seen this before. It reverses on its own, but this-- It's still good. It's progress.
Maggie: Amelia? [asks a question in French]
Amelia: [responds slowly in French, looking confused, and a bit frightened.]
Alex: What did she say?
Maggie: I asked her if she could speak in English and she said, "Didn't even know I could speak French."
Meredith: [laughs softly]
Amelia: [Openly afraid now]
Tonia: I loved this scene because it showed the other doctors adapting for Amelia relatively easily. No one was showing undue fear of her speaking French. Maggie knows French herself and is able to communicate with Amelia.
When she asks for water, Alex immediately pours it, and hands it to Andrew, who holds the cup and steadies the straw for Amelia. (No one expects her to manage this solo. The scene, therefore, does not become about how "sad" or "tragic" it is that Amelia might struggle at this point to hold a cup steady.)
Notable, too, that no one insists Amelia speak English at this point. Maggie, instead asks Amelia in French if she can speak in English. And we can see by Amelia's verbal response and her facial expression that, perhaps she thought she was speaking English all along.
Tara: Amelia's unawareness that she was not speaking English reminded me a bit of my experience with aphasia. Sometimes, I was aware that I wasn't saying what I meant to say. Other times, though, I was not aware of it until the words came out of my mouth and I heard them. (Mental processing can take more time.)
Arizona talks to April about how it starts out really hard, but eventually it hurts less, and after that, April will discover things she finds joy in. April laments she doesn't want a new normal. I found this poignant, in an episode centered around Amelia's recovery from brain surgery - and that she is very much experiencing a "new normal" of her own right now.
Tara: It is also significant that Arizona is disabled herself, and that she is bringing up a common disability-related topic in regular conversation.
AMELIA'S HOSPITAL ROOM - NIGHT TWO:
Owen: Hey. How is she?
Meredith: The same.
Owen: Meredith, what do you think? I mean, how bad is this, long-term? Do you think we'll get her back?
Meredith: I wish I knew.
Amelia: [sleepily] Would you keep it down?
Owen: Sorry. Wait--
Meredith: That was English! She spoke English!
Amelia: ...When was I not?
Owen: How are you? How do you feel?
Amelia: I'm okay. I'm good.
Meredith: Do you know what happened? Do you know where you are?
Amelia: ...I had a surgery. ...I had a brain tumor...
Meredith: [to Owen] Call Koracick.
Amelia: Ugh. No. Koracick is such a blowhard...
Meredith: [laughs] This is good!
Amelia: You should call Derek.
Meredith: [stops laughing]
Tonia: I'm curious about Owen's use of "get her back" here. Because Amelia is right there in the room with both of them. Does he mean "get her back" as in "Will she be a surgeon again?" "Will she be able to work?" I do appreciate Meredith's response in that she doesn't play into it or become overwrought at the possibility of Amelia being "gone." She simply admits she doesn't know.
Tara: I think Owen may mean "get Amelia back" in the sense that she can communicate in a way that he can understand.
I also noticed that Amelia has what is commonly referred to as a "flat affect" in this scene. This is because vocal inflection takes energy that she does not have at the moment.
Tonia: Also, I noticed that when Mer asked Amelia two consecutive questions ("Do you know what happened?" and immediately after "Do you know where you are?") Amelia only answered the first. Can you comment on this? Is it significant?
Tara: First of all, I would think Amelia may have been overwhelmed by consecutive questions. Her brain may have been able to hold and respond to the first question only.
It is also possible that she may have trouble remembering the names of things, like the hospital or the name of it. (Derek notwithstanding as a Very Important Person in her life.) We'll see more potential evidence of this later.
AMELIA - IN THE MRI MACHINE - POST-OP DAY THREE - MEREDITH, ANDREW AND TOM ARE IN THE BOOTH:
Amelia: [puts a hand up to stop the MRI tech from securing her head in place]
Tech: [stops and backs up]
Tonia: We do not even see this MRI tech's face at this point. But we see their hands responding to Amelia blocking their progress at securing her head for the scan. The tech stops, and then takes a step back. Just part of their silhouette is visible, but we see this person intentionally giving Amelia the space she's requesting.
These moments, though small, remain significant, because again, it is so common for a scene like this to play out with the tech (for example) assuming that Amelia doesn't know what she's saying or what she is doing. It could have been a painful, ugly, abusive scene where the tech insisted on securing Amelia before she was ready.
But that isn't what happened here. Amelia is respected as a human being, with the right to set her own boundaries and limits and have them honored by those around her.
Amelia: I mean, I know that Derek is dead, I just forgot he was dead. But then, the second that you tell me, it's all there. It's like I have this jigsaw puzzle, but I can't put the pieces in until you give them to me. What if I can't be a surgeon anymore? What if I get into surgery and I can't find my way back out?
Meredith: She's panicking. [Ready to go next door to reassure Amelia]
Tom: [over the microphone] Amelia. Work the problem.
Amelia: [fidgets nervously]
Tom: What's the cause of your memory loss?
Amelia: [shakily] It's, uh, retrograde amnesia.
Tom: [nods] From?
Amelia: From damage to the temporal lobe. [Still fidgeting; still shaky] But you were in the frontal. There could be interruption of blood flow. Ischemia-reprofusion injury. Edema. It's likely temporary.
Tom: Say that again?
Amelia: [props herself up on her elbows to see them in the next room] It might be temporary.
Tom: Yes. It will be. You know what this is. You don't have to be afraid of it. You will be a surgeon again. You're too good not to. So am I. Now, I need you to simmer down so I can get these scans. Okay?
Amelia: [lies back down] Okay.
Meredith: [to Tom] Thank you.
Tom: She was hot for teacher back in the day. She tell you about me?
Tonia: We see similar respect for Amelia here.
The scene is not Meredith and Koracick insisting that Amelia comply.
Meredith recognizes Amelia's distress and moves to help.
Koracick gets on the microphone to help Amelia work through her panic. He deliberately takes her through what she knows about her symptoms, a step at a time. He gives her time to process what's being said and even asks her to repeat herself when she says her amnesia is likely temporary, so the truth of that can settle with her. Once she's calm again, he tells her what needs to happen, and she is able to move forward with getting the scan.
AMELIA'S GETTING A NEURO CHECK - POST-OP DAY FOUR:
Tom: Do you know where you are?
Amelia: I'm at work.
Tom: Do you know who the president is?
Amelia: I wish I didn't.
Tom: Very good. Dr. Shepherd, you're post-op scans are pristine. I'm clearing you to go home. I'll see you in a few days for a follow up. It's been a pleasure being treated by me.
Maggie: Yay! This is incredible!
Amelia: I want to see my scans. All of them.
Maggie: Amelia. He said you're fine.
Andrew: You're cleared to go home.
Amelia: Something's wrong. Something's missing. [To Andrew] Um, please get my scans.
Tara: Here we see again that Amelia declines to give proper names when getting a neuro check. She answers in a way that makes it clear that she knows the correct response. These workarounds are perhaps ways of saving face in front of her colleagues. But we see that proper names could be part of the jigsaw puzzle for Amelia.
AMELIA, ANDREW AND TOM - TECH ROOM - LOOKING AT HER SCANS:
Tom: I once had a patient with bipolar disorder and a malignant Glioma. I took out the tumor. Bipolar didn't change.
Tom: I once had a patient with an armpit fetish, pre-op. Tumor came out? He still loved him some pits.
Amelia: Are you saying you think I'm nuts?
Tom: I'm saying there's nothing physically wrong with you anymore. Go home.
Amelia: DeLuca, schedule a functional MRI, a carotid duplex and a CT with contrast.
Andrew: Dr. Shepherd, respectfully, I just-- I don't understand what we're looking for.
Amelia: I'll know when I'm looking at it.
Tonia: I appreciate this scene because, in it, Tom does specify that Amelia did not become her tumor when she had the tumor, and similarly is not a blank slate with no personality now that it is gone. I like that Tom tells Amelia not that she is nuts but that there is nothing physically wrong with her anymore. And that, as always, Andrew's respect for Amelia remains. (He even uses the word "respectfully" and then continues to clarify "I don't know what we're looking for." He aligns them together and does not treat her as if she has no idea what she is talking about.
Tara: Tom tries to reassure Amelia in this scene. However, the fact remains that the surgery has changed her, however subtly, and she feels that change.
AMELIA - IN HER HOSPITAL ROOM WITH A TABLET WHEN ANDREW WALKS IN:
Amelia: I can't find the operative report. Did Koracick dictate--?
Andrew: [closes the door] I think I figured out what you're looking for. [Holds up Amelia's tumor in a jar] This. This is what's missing. [Sets the jar down on Amelia's bedside table]
Amelia: [regards it. Then regards Andrew]
Andrew: I think you've been waiting for the other shoe to drop. For...something to go wrong. And, I think it might be because, for years now, something WAS wrong. This thing was growing inside of you, and you were in constant danger. But now it's gone. And you're safe.
Amelia: [a bit startled]
Andrew: ...And, I think, for you...like something's wrong. But, uh... You know, I'm sorry. I thought I'd--
Amelia: [stands and hugs Andrew, breathing shakily]
Tonia: I love that this scene is here because it just continues to drive home Andrew's unwavering respect for Amelia. He does not treat her like some pity case. "Oh, poor Amelia. She's freaking out over not having a tumor. I have to reassure her / patronize her." Andrew takes his suspicions about what could be missing for Amelia very seriously. Her feelings - of safety, in fact, feeling like a danger - are legitimate to him. I also like that we see Amelia dealing with some of the trauma surgery actually is. (She's said it before herself: "Surgery is traumatic.") And now? Amelia is dealing, head on, with that trauma. She's not just "fine" now that she's had the surgery. It's much more nuanced than that.
Tara: There is a specific vulnerability to being post-op, particularly being post-op from brain surgery. I think Amelia is feeling and reacting to that.
Also, it says something that Andrew is able to put himself in her shoes to such an extent that he is able to address things she has yet to verbalize. He brings that missing part of her back, so that she can see that it is actually gone. So that that puzzle piece can snap into place. It has to be said that that level of empathy cannot be reached or acted upon if what a person is feeling instead is pity.
AMELIA - HER HOSPITAL ROOM - PACKING TO GO HOME:
Owen: Hey. So, I stocked the fridge with all your favorites. I set the thermostat to boiling, just how you like it. I want you to come home, Amelia.
Amelia: Yeah, I figured you would take care of your sister, and my sisters would take care of me. And then--
Owen: And then what?
Amelia: And then I don't know. And it's scary. You were coming to end it - to leave me - when I told you I was sick.
Owen: Listen, I was upset, but I didn't know--
Amelia: You were right. I was awful to you. You were right to wanna leave.
Owen: You had a tumor.
Amelia: You married a tumor.
Owen: I married YOU.
Amelia: We don't know who that is anymore. I don't know who I am. So, you don't have to do this now. You can be free.
Owen: Amelia. [Walks closer; takes her hands] You're my wife. Okay? In sickness and in health. Come home.
Tonia: I like that Amelia does not see herself as a burden here. She doesn't say: "You'd have to take care of your sister so my sisters would have to take care of me." Phrasing it the way she does, it is simply what family does for each other.
I like that Owen corrects Amelia when she says he married a tumor. He says, "I married you." He humanizes her. So that even in this early moments when Amelia is struggling to come to terms with what's happened and who she is now, the audience is reminded that she is not her tumor, she is Amelia.
I just cringe at Amelia's line telling Owen, "You can be free." I know she thinks she is doing him a favor. And I know it's common for people with disabilities to see themselves as different and as burdens, but I was sad to hear Amelia say it here. Glad that Owen pushed back on that, even if I do agree with Amelia that he was coming to end it, because, like Amelia, I sure wouldn't want to be stayed with out of pity.
Tara: Amelia does not know who she is anymore. This is very true to life. It also feels true that she would want to give her husband an out. It is a way of taking a little control back - of letting him go, so that he does not leave suddenly later.
Amelia via Voiceover: The trouble with crossed wires is you don't know they happened until it's too late. So we have to be very careful with our connections.
APRIL - IN THE HOSPITAL CHAPEL - WITH BABY HARRIET:
April: [praying] Thank you.
Tonia: I can't say enough how much I appreciate that Grey's takes the time to show April being thankful that Amelia survived instead of grieving all the ways she has changed. These scenes in the chapel are short but I imagine they are very involved to film. They take time. They take money. They could have easily dedicated these few seconds to a minute of chapel scenes with April to something else, but Grey's chose to use the time and money for this minute of screen time to show that Amelia's life has value to April, and she is glad and thankful Amelia made it.
I know I risk sounding repetitive here, but I don't know if I have ever seen scenes like these in media, and so I have to take time to say how glad I am that they are there.
AMELIA - IN THE CAR WITH OWEN AS HE DRIVES THEM HOME:
Amelia via Voiceover: They take time, care and attention. They take vigilance and single-mindedness. We reconnect everything we can as carefully as we can. And then we just have to pray to God...that we got it right.
Tonia: I wonder how all will go with Amelia and Owen at home together? Especially as she has not been home with him in a while. I hope we get to see a bit more of her recovery at home, and that she does not just jump back into work in the next episode. I'd also be curious to see if she has any deficits, and how she continues to cope and come to terms with the trauma of this and how Amelia feels changed by it.
Tara: This was such a great hour of disability representation! And it is proof that this can be done right!