TV REVIEW: Amelia Shepherd Goes “The Distance” on Grey’s Anatomy
Amelia Shepherd Superhero, kickass neurosurgeon… the uber confident, “not as respected as bro” doctor came into her own last week. Girl Shepherd spoke poetically and surely about her mission to destroy that Herman tumor, to take its life while giving back the fetal surgeon’s. She even refused any suggestions of seeking a Derek consult, basically saying “I’ve got this!”
In “The Distance,” that Amelia fire gets extinguished by self-doubt and the enormity of not only the tumor, but of the situation. Let’s take a look at the marathon of a surgery, the rollercoaster of Amelia emotions, the Arizona successes, and those teeny Calzona feels.
All Eyes on Amelia
This one picks up right where we left off last week with Amelia looking a little shell shocked. Owen comments, “Everyone wants to see the show. Are you worried? You’re not worried.”
Oh, heck yeah, she’s worried. She heads to the bathroom, looking in the mirror and cries it out, sobs a couple of times before saying, “Okay. We are doing this. Okay? We are doing this.” Amelia storms off, striking a super hero pose before going in. She tells Stephanie it’ll make her perform better (trying that one tomorrow).
Arizona Is the Right Horse
Meanwhile, Bailey and Arizona are performing the surgery Miranda lobbied for last week, sans Herman. Bailey doubts Robbins’ abilities, disagreeing with the blonde and saying let’s just take the baby right now. She even calls in Karev as back up. Any time Alex is called in on anything is always a plus. Arizona sticks to her guns, channels her inner Herman, sticking to the plan and performing the fetal surgery. Bailey is in awe as she tucks the baby back in the mother to percolate for another month.
Alex says, “Herman picked the right person to pass the torch to.”
“She isn’t passing anything. She isn’t going anywhere.” Robbins protests, not taking the compliment.
Flashback to Arizona and Herman removing another sticky note off of their “rush to surgery” wall.
“I knew I picked the right horse,” says Nicole smiling brightly at her protege.
“Don’t call me a horse,” Arizona tells her mentor.
“I persevered and after all MY hard work, you’ve become a fetal surgeon. I deserve a medal,” Herman teases.
At this point, we are feeling about as much pressure as Amelia. Geena Davis’ performance has led us through the gamut of emotions with Nicole Herman. We hated her when she first walked through the hospital doors, and we prayed Arizona would tell her where to stick her fellowship. But week after week, as another Herman layer of fear peeled away, we’ve come to know and love this brilliant fetal surgeon. The banter, the friendship, the occasional push back … we need Herman to stick around!
The Arizona worry over her mentor allowed some seeds of a Calzona reunion to germinate. Callie checks on Arizona throughout “The Distance,” both reminded us that they really did love each other. Robbins takes the comfort, and we’re left with some sweet feels and a longing for a Calzona coupling. We’re sure there will be more in the weeks to come (fingers crossed).
Frozen (and not the good Olaf type)
Amelia freezes up in the OR, literally. She’s not sure what to do next, feeling like any move will be the wrong one. Webber goes in to offer some encouragement and to see what the hold up is. Shepherd says she’s in over her head, call big brother and get him here, NOW. “My hubris is going to kill Herman,” she admits.
Weber shows us why he is still the go to patriarch of our screwed up group of surgeons. He’s not having it, basically saying “no way” to the doubts.
“You’re on your own here. No one can help you and you DO NOT need them to. He’s not here. You are. Now what’s next?” Webber asks her firmly, demanding some Shepherd action.
Amelia bucks up, settles in, puts her head down and goes to work. Is there anything a good Richard Webber talk can’t solve? We watch the hours tick by and the first success is hit, “I cleared the optic nerve.” Amelia is back to herself.
Amelia’s Rockin’ and Rollin’
Stephanie refuses to pass the baton to rest up at the 13-hour mark and passes out instead. Meredith steps in to assist and offer moral support in her typical, no-nonsense Mer way. After what feels like a week, the last step is placing some radioactive rods in the brain to prevent the regrowth of the tumor, but Amelia’s struggling. The radiation safe gloves are way too thick to get the rods where she wants them, so in superhero fashion, Amelia strips them away, putting the radiation right where she wants it. That Owen Hunt concern is sweet as he yells at her to put the darn gloves on, right now.
Stephanie comes to in time to close the surgery and Amelia heads out, exhausted, spent, done. She drops to the floor to cry it out. It looks like it was a success! Surprisingly, Grey’s didn’t have a Herman heart stop, a gushing blood geyser, or a doctor collapse (oh wait, they did that).
Wake Up, Herman!
Herman’s out of surgery, alive on a ventilator, but not waking up. We see the days tick by with no Nicole miracle recovery. Now that sounds more like those Grey’s writers in Shondaland.
Stephanie thinks she sees evidence of a stroke on one of the scans. Uh oh. Now that REALLY sounds like typical Grey’s. Thoughts of what happened to the Jackson April baby keep popping up as we drift back to McSteamy surviving a plane crash only to wither away in the hospital days later.
But not this time. Herman finally wakes up, asking “Mommy, is that you mommy?” to a horrified Arizona.
She laughs, knowing exactly where she is and who she is. “I’m okay. You got it all, didn’t you?” she asks Amelia.
Stephanie’s teary eyed, so Herman let’s them know she really is back, “Hey, no crying in here. Crybabies out.”
“Dr. Shepherd did an amazing job.”
“Yeah, yeah, I brought the tumor,” Nicole reminds them. Yes, she’s back. We’re going to have one of those rare Grey’s happy endings, right?
Herman immediately asks about Glenda Castillo, the Bailey-forced surgery. When she hears the successful outcome, she gets to reiterate, “I knew I picked the right horse.”
Pulling a Book of Eli
That happy ending is not quite done with one more twist to throw in.
Arizona asks, “Can you see anything? Anything at all?”
“No, nothing. Completely blind.”
Arizona asks, “Are you all right?”
“I don’t know. It will take a while to sink in. I don’t think you’ll want to be around…The point is I’m alive and I wouldn’t be if you hadn’t been such a pain in my ass … I picked the right horse.”
So the happy Grey’s ending was tainted with a little Grey’s reality. Herman lives, but has to give up her passion. The tumor is gone but not without taking a souvenir. This is why we love Grey’s, isn’t it? The show never fails to pull at those heartstrings, to set us up for one thing while delivering another. After eleven years, it can still blindside us, so to speak.
Stephanie’s crying over the sightless Herman result, but Amelia’s okay with the outcome telling her intern they sent “death running like a crying bitch. By telling death to screw himself… you should be on a high right now… You defeated death. Mere mortals cannot do that. We can.”
“Only superheroes,” Stephanie agrees.
Amelia gets in her superhero stance, and we’re feeling her. She did it. She came fully out of her brother’s shadow. She is now Dr. Shepherd, amazing neurosurgeon, not that “other Shepherd.”
“The Distance” left us feeling like we’d gone through the marathon surgery. The ups, the downs, the emotion, all of it ending with a strangely positive feel. What did you think about the semi-success? The moving of Amelia to star player? Is this the last we’ll see of Herman? And when, oh when, will those Grey’s writers tackle the aftermath of the lost Jackson April baby? Speaking of lost, will we ever see Derek again? So many questions and we’re over half way done with season eleven. We’ll see you back here next week, same time, same place to tackle another Grey’s case, love on our favorite fake docs, and strike a superhero pose to ready ourselves for the sure to come drama.
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8:00 pm on ABC