Grey’s Anatomy “Staring At The End” Review (Season 11 Episode 13)

Last night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy was not the most exciting hour in the series, but the writers did a solid job at setting up the stakes for everyone involved in Amelia’s groundbreaking effort to save Dr. Herman’s life.

The writers continue to move efficiently through storylines this season. It was pretty clear in the first half of the episode that we were reaching the turning point in Dr. Herman’s storyline and that it would not be long before we knew whether or not Amelia would be able to pull of this very ambitious surgery. “Staring At The End” allowed viewers an opportunity to feel firmly rooted in the headspace of both Amelia and Dr. Herman as both women prepared for the risky surgery.

There were no big surprises with Amelia, but I adore the character and the actress, so it was nice to watch her shine in front of her colleagues as she marveled at the tumor’s brilliance and shared her plan of attack. Although all eyes were on Amelia, the legend of her successful brother loomed large in her mind as she developed her plan for removing the tumor. It was nice to see that most of Amelia’s colleagues are rooting for her and are not questioning if she is capable of pulling off the surgery without Derek’s help – most of her colleagues. More on that later. I like that this storyline is giving Stephanie more to do and allowing her to establish herself as more than just the girl who Jackson dumped so that he could run off and marry April. I quite liked Stephanie’s speech to Amelia – even if the exchange bordered on being a bit too melodramatic.

While Amelia focused on strategy, Dr. Herman continued to move through surgeries at breakneck speeds in order to ensure that Arizona could learn as much as possible. Dr. Herman’s voiceover at the open of the episode was very insightful – “I don’t like questions without answers.” For someone with this perspective, having a seemingly inoperable tumor must be a nightmare.

The episode covered a four week period, which by the end of next week’s episode might end up being the last four week’s of Dr. Herman’s life or could be the four weeks leading up to a new lease on life for her and the prologue to Amelia becoming a neurological superstar. As a viewer, the last two episodes have firmly invested me in the outcome of this storyline for both characters.

By the episode’s end, Dr. Herman was being wheeled into the operating room and Arizona was left to face the complicated surgery with Bailey’s patient alone. Full disclosure, I’m extremely nervous about next week’s episode. I want nice things for Amelia, so nothing would make me happier than to see her conquer Dr. Herman’s tumor. I also think that watching Dr. Herman have to accept her improved health and the implications of that could be compelling to watch. Dr. Herman has done her best to embrace the fact that her time is limited and make the most of it. How do you move on after spending so much time preparing yourself for death? Richard’s comment to Owen last night about the value in the lessons learned from failure felt quite ominous. I don’t think Grey’s Anatomy is the type of show where we should expect happy endings all around, so I am not very optimistic that both Dr. Herman and Bailey’s patient and baby will pull through their respective surgeries. I have no idea, however, who will be reflecting upon the lessons from failure and loss – Amelia or Arizona.

Thoughts From The Grey Sloan Memorial Surgical Observation Deck

– As always, I enjoy the moments of levity. My favorite moment this week was Maggie supporting Callie’s idea of a sexless relationship in which she would not have to “trim the hedges” for sexy times. Like Alex, I loved Maggie’s observation in response to Callie: “It’s in there. He can find it. What, he can’t do a little work first?”

– Speaking of Callie, I had a mixed reaction to her concern about Arizona potentially having to deal with losing Dr. Herman after becoming so close with her mentor. I thought that Callie’s concern was understandable, but I really did not care for her questioning Amelia in front of everyone.

– There is a part of me that would love to see Derek assist his sister with Dr. Herman’s surgery – if he could do so while still being deferential to her plan and her vision for the removal of the tumor. However, I also appreciate that this is something that Amelia feels like she needs to do on her own, so I want the character to have this moment. We haven’t seen Derek in a few weeks, so I wouldn’t mind seeing Derek in the observation gallery rooting for Amelia. By the way, what exactly is Patrick Dempsey’s contractual agreement for this season? I can’t remember going so long without seeing Derek in an episode. I know it might be a little too saccharine for Grey’s Anatomy, but I would love for Dr. Herman’s surgery to create an opportunity for Derek and Amelia to move past their professional issues.

Until Next Week!

What did you think of this week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy? Can Amelia save Dr. Herman? Can Arizona help pull off the surgery on Bailey’s patient by herself? Sound off below!