Grey’s Anatomy “The Distance” Review (Season 11 Episode 14)

The big day finally arrived for Amelia and Dr. Herman.

Caterina Scorsone continues to be brilliant in her portrayal of Amelia. I found her need to be confident in front of her colleagues to be completely understandable and her private meltdown to be totally relatable. This is Amelia, superhero pose and all, and it’s why she was such a loveable character on Private Practice and why I am so grateful that Shonda Rhimes and the Grey’s Anatomy team decided to bring the character on the show as a regular.

Everything about Amelia’s narrative exudes the very essence of being a superhero. The superheros that I love most in comics, television and film are the ones who put it all on the line to save those in need and reveal their humanity in their origin stories, which are usually rife with struggle and pain. Although superheros have a much higher rate of success than the average person, their failures often feel larger than life because of the high standards to which they hold themselves and because many of their heroics or attempts at heroics are often performed before an audience. There are few characters on Grey’s Anatomy better suited for the superhero story than Amelia. From the murder of her father, to her struggle with drugs and painful loss of her child, she’s got an origin story that could rival any of your DC Comics or Marvel favorites. Like a superhero, Amelia is resilient and despite the bumps she’s hit along the way, she never runs away from a challenge.

Like any good superhero, saving the world is rarely a feat that can be accomplished alone. Now you know I like to indulge in my WTF moments when the doctors engage in conversations or behavior at inappropriate times and as much as I LOVED Richard’s pep talk to Amelia, I could not silence that part of me that was thinking how long the pep rally would take while Herman was on the operating table. That, however, is a minor nitpick because I really did love the moment between Richard and Amelia. It was what she needed to hear and I think Richard was right – Derek would have flown in from DC killed Dr. Herman, had an argument with Meredith, kissed his kids and been back on a plane by the episode’s end. Regardless of the outcome, this was Amelia’s plan and she needed to see it through.

Richard’s pep talk reinforced the fact that the man is an excellent teacher. He’s not a shabby surgeon either. Kudos to the Grey’s Anatomy writers for finding a way to keep Richard around in a meaningful and relevant way.

I loved the direction of Amelia’s operation on Herman’s tumor. The set up of the scenes going from annoying chattering in the gallery to Stephanie’s attempts at encouragement to the occasional peeks at the clock did a great job at setting up the tension for those of us at home who know nothing about surgical procedures of any kind. Although it was clear that Amelia was stuck and taking too long on Herman’s surgery, you got the sense that her 15 minute pause probably felt like 15 hours to her. The two hours on the surgery clock clearly felt more like four.

I nearly passed out myself during the radioactive pellet placement. I hope the exposure does not come back to haunt Amelia – unless the writers are considering making her an actual radioactive superhero. Although I loved Amelia’s moment alone after she let Stephanie close, I felt no sense of relief until we saw Herman safely in her hospital bed. That relief, of course, was short lived as we learned that Dr. Herman had not woken up yet because of a stroke. More on that later.

Thoughts From The Grey Sloan Memorial Surgical Observation Deck

– Poor Stephanie. I thought she had noticed something that went horribly wrong when she was unresponsive. It was a relief when she passed out, as it confirmed that what looked like panic was actually her just giving out. Thirteen hours of surgery is nothing to feel ashamed about.

– I understood Bailey’s concerns about Arizona being able to perform the risky surgery on her patient, but I’m not sure why the writers spent so much time on her questioning Dr. Herman’s whereabouts. Where the hell does she think Dr. Herman would be if she did not show up for the surgery? Even if Dr. Herman was not undergoing her own surgical procedure, it should have been readily apparent to Bailey that something serious was behind Herman’s absence. It’s a minor nitpick and I think Bailey’s stuck on stupid moment was likely due to her pressing need to save both patient and baby, but her overreaction prior to the surgery kinda distracted me from feeling the full fantasy of Amelia’s superhero moment.

– I continued to dislike Callie’s doubt about Amelia being able to perform Dr. Herman’s surgery. I like Callie, but I hate this character beat for her. I also found her blabbering in the gallery to be unnecessary and annoying. Is Callie’s concern the start of a revival of Calzona? I was not a huge fan of this relationship over the last two seasons, so if the writers are putting them back together I hope they make it stick, move on and create new sources of drama for the characters that is independent of their relationship.

– Who the hell was the random guy with the 20 questions for Meredith? Further, where was he when Amelia was giving her presentations and explaining her approach to the procedure? What purpose did he serve being inserted into that moment?

– I loved that Meredith was in the gallery looking on and supporting Amelia. Sure, I’m certain that Meredith had an interest in it as a colleague and fellow surgeon, but it did not diminish the fact that she was the only familial support Amelia had. I have a hard time believing that Derek was unaware of what Amelia has been up to since he left Grey Sloan. I appreciate that he may have struggled to determine the best way to support his sister – show up and cheer her on or give her the space to shine. At a minimum, some effort to just tell Amelia that he sincerely believed in her and was rooting her on would have been a nice gesture. Derek’s absence, of course, could be a Patrick Dempsey contractual issue and not a reflection of Derek’s feelings for his sister.

– I love Amelia, but I have to say that Dr. Herman moved several notches up my list of favorite Grey’s Anatomy characters when she woke up joking with Amelia and Arizona and ready to talk about work. I nearly passed out – again – when Herman said “mommy.”

– The friendship between Arizona and Herman is great to watch, but shouldn’t she have spent just a little time thanking Amelia for being the confident pain in the ass who dared to operate on the tumor?

Until Next Week!

As you can probably guess, I loved this episode. The closing shot with Amelia in full-on superhero stance was great. I also love that the writers took the creative approach in the mixed results of Herman’s surgery. Amelia’s removal of the tumor was an undeniable success. Having Herman die during surgery would have been a boring, predictable outcome. Herman grappling with her blindness will give Geena Davis more great material to tackle and allow a non-fatal out for the character in the event Davis is on a limited episode contract. What did you think of this week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy? Sound off below!