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Shonda Rhound-Up: Crossovers, throwbacks, showdowns on ‘Grey’s,’ ‘HTGAWM'

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MARCH 04, 2018

Last month, both “Grey’s Anatomy” and “How to Get Away with Murder” aired yet another set of midseason finales. This week, they’ve returned with crossovers: “Grey’s” with its new spin-off “Station 19,” and “How to Get Away with Murder” with “Scandal.”

‘Grey’s Anatomy’

Before its short hiatus, “Grey’s Anatomy” finally got the ball rolling on its surgical competition, secretly funded by Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams). Since April (Sarah Drew) is the judge of the competition, it was her job to adjudicate to her fellow doctors’ projects for the first round.

The “winners” of the first round were: Arizona’s (Jessica Capshaw) research on baby delivery, Maggie’s (Kelly McCreary) cardio project, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Jo’s (Camilla Luddington) liver transplant project, Jackson’s vaginoplasty innovation, and a few others. Alex (Justin Chambers) and Amelia’s (Caterina Scorsone) pitch wasn’t chosen; they’d hoped to use the competition’s funding to help a specific patient, a young musician with cancer.

This week’s episode started with a rather corny montage of all the doctors developing their respective projects. None of the doctors can stop talking about their work.

Meredith and Maggie start off their morning complaining of the struggles with their projects — how to gain legal access to another doctor’s pivotal research and how to budget a very expensive project — but they’re put in their place by Amelia, when she reminds them how little she has to work with. Later, Alex reveals to Jo that the reason his and Amelia’s project wasn’t chosen for the competition was because April didn’t think the surgical pair could get their patient’s family to agree to be their first, only and most risky test subject.

Then comes the episode’s introduction to the “Station 19” cast, a nostalgic throwback to a “Grey’s” fan-favorite moment. Back in 2006, “Grey’s Anatomy” aired one of its most well-known episodes to date — titled “As We Know It,” the episode features Meredith sticking her hand in a patient’s abdomen in order to stabilize the bomb lodged inside him (yikes). This time around, it’s a new character from “Station 19,” an EMT named Andy Herrera (Jaina Lee Ortiz), who sticks her hand inside a patient’s body to stop their bleeding.

Now, it’s Meredith’s job to talk Andy through the stress. In both cases, if the doctor/EMT moves, the patient will die.

Any “Grey’s” fan will remember, though, that the risk was much higher in “As We Know It.” At the end of that episode, the bomb exploded after it was out of the patient’s body. Meredith survived, but the bomb squad agent who supported her throughout that day was killed in the blast.

Ben (Jason George), meanwhile, has moved from the doctors’ to the EMTs’ side of the medical tracks — he’s no longer a surgical intern; he’s a firefighter.

The patient in this week’s episode are a pair of brothers, who ended up in the hospital after a science project went awry. Their arrival gives the new surgical interns, “Station 19” crew (Ben included) and much of the main cast of “Grey’s” the chance to work together simultaneously.

In another wing of the hospital, Amelia has invited a cocky former mentor of hers, Dr. Thomas Koracick (Greg Germann), who removed her brain tumor at the start of this season. Alex is unsurprisingly not on board with Koracick joining the project because, well, Koracick is an asshole who brags about his “good work” on Amelia and flirts with her — and every female doctor on the team — relentlessly.

Meanwhile, pressure mounts for the doctors treating the brothers, whose status is deteriorating fast.

Meredith leads the surgery on the younger brother, whose body is being held together by Andy. The team moves from the emergency room to the operating room, slowly so as not to disrupt Andy’s grasp on the patient’s artery. When they get to the OR, Meredith enlists Andy’s help, placing a trust in her that mirrors the 2006 episode.

Meredith asks Andy to clamp the patient’s artery. Andy insists that she knows little about anatomy, but she successfully saves the patient — Meredith is able to continue the surgery and Andy is free to go.

When Andy goes to tell Ben about her accomplishment, he seems to miss surgery more than he anticipated he would. He brings Andy to an observation room so that they can watch Meredith finish the patient’s surgery and save his life. Andy’s observation works out perfectly for Meredith, who’s been waiting for a call from a Spanish doctor whose approval she needs to include his research in her liver project for the competition. Andy takes the call in Spanish and convinces the doctor to come hear Meredith’s project pitch — and maybe share his research patent with her.

In an attempt to get Koracick off the team’s back, DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti), one of the doctors working with Alex and Amelia, sends Koracick to talk to the patient, Kimmie (Nayah Damasen). The two immediately dive into a debate on their Broadway rankings — it’s the first time Koracick has seemed like anything but an absolute jerk this episode. But that quickly turns back around when he’s less than hopeful about her surgical outcome. He thinks Kimmie only has a few months to live; Alex, Amelia and their team have been trying to give Kimmie more time without forcing her to give up her voice.

Later on, in the OR with the other brother, Miranda (Chandra Wilson) calls out Richard (James Pickens Jr.) for babying her on her first day back on the job since her heart attack a few weeks back.

Miranda and Owen (Kevin McKidd) just about save the boy, but when he has an allergic reaction to the fluorescent dye used to treat him, things go south fast. The boy barely escapes with his life.

Just when we thought we got away from the sexual and romantic tension between Jackson and Maggie, Arizona unknowingly facilitates an awkward conversation about their respective dating lives. Maggie flees, leaving Arizona to witness Jackson’s inability to deal with April’s newfound sexual openness — maybe that’s understandable, given that they were once married and she’s the mother of his child, but it’s hard to tell thus far whether his reaction is out of jealousy or judgement.

Back in Alex and Amelia’s lab, it almost looks like the team won’t have to deal with Koracick much longer. He and Amelia get in a screaming fight that almost leads to his departure, but in fact helps them arrive at a solution for their musical patient.

The episode is a strong catalyst for “Station 19” — Andy helped Meredith with her research, and Ben is on the fence about this latest career change. Long-time “Grey’s” fans will remember that Ben wasn’t even a surgical intern to begin with. He was an anesthesiologist who became a surgeon, and now he’s becoming an EMT.

“Station 19” can in no way replace “Grey’s,” which has a few seasons left in it, but this crossover suggests that it will carry on the heart and purpose of its predecessor.

‘How to Get Away with Murder’

Mitch Haaseth/ABC/Courtesy

This is the episode we’ve been waiting for since the inception of “Scandal” six years ago, and “How to Get Away with Murder” two years later.

Last we saw, Annalise (Viola Davis) was working to have Laurel’s (Karla Souza) child returned to her, trying to support her therapist Isaac (Jimmy Smits) as he spiraled into a relapse and finally preparing to bring her class-action suit to court. When the class-action suit didn’t go as planned, she worried it would be swept under the rug. So Michaela (Aja Naomi King) suggested that the team — made up of Annalise’s students and closest allies — enlist the help of Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington).

Annalise appealed her class-action suit, and now it’s going to the Supreme Court.

This week’s episode wastes no time: It begins with a brainstorming session between Annalise and Olivia. More than a brainstorming session even — Annalise begins arguing her case and Olivia plays devil’s advocate in order to help her prepare. Meanwhile, Nate (Billy Brown) preps his father, Nate Sr. (Glynn Turman), to testify.

Like the rest of us, many of Annalise’s core students — specifically Asher (Matt McGorry) — totally fangirl over Olivia. Oliver (Conrad Ricamora), Michaela, Asher and Annalise are preparing to take the case to D.C.; Connor (Jack Falahee) almost decides to stay behind and try to re-enroll at school, but he changes his mind and agrees to join the team in Washington.

At the same time, in different parts of the country, the team watches Annalise’s legal opponent — Ingrid Egan (Sharon Lawrence), representing the commonwealth of Pennsylvania — try to smear her on television ahead of the case.

But no one’s getting inside Annalise’s head on this class-action suit. She’s there to win, and she’s bringing her A-game. On top of that, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the American Civil Liberties Union and Public Counsel offer to support Annalise in her case. She takes a bit to make a decision, but she ultimately chooses to take the case on her own. In the interim, Annalise invited her parents to the trial, and Olivia has learned that Ingrid has been colluding with one of the justices.

Soon after Annalise’s parents arrive, Nate arrives as well — which leads to Olivia’s realization that Nate Sr., their “face case,” is the father of Annalise’s ex-boyfriend.

What’s rad about this episode is that it shows two highly competent women, both of whom we know and love, not only working together but actively challenging each other. Olivia and Annalise don’t agree on everything by any stretch, but it’s equally badass to watch them lead together as it is to watch them debate each other.

Back in Pennsylvania, Bonnie and Frank (Charlie Weber) meet to discuss the fact that Laurel’s mom, Sandrine (Lolita Davidovich), may have had a bigger role in Wes’s murder and having Laurel’s son taken from her than Laurel thinks. Sandrine told Frank that she tried to pay Wes to stay away from Laurel when she learned that the two were dating. But Frank and Bonnie know better than to trust Sandrine. They do some digging and find that no such money was in Wes’s account. This (probably) means that Wes didn’t take Sandrine’s money, but it also means that Frank has to tell Laurel about her mother’s lie — and she doesn’t take the news well.

While the rest of the team makes their way to D.C., Michaela’s already there, trying to scope out which of the justices is exchanging information with Annalise’s opponent, Ingrid. But Michaela’s not alone in this work: she’s joined by a man whose intellect, ambition and attitude mirrors her own, Marcus Walker (Cornelius Smith Jr.) — another member of the “Scandal” cast.

Michaela and Marcus cheat on their respective partners with each other together, which was a little predictable given the rocky nature of her relationship with Asher this season (and always). To make matters worse, she reveals it to literally every other member of her squad except Asher.

Finally, Annalise gets her day in court — and she’s backed by her students, parents and Olivia.

When Michaela and Marcus arrive just behind the rest of Team Keating, she recognizes one of the justice’s assistants as a pizza delivery boy who visited Ingrid’s house the night before. She’s uncovered which of the justices has been colluding: Justice Strickland (Denis Arndt), a “hardlined conservative,” according to Olivia.

Meanwhile, Annalise collapses after a call with Isaac’s ex-wife, Jaqueline (Kathryn Erbe). Isaac has overdosed and is clinging to life; Jaqueline blames Annalise.

Suddenly, Annalise feels that she can’t present the case anymore — she asks Olivia to do it in her place. Olivia refuses; she sends Michaela to get the one thing Annalise asks for and the one thing she absolutely cannot have: vodka. Then, she gives Annalise the ideal pep talk. She reminds her to slay this case for herself.

The vodka arrives, and Annalise doesn’t take a sip. She picks herself up and prepares to deliver her case.

Of course, Annalise’s entrance would not be complete without an Alzheimer’s episode from her mother.

She makes it to the Supreme Court anyway.

Annalise starts off strong with her oral argument, which outlines the landmark civil rights cases decided by the Supreme Court in Nate Sr.’s lifetime. Then, she’s interrupted by Justice Strickland who challenges the idea that Nate Sr. is a victim of the justice system — he’s pushing back because Nate Sr. confessed to murder. Some of the justices chime in to support Strickland; others say that Strickland doesn’t speak for the entire court.

Annalise reminds them that this suit isn’t about a murder: “It’s about race.”

This point catalyzes a debate among the justices. She prepares her rebuttal and sends Michaela to the library for research, as Ingrid steps forward for her own oral argument.

Annalise returns to the stand and quotes a decades-old Supreme Court case, in which the justices decided that race must always be considered a variable in legal cases. In fact, Justice Strickland himself wrote the decision.

She argues that equal opportunity cannot exist without access to proper legal council, and she uses statistics to demonstrate the ways that this lack of access disproportionately disenfranchises people of color. “Jim Crow is alive and kicking,” she says. “There is no alternative to justice in this case.”

Annalise has given a plethora of powerful statements in several courtrooms, but her past arguments pale in comparison to this moment. Each impactful speech lead to this moment, and Annalise does not disappoint.

Though the decision has not yet been made, word gets around that Annalise will probably win the class-action suit.

But, before Annalise can even begin to celebrate, Bonnie calls: Simon (Behzad Dabu) has come out of his coma. He’s conscious, and he’s not likely to keep his mouth shut about the Keating Four.

Sophie-Marie Prime covers television. Contact her at [email protected].

MARCH 05, 2018

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