It was the episode we all were waiting for -- the one that would determine Dr. Herman’s (Geena Davis) fate. And just like “Grey’s Anatomy” actress Jerrika Hinton promised, we definitely weren’t anticipating what Shonda Rhimes, creator of the ABC medical drama, had up her sleeve for episode 14, “The Distance.”
Tonight’s installment, which was Amelia (Caterina Scoresone) centric, kicked off with the neurosurgeon preparing to operate on Dr. Herman’s life-threatening tumor.
“A surgeon must always be prepared to lose,” Amelia said in the opening scene of “Grey’s.” “The key though, win or lose, is to never fail. And the only way to fail is not to fight. So you fight until you can't fight anymore.” And that’s exactly what Amelia did throughout the seemingly impossible 17-hour surgery.
Before slipping on her scrubs, Owen (Kevin McKidd) informed Amelia that a gallery full of doctors would be tuning in to the groundbreaking surgery. After learning all eyes would be on her, Amelia snuck into an empty bathroom where she began to bawl. “We’re doing this,” she said over and over again to herself.
As the gallery filled with residents, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) explained to Maggie (Kelly McCreary) why the surgery was so important. “This is life or death,” Mer told her about the edge-of-your-seat operation happening down below.
While the seats filled with doctors, Amelia prepped for her surgery with a power pose -- a position that that allows one to feel more confident, something she desperately need before the daunting operation. Stephanie (Hinton) then joined her mentor in the superhero stance. After gaining some poise, the duo began cutting into Dr. Herman’s skull, exposing the brain, which they then injected a dye into.
Meredith explained that the dye would force the tumor to glow, separating the unwanted mass from the brain. But from what we saw, Herman’s entire head was illuminating with a neon light.
“I thought only the tumor was supposed to glow,” one resident questioned.
“That is the tumor,” Richard (James Pickens Jr.) replied, revealing to the gallery just how intricate the surgery would be.
However, after a few hours in surgery Richard began to notice Amelia’s shoulder tensing up. “Something is bothering her,” Richard said to Owen. And as it turned out, he was right.
“I’m trapped,” Amelia revealed to Stephanie after finding herself in a corner. “I can’t remove [the tumor] without letting a piece of her go." That’s when Richard arrives.
“I thought I could help,” he said to the shaky surgeon. “We could work through whatever it is you’re stuck on.”
But little did Richard know just how stuck Amelia was.
“Kill the intercom, please,” she said, addressing the issue. “You could be a big help. I need you to call my brother. Tell him he needs to get on a plane. He’s in D.C. so if he goes now he could be here in six, seven hours.”
However, Amelia’s plan didn’t sit well with him -- especially with Dr. Herman laying on the operating table with her head split open.
“I made a mistake,” Amelia continued. “I took on an impossible task, and my hubris is going to kill her. Please -- get him on the phone. Get him on a plane. Get him here. Now.”
But Richard had a different solution. Instead of calling Derek (Patrick Dempsey), he gave Amelia a seriously needed pep talk. He told Amelia that she didn't need Derek to bail her out. “You know what you’re doing. You have it your head that he’s better than you but it isn’t true,” he told her. “No one can help you and you do not need them to. Now, what’s next?”
Richard’s talk was the spark Amelia needed to continue the operation. “Navigation probe,” she replied.
Time continued to tick away as Amelia attacked the tumor ever so carefully. “I think I cleared the optic nerve,” she announced before beginning the radiation phase.
As the operating room cleared out, so did Stephanie’s consciousness. She fainted on the floor, forcing Meredith to scrub in. But even Amelia’s sister-in-law’s cool demeanor couldn’t keep her calm as she struggled to place radiated seeds in Herman’s head. Amelia ended up pulling off her protective gloves to finish the procedure, which caused her to directly expose herself to the radiation. (Do we smell a new story line?)
“That was badass,” Mer said to Amelia after she completed the sweat-inducing process.
That’s when Stephanie, who woke up in a panic following her black out, rushed into the operating room, begging to be included. The tired doctor let her protégé finish up Herman’s stitching.
But they weren’t out of the woods yet. After the operation was said and done and the operating tools were cleaned and put away, everyone waited patiently for Herman to open her eyes.
“I don’t know why she’s not awake,” Amelia wondered, examining the tapes over and over again. That’s when Stephanie noticed that Herman had a stroke.
“Good work, Edwards,” Amelia responded.
Just then, Herman woke up -- and with a witty remark. Amelia immediately went into doctor mode, making sure her patient had no side effects from the surgery.
“I’m OK,” Herman tried to comfort them. “You got it all, didn’t you?”
That’s when fans learned episode 14’s twist. Yes, Herman had survived but she had lost her sight.
“Can you see anything? Anything at all?” Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) wondered.
“No, nothing. Completely blind,” Herman replied. But she wasn’t upset with losing her vision -- especially if that meant she could keep her life. “I’m alive. And I wouldn’t be if you hadn’t been such a pain in my ass.”
Although Herman had come to terms with her blindness, Stephanie hadn’t. She couldn’t understand how that could have happened but her mentor stepped in and told her that she had no reason to feel beaten.
“You defeated death. Mortals cannot do that. Only we can,” Amelia said.
“Only Superheroes,” Edward responds.