Alex (Justin Chambers) is out of jail and back at work, but things aren’t looking good for the once promising pediatric surgeon.
He and DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) make their Grey Sloan Memorial return on the same day, which creates tension throughout the hospital. Alex starts his shift by meeting with Bailey (Chandra Wilson), who doesn’t hold back in voicing her disappointment. She explains to him the many problems she’s currently juggling as chief of staff, telling him that he is now “problem No. 1.” Alex returns to the pediatric floor where he is waist deep in various troubling cases. The star of which involves a young boy named Zack who recently received a new kidney. A case of appendicitis threatens to cause his body to reject the kidney, which forces Alex to make a snap judgement — operate on the young boy a second time or monitor the condition closely. He opts for the latter, a mistake he’ll pay for later.
Meanwhile, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) is trying to do damage control. She runs into DeLuca in the elevator and attempts to sway him from pursuing legal action against Alex. Although she is subtle in her suggestions, her words are twisted by the hopeful surgeon. He lashes out, telling her that she can’t “threaten” him because of her position in the hospital before storming out of the elevator. This, too, will come back to bite her later in episode 2.
In addition to trying to smooth things over in regards to Alex’s pending case, Meredith is trying to juggle her relationships with both Maggie (Kelly McCreary) and Riggs (Martin Henderson). This becomes more challenging when Owen (Kevin McKidd) invites Meredith over for a dinner party to serve as a “buffer” between he and Riggs, who are estranged friends. Meredith is hesitant because she’s operating across from Maggie and doesn’t want her to get suspicious. Maggie offers to attend, hoping it will provide the perfect opportunity for her and Riggs to talk and set up a date. Meredith then jumps at the opportunity to attend. She later invites Alex, who doesn’t want to come. She tells him that if she can attend court for him the least he can do is come to Owen and Amelia’s (Caterina Scorsone) dinner party and he obliges.
The big night arrives and is as awkward as expected. Maggie jumps at every opportunity to talk to Riggs, which leads to uncomfortable small talk. Meredith arrives and interrupts, lying about a patient she needs to speak with Riggs about. Maggie sets off on a tour of Owen and Amelia’s home and Meredith warns Riggs that Maggie is going to ask him on a date. She tells him to “be nice and say no,” which he takes as a sign that she’s falling for him. Meredith denies it, but repeatedly reminds him to decline Maggie’s offer.
Alex arrives late to the party, which Jo (Camilla Luddington) is attending. The pair confront one another outside, but Jo is not interested in listening to what Alex has to say. She slams his behavior on the night DeLuca was assaulted, telling Alex that she’s not interested in being with someone who could hurt another person like that. Jo claims that she feels Alex is intentionally keeping her at arm's length and trying to hurt her, which he denies. She leaves without him, returning to the apartment where the violent incident occurred.
Alex returns to Grey Sloan, responding to a page from Bailey. He’s late, and his patient Zack has taken a turn for the worse. He’s spiked a fever and his kidney is rejecting which means he needs surgery. Bailey refuses to allow Alex to scrub in, but gives him a moment to speak with his patient. Before she, Meredith and DeLuca wheel the boy into surgery, Alex gives him a pep talk and assures him that he’ll be waiting outside the operating room when he’s through. He also promises to check on his mother, who is not happy with Alex for failing to keep his promise to watch her son closely. Additionally, Alex has been demoted and will spend the next few weeks working at the Duquette Clinic. He is, as you can imagine, less than enthusiastic about the job, but accepts his punishment in stride.
Noticeably absent from the soiree were new parents April and Jackson (Jesse Williams). Following an unconventional delivery, April is being forced to stay in the hospital to recover. Her baby, however, is discharged. As any new mom would be, she is heartbroken. Jackson promises to video chat frequently and bring Harriet back to the hospital for visits. He also attempts to ease April’s worry by offering to fly her mother back out to stay and help for a few weeks or pay for a wet nurse. April declines, telling him her mother has used up all her vacation time and she can’t afford a nanny. Jackson is adamant that he’s “loaded” and can afford anything April may need to ease her into motherhood, but she is unwilling to accept his help. Jackson confides in Richard (James Pickens Jr.) about his struggles, which prompts a heartfelt speech about how April is family despite their divorce and you don’t give up on family. Richard urges Jackson to tap into the strong personality traits he’s inherited from his mother and refuse to accept April’s rejection. Armed with a new sense of confidence, Jackson offers to move April and Harriet into his home temporarily. The subject makes April uncomfortable because of their marital status and she declines, but Jackson is adamant.
Maggie does not ask Riggs out at Owen and Amelia’s party, but when she finally gets the opportunity — in the very parking lot that Meredith and Riggs took their relationship to the next level in — she is turned down. Hurt by the speed at which Riggs declined her date offer, she runs home to find comfort in a bottle of tequila. Once home she finds Meredith and Alex also drinking away their woes. Just before she walked through the door the pair were discussing the various reasons their heads are not in the game at the moment. Meredith admitted to Alex that she and Riggs slept together, but was unable to provide more details due to Maggie’s interruption. The pair continue to sip on their sorrows as the episode, titled “Catastrophe and the Cure” comes to a close.
Previews for episode 3 suggest things between Riggs and Maggie are only going to get more awkward as his relationship with Meredith heats up. Tune in to “Grey’s Anatomy” Thursday, Oct. 6 for all that and more.