There’s a chill in the air, and it is not attributable to Seattle rain. It’s Grey’s Anatomy, and the terrible, no good, very, very bad day. The hospital administration is being split cleanly in half, with attendings on one side and Chiefs on the other. If you think the blood in an operating room is bad, that’s nothing compared to what happens when there is a power struggle between friends and coworkers. On the surface it’s a power struggle, but underneath there is a thorough discourse to be had about females in leadership positions. It can never just be about doing the work the best way possible, and that is the core issue playing out on Grey’s Anatomy.
All of the attendings are viewing Webber and Meredith’s replacements with ill-concealed contempt, even malice. Minnick is the invader who has to go, and April is the traitor to the cause. April proves herself to be very capable as Interim Chief of General Surgery, but she can’t use good technical skills to talk her way through an inhospitable environment (yes, I’m fully aware of the linguistic irony of that statement). Taking one of Dr. Grey’s most loyal patients does nothing to help April smooth the waters. April takes the position seriously. She is there to do her job and do it well, not to keep her friends. Since Maggie believes April is the hospital Judas, she gets booted from the case by April. Surprise, surprise, April actually does well and Grey’s cancer patient is grateful to be cancer free.
On the flip side, Minnick had nothing but managerial experience. She is excellent in the practice of teaching, but not in the realities of what it really means to be a doctor. Being responsible for another person’s life is a huge weight, one which Minnick has never really had to carry. She’s made her career on being book-smart, not in dealing with the human factor. Every resident does have to learn to do procedures on their own, but Arizona definitely has a point that performing solo procedures on children is pushing the limit. Unlike their superiors, the residents love Minnick. Stephanie is gung-ho about the opportunity to do a simple pediatric procedure by herself, but this is a child’s life. Minnick has not worked on enough serious cases, or even just cases which have random occurrences. She also doesn’t have the experience Dr. Webber has supporting young doctors through the coping process when their patients die. Because Minnick has zero experience with that, Webber has to bail her out and support Stephanie when her patient dies.
Friendships are one issue, but relationships are another. Jackson won’t be on April’s side, and he is equally appalled that his mother is behind Minnick’s hiring and this whole debacle. Webber will not let Catherine off the hook for her dishonesty. He also won’t let her off the hook for taking something precious from him. Webber loves being a surgeon, but he loves being a teacher just as much. Molding new doctors into not only capable, but compassionate surgeons is important to him, and Catherine’s actions jeopardized that. Likewise Bailey could have eased into this transition a little better, since she had no idea just how awful the situation would become, including the effect it would have on her husband. Warren completely understands both sides of the argument, he just hates being alienated by both the residents and the attendings for a decision which had nothing to do with him. Plus, it did take all of the joy out of his first solo surgery.
Here’s the real issue that needs to be highlighted. This whole episode speaks to a larger social commentary that the writers should be respected for tackling. It’s easy to be on Meredith’s side and on Webber’s side in this argument. They were both unceremoniously booted from their positions and both of them have proven their worth. Webber hit the nail on the head when he explained that it’s not what was done, but the way in which it was done. Webber should have been told right from the beginning that there was a problem to be addressed, and given the chance to fix it. No one likes change, but at least no honesty and respect would have been lost. For Bailey, Catherine, and April, the fight is constant. No man would ever be given this much grief for putting professionalism before friendship. Meredith has no room to judge either since she’s always had a leg up being the daughter of ‘surgical royalty’. These three women at the top have worked twice as hard as anyone else for their positions, and they’ve never let personal judgments interfere with their responsibilities to their patients. For that they are always going to face prejudice and ridicule. The only way they can unite the hospital is to compromise.
Can Bailey, Catherine, and April unite the hospital, or will this situation be a black mark on their colleague’s trust in them?
Grey's Anatomy Season 13 Episode 13 Review: "It Only Gets Worse"
Grey’s Anatomy builds upon a commendable, challenging, and necessary discussion on female leadership.