Review – Grey’s Anatomy S12E01

Grey’s Anatomy Season 12 Episode 1 ‘Sledgehammer’


As ever, Grey’s Anatomy revolves around Meredith Grey. Her trials, tribulations and successes are what drive this show. As is expected then, the loss of her husband, Derek Shepherd (McDreamy himself, Patrick Dempsey) was the catalyst for change in her life at the end of Season 11. She moved back in to her mother’s Seattle home and surrounded herself with family. Maggie Pierce, her half sister and Amelia Shepherd along with Meredith and Derek’s two children all living together like one big, if not dysfunctional, family.

In the past, Meredith would have resorted to self destructive behaviours in order to overcome her grief. With her person, Christina by her side, they would have drunk tequila and eventually gotten to the point of being OK. But Christina is no longer there and her new person, Alex, is not that kind of person for her. As a result, we can see that Meredith is actually taking a novel approach, working through her grief and trying to move on with her life.

This first episode of Grey’s Anatomy’s twelfth season (how did we get to twelve seasons?) is somewhat of a catharsis for Grey’s fans. Meredith was always the character you either loved or loved to hate. She’s a whiny baby one minute and deep and meaningful the next. We always felt sorry for her, where life just seemed to keep dealing her punch after punch. This season promises to be somewhat different for Meredith, with the sun peeking out from behind the clouds that follow her around. We are used to the doom and gloom and now, Shonda Rhimes has provided us with a light at the end of the tunnel. We’re returning to some of the best parts of this show and story, the light hearted moments that used to come few and far between.

This episode opens with our heroine in bed, contemplating the start of a new day. She’s so rudely awoken by the sounds of a sledgehammer, bashing into the wall. Cue a rapid descent through the messy, toy ridden house to see Amelia and Maggie attempting to knock down one of the living room walls. Offering Meredith the sledgehammer to have a go (‘it feels great!’) doesn’t help. Of course they discussed the idea of opening up the wall last night over drinks but nothing had been settled.

Acting like bratty sisters, Meredith, Maggie and Amelia put off their argument and head into work. The case that this episode features is one of the most poignant and powerful that we have seen in a long time. The report comes in that two girls have been hit by a train and are coming into the hospital. Understandably, everyone is shaken up, two children have been struck by a train and launched down an embankment and have sustained major injuries.


However we soon see the real story with this case, the two girls are brought in concurrently, with the first constantly asking if the other girl is OK. Callie Torres, Maggie Pierce, Alex Karev and Owen Hunt are the attending physicians and assess both girls’ injuries. It’s immediately clear to Callie that the girls were not just on their way to school and taking a shortcut. She notices they both have the same drawn hearts on their arms. Callie speaks with one of the girls where she confides that she likes both men and women and soon discovers that the girls are actually a couple and were on the tracks on purpose. Of course this scene and many of the following that involve the couple are heartbreaking. Jess Tanner (the patient Callie opens up to) tells Callie that they just wanted to be together and says that her parent’s tried to send her to a camp to fix her, which is what led them to the train.

This case touches a nerve for all of the doctors’ involved, not only in terms of their relationship but also bullying. Maggie opens up to the team whilst performing surgery together, that she was bullied for being small and smart. She also lashes out at Callie and Alex, confronting them on their own bullying histories, albeit being the bully as opposed to the bullied. We see a raw side to Maggie that she often keeps hidden.

The parents of both girls arrive at the hospital and we can see why they would have been driven so far to be together when we meet Jess’s parents. Her father is a classic pushover with her mother being outright abusive and aggressive as soon as she arrives and sees the other girl, Aliyah’s father and discovering that they were there together. Of course Callie can’t stand by knowing that Jess’ mother tried to send her to a camp as well as seeing this kind of behaviour. An argument ensues and Callie has to walk away in order to continue to help Jess.

Meanwhile, in this episode, Dr Bailey is vying for the position of Chief in the hospital with presentations for the board occurring that day. She is Dr Webber’s candidate but we then meet Dr Avery’s candidate, Dr Tracy McConnell (played by Joey Lauren Adams). She’s bubbly and bright and knowledgeable. She also helps Meredith whilst overlooking her surgery on Aliyah. Of course Bailey is intimidated by the competition and as such, decides to schedule a surgery for the same time as her presentation. She talks herself out of Chief by saying she has more pressing commitments and it would take her away from that. Cue her husband Ben to the rescue and of course Bailey nails her presentation (not in the boardroom, but the operating room).

This episode goes back to the funny and light moments that Grey’s fans have been missing for the last few years. Of course the topic of teen homosexuality and persecution is poignant and not taken light-heartedly. But the show is doing justice to its characters, we are seeing them all come out from the dark and back to those we first loved. Rhimes has said that the show has come through a lot and will move forward in its twelfth season. We briefly see a blossoming relationship between Owen and Amelia (after all the heartache of last season, this was refreshing) and perhaps the winding down of a relationship in April and Jackson.  If ‘Sledgehammer’ is anything to go by, this season will be just as dramatic but gripping as ever the show has been.


Sophie Kempe

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