Grey's Anatomy Recap: Mind Matter Over

Grey's Anatomy Season 11 Recap

In this week’s Grey’s Anatomy, Amelia operated on Herman’s brain tumor. And operated on it. And then operated on it some more. But were both the surgeon and her patient able to go “The Distance” of the episode’s title? Read on and find out!

KNIFE OR DEATH | As the hour opened, Amelia was steeling herself for what was to come, taking a moment to cry out a few nerves in the bathroom before psyching herself back up to do battle with Herman’s tumor. “A surgeon must always be prepared to lose,” she said in her voiceover, but “never fail. And the only way to to fail is not to fight.” And fight, she would. By the time Stephanie joined her outside the OR, Amelia had assumed a Wonder Woman posture. “I’m being a hero,” she explained. So Stephanie did it, too. (Whatever works.)

Before Amelia had even injected the dye into Herman’s brain, the gallery was full of spectators. (Mer insisted to Maggie that it wasn’t like watching a movie of a stressful moment in a colleague’s life, but… well, she had brought snacks and knew exactly when “the good part” was starting. April turned up, too, and seemed to be doing pretty well.) Stephanie was supposed to have another resident take her place after a certain number of hours, but since Amelia wasn’t being spelled at any point, Edwards wouldn’t tap out, either. (Well, not willingly.)

In time, Amelia froze. Literally froze. She was trapped in Herman’s head, unable to make a move without inadvertently snipping out a part of what made Nicole Nicole. When Richard came in and asked if he could help in any way, Amelia said that she had bitten off more than she could chew (“My hubris is going to kill her”) and begged him to get Derek on a plane, stat. Instead of doing so, Richard reassured her that she – and only she, for that matter – knew how to execute the complicated plan she’d laid out. Off his pep talk, she got back to work and – hurrah! – cleared the optic nerve.

After Stephanie collapsed from exhaustion (at the 13-hour mark) and Mer scrubbed in, Amelia discovered just how difficult it was to work while wearing thick gloves to protect her from radiation. So, to Owen’s horror, she removed them, making the procedure easier but also risking illness and halving her exposure time. (She got the job done, though.) When Stephanie awakened, Amelia let her close up the patient’s head (under Mer’s supervision), then sank into an emotional heap on the floor of the hall.

NOBODY’S UNDERSTUDY | Meanwhile, Arizona took over for her mentor on the tricky case of Glenda — you remember, the pregnant widow of the patient that Bailey lost. Naturally, Miranda was (to put it mildly) upset that Herman wouldn’t be treating Glenda herself, but hey, Nicole was a little tied up, ya know? And though Arizona assured Bailey, “You want [Herman’s] hands, you have them, right here,” Miranda second-guessed her skills and called in Alex to deliver the baby. When he arrived, however, Arizona proved that she’d learned more than technique from Herman by standing up to Bailey and miraculously getting her to fall in line. Just as impressive? Robbins saved both the baby (without delivering it) and the mother. So there.

Afterward, Arizona took Glenda’s notecard off of her and Herman’s bulletin board and recalled one of her last conversations with her mentor. “I knew I’d picked the right horse when I picked you,” Herman told her. When Callie came in to give her ex an update on Amelia’s progress, Arizona said that she knew Nicole had done what she wanted to with her. “She’s in my head,” she marveled, then broke into tears, “but I’m not ready for my head to be the only place she exists.”

A PARTIAL VICTORY | The following day, Amelia was reviewing and reviewing her work, snapping at Owen and wondering why Herman had yet to wake up. Finally, Stephanie noticed something in a scan – the patient had had a stroke at some point during the marathon procedure. (Uh-oh.) Fearing the worst, Arizona wondered how she would do for Herman what Callie had once done for Mark. “I can’t do this by myself,” Robbins cried. To which Callie responded that she wouldn’t have to – she wasn’t alone. Then, at last, Herman woke up. “Mommy?” she said to Amelia. “Is that you, Mommy?” And at first, it seemed like she was 100 percent her same old snarky self. But, when she was alone with Arizona, she admitted what Robbins suspected – she was completely blind. However, she hastened to add that she was alive because Arizona had been such a pain in her ass. So she got to reiterate that she had picked the right horse (and Arizona got to object again to being called a horse.)

OK, your turn. What did you think of the episode? Were you relieved that Herman lived? Happy with the Calzona moments? Hit the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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63 Comments
  1. jerm says:

    LOVED the episode. Got a lil teary eyed at one point! Love greys!

  2. Kim says:

    Amazing episode. Best of the season. Loved Amelia, loved Arizona, adored Calzona. It’s going to be extra rough when Callie moves on in a few episodes.

    • g says:

      moves on ?? what are talking about ? Sara Ramirez is leaving the show ?
      ah man that sucks !!! if true – they better cast another Latina/ o on the show as a lead – heck more than one !

      • Babygate says:

        The synopsis for episode 16 indicates that Arizona will realize that Callie is moving on…

      • bluefairy says:

        She’s not leaving the show. She ”moves on” meaning that she and Arizona are not getting back together. However, I don’t think Arizona expected to get back together with Callie. She just wanted a shoulder to cry on. And I’m glad they’re being friendly to each other.

      • J says:

        Sara Ramirez is not leaving the show, Callie Torres is “moving on” from Arizona Robbins..

  3. RMR says:

    Grey’s at it’s best! Good for Amelia she didn’t need Derek, she is the superhero on her own. Loved the building friendship of Calzona. Love is going nowhere. Felt like if we are watching their way to wrapping up the series with the old cast and the beginning with new ones to me.

    • Babygate says:

      That’s what I’ve been feeling for a while and I’m not sure I’m ready for that. Anything Stephanie-related leaves me cold. IMO, Owen and Amelia make a terrible pairing, Jo and Alex feel like peripheral characters and Calzona is workingmuch better separate than together, with Patrick cutting down his part MerDer are in limbo, so I feel at a loss. Everything is changing at once. Transitions should be more gradual and meticulous and it doesn’t feel that way. Only two changes have been truly developed : Amelia as the new Neuro god and Arizona as a fetal surgeon. The only couple I can honestly say i like at the moment is Japril because they are adorable together. I think they have the best relationship of them all. So if they focus more on them, I’m ok with it.

  4. bradick says:

    “Can you see anything at all?” I lost it. Grey’s killed me for the 1000th time tonight, and I loved ever second of it.

  5. Grey's Fan says:

    Have to say I expect Jessica Capshaw (Arizona) to receive performer of the week consideration this week. She was awesome in this episode.
    It’s nice to see Arizona getting her own stories instead of following Callie around.

  6. kn1231 says:

    Loved the episode! Amelia has definitely entered my list of favorite characters on the show. I started watching Private Practice a few months ago because I love Addison, but I was not that into it. Seems like I will have to give it another try to see Amelia’s full back story. Also, the Calzona moments tonight…. damn, damn, damn… I still don’t want to see this relationship fade. Thought for a moment Shonda might pair up Amelia and Arizona… probably the only relationship I could get on board with as Calzona moves on. As usual, can’t wait for the next episode!

    • Suzanne says:

      Watch the PP episode with Amelia’s intervention. If anyone questions if she can act, that episode will shut them up. She blew me away.

    • Amanda F. says:

      I second needing to watch the intervention episode of Private Practice. That situated Caterina Scorsone in the top 3 of my all time favorite actresses!

  7. Mike says:

    Awesome episode. Sobbed at the end.

  8. Mike says:

    Loved this episode and so glad that Herman made it. Alas, it was bittersweet and I was sobbing at the end.

  9. Babygate says:

    I am very happy Herman lived. But I am disappointed at how predictable it was. This is exactly what I thought would happen but i was hoping to be wrong and be surprised. But I wasn’t. I’m glad Amelia did it without Derek. Is it me or did Herman recover awfully quick. And I can’t believe I’m saying this but I miss Mer. I love Amelia but I’m ready for the stories to be less centric. Not the most exciting episode but some great lines. “You are always left of the point” was brilliant. I really hope next week won’t be Owen centered…

  10. grace says:

    Please never ever give Jessica Capshaw performer of the week. The character of Arizona Robbins is probably the most annoying on tv. I cant even begin to mention all of the bratty, selfish and irratating things she has done. Call me a troll or what have you I have been watching this show since day one and she is my least favorite character ever.

    • Kit says:

      I don’t think Jessica Capshaw should be the Performer of the Week (although I like Arizona and I liked Jessica’s performance in tonight’s episode) but your reasons for why she shouldn’t be POTW are totally unrelated to how she did as an actor in this episode. Just because you don’t like a character doesn’t mean an actor doesn’t deserve praise for portraying that character. It’s two entirely separate things.

    • DoctorWhoFanatic says:

      Funny, when Callie is the self-centered, obnoxious, selfish b**ch. She finds a way to make everything all about her. Arizona’s trip to Africa = all about her. Plane Crash/Mark’s Death/Arizona’s Leg = all about her. Dr. Herman having a tumor and a friendship with Arizona = all about her.

      I can’t even stand to see her on the screen anymore. Thank god in this episode she actually supported Arizona selflessly FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER.

      Call me a troll or whatever, but Jessica Capshaw is an amazing actress and DESERVES performer of the week.

      • chris says:

        THIS SO MUCH!! Callie is totally about Callie. Lose a leg and its “get the he// out of bed I can’t do this myself,” go through PTSD as you deal with a life altering loss of self and you get “tough” Callie throwing you against a wall bc “it’s her life too,” she couldn’t be bothered to show up for AZ’s first ultra sound and yet when AZ, totally crushed, tells her wife there was no fetal heart beat, Callie can’t be bothered to give her so much as a hug, just starts harping on their “try again” and getting pissy about it. I will never condone adultery but I can understand why someone whose partner is a self centered bully who turns passive aggressive witch every time she doesn’t get her way, might think about stepping out. Jessica Capshaw is a fantastic actress and in this episode – she really excelled – she deserves performer of the week!!!

  11. dee says:

    Eastern NC totally sucks! because of the weather, i never got to see the show

  12. M M says:

    One Of the best episodes ever! Great, great episode! I want Callie and Arizona to get back together, pleaseeeee

  13. Jerome says:

    Bailey can be such a pain in the ass sometimes, well all the time.

    • Kendall says:

      Bailey is quite the nagging buttinsky when one of her colleagues is working on a patient she’s close to in some way.

    • Annie Sisk says:

      I miss old Bailey. I want her back.

    • Erin B says:

      Bailey annoyed me too because she knew Dr. Herman would be unavailable at some point. She should have taken one of Dr. Herman’s references, & they wouldn’t be in that position. She wouldn’t be able to get on Arizona’s case about her being half of a fetal surgeon.

  14. Luli says:

    Loved Amy, loved Robbins, loved Edwards, loved Herman (she was hilarious) and so glad that she didn’t die! One of my favorite episodes of the season! So happy Amelia rised to the ocasion and finally realized that she doesn’t need Derek, that he isn’t better than her, she has left her brother’s shadow.

    Also… can we have more Arizona and Herman even though she has gone blind and won’t be a surgeon anymore? YES to this friendship. Also, I want more Amelia/Meredith Meredith/Alex and Maggie/Meredith scenes!

  15. Luli says:

    Thank god Herman is alive!

  16. Kaily says:

    I love Herman! How many more eps are Gina contracted for? I want Arizona replaced by nicole.

  17. Juan says:

    Wow, Grey’s got me crying in this episode. I loved webbers speech to Amelia and was so rooting for her to succeed and succeed she did. Herman gets to live and being blind is a better option than having not tried to remove it. I Have really grown on Herman and love her relationship with Arizona.

  18. Drew says:

    Have enjoyed this show for the length of its run but I’m definitely tiring of it. There are way too many female doctors on this show now, most of them ditsy and annoying and not at all convincing of what real female doctors/residents are like. The only really great female characters this show had are gone (christina) or have seen a reduced role (bailey). All the best male characters that give this show its life, humor and heart (karev, derek, jackson, weber, and sloan when he was still around) hardly even see the screen anymore. All this show has become is girls constantly crying, bitching to each other, and being ditsy and not convincing at all. Definitely a female’s show.

    • Femaletoo says:

      hahaha this is hilarious! I agree though. I am happy with strong female characters (which they are sadly writing off, like Dr. Herman/awesome Geena Davis) but could do without the drama queens like Callie, April. Why is Derek gone? Why is Karev not given more to do, that handsome devil? And all the girls wake up with full perfect make up on, great hairdo’s, perfect skin and lashes, it’s really not convincing to me this is a hospital I am watching.

  19. Can we please get back to our original cast! 2 weeks of the same is too much! I have watched since the first show and miss my people .

  20. Normandy says:

    “But were both the surgeon and her patient able to go ‘The Distance’ of the episode’s title? Read on and find out!”

    Or you can just read the TVLine headline that shows up if you do a search on Grey’s Anatomy that reads “‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Recap: Nicole Herman Is Blind — Season 11”

    Anyone really hate Bailey tonight? Because Herman is under the knife Bailey has to become an obstructionist who doubts Arizona every step of the way? Who did she think was going to become the fetal surgeon if Herman died?

  21. greysfan says:

    Loved this episode from start to finish. Amazing episode and it was quite sad to learn Herman is blind at the end but she survived. Amelia did it!!! She actually did it. Great work from all the cast and is by far my favourite episode of the season. This is Grey’s at its best and the show still has it.

  22. Bark Star says:

    The Hermans Head story arc was the best thing this show has done in many years.

  23. dgniewek says:

    Love Arizona and Herman, but every scene with Amelia is like nails on a chalkboard. The actress is so over the top that she ruins the show.

  24. D. says:

    This season has been sooo good, I’m loving it. And I’m so glad Shonda brought back Amelia, even if several years later than i would have liked. I hope Geena Davis will stick around, i love her character.

  25. Rjeannine says:

    Best episode since Pink Mist!

  26. audebuisson says:

    I really hope that herman won’t Be blind forever :( !

  27. I truly enjoyed the episode. I cried, I laughed and I wondered if this was Calzona’s comeback.

  28. Jenks says:

    Nicole did not wake up the next day, Andy. If you had actually watched the episode, you would have noticed the light in her room changing from day to night several times. Also, Amelia didn’t say “we’re heroes.” It was a whole thing about standing like a superhero to whip up your mojo before something big. If you’re going to recap the show, please watch it. Or if you are watching it, pay attention. You give this show a half-a$$ed recap every week.

  29. Loved it. I am so impressed that this show can still pull out this kind of amazing story after all these years.

  30. Cas says:

    You know I never really cared for Callie and Arizona either way. But I will say that I enjoyed their interaction on this episode. It was refreshing. I often wonder if they both get to where they want to be in life if they will make another go at it. I know everyone hates them these days but it’s not like either of them have other options. As for Amelia and Owen. Idk they are sort of not too bad. I think that Owen and Callie had more between them this year them Owen and Amelia though.

  31. Sa says:

    I want Callie and Arizona to get back together. CALZONA FOREVER

  32. Isa says:

    We need MORE Geena Davis!!!

  33. Wishful thinker says:

    We kept wanting to see Derek show up sometime when we didn’t expect him. I would have loved to see him standing in the hallway, after Amelia came out of the surgery, clapping. She has always been trying to get his approval, and it would have been nice to see that she finally got it.

  34. Miss Rozie says:

    More & more Grey’s is becoming an all-female doctor show hence “super-powers” last night. How long has it been since we’ve seen Derek, Richard, Owen or Jackson operating, just an observation. NOT that this is wrong in any way, just an observation.

    LOVED the episode, in fact, after being a HUGE fan of this show since it started, I didn’t know how this season would be without the character of Cristina Yang. Well, I’m happy to say that while I do miss her, that character is being pushed into the background as each week goes by. I have even noticed that bed-hopping is at a low-time low – probably because of the 7pm start time of the show now. Just another observation.

    Glad to see both surgeries go as well as they did. I am wondering if Bailey/AZ talk about becoming co-fetal surgeons. As much as Bailey was hacking at AZ, I do believe she was taken in with the surgery she helped out with & saw what could happen. Bailey’s been floundering for the last couple of years, time to do something other than be a pain in the ass as she’s become. LOVED her when she was “the Nazi” – now she’s just a pushy P.I.T.A.

    And I am glad to see April back. It will be interesting to see how this character moves along with Jackson after the death of their baby.

    Nicole went blind because she waited way too long to have the surgery to begin with, weeks & weeks went by. She told Amelia, Arizona & Owen that when things went downhill, she’d have the surgery. LOVED when she woke up & gave them a hard time calling out Mommy is that you? That was funny, after that major surgery & she could still crack a few jokes tells me she was just so happy & grateful to be alive. I hope the character does not leave Grey’s, she may not be able to operate any more, but she can become a teacher or write medical books.

    Amelia never needed her brother, just the confidence to get over the hump of that massive surgery & removal of that tumor & she did it with Richard Webber giving her that pep talk. LOVE the character of Richard Webber – always understated, always confident, always allows the doctor’s/surgeons to think for themselves before helping out as he did with Amelia. As the time clock was shown I was actually starting to yell at my tv – “Go Amelia!” “Come on Nicole, wake up!” It was as if I was sitting in that darned gallery watching down at that surgery & this is a fictional show with fictional characters for God sakes!!!! lol … The writing of last night’s episode just totally drew me in.

    And as a few have posted, off & on throughout this episode, my eyes went from tearing up to tears falling. This show STILL gets me at times. Still love this show & to me, the writing is stronger & the dialogue better than it has every been. Good job Shonda & Company. No, make that, GREAT job, Shonda & Company. I will be surprised if this show is not renewed for a 12th season.

  35. Jmac says:

    This was an amazing episode – worthy of recognition during award season! Yes the show is long run, but it is a testament to the acting and writing that an episode can still be so engaging. The episode and this entire story arc have been amazing. A egotistical, God complex surgeon becomes humanized. A talented surgeon, suffering from big brother syndrome and years in the spotlight finally realizes she is where she is because of her own effort and abilities. A talented, caring surgeon, many times in the past eclipsed by the other “sharks” that are her coworkers, has been injected with the knowledge of the God Complex surgeon, resulting in a remarkable talent AND a caring bedside manner. Showing (for now at least) she CAN move on in her own right, both from a personal and professional aspect. So, the storyline, so we’ll written, and having so much going on at once, but not for one moment ever feeling like too much “drama” for the sake of drama. This episode delivered drama, but thrilling drama, that made the viewers care about multiple points of views situations simultaneously. Was Herman avoiding the surgery out of fear because she didn’t believe Amelia could pull it off, or, did she feel a responsibility to pass on her knowledge to the person she felt would do the most good with it? Was it fear or selflessness? I think in the time that we know Dr Herman most will have a 180 degree change in their answer to that question as well as their view of the person that Herman is. By the end of the surgery, through the excellent character development Shonda achieved through this entire semi story, I think Herman can be seen as a Super Hero and while I am sure she had doubts, she was truly concerned and felt obligated to pass her knowledge on. This was done brilliantly, not in a manner that felt like a magic God mother came to Grey-Slone and cast a spell to make her see the light, but we got to see the character from different angles and see that the old saying proving that perception isn’t reallity, because of all the different levels this storyline and the surgery effected so many people In different ways, passing judgement on someone is such a terrible thing. The way these episodes have been written we were entertained, we saw tremendous character development (amazing for a show of this tenure) and I think the underlying message also deserves praise. This has given proof that this show can continue with new characters should tjose considered integral to the show decide to move on with their careers as Cristina did. I think we will see Gina Davis again, but sadly not permanently (at least for now) as she can still appear as a consultative expert for Robbins – and who knows, Dr. shepherd (either one of them) might find a way to cure or reverse her blindness, Derek is still a visionary in neurology, Amelia just did the unthinkable, Mer is overall an amazing surgeon – with a rooted love for Nuero and her quest against Alzheimer’s — who knows! Maybe if Derek and Mer finally decide to fully relocate to the East Coast and Grey-Sloan Memorial’s only Shepard on call is Amelia, Mer’s Sister is the new “Grey” maybe Gina Davis comes on as a regular and gets her sight back as a result of Derek and his resources in DC and Herman becomes the new Chief! So, I’ve watched the show since the beginning and loved this whole season after all these years and I think if there were a big change with beloved originals leaving I would still watch if these characters contine to be developed so well through such grade A writing. Sorry if maybe I am just the one needing a brain surgery, but I really feel episodes such as this are indicators as to why the show has been on this long and I prefer that a story like this can be written instead of another terrorist attack or natural disaster!!!

  36. mariana says:

    Can you die if you stop breathing for an hour? ’cause that’s what this episode did to me