With Thursday’s 332nd episode of Grey’s Anatomy, the ABC series beat ER‘s record to become the longest-running primetime medical drama in US television history. And to mark the momentous occasion, “We Didn’t Start the Fire” mischievously included not a single patient or procedure. Instead, it took us to Jackson’s party in honor of mom Catherine’s surgeons, Amelia and Tom. Which is not to say that there were no diagnoses made, injuries sustained or remedies prescribed — because boy, were there! So RSVP yes to this recap, pour yourself a glass of bubbly, and we’ll go over them, one and all…
‘I TOLD YOU I DIDN’T WANNA HAVE A PARTY’ | The episode began, briefly, with the soiree’s ending — firefighters in Jackson’s penthouse, him and his guests out on the street. From there, we flashed back to before the blaze that apparently had made the to-do such a “hot” ticket. After the host reviewed Catherine’s guest list — “only the doctors who saved my life and a few friends, child” — and Maggie marveled that he seemed to have procured “every egg roll in Seattle,” he snuck her upstairs for some pre-bash nookie. At Grey Sloan, Catherine tempted Bailey to join her for a drink in her limo on their way to Jackson’s, and Meredith informed Alex that she and DeLuca were dating. “Are you telling me this as the chief or your friend?” he wanted to know. In no time, they were squabbling over their respective residents, with him reminding her that she’d been mean to Jo for two years and Grey reminding him that he’d put DeLuca in the hospital. In the end, of course, he simply said that the chief wanted her to report the romance to HR, and her friend hoped DeLuca made her happy. Shortly, Taryn informed Alex that Mrs. Karev wanted to see him. Just tell her he’d see her at the party, he instructed the intern. Only it wasn’t Jo whose message Helm had delivered, it was Helen, Alex’s mother.
At Omelia’s, after Britney confessed that she worried about how she’d go back to her old life now that she was “a drug addict with a baby and a dead boyfriend,” Amelia assured her, “I am here for you no matter where you live” and gave her the whole “It gets better” speech. Once the Dickinsons had left with their daughter and grandson, Amelia sadly mentioned to Owen that her ward hadn’t said goodbye. Despite the heartache of the evening — or, rather, because of it — she was going to the party in her honor. She couldn’t bear to remain in the house that was suddenly so quiet and empty. While guests began arriving at Jackson’s, Jo bumped into Helen at Grey Sloan and became concerned about her mother-in-law’s mental state when she likened her journey to Seattle to Lewis and Clark’s adventures. As Jo drove to the bash with Helen, trying to reach Alex at every turn, Owen and Amelia happened upon Tom and Teddy happily canoodling outside Jackson’s place. When Owen balked upon hearing that his babymama’s boyfriend was taking her to Palm Springs, Koracick reassured him, “She’ll be in good hands — my hands.”
‘WE’RE JUST BOTH STUCK IN THIS GIANT SINKHOLE OF SADNESS’ | Once Amelia made it through the front door, Mer tried but failed to fill her in about DeLuca before she started saying that maybe she’d crash at Casa Grey that evening. It wasn’t like she and Owen were getting busy, after all. “We went from ex sex to bickering married couple in like 60 seconds,” lamented Amelia, sounding suspiciously like someone who might not be “married” much longer. Elsewhere, Maggie was working herself into a tizzy over an article that Kiki had written about the life-saving surgery Pierce had performed. Richard thought that the article was very moving but not Maggie. In her estimation, her former bully had made it sound like she’d “healed herself with the magical power of her own narcissism.” While Jackson futilely looked around for his mother, Catherine was clinking glasses with Bailey and encouraging her to splurge a little now that the TrailBlazer had made her rich. What, Catherine asked, was the one thing that Miranda really wanted that she hadn’t let herself buy? An $800 blender, it turned out. “You can make Christmas dinner with it,” Bailey exclaimed, “and it cleans itself.” And before another champagne bubble burst, she’d ordered it!
Back at the party, as Koracick sweetly offered to feign diarrhea to get Teddy outta there and away from crankypants Owen, Jo shared with Alex her fear that his mom might be having a psychotic break. But before the Karevs could exit with Helen, she disappeared. When Owen found Amelia alone on the deck, she told him that she wanted to talk, which you didn’t need Google Translate to know meant “I want to argue.” Before the fight bell had even rung, she came out swinging, reminding him of his “piss-poor life choices” dig and reluctance to classify addiction as a disease. In turn, he came down on the way she loved to say “You always do this, you always do that.” Finally, she noted that he’d been staring at Teddy all night and just walked the hell away. And this was only Round 1! Inside, Teddy was forced to acknowledge that Tom had been right — “I do hate this party” — after she tried to congratulate an increasingly tipsy Maggie on Kiki’s article, only for Pierce to say that it was a shame no one would ever get to read her own article on the life-saving operation because it would never get published. But then, “who needs science,” Maggie groused, “when there’s pluckiness and spunk?!?”
‘YOU DO REALIZE NOTHING IS HAPPENING IN THE GUEST ROOM OF JACKSON AVERY’S HOUSE’ | Mer was thisclose to sneaking out of the party with DeLuca when Amelia cornered her with a revelation: “I’m not in a love triangle, it’s a circle” that just keeps going around and around. “Make peace with it,” Grey advised. Baby or no baby, Teddy was always going to be a part of Owen’s life. Off their conversation, Mer had to break it to DeLuca that obviously her house wasn’t going to be as empty that evening as she’d previously thought. In response, he pulled her into the guest room and, in Italian, told her that even if they weren’t having sex, he was still going to kiss her for a good long time. Elsewhere at the party, Helen assured Alex, “I feel sturdy.” But his concerns about her mental state only grew when she revealed the scarves that she’d knitted as wedding gifts for him and Jo. Later, his wife observed that actually, Helen seemed OK. “I wanna trust” that she is, Alex responded. “I swear I do.” But, unlike when he was a kid, he didn’t know the warning signs for which he should be looking now that she was better.
Nearby, Owen announced that he was leaving, so great was his hatred of Koracick. Jackson wasn’t a fan, either — he hadn’t gotten over Tom’s hookups with April. And the playboy had been after Catherine since he got to Seattle, chimed in Richard as if Owen needed any more riling up. Shortly, rather than go, Owen sought out Amelia again to admit that he hadn’t been looking at Teddy but Tom; he didn’t want Koracick in his daughter’s life, period. So she needn’t be so insecure. Whether that was what Amelia was, she said, “You and I fell back in love over children that we adored that we no longer have.” What’s more, she believed that when he held his and Teddy’s baby, he’d fall in love with her, too. And she could talk herself out of being insecure… but “I’m starting to think I shouldn’t try.” Owen and Teddy are expecting — they have to be in the circle. Amelia, on the other hand, doesn’t. So she decided, “I’m not in it anymore.” (Sigh. So much for being less wary.) Meanwhile, no sooner had a (declined) call from Carina threatened to wreck the mood of her brother and Mer’s make-out sesh than Richard accidentally walked in on them. Afterwards, Grey went downstairs and worked overtime at acting “normal” — by taking over putting egg rolls in the oven.
‘I WANNA BURN SOMETHING DOWN!’ | After Bailey’s blenderpalooza, Catherine revealed that she had no intention of going to Jackson’s party and letting people congratulate her as if she’d beaten cancer. “My tumor hasn’t gotten any bigger, but it could!” she noted. So now she had to live in dread between scans. And that “is not something I feel like celebrating.” In response, Bailey accused her of being afraid to spend joy. “What, you think you’re gonna run out of it?” Miranda asked. Given her iffy ticker, Bailey knew a thing or two about living with uncertainty. But heck, “an earthquake could take us all out tomorrow… or a meteor… or robots. We don’t get to know that.” What they did know was that they were there at that moment, and loved, and that was worth celebrating. You tell her, Bailey! Back at Jackson’s, when Maggie begged her dad to stop going on and on about the article, he informed her that, having been the only African-American resident in his class, he’d been bullied, too. However, “it’s no good to be pissed if you don’t use it… [If] someone takes your story, you take it back and tell it louder. Start that fire, Maggie Pierce!”
Nearby, Helen was sure that she smelled something burning. “Mom, there is no fire,” Alex assured her. Oh, but there was smoke coming out of Owen’s ears. As Catherine and Bailey were arriving, Teddy was defending her beau, prompting Hunt to spit at Koracick — altogether wrongly, I (and Teddy) might add — “You may be many things, but a father isn’t one of them.” At that, despite his $1-million hand, Koracick slugged Owen. Then, as Jackson attempted to make a speech, Helen spotted smoke right before his (apparently lousy) smoke alarm went off. As everyone exited, Alex was thrilled — his mom hadn’t been losing it after all! Later, Ben reported to the party guests that plastic in the oven had led to the smoke-out. Plastic in the oven? As in, when Mer was cooking egg rolls to be “normal”? “We don’t know that that was us,” she told DeLuca just as Alex approached to introduce his mom. “You’re Alex’s best friend,” Helen said. “And he’s mine,” Grey replied. Though Mer got a text from Amelia saying that she didn’t need a place to crash after all, Grey and DeLuca still opted to go to his home.
‘EVERYTHING TASTES BETTER IN THE BACK OF A LIMOUSINE!’ | After Jackson scolded his mom for acting like she was the only one allowed to have feelings about her cancer, Catherine suggested that they celebrate after all — in the limo. And she, Richard, Maggie and Jackson had so much fun that she decided that “from here out, every scan, this is how i wanna celebrate — in the back of my limousine eating trashy food, drinking champagne and sparkling apple cider with the people I love most in the world.” Sounded good to me. As the milestone episode drew to a close, Owen was surprised to find Amelia back at his house. Holy s—… the Dickinsons were there to give up the baby. “We’re Britney’s parents,” said Carol, “but you’re Leo’s.” Alone with Amelia, the teen mom said that she was sure of her decision. “I wanna be a kid” and make mistakes — but “not like overdose mistakes.” Finally, Britney thanked her stand-in mom, hugged the family she was leaving behind and told Amelia goodbye. And, in the last moments of the hour, Mer and DeLuca arrived at his place… just as Carina did. “I tried to warn you,” she told her brother — she was in Seattle with their father, Vincenzo (Knots Landing alum Lorenzo Caccialanza kicking off a multi-episode guest arc).
So, what did you think of “We Didn’t Start the Fire”? Did you miss the cases-of-the-week element? Were you surprised the Dickinsons returned Leo? Bummed that MerLuca were interrupted? Hit the comments.