Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines: It’s time for a RESIDENT SCRAMBLE! After struggling against its big ensemble for the past two episodes, Grey’s Anatomy embraces the key benefit of having so many players—the ability to mix them up into different pairings. “Odd Man Out” is a kind of “bread and butter” episode for Grey’s—solid, enjoyable filler with some interesting medical drama and character development thrown in. It’s unlikely to make anyone’s favorite episodes list, but it’s a reminder of how nice it is to spend time in Grey Sloan Memorial hospital.
Meredith’s opening monologue discusses the trauma babies must feel as they leave the warm comfort of their mothers’ wombs and face the scary unknown of the outside world. A better metaphor might have been ripping off a band-aid, which is what the doctors do this week as they confront the things (and people) they’ve been ignoring.
Richard’s resident scramble pairs Meredith with Jo and Amelia with Penny, forcing both attendings to deal with the prejudices they’ve been holding against these respective residents. Meredith realizes she really has been pushing Jo too hard—not because she dislikes her, but because she feels overprotective of Alex and doesn’t want to see him hurt again. The two women finally come to terms, which will hopefully put the “Jo hates Meredith” arc behind us. Like Stephanie, I’m really sick of hearing about it (even if I will never tire of Meredith expressing indifference in the face of Jo’s frustration).
The Amelia/Penny stuff is a little more interesting as Penny does her level best to be a team player and Amelia begrudgingly realizes that Penny is a natural neurosurgeon. Unexpectedly the person who helps her see that is Riggs, who’s more likable here than he’s ever been before as he plays both peacemaker and instigator in the Amelia/Penny war. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense that Riggs and Amelia would hit it off considering they’ve both got dark and twisted senses of humor (she even appreciates his joke about how low stress it is to care for a patient whose wife wants him dead!), but it’s a nice surprise to see them click so easily. Personally, I would rather watch her snark with Riggs than get romantic with Owen any day of the week.
Elsewhere, two medical cases take center stage and while neither works as well as it should, they’re both helped along by some excellent casting choices. Happy Endings alum Casey Wilson plays a Courtney, a tax accountant who’s pregnant with quadruplets and unexpectedly goes into very early labor. Elsewhere Oscar-winner/Jane The Virgin scene-stealer Rita Moreno plays a bitter wife named Gayle who is waiting for her philandering husband to die so she can get the money promised to her in their prenup.
Both cases start strong and seem to promise classic emotional Grey’s storylines. Unfortunately they fizzle out in similarly disappointing ways. Wilson’s storyline is the stronger of the two. Arizona experiments with a procedure that will allow Courtney to deliver one baby early while delaying the other three so they have more time to develop in utero. Wilson’s incredibly likable as the slightly neurotic mom-to-be, but it feels like a beat of her story is missing. In one scene her premature baby’s life hangs in the balance, but the next time we jump back into her story everything’s been resolved offscreen, and mom and baby are both fine. It’s not a hugely egregious misstep, but that jump feels like a missed opportunity for a little extra drama and pathos.
Still if the Courtney storyline is a bit wonky, the Gayle stuff is a total mess. It genuinely feels like someone accidentally deleted the conclusion to this storyline from the shooting script. What starts as a compelling concept devolves into, well, nothing. After undergoing brain surgery, Gayle’s elderly husband Griffin forgets about the 11 years he spent with his mistress Lena and thinks he’s still happily married to Gayle. He can’t fathom why he would ever leave her for another woman, and Gayle comes to realize that she doesn’t actually want Griffin dead—she just wants the old Griffin back.
And then Griffin dies on the operating table and we never seen Lena and Gayle again. It’s an aggressively odd choice to spend so much time with these two women and then have Amelia inform them of Griffin’s death offscreen. The idea that his last few moments on Earth where spent reminiscing with Gayle and ignoring Lena would surely be emotionally traumatic for both of them, and in skipping their reactions, Grey’s leaves their story feeling incomplete and robs the audience of more Moreno screen time.
In place of a proper resolution to the Gayle/Griffin/Lena love triangle, Grey’s devotes time to two more characters who are having trouble ripping off the band-aid this week: Meredith and April. April’s still refusing to tell Jackson that she’s pregnant while also rejecting Arizona’s offer to test the baby for osteogenesis. April’s clearly in denial and relying on optimism to get her through her second pregnancy. Based on what I’ve seen in the comments, I imagine this storyline inspired more April frustration for many viewers, but personally I found Arizona and Alex’s intrusions into her life to be far more infuriating. In particular, Arizona’s decision to tell Jackson about the pregnancy (naturally, moments before April was going to talk to him about it) is wildly inappropriate, even if I do understand that she was trying to be a good friend to Jackson as well as April.
But even more inappropriate is Major Thorpe—a.k.a Meredith’s potential McSuitor—who reveals himself to be one of the creepiest human beings on the planet as he does a whole bunch of obsessive things that Grey’s seems to think are romantic. Maybe it was once okay to repeatedly call someone’s house phone until they picked up, but in 2016 calling/texting a virtual stranger’s cellphone more than twice to ask them out is a total breach of both dating etiquette and basic decency. In fact, the only thing worse would be showing up at their workplace, joking about being a stalker, and claiming you hope your handsome face will force them to date you. There are about a hundred red flags when it comes to Thorpe, and the fact that none of Meredith’s friends call them out implies Grey’s isn’t aware of how deeply troubling his behavior is. I’m not really invested in whether or not Meredith rips off the band-aid and starts dating again, but I am super invested in making sure no real-life viewers look to Thorpe as a romantic role model.
I’ve pointed out a lot of flaws in “Odd Man Out,” which might make it seem like I liked the episode less than I did. Despite its weak spots, I still found it a really fun outing to watch. The montage of Richard realizing how complacent the residents had become was wonderfully directed by Kevin McKidd (a.k.a Owen Hunt), and seeing characters paired up in unexpected ways brought a jolt of energy to the proceedings. And, hell, how could I not enjoy an episode that ends with extended shots of puppies frolicking while “Lovely Day” plays? I’m not completely heartless.
- I don’t understand how I’m supposed to feel about those Bailey/Ben tax discussions nor what they’re telling me about their relationship.
- I do, however, like that Ben finds a new place in peds. He does seem like he would be great with moms.
- I watched this episode with my sister and we both had a visceral reaction to Arizona’s announcement that she was going to sew Courtney’s cervix shut.
- “It’s sweet. Thank you, really. You’re so invested. You’re like the Supreme Court just trying to tell a woman what she can and can’t do.” Listen, April, I’m on your side here, but let’s not push it with these unnecessarily clunky political references, okay?