Grey's Anatomy Universe Wiki
Grey's Anatomy Universe Wiki

Drifting Back is the twenty first episode of the fifth season and the 97th overall episode of Private Practice.

Short Summary[]

When a patient's partner and father are heatedly divided on his health care, Pete makes a decision that impacts everyone, including himself. Meanwhile, Jake offers strength and experience to Amelia when he suspects she's being tempted to substance abuse, Sheldon and Violet treat a family concerned about the father's new sexual appetite, and as baby Henry draws Addison and Sam closer, they struggle to define their relationship.

Full Summary[]

In therapy, Addison talks to her therapist about a giant pile of trash floating in the ocean. No one seems to care.

At a meeting, Amelia receives her 6 months chip, but she should have come to pick it up sooner because she's 8 months sober. That's how long she's been pregnant. She didn't go to meetings for a while. The audience aplauds. A woman at the meeting tells her a pregnancy is a miracle that opens one's eyes to sobriety.

Pete shows up at Violet's with Lucas. Violet says she wants to put the house up for sale. It's going to be an adjustment for Lucas, but she's ready for a change in a nice neighborhood. He barely reacts as it's her decision, and says he has to go back to the ER for a double shift.

Addison is feeding Henry on her deck. It's early in the morning. Sam joins her and says Henry didn't keep him up, as he can sleep through everything. Addison is worried about not following the feeding schedule, but Sam agrees you sometimes just got to do what works. Sam tells her to enjoy her son and leaves.

Sheldon says he and his ex-wife went on after the two weeks of Aruba. He wanted to go completely unplugged, so he hasn't been in touch with his colleagues, nor did he bring souvenirs. Violet is willing to call it even if he'll see the parents of the girl she'll be seeing later today. He agrees to the deal. The doctors wonder how he kept the fact that he had an ex-wife a secret. Amelia comes in. He says she looks fantastic and asks how she's feeling, but she doesn't respond. The other doctors have to tell him about the baby.

Troy, a man with heart problems, is brought into the ER. Pete starts treating him and Sam soon joins him. Roger says he doesn't know what happened. They knew the cardiomyopathy would become a problem eventually, but this can't be it, Roger says. The doctors have to intubate Troy. Roger says he and Troy talked about this. Troy doesn't want to suffer anymore. Roger tells Troy he loves him, but if it's time to go, so be it. Troy's father then appears and Sam informs him Troy is in end stage heart failure. Troy's father wants Roger to stay away from Troy.

Carl and Roger are arguing over Troy. Carl hasn't seen his son in 5 years, but he says that is because of Roger. Charlotte breaks up the fighting. Carl won't accept that Roger is more than Troy's roommate. Carl wants the doctors to do everything to keep Troy alive. Roger says that is not what Troy wanted, but no legal steps have been taken to appoint Roger as Troy's medical proxy. Carl refuses to listen to Roger, and Charlotte tells Roger he has to go. Sam promises him they'll figure this out.

Sheldon is talking to Lori and Rich. Rich wants sex all the time, which made Lori uncomfortable.

Whitney, the daughter, is talking to Violet. Rich used to be her favorite person to do things with, but he's changed. He looks at her weirdly, and comes into the bathroom when she asks him not to.

Rich doesn't want to lie. He has sexual feelings about his daughter and he's afraid he can't control them.

Whitney says Rich has never touched her, but she's afraid.

Lori can't believe Rich wants to do to her daughter what he wants to do to her. Lori wants him out of the house. Suddenly, Rich has a seizure.

Sam, Pete, and Charlotte are discussing Troy and Roger. Unfortunately, they have to honor the father's wishes, even though Troy and Roger definitely are a family. Charlotte spoke to the lawyers. The law is clear: Troy's father is his next of kin. They need to get Troy on a ventilator.

Sheldon enters Amelia's office. He's sorry. Amelia is sick of hearing that. Sheldon says his patient seized and gives her the file. Amelia says she called him. He got her message, but he didn't know what she was going through. He's sorry. Sheldon was growing through something. Amelia asks him to go, as she's using all her energy to grow a brainless baby. She puts her chip in a drawer.

Violet thinks they have to report Rich to DCFS. Amelia says the EEG revealed a lesion on temporal lobe, which induces subclinical seizures that manifest as hypersexuality and an inability to control impulses. Cooper and Violet still think Whitney is unsafe. Amelia says it's a textbook Kluver-Bucy syndrome. Sheldon says accusing Rich could ruin his life. Amelia can fix Rich by removing the lesion. Cooper wonders how Rich can ever rebuild the trust. Amelia says she can help.

Pete finds Roger talking to Troy in his room. He knows Carl went home, so he saw an opportunity. Troy would hate all of this. They met at a wedding. Troy's mother died when he was really young and he became really close to his faher, and he was afraid to come out until he met Roger, whom he didn't want to hide. His dad cut him off. Troy kept trying to get his father to understand. Roger tried to call Carl, as he thinks Carl still has to love Troy, but now it's too late to be afraid to lose Troy. Troy didn't want this.

Sheldon tells Addison they need to do something about Amelia. Addison says she is talking to Jake, whom Amelia chose.

Jake does an ultrasound and tells Amelia the heart rate is strong. She's playing with her chip, and Jake says his wife used to do that when she was planning a slip. Amelia says you don't plan a slip. Jake says his wife did plan them. Amelia asks about his wife in order to dodge the question if she's planning a slip. Jake says her baby can't be a donor if she takes drugs. Jake decides not to tell Amelia what happened with his wife.

Violet's at the hospital. She needs to talk to him about the house, but he says he's too busy. Pete says they're separated, so what he thinks doesn't matter. Violet says this is also about Lucas. Pete points out he only cares about Lucas, but now he has assigned times to see him. With all that's going on, he couldn't care less about the house.

Sheldon asks Jake if Amelia is talking to him. Jake won't disclose anything, but Sheldon reminds Jake she's an addict, so she needs them. Jake is aware of that. Sheldon says he has a responsibility to help Amelia as Amelia's practically dissociative. Jake says sharing everything Amelia tells him won't help her. Sheldon is emotional and overstepping, so Jake tells him to back off.

At the hospital, Sheldon offers Amelia to talk to Lori and Rich, as he wants to make sure her head's in the game. She says she already completed 26 surgeries since he's been gone. In each one, she was a recovering addict with a brainless baby. She can perfectly compartmentalize.

Violet tells Pete refuses to talk to her. Cooper says it used to Violet giving him advise on his messy life, and now it's the other way around. Violet understands why Pete wants to be in the ER, as he can feel like a hero there. Cooper hates seeing Violet like this, but he wonders if it's the best thing for her and Pete to get back together. They're a great family, but are Pete and Violet a great couple?

Addison asks Jake if he ever wonders about what happens to the kids he brings into the world. He says they bring them by sometimes, or send holiday cards. Addison says a kid is the most important thing to its parents. She thinks about Henry all the time and she wants to talk about him all the time. Jake says it's fine and tells her to enjoy Henry. Addison laughs, as Sam told her that this morning, too. Jake finds it odd that she's been asking Sam for advice.

Amelia is talking to Lori and Rich with Sheldon by her side. She explains he may have had seizures that went unnoticed and caused his impulse control. Amelia says she can fix it. Sheldon brings up that is their hope, but it may not be. They have to think about Whitney. There are also several risks to the procedure. Rich doesn't care. If there's a chance this will make him better, he wants to do it.

Sam is talking to Carl about Troy's options. They have some options to buy Troy a little extra time, but they can't avoid the inevitable. Troy is going to die. Sam understands their relationship is strained, and he can't help but wonders why Carl is doing this since Troy doesn't want to be kept alive. Carl says Troy was his boy when he was growing up. He knew him inside out. Roger turned him around and made him believe things. Maybe this isn't what Troy wanted. Sam says Roger really loved Troy, so Roger wouldn't want to lose him. Nevertheless, Carl tells Sam to put Troy on the pump.

Charlotte enters Cooper's office, looking for sex. Pete makes her the bad guy at the hospital and she hates that. Cooper says he's hiding from Violet. Cooper quickly updates Charlotte on their relationship issues, so they can resume having sex without talking about Violet and Pete.

Sam joins Addison on her deck. She's about to drink wine. Sam assures her she won't be too drunk to take care of Henry. Sam gives her a glass, and they share it. Addison misses sitting with wine, just being. They used to do that. Sam says she has Henry now, but he misses this, too. He misses her. The baby monitor informs them Henry is crying, so Addison goes inside.

Amelia walks into Sheldon's office. He says he can take yelling. He wishes he'd been there for her. He wants to help her. She approaches and unbuckles his belt. This is how he can help her. She knows she's not sexy right now, but she tells him to close his eyes and think about someone else. She wants to forget. He asks if she took something. If she were high, she wouldn't need him to forget. An orgasm would help her for a minute. She needs an escape. Sheldon is sorry, but he can't do this. Amelia says there's that word again, and then she leaves.

Jake asks Sam if he feels like grabbing a drink tonight. Sam wants to go home early tonight. Jake thinks he wants to help out Addison. Jake wants to know what's going on. Sam thinks he's jealous.

Roger shows Pete Troy's computer journal. He read it to find proof that Troy didn't want this. Pete says it's not a legal document. Pete knows he's in pain. Roger loves Troy and he has to give him the peace he deserves. When you love someone, you let them go the way they want to go. You don't force them to fight. Pete understands that. 

Violet is talking to Whitney. She doesn't want to be scared, but she is. Whitney heard her mother on the phone last night, so she overheard her dad could die. Violet knows it's confusing and complicated, but it's still okay to love her dad. Whitney says it's just what he did. Violet imagines she's had a lot of bad days since, but she should also live in the good days. She may not forgive her father, but she doesn't get to choose whether she loves him or not.

Violet, out of breath, enters Cooper's office. He calms her down. She says she doesn't want to let Pete go. She wonders if that's pathetic and she wonders if that's what Cooper was saying. Violet doesn't care what he thinks. She loves Pete and her family, even though they're not perfect. To hell with easy. She's done with asking Pete. She's going to drag him out of the ER to force him to deal with this. She wants her husband back, with all his imperfections.

Sam and Pete are talking about Troy and Roger. Pete thinks Sam is hiding behind the rules. Sam is just respecting the process. Pete says they have to live with their conscience, not the process.

Amelia enters the OR, where Rich is about to be put under. Rich asks her to kill him if she can't get all the lesion.

The operation is over. Rich is awake and Amelia tells him she got it all. Rich will need time. Violet is in the room, too. She says she will continue to see Whitney, and he will continue to see Dr. Wallace. Rich can't go home until they agree it's the best thing for Whitney. Rich understands and thanks her for giving him a chance. Sheldon comes in, asking if he's up for visitors. Lori and Whitney come in. Rich promises Whitney he'll do everything to win back her trust. Whitney tears up and leaves. Rich asks Violet if Whitney's okay. Violet says she is brave and hopeful.

Sheldon asks Amelia if Rich will be okay. Amelia has to believe that. She did everything she could and Sheldon has to do his part. The alternative is too awful to contemplate. Sheldon says things sometimes work out, even when you think they couldn't. He brings up last night, but she walks off.

Jake tells Addison he doesn't get the practice, because doctors stick their noses where they don't belong. It's an office, after all. Addison says that the people in the office are family. He obviously cares for Amelia, but he's not sure meddling in her business is the best way. Addison is still here to finish up stuff. Jake asks if Sam is watching Henry. Jake laughs at Sam. Addison is getting everything she wanted, Jake points out. He thinks this is what she's been hoping for.

Roger is in Troy's room. He thanks Pete. Roger says goodbye to Troy and says he'll always love him. Pete then turns the ventilator off. Roger wonders what to do as Troy gasps for air. Pete tells him to just be with Troy. Roger says he wants a whole lifetime with Troy, do all the things they put off or took for granted. Roger loved every minute of what they had. He'll never forget Troy. Troy always hated that he had to have the last word, but now he has to. He loves Troy more. He'll see Troy again one day. Troy takes his last breath and Roger breaks down.

Sam says this doesn't make sense, as Troy was on the L-VAD. Pete refuses to be interrogated. Carl comes over and wants to physically attack Pete, but Sam holds him back. Pete says he only honored Troy's wishes. Carl refuses to let go, but Pete clearly states Troy is gone. Carl calms down as he lets that sink in. His boy is dead. 

Jake finds Amelia staring at a cabinet filled with drugs. She says they don't keep the good stuff here anymore, ever since she went off the rails. Jake says they both know she can get drugs if she wants. Amelia knows a dealer on the pier, who uses his 10-year-old as help, so Amelia rather not go to him unless there's no other option. Jake tells her his wife died of an overdose when her daughter was 11. Jake was still so in love with his wife, and no matter how much he saw the signs, Jake always hoped she'd choose him over the drugs. He found her on the bathroom floor, where he'd found her a lot of times before, but this time, she was gone. He performed CPR for 40 minutes, but he couldn't stop. He wanted to die with her, but he chose to stay alive for their daughter. Right now, Amelia can also choose to stay alive and carry the baby to term, so her baby can save other babies. Once she puts drugs in her system, her addiction gets to make the choice. It'll kill her baby, and sacrifice the lives of those other babies. Then, her addiction will kill her, and Sheldon and Addison and Jake will want to die, too. Amelia starts crying and says everything hurts. Jake says the pain will pass if she doesn't use. The tunnel is long and dark, but if she doesn't use, the light will come back in. It will never end if she uses. Amelia asks to get coffee with him. As they leave, Jake tells her about his daughter.

Sam joins Addison and asks how long she's been out here now. Forever, she says. Sam can't blame Henry for liking his bottle on the beach. Addison asks Sam not to give her hope for them. It's comfortable to have Sam around, but he can't just come to play house when he feels like it. That's not fair. If he wants to do this, he has to deliver on everything they talked about. He doesn't answer, and Addison wonders why they're even having this conversation now. She takes Henry back inside.

Violet finds Pete in a lounge. She doesn't care what he has to do. They're going to talk and make decisions. Pete wonders if she ever stops talking. Charlotte walks in angrily, hoping she got her facts wrong. She needs to hear that Pete was nowhere near Troy's room when he died. Pete says he did what was right. Charlotte says it wasn't right. He opened this hospital to a storm of litigations. Pete doesn't care. He did what he had to do. Charlotte did so, too. Two officers come in and arrest him for the murder on Troy Davis. They take him away.

Jake enters Addison's office and says he gets it now. In every office he's worked in, he's always found his pack, but they were just colleagues, so he didn't have to invest himself emotionally. Staying detached worked for him. That doesn't fly in this place. He's trying to say he sees now they're all in this together. He thinks he's good with that. Addison walks up to him, sits down on his lap, and starts kissing him.

In therapy, Addison says the trash may be more than bottles. Maybe there are messages in there. Hopes and dreams that have drifted together. Things that people lost that they have no clue are gone. Thing that would make people happy if they found them again. She asks if she sounds delusional.


Main Cast[]

Guest Stars[]



Medical Notes[]

Addison Forbes Montgomery[]

  • Diagnosis:
  • Doctors:
    • Therapist
  • Treatment:
    • Talk therapy

Addison talked about the trash in the ocean with her therapist. She wondered if some of that trash were things people had lost and would love to find again.

Troy Davis[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Cardiomyopathy
    • Florid pulmonary edema
    • End-stage heart failure
  • Treatment:
    • Mechanical ventilation

Troy, 38, had a history of heart failure and came into the ER in florid pulmonary edema. They went to put him on a ventilator to help him breathe, but his partner said he didn't want any more machines. However, his partner had no legal rights to make medical decisions for him, so his father had him hooked up to the ventilator and wouldn't allow Roger to see him. His cardiac output continued to decline and Sam said that they were just postponing the inevitable. Roger printed out pages from Troy's computer journal saying that he wouldn't want to be on the ventilator, but it wasn't a legal document. Despite this, Pete let Roger say goodbye and then disconnected the ventilator and allowed Troy to die.

Rich and Lori[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Rich
      • Seizure
      • Kluver-Bucy Syndrome
  • Treatment:
    • Couples therapy
    • Rich
      • Partial lobectomy

Rich and Lori came to see Sheldon. He had a serious increase in his sex drive. He also had sexual feelings about his 12 year old daughter. During their session, Rich started seizing. Sheldon gave his file to Amelia for a consult. He had a lesion on his temporal lobe, which caused his seizures and his hypersexuality. Amelia said she could remove the lesion, which would stop the feelings. Despite the risks, Rich had the surgery. Before he went in, he asked Amelia to kill him if she couldn't get all the lesion. After surgery, he woke up and she told him she'd gotten all the lesion. He was told that he'd have to continue seeing Sheldon and he couldn't go home until they agreed he was ready.


  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:
    • Talk therapy

Whitney, 12, told Violet that her father used to be her favorite person, but he had been coming into the bathroom when she was showering. He hadn't touched her, but he admitted to having sexual feelings about her. Violet sat and talked with Whitney about her feelings while her father was having surgery. She said she'd keep seeing Whitney during her father's recovery.


  • Diagnosis:
    • Pregnancy
    • Placental abruption
  • Treatment:
    • Bed rest

Stephanie was a patient of Jake's whom Addison saw for a minor placental abruption. She prescribed bed rest and said she'd give birth in six weeks.


Song Performer Scene
"Black Tooth" King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
  • In therapy, Addison talks about the drifting pile of trash in the ocean.
  • Amelia receives her 6 months chip and speeches.
"It's Alright" Waterdeep
  • Roger says goodbye to Troy.
  • Pete turns off the ventilator.
  • Roger keeps talking to Troy until he's gone.
"Everything Has Its Way" Katie Costello
  • Jake talks Amelia out of using drugs.
  • Addison asks Sam if he's ready to be all-in, to be family together, but he's not. 
  • Violet wants to talk to Pete, but Charlotte busts in.
  • Pete is arrested for murdering Troy Davis.
  • Jake comes to understand the family feeling at the practice. Addison kisses him.
  • In therapy, Addison thinks about the pile of trash.

Notes and Trivia[]


Episode Stills[]

Behind the Scenes[]


Jake: My wife died. Overdose. Her daughter was 11, and I was, uh, God, I was I was still so in love with her. And I hoped that no matter how many times I saw the signs, saw her playing with her chip, saw her staring out the window, saw her start to disappear, I always hoped that she would choose me instead. I found her on the bathroom floor. I found her there a lot of times before that. Only this time I did CPR for 40 minutes. I couldn't stop. She was cold and blue, but I, uh, I couldn't stop. I wanted to die. I wanted to die with her. But her daughter... Our daughter... I stayed alive. I chose to stay alive. And right now, you haven't used yet, so you can still make that choice. You can choose to stay alive. You can choose to carry this baby to term. And your baby can help save the lives of other babies. But once you put drugs into your system, you're no longer the one making that choice. Your addiction gets to choose. And your addiction will kill your baby. And your addiction will sacrifice the lives of those other babies. And then your addiction will kill you. And then Sheldon will want to die, and Addison will want to die, and I'll want to die, too, with you.
Amelia: Everything hurts.
Jake: If you don't use, the pain will pass. I know this tunnel is long and dark. But if you don't use, the tunnel will end, and the light will come back in. If you use, the tunnel never ends.

Violet: So, Pete, I, uh, I think I'm gonna put the house up for sale.
Pete: Okay.
Violet: There must be a market for a murder house, right? I mean, some nice, calm couple who wants to settle down and have seances.

(Charlotte rushes into Cooper's office.)
Cooper: Well, this is either gonna be awesome or terrible.
Charlotte: Take your pants off.
Cooper: Awesome!

Jake: I get it now.
Addison: Get what?
Jake: Every office I've ever worked in, I've always found my pack. People to play hoops with or grab a beer or maybe even have 'em over to dinner. But they were just colleagues. The job was our only connection so I didn't have to invest myself emotionally. And staying detached, it worked for me, but that doesn't really fly in this place. I guess what I'm trying to say is that Amelia, this place, I see that we're all in it together. And I think I'm good with that.

Addison: There's this giant pile of trash in the middle of the ocean, the Pacific Trash Vortex, twice the size of Texas. Water bottles, candy wrappers, wreckage from boats. Every kind of junk you can imagine just stuck together, floating 1,000 miles from anything. A giant pile of trash, just drifting, and no one seems to care.

Addison: What if it's more than just soda cans and plastic bottles that are out there? Maybe there are messages in those bottles, hopes and dreams that have drifted together, things that people lost that they have no clue that are gone, things that if they found again would make them so happy. Do I sound delusional?

Violet: I love Pete. I love my family. And I just want us to be okay. And I know we are not one of those storybook couples with stars in our eyes and cartoon hearts floating above our heads. I mean, we have been tested. God knows, this relationship has been tested, and we have survived. So, you know, to hell with easy. I don't trust easy. Anything worth having shouldn't be easy, because then you take it for granted. Pete is worth fighting for. My family is worth fighting for. And I am so sick to death of asking him to listen to me. I'm not gonna ask anymore. I'm gonna go down to St. Ambrose and I'm gonna haul his immature ass out of that ER, and we are going to figure out what to do, because I want my stubborn, infuriating, amazing husband back. Why are you staring at me?
Cooper: I don't know whether to be scared or awed.

See Also[]

A complete overview of this episode's crew can be found here.