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

We've all heard the quote: "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." Easy for Thomas Edison to say. He had all the good ideas. Inspiration is not some mystical, unattainable thing. Inspiration is a seed. That seed turns into vision. That vision turns into a goal. And hopefully, that goal turns into victory. I said, hopefully.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger is the twelfth episode of the fourteenth season and the 305th overall episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Short Summary[]

April is in charge of the new Grey Sloan Surgical Innovation Contest, and the doctors are eager to start their projects. Meanwhile, Catherine’s old friend has a shocking idea for Catherine and Jackson, and Meredith treats a returning patient who inspires her project.

Full Summary[]

In his lab, Jackson is working on something as Dahlia observes him in awe.

Bailey is doing research in her bed.

Amelia is pacing in her lab while Sam and Andrew are going through books.

A seemingly depressed Arizona is watching television in bed.

Meredith is waiting for inspiration as she looks at organ models.

April wakes up in bed with Vik. She yells to wake him up. He has to choose between sex and sleep as she really does not want him to sleep over. He asks if he'll see her tonight. No, because she has Harriet tonight. Vik asks if she wasn't supposed to hand out the contest rules this morning. She says they can wait.

The attendings are eagerly waiting for April to post the rules, but she's MIA. So is Bailey, but she's officially on vacation. Some of them discuss their projects. Jackson has a project that can be described as spray-on skin. A hungover April comes up wearing sunglasses and pins the rules to the board. She also gives each attending a copy. They need to write an essay and turn it in in three days. 25 projects will be chosen to receive seed money. It's all in the rules. Jackson asks about the judges. She has assembled an esteemed team of Seattle surgeons. She suggests they get to work.

Alex, Amelia, and Sam are on their way to their patient, a young girl who's entertaining a crowd by singing. When she's done, they enter the exam room. Kimmie has missed out on auditions because of her cancer, so this is going to be her year. Kimmie is 1 year post-resection of a low-grade glioma, here for a followup head CT. They can do whatever test they want, as long as she can make it to auditions.

Meredith has bad news for her and Richard's patient. He's not eligible for the TIPS procedure. He knows he's also not eligible for a transplant because he's an alcoholic. Harry refuses pain meds.

Meredith wishes she had better news. Richard says he knew it was coming, but it was worth a try. Harry is his friend. He asks about her project. She confesses she doesn't have an idea yet. That makes him feel better, because he doesn't have an idea yet either. Meredith feels the pressure from everybody looking at her.

Jackson meets his mother and her friend, Dr. Michelle Velez, in a conference room. Michelle is also a plastic surgeon, and she's here to pitch a project of her own. She needs the Averys to perfect the standard procedure for vaginoplasties. The goal is to find an elastic tissue that secretes moisture and repairs itself. She believes that tissue is the peritoneum, which regenerates itself. This technique could be life-changing for trans and cis women. It would also allow for better orgasms. She wants to enter the contest to win the money, perfect the procedure, and then teach the technique to surgeons everywhere. Jackson wonders where he fits in. Michelle says she's the trial subject and she can't operate on herself.

Jo tells the interns that if they work on a project, they are expected to do that in their own time. Taryn calls Meredith Grey, though Levi says you can't just do that.

Catherine and Jackson are talking about Michelle's proposal. Jackson doesn't want to work on genitals with his mother, and he's also already working on his own project, which is more cutting-edge than an elective cosmetic procedure. Catherine says her birthday is coming up. This could be his present to her. He hates that sentence. She thought he was woke.

Kimmie is about to have her scan taken. Alex has the song stuck in his head. The scan gives the doctors some bad news: the tumor is back and it's encroaching on Wernicke's area. They need to operate while she's awake. Kimmie says it's time to take her out, but she realizes the tumor is back when they don't respond.

Jo is talking to Meredith about still having a hard time that Paul is dead. She keeps pinching herself. They arrive in the ER, where Judy Kemp is presenting with the same symptoms as last time. Meredith says it can't be the spleen since she took that out herself. It hurts everywhere. Meredith thinks it's unrelated to the splenectomy. They will take her to CT. Taryn wonders what Meredith is doing for the contest. Meredith says she'll tell Taryn when she's ready.

Levi is in Bailey's bed room. She needs him to bring her some things since she's on bed rest. What happens here, stays here. She writes down what she needs.

Amelia enters her lab. She needs her sleep since she has awake brain surgery tomorrow, which means that Sam and Andrew won't get to sleep in order to finish analyzing her five proposed projects. Once Amelia is gone, Sam opens her fourth bag of chips. Andrew is distracted by her tongue as she eats. He retaliates by playing their song. She tells him to stop seducing her and leaves.

Maggie and Richard are about to take a dance class, which is Richard's surprise to Catherine. Maggie's father did the same thing for her mother on their 20th anniversary, which makes her a little emotional. She tells Richard she's dating Clive and that her mother told her to be more slutty. The awkward moment is broken up by the teacher entering. Richard tells her he's struggling with salsa. The teacher promises they'll get him going in no time. The class starts. The teacher shows it one time and then has Maggie take her place.

Meredith, Jo, and Taryn are watching Judy's scans. There's something remarkable: left-behind cells have formed a bunch of tiny spleens. 

Arizona and Carina sit down together after a consult. Arizona has been avoiding Carina. She confesses she barely made it out of bed, and she also can't bring herself to participate in the contest. It never gets easier losing a mom, no matter how many times it's happened. Carina is surprised to find out it's happened before, leading to Arizona leaving.

Owen is talking to Casey about a polymer he needs for his clotting factor project. Casey says he'll look into it as Carina walks by. Owen asks how she's been. She's been busy. She asks if he's doing the contest. He is. She then walks off. Casey comments that was awkward.

Meredith is back in Harry's room. She was thinking about moving him somewhere else. He doesn't want hospes, because it's the bench for players who have given up on the game. Richard and the other AA members are the only family he has left. Harrry realizes there's no fight left to fight. He asks if he can donate his organs, but he can't. He wanted to do something good before he goes. Meredith comforts him by saying alcoholism is a disease and that he did his best getting sober.

Levi has gathered all the material Bailey asked for. She asks him to keep his pager on since she might need him again soon. Also, he should take his scrubs off next time he comes here. A shocked Levi leaves.

Dahlia tells Jackson he's attractive. She quickly corrects herself as she meant to say talented. She's attracted to talent, hence the mix-up. Catherine comes in and Dahlia quickly leaves. She wants to know why he doesn't want in on Michelle's project. He says he's making skin here. She points out it's still years of research away. This surgery is real and right now. Catherine says it's very easy for a man to get the penis enhancement of his dreams. Just because a vaginoplasty already exists, doesn't mean it can't get better. If they know how, why wouldn't they do it? It helps people get the body that matches their gender. Jackson says he already does that every day. Before leaving, Catherine brings up the suicide rate in people with gender dysphoria: 41%. The surgery will save lives, not just change them.

In surgery, Kimmie is singing. Amelia says the singing and speaking parts of the brain are different, so they need to test them separately using a cortical stimulator. Kimmie now says the lyrics. Unfortunately, the doctors find that the tumor is too close to her speech center to remove it.

Maggie is on a date with Clive. She's talking about her project, which is equipping LVADs with a magnetic interface so that she can re-charge transcutaneously. Clive has no clue what she's talking about. She explains that people now have to re-charge the device that helps their hearts pump every few hours using a plug-in charger. Her device eliminates wires and ports and external batteries. She then gets a notification on her phone. She forgot she had a thing. He thinks she's blowing him off, but she honestly forgot she's double-booked. She has to leave.

Maggie apologizes to Richard for being late for dance class. They start dancing. The teacher points out Maggie's doing a cha-cha rather than the salsa. She instructs them to practice the first combo and leaves to take a phone call. While dancing, Richard brings up it's been close to a year since Diane died. He knows anniversaries are hard, especially the first one. Maggie says that as a kid, she had this stick she pretended was a wand, and her problems would disappear for a while when she waved it. She really wished she had that wand when her mother got sick.

Alex and Amelia are telling Peg, Kimmie's grandmother, that they'll need to treat the tumor with chemo and radiation. Peg says that will cause her to go bald and lose all her spirit. Kimmie is a survivor. Her parents neglected her shortly after birth. Kimmie didn't just survive it, she sang and smiled through it. She admits the notes that could shatter glass can annoy her, but that girl has a spirit that has nothing to do with Peg. She'll be damned if she doesn't fight for Kimmie. They need to come up with another plan.

Vik catches up with April to give her coffee. She tells him to go away and flees into a room.

Arizona is working in there. April talks to her about her no-daylight rule with the intern she's sleeping with. Arizona is looking at the statistics of maternal mortality rate in the US, which is 6 times higher than Italy's. She wonders what's going on here. April says she's very sorry about Karin Taylor and talks about her guilt over losing her, but Arizona says this is not about her.

Meredith has joined Jackson in his lab. She notices he doesn't seem too excited about his project. He tells her about the re-invented vaginoplasty that would revolutionize gender affirmation surgery, but vaginoplasties already exists. His skin project is cutting-edge. And obviously trans men and women deserve the best care possible, but perfecting the vaginoplasty isn't revolutionary. Also, it impacts only 1% of the population. Meredith points out that's still a whole lot of people.

The interns and Andrew are doing research together. Sam takes off her scrub top and shirt since she overheats when reading about neuroscience. He remembers. Levi takes a look at what Casey and Taryn are researching. Amelia and Alex walk in. Amelia tells them to stop her viability studies and start looking for a way to get a tumor out of girl without cutting away a single brain cell.

Meredith is operating with Jo and Taryn. She's amazed by the mini spleens, which have taken over the parent organ's function. Jo says it's shame this doesn't happen for kidneys or livers. This sparks an idea in Meredith. She tells Taryn to get out her phone and open the voice recorder app. She then dictates her idea to inject liver cell precursors into lymph nodes to produce mini livers to take over the function of the patient's failing liver. She'll need to look into adhesive polymers and CSFs.

Casey has found out that Owen's polymer is patented by a doctor in Madrid. It's expensive. Owen opens up an ambulance. Paramedic Grace is tending to a seizing patient with a head lac, while the other paramedic is holding his bloodied hand. He was trying to get an airway and the patient bit his finger off. It's his second week on the job. Parker takes the paramedic to Trauma Room 2. He's worried about his finger. Owen says they'll need to get it out of the patient's throat first.

April walks out into the ambulance bay as Owen is working on the seizing patient. He updates her on the situation. Owen has decided not to compete in the contest. He competes with death every day, and more of than not, he wins. He pulls the finger out of the man's throat. Grace goes to deliver it to Trauma 2.

Levi is back in Bailey's bedroom. She asks him to fetch things from all over her house. He has to say no. This secret project does not feel good to him. He doesn't feel safe here. Bailey realizes he's thinking she wants to have sex. She clarifies she's making a prototype for her contest entry. It goes in your rectum.

Jo, Taryn, and Meredith are talking to Judy about her mini spleens. Jo says it inspired Meredith to come up with something that might save thousands of people.

Amelia and Alex enter the neuro lab to hear what Sam and Andrew have found out. They looked into everything they could find, but they got nothing. Upon hearing about high-frequence ultrasound applications in neurosurgery, Amelia remembers Peg telling them about "notes that shatter glass." Alex gets what she's going for. If they use ultrasound waves with the same frequency as the tumor tissue, they could shatter it. Andrew says it's never been done in a brain. Amelia says not yet.

Amelia and Alex are presenting their idea to Peg and Kimmie. However, they will need to test it on models first, and get funding. Kimmie asks if they'll be in time for her to be ready for the spring musical. Alex says there'll be more auditions in the fall. Amelia really believes they are close to figuring out a cure, but they'll have to stick with chemo and radiation in the meantime.

Dahlia finds Jackson. She's written proposals for both his projects. Without sleeping, so she might be over-caffeinated. She thinks the vaginoplasty is really cool. Jackson takes the proposals and walks off. "I love you, too," Dahlia quietly tells herelf.

Jackson runs into Maggie and asks to hear her pitch. She tells him, which impresses him. She says it's nice that he gets it. He asks about Chive. She corrects him and walks off.

One by one, the surgeons hand in their proposals to April.

Meredith finds Richard sitting in Harry's room. Harry passed away just now. Meredith tells him about her idea for the contest. It can save people like him. He inspired her, so she came in to tell him that he did some good after all.

Arizona walks into the conference room and starts talking about Karin. April says it won't bring Karin back. Arizona says this is her verbal paper. She asks April to hear her out. Karin was healthy and now she's dead from an entirely treatable condition. It wasn't anyone's fault, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't fix it. They are losing laboring mothers at an unprecedented rate. The US has one of the worst rates of maternal mortality in the developed world. They need to fix this now. April tells her to put that in writing and send it to her.

April and her team are going over the proposals. Generation of accessory livers in lymphatic tissue by Meredith Grey and Josephine Wilson. 

Jo is very happy to find out that Meredith put her on the proposal. Meredith says Jo will be her partner in this. She found a critical piece of the puzzle. Jo pinches herself. Meredith tells her to stop doing that. This is real. Jo is free now. Meredith would be happy to change Jo's name on the paper. Jo chooses Josephine Brooke Wilson.

April reads the next proposal. A novel approach to vaginoplasty using laparoscopically harvest peritoneum by Catherine Avery, Michelle Velez, and Jackson Avery.

Jackson meets with Catherine and Michelle in the lobby. Catherine is happy that he came around. Jackson only requests they keep the orgasm jokes to a minimum.

Up next is the path pen by Richard Webber.

Richard shows Maggie his idea. It's a device that differentiates tumor from healthy tissue, allowing surgeons to make the distinction in surgery on contact. Maggie says it's not a pen. It's a magic wand. She hugs Richard.

April reads Maggie's proposal: transcutaneously rechargable ventricular assist device.

Bailey is sleeping on her bed surrounded by material for her protoype as April reads her proposal: the rectal access port for hydrocolonoscopy.

Finally, April reads "MRI-guided ultrasound ablation of inoperable gliomas" from Alex Karev and Amelia Shepherd.

Alex and Amelia themselves are applying the radiation mask. This time, Kimmie seems a little down. As they leave the room, they realize they really need to fix this. Kimmie starts singing her song.

The inters are having drinks at Joe's. Levi defends Bailey's project to the other interns.

Arizona sits down with Carina at the bar and thanks her for being worried. Arizona is better. She says she entered the contest. She's going to study maternal mortality and since Italy seems to have it figured out way more than the US does, Arizona asks Carina to be her partner on the study. Carina asks only on the study. Arizona then leans in and kisses her.

Meredith and Jo are telling Jackson and Owen about their project. They are amazed. Owen wishes them good luck and says he didn't apply, as he came to realize that research and the patents aren't his thing. Owen asks Meredith how she got that polymer, which is the same one as the one he had Casey look up. Jackson asks Owen to go grab a refill. Jo asks Meredith if she got the patent. She didn't.

Richard enters the bar with Catherine and announces that the results are in. The surgeons all check their phones. Arizona, Maggie, and Meredith and Jo all got in. Meredith doesn't seem too thrilled. Catherine reminds Richard they have reservations, but he clears the dance floor. He tells Catherine they are celebrating her birthday a little early. The music starts and they start dancing, much to Catherine's pleasure.

Unfortunately, Alex and Amelia didn't get to phase 2. Sam and Andrew can't believe it. Alex wonders what they're going to do about Kimmie. No one answers.


Main Cast[]

Guest Stars[]


Medical Notes[]

Kimmie Park[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Recurrent low-grade glioma
  • Treatment:
    • Radiation
    • Chemotherapy

Kimmie, 12, had a brain tumor that had been removed. She was there for a follow-up CT. Her CT showed a recurrence encroaching on Wernicke's area, which controls speech. She had to have awake brain surgery. In her surgery, she was able to sing, but when she spoke while the edge of the tumor was stimulated, she confused the words, meaning she would lose her speech if the tumor was removed. They told Peg they would continue with chemo and radiation, but she said they needed to figure out a better solution for her. After some research, they proposed a plan, but while developing it, they'd continue chemo and radiation to treat the cancer.


  • Diagnosis:
    • Cirrhosis
  • Treatment:

Harry had cirrhosis due to alcoholism. He was told he wasn't eligible for a TIPSS procedure or a transplant, so he was going to die. He was offered pain medication, but refused it. He later died in the hospital.

Michelle Velez[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Gender dysphoria
  • Treatment:

Michelle came to the hospital to propose herself as a patient for a new procedure for transgender women to have gender-affirming surgery, using the peritoneum to build a vagina. With persuasion, Jackson agreed to be involved.

Judy Kemp[]

  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:
    • Splenectomies

Judy came back to the ER with pain just as before. Her incision was clean, so they did a CT, which showed that the remnant splenic cells had grown tiny spleens in her abdomen. She was taken into surgery to remove the mini-spleens.

Seizing Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Head laceration
  • Treatment:
    • Lorazepam

A patient picked up for a head lac started seizing in the ambulance. At the hospital, Owen gave him lorazepam and extracted the finger of the paramedic who had gotten it bitten off.


  • Diagnosis:
    • Amputated finger
  • Treatment:

A new paramedic put his finger in a seizing patient's mouth while trying to get an airway and got his finger bitten off. Owen later retrieved the finger.


Song Performer Scene
"Something That You Want" Thea Stone and the Town Hall
  • Jackson, Bailey, Amelia, and Meredith work on their projects.
  • Arizona sits in bed.
  • April wakes Vik and kicks him out.
  • Jackson and Richard check out the board.
"Maybe This Time" Nayah Damasen
  • Kimmie sings for an audience at the hospital.
"Back to the Beginning" Kalispell
  • Andrew plays music to get on Sam's nerves. She leaves the room.
"Maybe This Time" Nayah Damasen
  • Kimmy sings during her surgery.
"Welcome to My House" Mama Haze
  • Meredith has a sudden idea and has Taryn record it on her phone.
  • Owen and Casey go out to meet a patient, who has bitten off the paramedic's finger.
"Distance" Mike Sempert
  • The interns talk about the projects at the bar.
  • Arizona asks Carina to be her partner on her project and they kiss.
  • Meredith explains her project to Owen, who admits he didn't enter the contest.
  • Owen asks how Meredith got the polymer, but she didn't.
  • Richard comes in and tells them the results are in.
  • Maggie, Arizona, and Meredith got in and celebrate.
  • Richard has people move aside.

Notes and Trivia[]


Grey's Anatomy 14x12 Promo "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" (HD) Season 14 Episode 12 Promo

  • This episode's title originated from the song Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger, originally sung by Daft Punk.
  • This episode scored 7.32 million viewers.
  • The table read for this episode took place on November 3, 2017.
  • This episode was produced as the eleventh episode of the season but aired as the twelfth.


Episode Stills[]

Behind the Scenes[]


Vik: Hey, weren't you supposed to post the contest rules this morning?
April: God is asleep at the wheel, and humanity is locked in the trunk. They can wait for their damn rules.

Catherine: Look, my birthday is coming up. You could think of this vagina as your gift to me.
Jackson: Now I'm gonna go smash my head in with a hammer and see if I can forget that you said that.
Catherine: Jackson Avery, you are such a disappointment! I thought you were woke!

Meredith: So, you're still sleepwalking?
Jo: It's not sleepwalking. It's just failure to believe that Paul's dead and that I'm not dreaming.
Meredith: Well, I had the same thing when Derek died, except you believe you're in a dream, and I believed I was in a nightmare. It's called cognitive dissonance.
Jo: Yeah. I have bruises on my arm from pinching myself.
Meredith: Well, you should probably stop doing that.

Jackson: Thanks to my mother, all I can think about is vaginas. Yeah. I should explain that. My mom has this friend who's this amazing plastic surgeon, and she has this idea she presented to laparoscopically harvest the peritoneum for vaginoplasties. I mean, this thing would revolutionize gender-affirmation surgery. But the thing is, this surgery already exists, which is good, but has its downfalls. But she thinks that if we use the peritoneum that we're creating the Ferrari of vaginas.

April: So, the intern I'm sleeping with is everywhere. We have a no-daylight rule, but he keeps making faces at me, like, "I've seen you naked" faces. And I can't do anything about it because he has, so I'm just, like, hiding from him by day and then un-hiding at night. I'm like a sex vampire.

Jo: I'm on mini livers? You put me on your proposal? But wait. You already have Hellmouth.
Meredith: I don't want you on it as my assistant. I want you on it as my partner. I mean, you found a critical piece of the puzzle. You're on this. Stop doing that. You're awake. This is real. Paul is dead. And you're free. And if there's another name you'd prefer I put on that paper, I'm happy to change it.
Jo: How about Dr. Josephine Brooke Wilson?

Arizona: Karin was healthy, and now she's dead from an entirely treatable condition, okay, and it wasn't my fault, and it wasn't your fault that she died. Do you hear me? It wasn't your fault. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't fix it. Preeclampsia is is only one of the reasons that we are losing laboring mothers at an unprecedented rate. The United States has one of the worst rates of maternal mortality in the entire developed world. There is something going on here, and we need to fix it, not someday, but now.

Richard: It's been close to a year, hm?
Maggie: What?
Richard: Since your mother died. On the one-year anniversary of my mother's death, I was sent to the principal's office five times in one day. On the first anniversary of me being sober, I was the most tempted I've ever been to drink. Anniversaries are hard. First anniversaries are worse.
Maggie: When I was a little, I had a stick from the tree in the backyard that I used to pretend was a magic wand. And when I would feel like this, I would go to my room and I would wave it and, for a second, it would all go away. When my mom got sick, I wished I had that wand. I still do.

See Also[]

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