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When a virus finds its way into our bodies, our immune system unleashes an attack. It puts up a good fight and then stands down. Or at least, that's what it's supposed to do. Sometimes, the system works so hard that it completely goes off the rails. Immune cells start attacking healthy tissue. They flood the lungs, clot the blood, cause vessels to leak, and shut down organs. Our body wreaks havoc on itself. It's called the cytokine storm. And it takes a miracle to stop it. Sometimes, when you think the storm has passed, you realize you were just in the eye of it.

No Time for Despair is the sixth episode and winter finale of the seventeenth season and the 369th overall episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Short Summary[]

Grey Sloan Memorial faces new pressures as Seattle Pres is overloaded, and Grey Sloan Memorial is now on surge capacity protocol. Meanwhile, Owen and Amelia are faced with one of the most controversial surgeries of their careers.

Full Summary[]

Cormac and Levi meet Sharon and Shanice in the ambulance bay.

Tom listens to the labored breathing of his roommate.

Bailey mourns her mother in her office. She grabs her mask and heads back to work.

Meredith wakes up in her room.

Andrew, Amelia, and Maggie are with Meredith. Her labs and parameters are relatively good. She feels like she has been asleep for a long time. Amelia updates her on the kids. Andrew thinks they can discharge her within the week if she keeps improving at this rate.

Cormac examines Shanice. Sharon informs the doctors that she and her friend started a fire to get out of their kidnapper's house. Jada Williams is brought in. Jada says her mother was arrested. Owen says Travis Montgomery told him about the altercation with police at the scene. Jada's father is in Nevada with his mother. Sharon tells Jada they'll figure it out.

Maggie FaceTimes Winston to let him know about Meredith. Maggie is delighted to have some light in the darkness. Winston is in his car in a grocery store parking lot. They joke about him having another woman and he adds he's not cut out for the long distance thing. He says he's happy about Meredith and then hangs up rather abruptly.

Richard updates Jo on a patient. He knows they are asking a lot of her with Meredith's absence. Jo wants to talk about a career move when he has the time. He then receives a message and says no one is leaving here tonight.

Maggie comes in to examine Tom, who refrains from using a nickname for her. She happily informs him Meredith's awake. Tom is putting his hopes of beating this virus himself on Meredith pulling through. Maggie tells him to get some rest. He points out he has no other choice.

Teddy enters the cafeteria for a staff meeting. Richard announces that Seattle Pres is at capacity, which means they can expect twice the patients and are thus activating surge protocol. They are overturning the cafeteria to COVID overflow tonight. They need all available hands, including residents. Bailey refuses to go home and expose her kids to COVID the week they last their grandma. Just like Richard, she can't leave this place when it needs her. Richard puts her in charge of patient transfer.

Cormac tells Shanice they need an X-ray to assess smoke damage to her lungs. Jackson is working on Jada's burn. Jackson says she was smart for what she did. Jada's father calls Sharon, who hands over the phone to his daughter. Jada starts apologizing. Owen informs Jackson and Cormac that they need to move the girls upstairs already since they belligerent kidnapper is coming, too, with Seattle Pres at capacity.

Andrew tells Meredith her sats are incredible. She asks about her patients. Three of them recovered. Another one passed away though his son arrived in time to say goodbye. Meredith wishes she could help. Andrew has been working every day and he doesn't feel like he helps a lot either. Andrew is paged away. He is happy to hear her talk again.

Teddy is overseeing the cafeteria turnover. Karen informs her they got four additional high-flows due to patients dying. Teddy then scolds Taryn for having put the monitors and hazardous medical waste bin in the wrong place. In her rant, she points out Taryn has just proven why they haven't let residents actually do anything. Richard comes to get Taryn for the COVID floor upstairs.

Tom wakes up to Maggie failing to resuscitate his roommate. Tom says that man used to call his wife every day. He could hear their kids in the background. He wants to know the man's full name for his prayers. Maggie confirms that Meredith is still okay. Maggie is paged away.

Jackson informs Owen that the girls have been moved upstairs. Owen and Levi are awaiting the kidnapper's arrival in the ambulance bay. Jackson suspects the man is a sex trafficker. Jackson leaves so he doesn't have to meet the guy. Travis arrives with the kidnapper, whose vitals are stable. The man insists the girls broke into his house and set fire to it. Travis clarifies the man is human garbage. Bob demands his cuffs be taken off. Levi then notices Opal lurking around. She asks about the guy they just brought in. Levi hands her a mask to wear. She claims she's disoriented because she was just mugged and hit her head. He takes her inside to get her checked out.

Jada is overwhelmed by the chaos that comes with a code blue on her floor. Jackson calms her down. Jada tells him her mother was just trying to protect them. She never should have met up with a stranger. Jackson says that man is in the wrong here. Being young means you get to make mistakes. He stole and crashed his mother's car as a teenager. Bob did what he did on purpose.

Owen tells Bob to calm down so the cuffs won't bother him as much. Bob doubts Owen would remain calm if he were arrested after girls broke into his house. Owen makes it clear he believes the girls, whom he thinks are smart. They risked their lives to get out. Owen's job is to fix him up but he hopes Bob has to spend the rest of his life behind bars. Bob demands another doctor. His speech slurs and he then loses consciousness. Owen calls a stroke alert.

Levi tells Opal she appears to be fine. As he examines her further, she overhears Owen telling staff about the possible stroke as they take Bob to CT. She asks Levi for directions to the restroom.

A nurse wheels Tom into Meredith's room. He wanted to see for himself that it is possible to beat this thing. Tom wanted to be in a room where no one is dying. He breaks down. Meredith reaches for his hand. As they hold hands, she says they'll keep this a secret.

Amelia meets Owen in the CT boot. He informs her of his clinical findings and then adds the kidnapping part. Amelia diagnoses an ischemic stroke. She orders alteplase and a CTA.

Bailey asks Andrew to get her patient settled in his room. It's the room her mother died in. Andrew respectfully tells her to take more than a minute to grief her loss. They got this without her.

As Amelia performs a thrombectomy, Owen works on Bob's arm. Amelia wonders if the world was always so messed up. They notice it more now that they have kids. Owen says he can't go home to see his kids, who are staying with his mother. When it started, Owen treated it like a war that everybody was in together, but they are not. Some people are sacrificing everything while others just keep on hurting each other.

Tom says neurosurgeons are the best lovers. They pay attention to detail and know about pleasure centers. There is another code blue. Tom says you never realize how addicted you are to saving lives until you can't. Tom thinks it's hilarious that the two best surgeons here caught the virus. Meredith points out he's not the second-best surgeon here. Tom says he didn't put her in first place in that list. They overhear that the patient didn't pull through.

Richard compliments Teddy's work on the turnover. He thinks she has earned a break. Teddy is happy that Meredith is awake but the rest is still the same. They have turned the cafeteria into a place where people will die. Besides, she has nowhere to go anyway. Richard points out that is on her. Feeling sorry for herself won't help her to save lives. She blew up her life and profoundly hurt the man she loves. She might not be able to get her life back to the way it it was but she needs to take an honest look at herself so she won't repeat the same pattern.

Maggie sits down with Sharon outside Shanice's room. She heard about what happened. Sharon says she has to go to work in the morning like nothing happened, even in this pandemic.

Opal is on the phone with someone as she roams the halls. She knows Bob won't talk but she needs to get close to him to find out what they already know. She hides when she sees Andrew at the other end of the hallway.

Tom says all he has is work and a long list of women. Meredith says he has more. He asks about her kids. She misses them so much it hurts. Tom can relate. A nurse comes in and takes Tom back to his room.

Opal returns to the ER where Levi is waiting for her with a police officer. He thought she'd like to make a statement about the mugging. She starts making up a story.

Cormac informs the girls and Sharon that they responded well to the oxygen. If the X-rays come back good, they can go home. Joyce Williams comes running into the room. She hugs her daughter. Jackson posted bail for her. Money is the only thing that works in this country.

Maggie delivers bad news to a patient's family member over the phone. She sits down with Amelia in the tent outside. Amelia saved a sex trafficker's life. She easily could have made a "mistake" to put him a in vegetative state. She saved his life so amazingly well so he can live way longer than he should. Maggie is sick of the fact that everyone is outraged over the kidnapping, but no one is paying attention to the many reasons that black girls are more vulnerable to being taken in the first place. Maggie wants outrage over the fact that black girls are seen as disposable and rarely as victims. Black girls are seen as less innocent than white girls and hypersexualized in them media. Meanwhile, they are physically and sexually abused at horrific rates. There are so many things waiting to rob black women of their future, their freedom, and joy but because none of those have an evil or obvious face, it gets ignored. The pandemic is killing black people at a rate that should make everyone outraged. Wearing masks would be the law if white people were dying at the same rate. Amelia doesn't know how Maggie carries it all.

Levi sits down with Jo. He asks if she quit yet. She corrects him; she's finding joy. She knows he's shaming her a little. Meredith would definitely shame her. Meredith would tell her it's a reaction to the pandemic and that it's insane to quit surgery. On some level, she would be right, but when she thinks about quitting, it brings her so much joy.

Andrew finds Bailey and tells her they transferred 27 patients in under five hours. Somehow, they are all still standing. Bailey screamed into a pillow for a few minutes. When his mother died, Andrew felt like the pain could carry him out of his body. Bailey feels like that now, like she's watching herself move around. She doesn't know how to handle the memorial. Elena wanted something joyous and no crying. Andrew has seen beautiful memorials in this pandemic. None of them are ideal but they do provide some comfort. Andrew is alerted to take his meds and get sleep. Bailey smiles. She is so proud of him for managing his mental health, which is difficult even without a pandemic. He says he was lucky to be surrounded by people who did not give up on him.

Meredith is woken up from a nap by a beeping monitor across the hall. She pulls her own alarm to call a code blue. When there is no immediate response, Meredith crosses the hallway and starts CPR on the coding patient. Two nurses arrive before the code team. One of them takes over compressions while Meredith puts in an ET tube. Taryn arrives is shocked to see Meredith. She starts walking back to her room after placing the tube but collapses in Taryn's arms. They get her in a wheelchair.

Owen gets some air in the morning. Teddy is standing nearby. He doesn't want to keep punishing her. He thinks it's time they start talking about what they want to do. Teddy then confesses that Allison was not just her best friend. They were deeply in love. She doesn't know what that has to do with why she did this, but it is the only secret she ever kept from him besides the affair with Tom. She does know it's connected somehow but she is still figuring out the whole story. Owen doesn't know what to do with this. Teddy just wants him to know she loved him and their family before it ended. Owen laughs. Ever since their wedding day, he began searching for the moment when she became someone capable of doing things he couldn't understand. This proves she was like that all along. She says that is not true. He doubts she even knows what true means. They named their daughter after a lie. Teddy receives word about Meredith.

Richard and Bailey are in the former cafeteria. Everyone pulled together for this. It would be beautiful if it wasn't filled with dying people. Richard says this is the first time in his career that he fears their best might not be enough. They will start losing their own soon to the toll that the pandemic is taking. He fears this will hurt them in a way they can't even begin to understand. They then receive word about Meredith, too.

Outside Meredith's room, Teddy informs Richard, Amelia, and Bailey that her sats are plummeting. Richard thinks the exertion pushed her over the edge. Teddy says her lungs may have looked that way already. The experimental drug does not reverse damage that's already occurred. Putting her on BIPAP won't be enough if she's not responding to high-flow. She thinks Meredith was on a COVId high. Teddy suggests it's time to put her on a vent. Her lungs are at a breaking point. Despite negative results in the early stages, more and more patients are surviving after they went on a vent. Richard thinks it over and then agrees with Teddy. The doctors watch Meredith with Taryn sitting by her side.

Opal is on the phone again as she leaves the hospital. She had to get out as it was getting too risky. Andrew spots her from across the parking lot. He recognizes her immediately. Carina comes up to him. Andrew informs Carina that he recognizes the woman. He assures Carina he is fine. He wants to follow her so he doesn't lose her again. Carina agrees to drive. They go after her.

Maggie is woken up by persistent knocking on her hotel room door. She is surprised to see Winston. He told her the long-distance thing wasn't working for her. She hugs him and breaks down.

Meredith is moved to an ICU room with Richard and Bailey watching her. Meredith herself is back on her beach, overlooking the ocean while Teddy intubates her and gets her hooked up to the vent.

Cast[]

Main Cast[]

Guest Stars[]

Co-Starring[]

Medical Notes[]

Shanice[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Smoke inhalation
  • Treatment:
    • Supplemental oxygen

Shanice, 13, came to the hospital with smoke inhalation after being in a house fire. Cormac ordered a chest x-ray to make sure the smoke didn't damage her lungs. Cormac said she was responding well to the oxygen and if the next x-ray looked good, she could go home.

Tom Koracick[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • COVID-19
  • Treatment:
    • Supplemental oxygen

Tom was still in the hospital, being treated for COVID-19. Maggie came in and checked on him. She told him to get rest and she'd check on him again in an hour.

Hector Martinez[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • COVID-19
  • Treatment:
    • Supplemental oxygen

Hector died in the hospital of COVID-19 despite attempts to resuscitate him.

Meredith Grey[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • COVID-19
  • Treatment:
    • Supplemental oxygen
    • Mechanical ventilation

Meredith woke up suddenly after eight days of sleeping nearly all the time. She was improving until she left her room to tend to another patient who was coding. After she intubated that patient, she collapsed. Teddy then determined she needed to be on a ventilator and Richard consented.

Jada Williams[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Smoke inhalation
    • Second-degree burns
  • Treatment:
    • Burn cream
    • Bandaging
    • Supplemental oxygen

Jada came into the hospital with smoke inhalation and second-degree burns on her left hand after being in a house fire. Jackson then treated her hand with burn cream and ordered a chest x-ray to make sure the smoke hadn't damaged her lungs. Cormac later said she was responding well to the oxygen and if the next x-ray looked good, she could go home.

Ms. Fisher[]

  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:

Ms. Fisher had had surgery and complained about tenderness around her incision. Jo said she'd look in on her as soon as she could.

Meredith's Patients[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • COVID-19
  • Treatment:

Meredith asked Andrew about her former patients. She was told that Randall, Thompson, and Patel had recovered and were discharged, but Walker had died.

Robert Corson[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Smoke inhalation
    • Burns
    • Ischemic stroke
  • Treatment:
    • Bandaging
    • CT Angio
    • Supplemental oxygen

Bob, 45, was brought into the hospital with smoke inhalation and burns to his left arm after a house fire. Owen treated his arm in the ER, but then he had a stroke and was taken for a CT. The CT showed ischemic stroke, so they started alteplase and did a CT angio to find the blockage, which was in his middle cerebral artery.

Opal[]

  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:

Opal claimed to have been mugged and to have hit her head. Levi took her inside the hospital to examine her.

COVID Patients[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • COVID-19
  • Treatment:

Andrew told Bailey that Abrams and Richardson were settled and he was waiting for Lottman's ABG results to make sure she was stable. She asked him to get Mr. Franklin settled next.

COVID Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • COVID-19
  • Treatment:
    • CPR
    • Intubation

Meredith heard a patient across the hall coding, so she got out of her bed and started CPR. She then intubated the patient.

Music[]

Song Performer Scene
"Little Bird" Jenny Owen Youngs
  • Jada and Shanice are brought to the hospital.
  • Tom's roommate coughs.
  • Bailey gets back to work.
  • Meredith wakes with a start.
"North" Sleeping at Last
  • Jo talks to Levi about transferring.
  • Andrew and Bailey talk about the patients and their grief.
  • Andrew leaves to take his meds and sleep.
"Backbone" KALEO
  • Teddy tells Owen about Allison.
  • They argue and then Teddy gets paged and races inside.
  • Bailey and Richard get paged and respond as well.
  • Meredith is back in her bed asleep.
"No Expectations" AG feat. Brian Fennell
  • Maggie finds Winston at the door and cries as she hugs him.
  • Meredith is moved to be put on a ventilator.
  • On the beach, Meredith sits and breathes.

Notes and Trivia[]

  • This episode's title originated from the song No Time for Despair, originally sung by Fran Schultz.
  • This episode scored 5.66 million viewers.

Gallery[]

Episode Stills[]

Quotes[]

Now there's a plague that is killing Black people at a rate that should make everyone outraged. If COVID were killing White people at the rate that it's killing Black people, you better believe that everyone would be wearing masks because it would be the damn law. -Maggie

See Also[]

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

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