In 1888, William Williams Keen became one of the first surgeons to successfully remove a brain tumor. A big win. It's true. You can look it up. What's harder to find, however, are stories of all the times old Double Billy K tried to pull a tumor out of a brain and lost. The losses must have happened. A surgeon must always be prepared to lose. And in neurosurgery, with the big tumors, we lose those battles as often as we succeed. The key, though, win or lose, is to never fail. And the only way to fail is not to fight. So you fight until you can't fight anymore. Hold up your head and enter the arena and face the enemy. Fight until you can't fight anymore. Never let go. Never give up. Never run. Never surrender. Fight the good fight. You fight. Even when it seems inevitable that you're about to go down swinging. Why do we even try when the barriers are so high and the odds are so low? Why don't we just pack it in and go home? It would be so, so much easier. It's because in the end, there's no glory in easy. No one remembers easy. They remember the blood and the bones and the long, agonizing fight to the top. And that is how you become legendary.

The Distance is the fourteenth episode of the eleventh season and the 234th overall episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Short SummaryEdit

In this Amelia-centric episode, Amelia engages in the surgery of a lifetime as a crowd of doctors looks on from the gallery. With Stephanie by her side, she begins operating on Dr. Herman, but quickly realizes it's far more difficult than she anticipated. Meanwhile, Bailey becomes skeptical when Arizona takes on one of Herman’s cases.

Full SummaryEdit

Amelia informs Arizona that it's time for Herman's surgery. She'll go prep the OR while Arizona informs the patient. 

While absorbed in thought, Amelia walks to the elevator. She gets on, but doesn't push the button for the third floor. Instead, she presses the button to go to the second floor. She slowly gets off the elevator when it arrives. Meanwhile, her voice over says that the only a surgeon can lose is when they don't fight.

Owen finds Amelia as she walks down a hallway and informs her that the word is spreading, so she's gonna have a full gallery. He asks if she's worried. She says this is where he leaves her. She's fine, but she preps alone, so she'll see him on the other side.

She walks into the restroom, which she discovers is empty. She watches herself in the mirror and allows herself to fall apart for a brief moment. She gathers herself and tells herself that they're doing this. She walks out.

Herman is instructing Robbins on how to operate on Glenda as she's being transported to the OR. Amelia tells Herman it's time to get her inside, and Arizona follows Herman.

Amelia enters the scrub room. Before scrubbing in, she sees Arizona and Herman talk, and turns around to take a pose. Stephanie comes in to inform her that everything is set up for her. Stephanie sees the pose and asks what's happening. Amelia is being a superhero. A study has shown that if you stand in superhero pose before a really hard task, you will feel more confident and perform measurably better. Stephanie takes the pose too, and she admits she feels it. They're superheroes.

The OR is prepared further as Amelia and Stephanie enter from the scrub room. The gallery fills up, including Meredith and Maggie.

Arizona and Bailey enter another scrub room. Arizona talks about embolizing the baby's tumor, which will hopefully reverse the effects on Glenda's circulation. Bailey asks where Herman is.

Amelia and Stephanie are about to start operating.

Arizona explains to Bailey how the surgery will go. Bailey keeps asking where Herman is. She's not coming, Arizona says. Bailey asks what she means.

Stephanie draws a line where Amelia has to cut. Amelia takes her place and asks to have the clock started. Bokhee gives her the scalpel and she starts cutting. The voice over says that you have to fight, even if it seems like you're about to go down swinging.

Ben is saving a seat in the gallery, where Maggie is surprised to see how many people come to watch surgeries. Not just surgeries, the big surgeries, Meredith says. The exciting surgeries that leave you on the edge of your seat. Maggie thinks they're watching the worst day of a person's life like a movie. Not like a movie, an insulted Meredith says. It's not entertainment, she claims. She then says the big part is starting and shares a snack with Maggie. Richard comes in and thanks Ben for saving a seat. He's just in time for the dye.

In the OR, the lights are put out as Amelia injects the dye. Meredith explains to an intern that the dye indicates where the tumor ends and the brain begins. In the OR, the tumor lights up the surgeons and the spectators are amazed. Amelia tells the tumor it's nice to see it face to face, and that now it's time for it to go. She asks for the bipolars. In the gallery, Ben says he thought they only had to remove the tumor, not understanding that the tumor is so big. Richard says the entire thing is the tumor.

In Arizona's OR, the baby's anemic, so she wants to transfuse him. Bailey brings to her attention that they have to go in and out, because Glenda's pressure is going through the roof. Arizona says she needs to stop the bleeding in order to save both Glenda and the baby, and she thinks she can do it. She remembers Herman asking her if she thinks or knows she can do it, and then corrects herself. She knows she can do it. Bailey respects Arizona and considers her a friend, so it's with kindness when she tells Arizona that she's only half a fetal surgeon. Arizona reminds her that she brought Glenda to her. To Herman, Bailey corrects her. Arizona says that she spent the last 4 and a half months getting everything that Herman knows pounded into her brain. If Bailey wants her hands, she has them right here. She asks for a needle.

Jo finds Owen in the ER and asks if he can lose her for the night, because it's quiet and she wants to go watch Herman's surgery. Owen apologizes, but he needs a resident down here. He counts on her to keep down the fort. She thanks him. Callie comes over and asks Owen why her miniscus repair was pushed. Owen informs her that Amelia needed the OR to operate on Herman. Owen takes an elevator and Jackson joins Callie, having overheard what he said. They thought Herman had another month.

Through the intercom, Stephanie explains to the audience that Amelia is examining the margins of the tumor. Two hours and 23 minutes have passed. Amelia asks Stephanie who's stepping in for her, because they're gonna be in here for more than 14 hours to come, and protocol states that residents can only spend 12 hours in one surgery so that they can step out, recharge, and return. Stephanie replies by asking her who's stepping in for her. Amelia says she spent months planning this, so there's no substitute for her. Stephanie says that there's no substitute for her then, as she wants to stay with Amelia. They're superheroes. She'd do the pose, but then she'd break the scrub. Okay, Amelia says. She asks Stephanie to retract.

Arizona says she can't embolize all the vessels. She remembers Herman telling her that she handpicked Arizona, and that Arizona is letting her down. Arizona says she needs to open Glenda up, but Bailey objects, as they'd have to give her more anesthesia. The anesthesiologist says the baby has persisent decels. As the monitor beeps, Arizona remembers Herman telilng her that Arizona makes her question her own abilities. Arizona says she can open Glenda up, exteriorize the uterus and then resect the entire tumor. Bailey objects again, saying the prolonged anesthesia could endanger both the baby and the mother. If she's gonna open Glenda up, she has to deliver, Bailey finds. Arizona states that's not an option. Bailey insists that because this is mirror syndrome, delivering the baby will make Glenda better. Arizona repeats delivering is not an option. She says the baby won't survive as he's not far enough along. Bailey tells a nurse to page Alex Karev and tells Arizona to deliver the baby. It's not gonna be easy, but Karev may be able to keep him alive. Arizona tells the nurse to put the phone down and tells Bailey she can do this. Bailey thinks Arizona is trying to prove something now that her mentor is being operated on, but she won't let Arizona do that on this patient. Arizona can open Glenda up, but they're gonna deliver the baby. Bailey again tells the nurse to page Karev, and so the nurse does.

Stephanie informs the audience that Dr. Shepherd is cutting away the tumor from the gyrus rectus. Meredith answers the intern's question by saying it's the brain area responsible for the sense of smell. Someone shushes her. In the doorway, Callie tells Owen that she thought Arizona would be in here. Owen says Arizona is in surgery. Callie is surprised to hear that, but Ben shushes her. She tells him to calm down, as it's not like the ballet. Richard says it kind of is a dance. There's grace, a rhythm, an elegance. Everyone agrees to that. Callie is surprised that she gets shushed and Richard doesn't. They all shush her again.

Stephanie informs the audience that Amelia is clearing the tumor away from the midbrain structures. 5 hours and 16 minutes have passed. Amelia says it's taking too long. They're running behind already. Stephanie resumes that Amelia is using extreme care not to violate the interior commissure. As Shepherd calls it, it's the dream box. The intern in the gallery doesn't understand. Meredith informs him it's the part of the brain where they create dreams and memories and discern shapes and colors. She tells him to read a book. Richard notices that Amelia's shoulders are tense, which he knows means that something is bothering her.

Stephanie notices it too and in order to calm her down, she says that maybe she'll get lucky and resect the part that makes Herman bitchy. Amelia doesn't find the joke funny. If she screws this up, Herman will no longer be bitchy, nor will she be able to laugh any longer. She will no longer be Nicole Herman. Stephanie now sees it's not something to joke about. Amelia swears. She can't get around to the fornix without hitting the hypothalamus. She's trapped.

Bailey informs Arizona that Glenda's hypoxic. Arizona tries to take the baby out, but he gets stuck because the tumor's too big. Alex comes in and apologizes for being late. Arizona says he shouldn't have come anyway, because she can't get the baby from this angle. If she forces, it'll rupture. Arizona needs to widen the incision. Bailey says they need to anyway, because it's necessary to deliver the baby. Arizona insists the baby isn't viable. Alex says he can keep the baby alive, just like last time. "Last time?" Bailey asks surprised. Alex says they did one like this before when Herman was not available. Arizona claims that was differently, but Bailey thinks it isn't. She thinks Robbins is trying to prove that she's Herman. Alex tries to persuade her to deliver the baby, but as Arizona remembers the time Herman told her she was disappointed in her, she continues with her plan to excise the tumor. Bailey again tries to convince Arizona to deliver the baby, but as Arizona keeps remembering more things about Herman, she suddenly yells to stop. She indeed isn't Dr. Herman. She's Dr. Robbins and she's the fetal surgeon here. They're long past the point where Bailey could disagree. She's in the middle of a woman's uterus, and any slip the might make may cause catastrophic blood loss. And if she slips, it's because Bailey is screaming in her ear and not because she doesn't know what she's doing. Bailey needs to get on board and shut up, or leave. Alex says Arizona sounds like Herman and Bailey decides to help.

Amelia is still staring undesively at the tumor. Richard doesn't know what's happening, but he sees that Amelia's game face is slipping. Jackson and April enter the gallery and sits down. She's not working yet, but she's here to be with Herman on her worst day, as Herman was with her on hers. Richard updates them on Amelia's progress and Jackson asks why they're not operating. Richard gets up and leaves.

Amelia is going over every possible approach, but none of them works. She's lost. She can't move without letting a piece of Herman go. Richard comes in. He thought he could help out by being a soundboard for her, help her work through whatever's going on. Amelia instructs to kill the intercom and has Stephanie trade places with Richard. Amelia tells him he can be a big help by calling Derek. She wants him to come back to Seattle to help her out. She thinks she's in over her head. She took on an impossible task and now her hubris is going to kill the patient. She wants Derek here, now.

Arizona is ligating the last artery as Alex still tries to convince her to deliver. The baby goes into cardiac arrest. She instructs Bailey to put her hands under the baby and apply pressure on the wound and hold his chest up. Bailey is amazed as Arizona starts compressions.

Richard tells Amelia that she only has it in her head that Derek is better than her, but that isn't true. Richard has seen Derek stand exactly where she's standing now, staring at an impossible spinal tumor. Amelia knows it's the tumor of which there's a drawing on the bedroom wall. Derek found a way, so that's why Amelia wants him here. Richard tells her what would happen if Derek came back. He'd come here, take her surgery, and if Herman hadn't herniated already by that time, he'd kill her, because this is Amelia's plan. She's the only one who knows how it works. He says she's on her own, and she doesn't need anyone to help her. She's the only one here. He asks her what's next.

Arizona is still doing compressions, but the baby's heartbeat hasn't come back yet. Once it comes back, Arizona is relieved and she tells Bailey it's time to put the baby back in. Bailey is amazed that she held the baby before it's even born. Arizona knows that feeling. It's privilege. Great privilege.

Amelia stares at Richard and then asks for the navigation probe. Edwards steps back in and the intercom is activated again. Stephanie tells the audience that Amelia is identifying the lamina terminalis so that she can go around to the commission, laterally dissecting away from the perforated arteries. Amelia hopes she can avoid splitting the fornix. Richard is confident that she can find her way out. 7 hours and 46 minutes have passed. Stephanie shakes a little and Richard says he can find someone to replace her. Stephanie, however, decides to stay. She earned this spot and she's the best assist. She's staying with Shepherd. Amelia says this is the point of no return. They can't stop until the entire tumor is gone. Here they go.

Alex, Arizona, and Bailey leave the scrub room. Bailey is gonna go up to the ICU to monitor Glenda's numbers, but not before telling Arizona that she did good. Alex tells Arizona he wasn't trying to pick a fight. Arizona understands, as she would've done the exact same thing 6 months ago. Alex says that Herman picked the right person to pass the torch to. Arizona says Herman isn't passing anything, as she's not going anywhere.

The surgery on Herman continues. After 10 hours and 4 minutes, only Meredith, April, Jackson, and Owen are left in the gallery along with some other doctors and residents. Time continues to go by. After 11 hours and 39 minutes, Stephanie appears to be experiencing some difficulties. The surgery goes on and on. After 14 hours and 3 minutes, Amelia takes a step back. She sighs and says she thinks she has cleared the optic nerve. It's time to go radioactive now, so it's time for non-essential personnel to go. Amelia says that includes Richard, as she and Stephanie have it from here. At that exact time, Stephanie faints. Amelia then says maybe Richard could scrub in.

In the scrub room, Richard tells Meredith that all that's left to do for Amelia is place the radioactive seeds, which kill ever tumor cell that was left behind and keep them from coming back. Meredith is happy to help, but she wonders why she's the one to help out now. Richard says Amelia needs an assist who she doesn't have to worry about, and he remembers she was close to specializing in neuro. He says that all Amelia needs to feel is that Meredith has her back. She'll do the rest herself.

Meredith gets inside the OR with a protective vest. Amelia, wearing protective gloves, is having difficulties placing the seeds. She had a pre-op map to help her identify the landmarks, but with a tumor this big, everything moves once you resect, and she didn't count on this much intercranial shift. Amelia needs an ultrasound to map out the shift and then morph it back into the pre-op plan. So she's pretty much eyeballing it, Meredith concludes.

In the gallery, Ben asks Owen how long they've been at it. 6 minutes, and they've only placed three seeds. Even with the gloves and and the vests, they can only be exposed to that level of radiation for 20 more minutes. Owen realizes Amelia needs to move faster.

Amelia realizes that too, but the gloves are so thick that she can't feel what she's doing. Meredith tries to calm her down by saying it's not a race, but Amelia says it is. Amelia then takes off one of the gloves. Meredith and Owen are shocked. She's exposing herself to direct radiation so they urge her to put the glove back on. She continues to place the seeds. She says it's fine.

Arizona walks into Herman's office and takes Glenda Castillo's card off the board. She sits down on one of the couches.

She has a flashbacks of her and Herman entering the office together after an earlier surgery. Herman tells her to savor what she's about to say. She says Arizona did very well. They sit down and Herman gets them ice cream from the fridge. They sit down and Herman says they're getting down to the last stretch. After the dozen cards left, they're done. Arizona will have completed the yearlong fellowship in less than 6 months and she'll have kicked the bucket. Arizona doesn't want to hear that. Nicole says she knew she picked the right horse when she picked Arizona. Arizona doesn't want to be called a horse. Nicole says it really was an accomplishment. Not just to do it, but to become as good as Arizona's become. It's a real exercise in perseverance, something to be proud of. Arizona thanks her, but Herman was talking about herself. Arizona was a complete disaster when they started. But Nicole persevered, and after all the hard work, Arizona actually is becoming a fetal surgeon. She thinks she deserves a medal.

Callie entering the room brings Arizona back to the present. She asks if Arizona is okay. Arizona says she is. Callie heard Arizona flew solo tonight, and Arizona informs her it went great. Callie congratulates her and says she went to look for Arizona in Shepherd's gallery. Shepherd is still going, so they could go there if Arizona would like that. Arizona says she can't go up there. She can't watch it. Over the past four months, Nicole beat the hell out of her, trying to pound all the knowledge into her head, and now it's all in there. Herman is in her head. She starts crying and says she's not ready for her head to be the only place where Herman exists. Callie sits down next to her and takes her hand. They lean on each other.

Owen is ordering Meredith through the intercom to make Amelia put the glove back on. Without the glove, Amelia has cut the exposure time in half and she's already past the limit. Amelia tells him that if she doesn't place the seeds, everything she has done will have counted for nothing. Meredith agrees with Owen that the tumor could recur anyway. "But it won't be because of me," Amelia says, continuing to place the seeds. She works fast and is done moments later. She orders to get the gear out of here and bring back the troops. It's time to close. Meredith says that was badass. In the gallery, Owen is obviously relieved, but worried.

Jackson and April are on their way out, but before walking out of the ER, Jackson says he has a patient in the ICU he'd like to check up on. April says she'll wait for him here and assures him she'll be fine. He kisses her and walks off. She sits down and takes a look around. The ER is really quiet.

Stephanie wakes up on a gurney in the hallway. Richard is happy to see that she's back after hours. Richard congratulates her for having been in a surgery for 13 straight hours, which doesn't really happen anymore with the new hospital regulations. Stephanie thinks she missed the ending, but Richard says they're still closing. As he turns around to get her some water, Stephanie runs off.

17 hours and 20 minutes have passed. Amelia asks for the pickups. She's visibly exhausted. Meredith asks how she's doing. Amelia says she only needs to get the dura closed with a watertight seal. Meredith says that's the easy part, which anyone else can do, so she suggests Amelia let someone else do it. Stephanie comes running in and says she hopes she's not too late. Amelia says she's just in time and allows her to finish closing. She started this with Amelia, so she can finish this. Amelia tells Meredith to make sure that Stephanie doesn't screw this up this stitch, because she doesn't want Herman to see a big scar whenever she looks in the mirror. Not a problem, Meredith says.

In the hallway, Amelia leans against a wall and slides to the floor. She starts crying as she's relieved.

Herman is lying unconscious in the NeuroICU. Days go by with several doctors coming to check up on her, but there are no changes.

Bailey and Arizona enter Glenda's room. Glenda is all set to go. She's done looking at this boring room. Bailey tells her to enjoy the fresh air as long as she can. She tells Glenda to come back in a month for the post-op checkup. In the meantime, Bailey wants her to rest and take it easy. Glenda hugs her and thanks her. Bailey tells her to hug Robbins, as she's the one who saved their lives. Glenda sits down in the wheelchair and cautiously asks how Dr. Herman is. Bailey looks at Arizona, who sighs.

Still no changes in Herman's case.

Amelia is watching the surgical video of her surgery on Herman. Owen comes in and pauses it. He tells her to go home, but she wants to figure it out. She doesn't understand why Herman is not awake. Owen says it could numerous. She snaps that she knows every single thing that it could be. She immediately apologizes. Owen understands that she needs it to be over.

As Herman still hasn't woken up, Amelia and Stephanie run an MRI. When the scans come up, Stephanie thinks she sees a tiny lacunar infarct. Amelia tells her good work.

Arizona sits by Herman's side for hours, but she doesn't wake up.

In Herman's office, Callie tells Arizona that Herman is gonna wake up. She might, Arizona says, but if she doesn't, Arizona is gonna have to make some decisions, like Callie did for Mark. Callie says Arizona is not gonna have to. Arizona says she can't do this by herself. She can't make that call. She knows what Herman wants, but she doesn't think she can make that call. Callie assures her that she's not alone here.

In the NeuroICU, Herman starts choking on her tube.

Arizona and Amelia rush into her room. Amelia removes the tube and shakes Nicole's shoulder. "Mommy? Is that you, mommy?" Nicole asks, worrying the doctors. She immediately laughs. She says she's fine. Amelia asks if she knows where she is. Same place she always is, Nicole replies. Amelia asks if she knows her name. Nicole replies it hasn't changed. Amelia checks her gross motor functions, which are intact. Amelia asks her to follow the light with her eyes, but Nicole doesn't. Amelia is disappointed, but Nicole says it's all right. She thinks Amelia got the entire tumor and asks Edwards to confirm. Edwards clears her throat and says yes. Nicole notices she's about to cry and sends her out. Owen and Richard appear in the doorway and Nicole says they're looking good. So is she, Owen says. So far so good. They're glad to hear that. Amelia did a great job, Richard says. Nicole says that she brought the tumor that made Amelia look pretty good. Nicole asks the doctors to go, as she has some work with Robbins. Amelia says she'll be back for a full workup later.

Once they're alone, Nicole asks Arizona to tell her about Glenda Castillo. Arizona holds back her tears and says Glenda is fine and still pregnant. Nicole smiles upon hearing that. She says she knew she picked the right horse. Arizona again asks her not to call her a horse. Nicole says she knew Robbins wouldn't let her down. Arizona emotionally asks if Herman can see anything at all. Nicole says no. Completely blind. Arizona does her best not to cry. She asks if Herman is all right. Herman doesn't know, because it'll take a while to let it sink in, and she doesn't think Arizona wants to be around Herman when it does. That will be ugly. Arizona says she will be if Herman wants her to. Herman says she's missing the point. The point is she's going to get to figure it out. Something is going to happen next. The point is she's alive. She wouldn't be if Arizona hadn't been such a pain in her ass. They hold hands and smile. Herman gets a little emotional too, and repeats she picked the right horse.

Amelia's voice over wonders why we even try to fight when the odds are so low, as it'd be easier to walk away. From outside the room, Amelia watches Arizona and Herman.

Meanwhile, Stephanie is crying in the room where she and Amelia developed the plan.

Stephanie says they were so close. Amelia says they were more than close. Nicole lost her sight to the tumor, and they took revenge on the tumor by killing it. By tearing it out and decimating it and decreasing its odds of killing Nicole by 100%. Amelia turns off some of the screens. They sent death running like a crying bitch. That is the battle, and it's the only battle worth fighting. Stephanie should be on a high right now and she should be chasing that high for the rest of her life. She defeated death. Mere mortals can't do that. Only superheroes can.

Amelia's voice over says people don't ever remember easy. They only remember the long, agonizing fight to the top.

"Only freaking superheroes," Amelia repeats.

Amelia stands in front of a screen displaying two scans of Herman's brain, one with the tumor, and another one with the tumor removed. She assumes the superhero pose as her voice over says that is how you become legendary.


  • Meredith Grey
  • Alex Karev
  • Miranda Bailey
  • Richard Webber
  • Callie Torres
  • Owen Hunt
  • Arizona Robbins
  • April Kepner
  • Jackson Avery
  • Amelia Shepherd
  • Owen Hunt and Jo Wilson
  • Stephanie Edwards
  • Maggie Pierce
  • Nicole Herman
  • Ben Warren
  • Miranda Bailey and Glenda Castillo
  • Intern
  • Anesthesiologist

Main CastEdit

Guest StarsEdit


Medical NotesEdit

Nicole HermanEdit

  • Diagnosis:
    • Grade IV astrocytoma
    • Blindness
    • Stroke
  • Treatment:
    • Tumor resection

Nicole was finally taken in to have her tumor removed. Amelia started by injecting dye into the tumor so she could see where the tumor ended and brain matter began. She ran into a few road blocks along the way, but she was able to work around the difficulties and remove the tumor before placing the radioactive seeds. Post-op, Nicole didn't wake up for several days. Amelia searched desperately for a cause and found signs of a stroke on an MRI. Despite this, Nicole woke up, okay except for being completely blind.

Glenda CastilloEdit

  • Diagnosis:
    • Fetal sacrococcygeal teratoma
    • Fetal anemia
    • Mirror syndrome
    • Fetal cardiac arrest
  • Treatment:
    • Tumor resection

Glenda was taken in to have her baby's tumor removed immediately because she had mirror syndrome, so the sicker the baby got, the sicker she got. They have her platelets before surgery because her platelet count was critically low. The baby was anemic, so they transferred packed red blood cells. Because Herman was not present, Bailey pressured Arizona to deliver the baby and remove the tumor that way, but she decided not to, instead opening the uterus and removing the tumor without delivering the baby. The went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated. Arizona was able to do that and then complete the surgery. Glenda was discharged to go home. She was told to come back in a month for a post-op visit.

Callie's PatientEdit

  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:
    • Meniscus repair

Callie's meniscus repair was pushed back to make room for Herman's surgery.

Stephanie EdwardsEdit

  • Diagnosis:
    • Fainting
  • Treatment:

Stephanie fainted in the OR just before they went to place the radioactive seeds. She later woke up and was disappointed because she thought she'd missed the whole surgery. However, she rallied and came back just in time to close.

Jackson's PatientEdit

  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:
    • Abdominal wall reconstruction

Jackson left April for a moment to check on a post-op patient in ICU.


Song Performer Scene
"Worry" Rhodes
  • Callie comforts Arizona, who fears Herman will die.
  • Amelia ignores Owen's warning and continues to place seeds without gloves.
  • Before heading home, Jackson leaves to check on a patient. April looks around the ER.
  • Jackson and April are leaving when Jackson goes to check on a patient before they go.
  • Stephanie wakes up on a gurney.
  • Amelia is reaching the end and starting to fade. Meredith encourages her to let Stephanie take over to close.
  • Amelia leaves the OR and cries in a hallway.
"Saturn" Sleeping at Last
  • Arizona and several other doctors visit Nicole's room.
  • Glenda Castillo is discharged and thanks Bailey and Arizona. She asks about Dr. Herman.
  • Amelia reviews surgical footage until Owen tells her to stop.
  • Stephanie spots signs of a stroke on Nicole's MRI.
  • Arizona sits by Nicole's bedside. Callie tells her Nicole will wake up. Arizona is not prepared to make decisions about Nicole if she doesn't wake up. Callie tells her she's not alone.

Notes and TriviaEdit

Grey's Anatomy 11x14 Promo "The Distance" (HD)

Grey's Anatomy 11x14 Promo "The Distance" (HD)

  • This episode's title originated from the song The Distance, originally sung by Cake.
  • This episode scored 8.09 million viewers.
  • Filming for this episode was scheduled from December 17, 2014 to January 3, 2015 with a holiday break from December 22, 2014 to January 2, 2015. This means it was being filmed simultaneously with Staring at the End.
  • This episode marks the return of April Kepner, who didn't appear in the last two episodes because actress Sarah Drew had her baby.

The special opening title card.

  • This episode features a special opening title card with the incision from Nicole's surgery displayed across it.
  • According to the date on a prop, this episode starts on March 2, 2015.
  • The impossible spinal tumor which Richard said Derek had operated on, happened in Give Peace a Chance.
  • Meredith mentions that when you take a tumor as big as Herman's out of the brain, everything moves like a mudslide or an earthquake. Both of these things happened in an episode of the show. The mudslide happened in Seal Our Fate and the earthquake happens in the next episode.
  • Ben says "We're not in Kansas anymore", which is a reference to the movie The Wizard of Oz.
  • Goof: During Callie and Arizona's conversation, it's said that Callie made life support decisions for Mark. That is untrue, because Mark was shown to make those decisions himself when he had a temporary surge.


Episode StillsEdit


Stephanie: Okay. I have everything set up. You will have all of your films. Your favorite scrub nurse. (pauses) What is happening?
Amelia: I'm being a superhero.
Stephanie: Okay.
Amelia: There's a scientific study that shows that if you stand like this, in superhero pose, for just five minutes before a job interview or a big presentation or a really hard task, you will not only feel more confident, you will perform measurably better.
Stephanie: Seriously?
Amelia: Seriously.
(Stephanie stands next to Amelia doing the superhero pose)
Amelia: You feel it?
Stephanie: We're superheroes.
Amelia: We are superheroes.

Maggie: So ... this is a regular thing. You all come up here and you watch surgeries. Why?
Meredith: Not just surgeries. The big surgeries. The whale surgeries. The rare ones. The crazy ones. I mean, you're on the edge of your seat. The patient could die. This is life or death. The adrenaline. The rush.
Maggie: So you watch like the worst day of a person's life, like a movie.
Meredith: No, not like a movie. That's insulting. This is not entertainment. Movie. Oh, okay. This is where the good part starts.

(The tumor lights up)
Amelia: Nice to see you face to face. Now you have to go.

Callie: I thought Arizona would be here.
Owen: She's in surgery.
Callie: Wait, fetal surgery? By herself?
Ben: Shhh.
Callie: Oh, relax. It's not the ballet or whatever.
Richard: Well, though it is a kind of dance. There's grace, a rhythm, an elegance.
Callie: Oh, okay. I get shushed, but the purple prose is fine?
Crowd: Shh.

Stephanie: Maybe you'll get lucky and you'll snip out the part of her that makes her kind of bitchy.
Amelia: Why would you say that?
Stephanie: That was ... it was a joke.
Amelia: Well, you're right. If I screw this up, Nicole Herman will no longer be bitchy. She'll no longer be able to laugh either. Or be a surgeon. She will no longer be Nicole Herman. She won't be anything anymore and you want to make jokes about that.

Arizona: Stop it right now! You're right, Dr. Bailey. I am not Dr. Herman. I am Dr. Robbins and I am the fetal surgeon here. And I have chosen to do this procedure and there was a point at which you could no longer be on board, but that point is long gone. I'm in the middle of a woman's uterus and any slip I might make could result in catastrophic blood loss. And if I slip, it will be because you were screaming in my ear and not because I don't know what I'm doing. You either need to get on board and shut up or you need to get the hell out.

Richard: Dr. Shepherd.
Amelia: Dr. Webber. What do you need?
Richard: I thought I could help, maybe be a sounding board. We could work through whatever it is you're stuck on.
Amelia: Kill the intercom, please. Dr. Webber, step over here, please. Edwards, would you mind taking a step back? (to Webber) You can be a big help. I need you to call my brother, tell him he needs to get on a plane. He's in DC, so if he goes now, he can be here in what, six hours, seven?
Richard: I'm not sure that's the best idea.
Amelia: I am in over my head. I made a mistake. I took on an impossible task and my hubris is going to kill her. Please. Get him on the phone. Get him on a plane. Get him here. Now.

Richard: You have it in your head that he's better than you, but it isn't true. I've seen him standing exactly where you are now, staring at an impossible spinal tumor, terrified, unsure where to go next.
Amelia: I know that tumor. They've got it hanging on their bedroom wall. Not the actual tumor.
Richard: He found a way.
Amelia: Yes. Which is why I need him here.
Richard: Shepherd, I can tell you right now what would happen if I called your brother. He would hop on a plane and seven or eight hours from now, if she hadn't already herniated, Derek would come in here and he would take this surgery, your surgery, away from you and then he would kill her because this is your plan.

(Callie enters the lounge where Arizona is sitting)
Callie: Arizona? Hey! You okay?
Arizona: Yeah.
Callie: I heard you flew solo tonight.
Arizona: I did.
Callie: How'd it go?
Arizona: Great.
Callie: That's ... congratulations.
Arizona: Thank you.
Callie: I looked for you in Shepherd's gallery. She's still at it if you want to head up.
Arizona: I can't go up there.
Callie: Okay.
Arizona: I want to, but I can't watch, I just can't. Over the past four months, that woman beat the hell out of me, trying to shove every piece of knowledge and experience into my head and she did. It's there. All of it. She's in my head. But I'm not ready for my head to be the only place that the exists.
(Callie sits down on the couch next to her and takes her hand. Arizona puts her head on Callie's shoulder and continues to cry.)

Callie: She's gonna wake up.
Arizona: She might, but if she doesn't, I'm gonna have to make some decisions and you did this for Mark.
Callie: I did. But you're not gonna have to, okay?
Arizona: I can't do this by myself. I can't make that call and I know what she wants, but I don't think that I can make that call.
Callie: Hey, hey, you are not by yourself, okay? You're not alone. Do you hear me?
(Arizona nods.)

Stephanie: We were so close.
Amelia: We were more than close, Edwards. Dr. Herman lost her sight to her tumor. And we took revenge on the tumor by killing it, by tearing it out and decimating it and decreasing its odds of killing Nicole by 100%. By sending death running like a crying bitch. By telling death to screw himself. That is the battle and it's the only battle worth fighting. You should be on a high right now and you should be chasing that high for the rest of your life. You defeated death. Mere mortals cannot do that. Only we can.
Stephanie: Only superheroes.
Amelia: Only freaking superheroes.
(Amelia makes the superhero pose)

See AlsoEdit

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

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