I don’t know whether to review this episode as the decent experimental hour that it is or a filler midseason premiere.
First, the good stuff. The fact that the entire episode takes place inside a women’s prison instead of the hospital is a bold move. I personally love bottle episodes like this, and leaving all of our main characters out except for Bailey, Arizona and Jo was a strange yet effective decision. Additionally, Anna Jacoby-Heron, who played the violent pregnant teenage inmate, completely sold me on her role and her story. What started out as a lame case of an annoying patient turned into an emotional, heartbreaking story by hour’s end.
With that said, I don’t know why anyone thought this works as a midseason premiere, especially with the several cliffhangers left hanging two months earlier. Perhaps that’s exactly the point (to keep us hanging just a little bit longer), but it’s hard not to perceive this as just another means for a filler. Also, while I loved Bailey and Dr. Eldridge’s subplot, I would think that Bailey knows a little more about how prisons work. Unfortunately, I could see the “lack of medical supplies” monologue coming from a mile away, and I can’t help but wonder if Shonda was just shoehorning this scene to possibly add Dr. Eldridge onto the show’s ever-increasing cast someday down the line. It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened (who remembers the awful Dr. Erica Hahn?).
Finally, the ending felt very anti-climactic and gloomy with the three doctors driving back from the prison, followed by Jo throwing up on the side of the road. I was expecting a bit more – nothing conclusive on the Alex front, of course, but still something more uplifting to bookend what was supposed to be a special hour.
Bits & Scalpels
– The various cuts to the security cameras were odd and not very original.
– Food for thought: the security guard in the opening was the only male character to appear in this episode.
– Was this the first episode ever without Ellen Pompeo (Meredith)? Let me know in the comments if you believe she’s missed out on another episode before.
– Anyone else imagined Annalise Keating walking into that prison and yelling at everyone to shut up? I seriously admire Shonda for refusing the temptation to do crossovers between all of her shows!
– The guard searching Arizona’s prosthetic leg was very realistic. Also, I’m glad the show hasn’t forgotten about this.
– Fun fact: the prison scenes were all shot on the Scandal set.
– Cringeworthy moment as Dr. Eldridge’s finger gets twisted. I hate the sound of cracking bones.
– Heartbreaking moment as Kristen refuses to see her baby, followed by the newborn crying.
– This show’s ability to make us root for someone we probably shouldn’t is impressive; I already hated the crappy mom and was cheering when Arizona stood up to her prisoner daughter by hour’s end.
– Interesting how we never really find out what Kristen did. Murder, I assume?
– Why can’t Jo disappear? I would gladly prefer Dr. Eldridge take her spot on the show.
– Camilla Luddington (Jo) is pregnant in real life, so her throwing up at the end is very ominous. Please, Shonda, don’t you dare go down that road.
Kristen: Does she always talk like that?
Arizona: Like what?
Kristen: Like unicorns and rainbows are about to shoot out of your ass.
Prisoner: I’m Lee, but everybody calls me Needles.
Bailey: Okay, then.
Jo: You know, I once helped a guy I liked rob a convenience store.
Kristen: You’re a doctor.
Jo: Yeah, now. But before, I had a bunch of crappy foster parents.
Kristen: Stars, they’re just like us.
Kristen: (to her baby) I want you to be good, okay? Listen to your grandma. Don’t be like me. I love you, Ellie. Be good, please. I’m your mama. Remember me. Okay?
Dr. Eldridge: I don’t allocate my resources, the state does. So when the state has to choose between cutting the school budgets, or the prisons, guess what they pick?
Bailey: If you’re ever looking for a new job, please come see me first.
Dr. Eldridge: Yeah, well, same goes for you.
Waterski to Texas by Budo & Kris Orlowski
22 by Gavin James
As far as standalone episodes go, this was a decent hour with solid performances. However, I was expecting a more explosive premiere.