Listen up everyone, a 10 is talking. Not me, Dr. Herman! Hearing Geena Davis‘ voice at the top of the show filled me with both excitement and dread because we all know, when anyone other than Meredith narrates an episode, it’s a game changer. (Please don’t die!!!)
Herman talks about questions and how she hates questions that have no answers. As Dr. Herman lies in bed, brushes her teeth, and goes about her day, the question of her mortality hangs heavy in the air. A gigantic question which she doesn’t have an answer to. Arizona bounces in all cheery-like. (She’s more like the old Arizona everyday.) She’s there to give Herman their schedule of surgeries, and remind Herman of her weekly MRI. Oh joy. Also, Herman snores.
Dr. Herman lays in the MRI machine while Arizona continues to cheerfully prattle on about their day , Owen brings Amelia coffee and asks her about her upcoming masterclass. This simple act sends the brain surgeon into a tizzy, where she tries to express that she’s too busy with her tumor to date and what not. Owen looks at her, utterly confused, and she finally calms down and thanks him for the thoughtful gesture.
Afterwards, Amelia tells Herman that her tumor is stable for the time being, and she’s got about six weeks before it becomes impossible to work with. If Herman gets the laser therapy, it could buy them another two weeks. Herman is staunchly against it. Before Amelia can really argue with her, Bailey sails down the hallway to confront Herman about a patient named Glenda Castillo. Herman refuses to see her because Glenda’s baby has a malady that she and Arizona have already worked with, thus making it redundant for her studies. She only has time for new operations. We all know that Bailey isn’t about to give up.
Arizona and Dr. Herman tick off three more surgeries, and Herman informs Arizona that she will be performing the next surgery on her own. Arizona begins to panic, but Herman needs to see what Arizona has learned. It’s also time for Herman’s radiation therapy, which she reluctantly agrees to.
In the hospital’s auditorium, Amelia is holding court. She opens her masterclass talking about how life is a tenacious creature. It always finds a way. Like Herman’s tumor for example. It’s adapting and struggling to live. She compares it to a growing fetus, a fat cheeked baby. Her speech is the most poetic thing anyone has ever said about a tumor. Jo and Stephanie stare at her in awe from the audience. How can you blame them? Amelia is a warrior, watching her enemy with cautious respect from the other side of the battle ground, all the while, sharpening her sword.
At the same time, another warrior, Dr. Herman, undergoes radiation. She is suited up with the headpiece that looks not unlike armor as she steels herself for what is next. She reaches out and grabs Arizona’s hand, reminding us that everyone is scared to face their enemy, even if that enemy is a fat cheeked baby tumor.
A week later, not much has changed. Amelia is still lecturing, fetal surgeries are still happening, but now Herman is beginning to lose her hair from the radiation treatments. Amelia tells the lecture hall that the tumor has made its home among the patient’s brain tissue, invading and conquering all the healthy tissue that gets in its way. So, how is she going to remove it without destroying the brain? “How do you kill the baby without killing the mother?” she asks. She tells them that you have to be sure, and that the first cut determines the path of the surgery. Her face gives away just a hint of her own insecurity. Can she really do this?
Amelia confronts Herman about missing her radiation treatment that day, and Herman explains that she’s done subjecting herself to it. Amelia reminds her that hello, she’s the brain surgeon here. She knows what’s best. Radiation will help shrink the tumor’s borders, making it a tiny bit easier to work with. Herman doesn’t think that tiny bit is worth the treatments, so she quits.
In the OR, it’s finally Arizona’s turn to go solo. Arizona begins under Herman’s watchful eye.