“Grey’s Anatomy” recap (12.3): Rise

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Previously on Grey’s Anatomy, Bailey became chief, had a rotten day, but learned from her hubris. Callie and Arizona tried to be friends, sort of, and Callie was crazy about a new, mystery woman. Meredith was asked to be Bailey’s right hand woman, which she happily accepted.

This week’s episode finally pays due to, in my opinion, the show’s best male doctor, Alex Karev. Alex has grown so much over the years, and all too often he takes a back seat to the other drama happening around him.

Alex and the impossible decision

Alex is a hell of a good doctor—it’s just that sometimes, he doesn’t realize how good he is. Arizona and Ben are dealing with a pregnant mom and dad who are having twins. They are more concerned about not knowing the sex of the babies, but as Arizona looks at the scans, she pages Alex 911. Not-Sloan is on Alex’s service that day, but he’s not really interested in being on a PEDs rotation. Alex assumes it’s because he hates kids, but of course, there is something more we will discover about Not-Sloan that may even want me to learn his name. Time will tell.

As soon as the twins are born, it’s evident that something is very wrong. They are extremely jaundiced (I, too, was a jaundice baby!) and in respiratory distress. Arizona tries to keep the parents calm as the babies head up to NICU.

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As they feared, the scans come back and show that both babies have tumors in their livers, and they are invasive. These babies don’t have much time—they both need liver transplants.

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The devastated parents asked to be tested to see if they are matches. Alex runs into Jo in the elevator, and she asks him if he wants kids. He’s kind of taken aback and mumbles that he’s not sure. You see, earlier, Jo and Steph had a vague conversation that is supposed to make us think that Jo is preggers. She doesn’t like Alex’s response and leaves him as she often does, with him furrowing his brows, confused about women.

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Alex mentions this conversation to Arizona, who suggests that maybe Jo is actually pregnant and trying to see what Alex’s reaction would be. Before he can freak out too much, the tests come back about the parents. Dad is a potential donor, but mom isn’t. Unfortunately, he can only donate to one child, and the other will have to go on the UNOS list. Naturally, the parents freak out, thinking they have to choose what child gets the organ, but Alex tells them that it’s his decision to make. He will figure out who has a better change to thrive, and that a decision like this should never have to be a parent’s responsibility. Arizona watches proudly as her protege makes all the right moves.

Ben comes home that night and climbs into bed with Bailey, but he can’t get Alex and those babies out of his head. Bailey goes through the steps that Alex will take to determine who gets the liver, and Ben decides he needs to be there too. Alex, Arizona, Ben and Not-Sloan have been meticulous, but the babies are pretty much identical in their changes for survival. Arizona sends Alex back home for a bit to get some rest and food, and when Alex gets there, Jo wants to talk. She’s not pregnant but she found the paperwork from Izzie and Alex’s frozen embryos. Alex doesn’t think it’s a big deal, but Jo sees it as Alex being sure about wanting to have a life with Izzie back then, but not her now. She’s not sure if Alex thinks about their future like she does.

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Alex returns to the hospital and asks Meredith’s advice about how to make the impossible decision about the twins. She tells him to trust his instincts, but he’s more worried about a future outcome that he can never predict. Arizona rushes in to tell him that he has no more time to debate and has to make a decision. He wants to pawn it off on Bailey but Arizona shuts that down. She tells him how proud of she is of him, and the doctor he has become. He can make this decision. She even gets teary telling him how much he’s grown. It’s enough to push Alex into action.

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Alex decides to operate on both babies and decide from there. The parents give their babies names, and send them off into the OR. While they are scrubbing in, Not-Sloan explains to Alex why he doesn’t want to be in PEDs. He witnessed the pain of a parent who held her dead child in her arms when he was an EMT. He couldn’t bear it and now he knows he doesn’t want to be in that position time and time again. Alex gets it. they head into surgery and it becomes clear that the little girl has a better chance. Arizona gives her the transplant while Alex tries to save the little boy. Unfortunately, he’s too far gone and all Alex can do is offer him some comfort as he leaves this world. Jeez, there aren’t enough tissues in this world.

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When Alex returns home, he promises Jo that he’s not going anywhere and she’s his forever girl. In fact, he’s ready to make babies right then and there.

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Jo tells him hell no, that she has to get through her residency and she wants to travel before they have kids. But, at least they are on the same page and Alex’s commitment to her is stronger than it ever was. I loved getting to see all these sides of Alex. He’s such a complex character that is too easily written off as gruff or dismissive. He’s a man of multitudes.