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HomeNewsGrey's anatomy season 15 episode 11:"The Winner Takes It All"

Grey’s anatomy season 15 episode 11:”The Winner Takes It All”


While having a scan taken, Catherine softly sings to herself to calm herself down.

Tom and Amelia study her scans closely.

Richard attends an AA meeting.

Teddy finds Tom on a bench outside playing Operation. He’s soaking up sunlight while he still can. She wishes him good luck and assures him that he and Amelia will do great.

Meredith awaits Richard in the lobby. She has coffee for him and cleared her schedule so she can be there for him whenever he needs her. He says he’s good. She says it’s gonna be a long day. Richard says he has plenty of people looking out for him, but her own father does not. Meredith says she will see him this week. Richard says he may not have a week. The time to reconcile is running out.

Richard apologizes to Catherine for being late for her scans. She doesn’t mind. Jackson comes in with Harriet. Jackson asks about her scans. Catherine says she has an excellent team of doctors. She needs them to be her husband and son today. Tom and Amelia come in and they explain their planned approach. They got this. Catherine wants to take a little walk by herself before they get started.


Meredith arrives at her father’s house. A nurse opens the door and recognizes her. He invites her in. They walk into the living room and Phillip announces the visitor. Thatcher is surprised to see her. He greets her.

Phillip leaves to give them time to talk. Meredith says she can’t stay long. Thatcher has so much to say, but he doesn’t know what to say. Meredith says she didn’t come here to talk. They can just sit.

Catherine walks into the empty OR. Jackson comes in after her. She was thinking about her very first surgery. It was a simple lipoma, but she was still terrified. She sang “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” in her head until the calm washed over her. Since then, it has been her secret weapon for every stressful situation. He remembers her singing it in the kitchen. Jackson says he also sang a song during his first surgery. She reveals she snuck into the gallery to watch. She bets Harriet will do the same thing one day. They make a deal to sneak into the gallery together. She then gives him papers that declare him leader of the Foundation if she doesn’t make it out alive. He says she can still teach and run the Foundation if she’s paralyzed. She also included a plan for a big party. She always plans everything. They link arms so Jackson can walk her back to her room.

Meredith’s looking around the room. There are a lot of pictures from Zimbabwe. Thatcher tells Meredith that Phillip told him it’s supposed to be soothing, but it actually makes him just miss it more. A student once told him about a semester abroad building schools. With Lexie gone, he decided to do something with his grief. It was amazing. Meredith finds pictures of her and her sisters as well as her magazine cover. He got sick there and came back for whatever treatment he might need. She says he got a whole new life, halfway across the world this time. She’s glad he found joy but he didn’t give a damn about the people he left behind.

Tom and Amelia go over their plan again as they approach the OR. They try to hide their nerves, but even Tom’s arrogance is off. They try Amelia’s word vomit and feelings. Amelia is nervous because they are operating on a surgical legend, which might end her career if it goes wrong. Tom keeps thinking about all the penises that Catherine won’t be able to save anymore if they botch this. And also that he can’t lose anyone else. They assume the superhero pose.


Jackson and Richard help wheel Catherine into the OR. She reminds the surgeons to get clean margins. Also, she doesn’t want Richard to sit in the gallery all day. Catherine asks for a minute with Richard. They kiss and embrace. She’ll see him when she wakes up. Jackson has “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” blasting through the speakers. Catherine and the entire OR staff start dancing.

The surgery has started. Tom is listening to loud music and confidently moving ahead while Amelia is reminding him of obvious things. She says it’s going to be a long day.

Maggie joins Richard and Jackson in the gallery. They inform her everything has gone fine. A nervous Jackson can’t stay seated. Maggie offers to watch and report back to them so they don’t have to sit around, but they’re good right there.

Meredith admits to Thatcher that she’s mad about his running away. He has never fought for anyone or anything. He just disappears. He just disappeared after she gave him a part of her liver and then again when Lexie died. She lost her sister and her husband and he was nowhere to be found. Thatcher says he was there when Derek died. Richard told him and he made it to the funeral just in time. He stood a few rows in the back. Meredith doesn’t remember. Thatcher says she was a ghost. She looked like him when he lost Susan and Lexie. He didn’t speak to her because it felt like it would be for him, not for her. He starts coughing and wheezing. She helps him to the bed and hands him his oxygen mask. He says he came home for her.

The surgery and the music continue. The surgeons are in awe of their new microscope. It looks like they are clear to remove the tumor en bloc. However, Amelia finds she can’t get it free. Tom says it’s time for a suck and pluck: suck out the insides and pluck the skin, like a grape.

Jackson hates Tom for his laid-back attitude. Richard tells him to take a walk, which he does. Maggie thinks it’s also not good for Richard. Richard says he and Catherine made the long-distance thing work by promising to show up for each other whenever and however they need. He knows Catherine wants him to be here. Maggie then goes after Jackson. Bailey then comes in to sit down with Richard.

Down in the OR, Amelia finds the tumor is too dense for the suck and pluck. Tom asks to kill the music. He says they need to go in from the front. Amelia says they risk her arm function if they turn her now. Tom says they need to flip her on her side so he can go in from the front and meet her in the middle to decompress the tumor. It’s an insanely risky move. Tom asks Amelia what she would want if it were her on the table. She concedes.

Richard decides it’s time to shut down the gallery.

Maggie finds Jackson sitting on a gurney. Catherine’s always been larger than life. She always inserted herself in every aspect of his life, sometimes even without him knowing, and now he can’t imagine how a room would feel like without her taking up all that space. Losing Samuel was different. That felt like his world collapsing around him, but now he feels like a scared little kid. She understands his feeling. Nothing makes sense anymore. She comforts him as he breaks down in tears.

The team prepares Catherine as best as they can for the flip. They then carefully flip her onto her side. Bailey holds Richard’s hand while the surgeons secure Catherine in her new position. Richard can’t bear to look until Bailey assures him it’s okay. The team re-drapes Catherine, re-scrubs, and re-gowns. Tom takes the scalpel, but he freezes. Amelia notices and feigns a problem with her position and asks him to switch. He accepts hiding his relief under arrogance. After the switch, they take scalpels and make new incisions.


Thatcher sits up in his bed. Meredith asks if he and Richard started talking after the funeral. He says he tried calling Meredith to check in on her, but she never returned his calls. He and Richard both had amends to make. He could say sorry for a lot of things, but he only wants to say thank you. For so long, he measured his life as things done to or taken from him, but now he sees his life for exactly what it is. Some people have more pain than others, but nothing was conspiring against him. Meredith gave him precious time by donating that part of her liver. He had an honest, real, painful life because of her. He just wishes they could have shared it. Meredith says he did try this time; she just didn’t know. They both miss Lexie. He’s sorry he lost her. He knows how much she meant to her. Meredith reveals she has another sister. He thinks she’s talking about Molly, with whom she was never close, but Meredith then reveals Maggie’s existence. Maggie is the best of Ellis and Richard. Thatcher is happy something good came out of all that.

The surgeons have freed the tumor from the brachial plexus. They want to pull out the tumor when the electrophysiologist warns them that they lost all signal from one arm. Amelia finds there’s some tension from her side, which she thinks is stemming from the root. That means there’s no way to remove the tumor without risking paralysis.

Richard knows they’re going to have to remove the tumor piecemeal. Bailey says that means they are risking leaving tumor behind that way. Richard gets an idea. Through the intercom, he tells the surgeons they can remove the tumor piecemeal and use his PathPen to see if they’ve got it all. He assures them it works. Amelia agrees to the plan. Richard leaves to get it.


Meredith and Thatcher are laughing over some of Ellis’s weirder habits. She was kind of a tyrant at home, but extraordinary nevertheless. Meredith asks if he regrets the marriage. Thatcher says Ellis pretended she wasn’t pregnant with Meredith. For nine months, he had to let her do everything herself. The night she went into labor, she came from surgery and told him they were having a baby, as if the idea just hit her right there. She started laughing and kept on doing so all the way to the hospital. He had never heard her laugh so freely and he loved that that was the way Meredith came into the world. They weren’t perfect, and unhappy a lot of the times, but for that laugh and Meredith and this moment right here, he’d do it all over again.

Hours later, the Pen is still detecting cancer. Amelia says they need to keep going. They’ll hit clear tissue eventually. The signal to Catherine’s arm is fading again and the other arm soon follows. It means they risk Catherine’s motor function and life as she knows it if they don’t stop.

Thatcher tells Meredith she can take stuff from the closet for her kids. He wishes he knew them. He thought of them. Meredith puts her cold hands on his face, which feels good to him. As she keeps her hands on his face, she tells him Zola is so smart. She keeps him on her toes every hour of every day. Bailey starts every sentence with “funny.” Ellis is brave and obsessed with hip hop. They are exhausting but amazing. She wishes he knew them too. Thatcher then peacefully passes away. Meredith sighs and folds his hands together as she continues to sit with him.

Catherine wakes up in post-op. Amelia, Tom, Richard, and Jackson rush to her side as she attempts to speak. They urge her to take it easy. She still has all sensory and motory function. Her reflexes are normal. She’s relieved, but draws from their faces that they are keeping something. Amelia says the tumor was adherent to the brachial plexus. They say they had to leave a nodule behind. It’s likely, even with treatment, that she has to live with this cancer for the rest of her life. Amelia says she’s sorry, but Catherine is glad to be alive. She can live with this. She has to get scans every three months, Tom says. Catherine says she’ll operate and enjoy time with her family in between. Tom and Amelia have given her her life back. They pulled off a miracle. Miracles aren’t always punctuation marks, but they are worth celebrating, so they are still having the party. They just might have to wait a couple of months so she can get on the dance floor.

Tom runs into Teddy in the lobby. She congratulates him on the surgery. He should be proud of what he accomplished. He’s a bit down that they don’t get it all, but Teddy stresses that he saved Catherine’s life and surgical career. She offers to buy him a drink, but he asks for a rain check. He’s wiped and smells bad and he wants to smell good when she spends money on him. She smiles and agrees to that.

Richard sits on a bench outside, lost in thought.

Tom talks to his son in the chapel. He saved his friend. He was a badass today.

Maggie sits down with Jackson in Catherine’s room. She brought beverages.

At an AA meeting with Richard, Amelia talks about operating on a legend’s spine. It was terrifying and exhilarating. And imperfect. Catherine is not just a legend, she also matters a great deal to people she loves. For most of her life, Amelia has been chasing the kind of high she feels right now. She gave a surgeon back her hands, a husband his wife, and a son his mother. And she’s so incredibly grateful to be sober to be present enough for every terrifying, exhilarating, imperfect moment of it.

Meredith hands out gifts to her children. She says she got them from their grandfather, who also wanted them to know he cared about them very much. Zola asks Meredith if she’s okay. Meredith says she will be fine.

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