"Careful the things you say, children will listen. Careful the things you do, children will see, and learn." – Stephen Sondheim
Grey's Anatomy Season 12 Episode 20 examined a very serious issue, and managed to not seem too much like an after school special. This very special episode worked because it built on characters past experiences in a genuine way – nothing that Amelia, Owen, Alex, or Jo talked about was new information.
In fact, Amelia didn't even speak about her past with gun violence and the subsequent consequences to her life. The fact that witnessing her father's murder as a child played a huge role in her substance abuse problems was hinted at only in her concern for the boy, Peter.
And Peter (and to a lesser extent, the mothers and babysitter) were the other reason that this episode worked without becoming saccharine sweet. Sure they were new characters who we will never, ever see again, but they showed how it wasn't just the gun victim who was hurt.
Or just the shooter to blame. The scene with Meredith's kids at the beginning was a great set up for showing how, in all situations, kids may be a lot more aware than adults give them credit, and their curiosity of the forbidden is natural. Amelia's absolution of Peter was one of the strongest moments of the hour.
I want you to promise me something. Whenever you feel bad about this, I want you to say, "It was an accident. I didn't mean to." I know that. But you have to know it, too. So you have to promise me that you will say, "I didn't mean to."Amelia [to Peter]
Maggie's freakout might have seemed a little overboard to some, but I related really well to it myself. I've only had my heart physically ache from emotion a handful of times, and two of those were when I held each of my nephews for the first time.
She came to the auntie (and sister) game a little late in life, and I can see how that feeling would sneak up on you. When they're little tiny things, their fragility is obvious, but a six-year-old like Zola would seem to need far less worrying over.
Her panic at the thought of them being hurt humanized her a lot and added to her relationship with Meredith, which is good for the audience. The latest set of Grey sisters went from 0 to 120 mph pretty quickly after Mer's return, so this gave that relationship a little more depth.
Maggie: I'm not used to this -- being scared like this, worrying like this. They're not even my kids.
Riggs: Well, I get it. They're family. Family messes you up.
I would have liked to see some more of Jo's story, and not just because it would have meant more Alex. I totally get why, as a 16-year-old girl living in her car, she originally may have wanted a gun.
There just wasn't enough story development getting her from her NRA sound bites to her giving up the weapon. Sure, a paralyzed child is tragic; I don't deny that. But it didn't feel like that was enough to sway her. A good persuasive speech from Karev would have been nice.
There was also a missed opportunity in her having hidden the gun under the bed without telling Karev about it – it would have been a great way to work in the Brady Campaign's #ASKingSavesKids campaign one more time. Maybe he's watched Zola, Bailey, and Ellis at the loft?
Maggie: Why were you gone long enough for them to unlock a drawer or a closet or whatever and pull out a gun and shoot it? It was your job to keep them safe. It was literally your job.
Stacy the babysitter: And I was doing my job. The boys aren't babies, they're eight. They go off, and they play together. I don't have to watch over them every single second. They're good boys. I should be able to go to the bathroom, or, or warm up some mac 'n cheese without them shooting each other!
"Trigger Happy" also worked because it wasn't solely focused on the public health crisis of gun violence. We saw some development in Ben, Stephanie, Arizona, and Callie's ongoing story arcs, breaking up all the doom and gloom and seriousness of the shooting.
I totally get why Ben was frustrated sitting at home. After you take some cooking classes, volunteer as classroom dad a few times, and finish Duolingo's Swedish course, what are you supposed to do with all that time?
There were probably better ways to handle his boredom, like applying at a different hospital or an outpatient center or something, but that would have been way less dramatic. Let's hope Ben takes the advice that he gave Owen a few episodes back.
I'm so glad that Stephanie finally turned her phone off vibrate! I mean, I'm pretty sure things are going to go tragically wrong for this hot couple, but still, it was time to get back on that horse. And I love Meredith as matchmaker. She's turning into a regular yente.
Edwards, go. Bite the bullet. Go on the date. It's better than being lonely and crazy like me, or having sex with your phone in the residents' lounge.Meredith
The hardest of the subplots to handle was Callie and Arizona. I was pleased that Arizona didn't immediately jump on Callie with the lawyer. Too much over reacting like April's restraining order gets tiring. They were such a strong couple; I'm glad the writers gave them a chance to be civil for a minute.
I have a feeling about how this whole case is going to turn out in the end, but I really hope things don't become too much of a mess in the meantime. Interestingly, the custody battle may end with me liking Penny a little more. I've been of those who is ambivalent about her, but she showed some real world maturity when talking about Sofia.
I can't help you. There may come a day when I get to have a say in Sofia's life, but that's definitely not now. I'd just make things worse. So all I can say is sorry. That sucks.Penny [to Callie]
Arizona and Callie's custody battle heats up on Grey's Anatomy Season 12 Episode 21, and it looks like the rest of the docs are going to get caught in the crossfire. Arizona seems to be having her doubts about her ability to win the case, while Callie is just afraid her friends won't like her anymore.
Despite complications to Stephanie and Kyle's relationship, Meredith continues to play matchmaker, encouraging Owen and Amelia to make a real go of it. I'm really hoping she points out how ridiculous they've been with they're on-again-off-again nonsense.
If you missed this Very Special Episode, remember, you can always watch Grey's Anatomy online with us here at TV Fanatic. We'd love to hear you thoughts on "Trigger Happy" down in our comments section!
Now, get your first look at "You're Gonna Need Someone on Your Side," airing April 28th, with the promo below!
Elizabeth Harlow is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.