Grey's Anatomy Season 13 Episode 16 Review: Who Is He (And What Is He To You)?

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If you listen closely, you can still hear the sound of Japril fans rejoicing.

It has been a long road for the pair, and for a while, it didn't appear as if they could ever come back together outside of being co-parents and roommates. Who knows what is in store for them from here on out, but there can only be good things from here, right?

 Grey's Anatomy Season 13 Episode 16 traded in Seattle for the rustic beauty of Montana, and it did the body and the show a lot of good.

Contemplative Jackson Avery - Grey's Anatomy Season 13 Episode 16

Some of Grey's best moments are when things slow down and focus on a specific character's and growth and development. Jackson has been around for multiple seasons, and we've gotten to know him over the years, but there was still a lot that we didn't know.

Outside of being an Avery and having a complex life as a result of it, we didn't know much about his past. 

In fact, one of the things that made his background so interesting was how it related to Meredith's. It's truly a wonder that the pair of them aren't closer friends. 

Freezing, choking, getting tongue-tied--it's what we call it when your mind goes from brilliant to blank. you can prepare all you want, but the feeling can still hit you. So when it hits you, when your mind...your mind shuts down, when you open your mouth, and no words come out, the good news is, it happens to all of us.


They both have gone their entire lives trying to exist under the crushing weight of a prestigious name. They both suffered as a result of it. I always hoped the two would bond more over that because it's a connection the other characters don't share.

That's why a small part of me was disappointed when I heard that Grey was originally supposed to go to Montana with Jackson, but Catherine did some meddling so that April would go instead.

Wait, where is Grey? I thought Meredith was coming?


In an alternate universe, Jackson could have dealt with this with Meredith. I couldn't have been the only one who was a tiny bit curious as to how that would have played out. I guess that's why we have fanfiction is for.

I'm willing to put my irritation with Catherine aside for this installment because it was fantastic watching April and Jackson working together and just being together again.

Personally, I have always been indifferent to the 'ship. If pressed, I'll admit that I preferred Jackson and April as friends more than a romantic couple.

Which is why this was such a great hour for the characters. Whether you 'ship them or not, you can't deny the fact they have a strong foundation as friends. Their relationship is at its most solid when they remember that they're best friends.


Their story had been put on the backburner so long, and they've spent the past season sniping at each other so much, that it was easy to forget that once upon a time they were lovers and BFFs.

And April, the best friend, came first tonight. It was the best decision that they could have made. 

April can sometimes let her feelings get in the way of things, especially when it comes to Jackson. She can come across as a bit of a nag. What I loved is that she clearly saw Jackson was struggling, and she was concerned because she genuinely cares about him, but she chose to take a professional approach first.

She couldn't have gotten through to him effectively as his ex-wife or as someone still in love with him. She could get through to him as a friend and fellow doctor who needed him to get his head into the game.

What is the matter with you? Why are you torturing this little girl? You just made a promise you can't keep.


She was able to remind him of who he was. He's the man who doesn't make promises he can't keep. She reminded him of what was at stake and to think about patients and patients' mothers.

April's finesse throughout most of the hour was commendable, and it reminded me of some of her better traits. It was April at her best. 

In fact, the only gripe I had about her was when she chastised Jackson for bringing up the fact that he's a father and he lost a child before. It wasn't like he was trying to manipulate anyone, he was trying to relate to them.

A Little Support - Grey's Anatomy Season 13 Episode 16

Jackson Avery is not one of those doctors who comes across impersonal. He's professional but still invested in his cases and easy to relate to. It works for him, and it probably speaks to why he's been so passionate about his stance regarding the hospital politics.

Revisiting the fact that Japril lost a child was much appreciated. Sometimes it feels like none of it happened because they don't address it anymore. A loss like that doesn't go away. Reminders, triggers, moments, they seep in every now and then.

Jackson: All I know is, when I lost my son. I just needed to find a little meaning in it.
Eric: Where do I sign?

Eric Roberts, you guys! 

We knew Robert Avery would be making an appearance, but we had no idea who he was or what he was going to look like. It was so awesome seeing Eric Roberts.

We were led to believe that some of Jackson's snippiness as of late was due to personal issues with his past. It still feels like a lot of it came out of the blue, though.

Jackson having abandonment issues, etc.? That's all believable. Jackson not liking who he is as a result of his issues with his father? Not so much. That's why I hated when Catherine said that to him during Grey's Anatomy Season 13 Episode 15.

jackson ga 13x16

Jackson's issues with his father struck a chord. 

Your father abandoning you is already a hell of a thing to deal with growing up. It's easy to say "get over it" because he's a grown man. In no way should your childhood and your experiences dictate everything about your life, let alone to the point of you dwelling on it, but it's unrealistic to pretend as if there are no effects.

To take things further, Robert abandoned Jackson and didn't even recognize his own son when he was sitting in the bar right in front of him. That is a hell of a blow. 

Jackson: He looked me right in the eye. He doesn't know his own son.
April: So make him know you.

You would think a father would be able to recognize his own son regardless of how many years it had been since he saw him. But we've established by now that Robert isn't a real father.

Jackson is a nasty drunk, but after an experience like that, I can understand why he'd be so angry. It hurt. He hurt.

April didn't help matters when she unintentionally implied that he was abandoning their patient. The last thing Jackson would have wanted to hear is that he's anything like his father.

He doesn't abandon people, and he doesn't run. It does shed light on why he was so hurt and angry when April bailed on him after they lost their son. He felt abandoned. He felt like she ran. Just like his father did.

ga jackson 13x16

Then, after a rough couple of attempts, he finally had a conversation with the man. And Robert isn't the least bit remorseful. 

Robert saying he couldn't handle the pressure of the Avery name is such a cop out. Jackson has had to carry the name and all the insecurities that come with it.

I mean, think of Jackson's journey in the series. At first, he was the new guy coming into a hostile work environment as an outcast. He had to deal with judgment from his colleagues because of his family name. 

He has even expressed how he's dealt with both high and low expectations as a result of his name. High, because he felt compelled to live up to Avery standards. Low, because, as he expressed, for a good portion of his childhood most of his family didn't expect much from him because he was "pretty." 

No matter what he did, he always had something to prove, and he fought through that. He always fought through.

Robert: I was born into that life, but she was born for it.
Jackson: So you took off?
Robert: You know your mother.

Then here is his father, who was able to drop everything and flee because the pressure was too much for him. And the man doesn't regret a single thing. 

He said he was happy. Robert was happy with how his life turned out even though he left his wife and kid behind and never looked back. It didn't even dawn on him that saying that was not only offensive but could crush his son's soul. The man was that aloof.

One of my favorite moments was watching Jackson struggle with this hard truth while trying to work though the case with April. She supported him right up until he talked to his father and tried to get him to talk afterward, but he shut down.

I never really pictured him happy without me. He talked a lot. He didn't say anything about me. He talked about mom's laugh, his stupid tuxedo. I felt stupid...It never really occurred to me that he never really missed me.


But in that office, while they were trying to come up with some groundbreaking, innovative technique to save their patient, he finally talked to her.

The way they had two conversations in one, going back and forth between brainstorming and Jackson finally being open about his feelings was the best. Again, it was a great reminder that the two of them have a very solid friendship.

That was something that has been missing between them for a long time.

japril ga 13x16

They finally came up with a plan and went to work and were complete badasses in the OR. Teamwork in the OR and outside of it. It was so refreshing. 

After the high of a successful surgery and just finally being in a good place, it was no surprise that they would fall into bed together.

Jackson has a signature move, and I swoon every single time. Lifting her up and whisking her away after teasing each other about their track record in hotels? It was such a cute scene. 

April: What?
Jackson: I'm thinking about our track records at hotels
April: What about it?

But their intimacy was at its best when they were lying in bed the morning after. April told him he's a good father, despite not having one, that he's not his father, and he needed to hear that. That was more intimate and romantic than anything else she could have said to him.

It was strictly for him. It was gratitude for Jackson being Jackson. It was a great reminder for him, as a man and as a person, especially since his mother reducing him to just being a good surgeon hit him so damn hard.

japril 13x16

It also gave him the boost he needed to finally say the things he really needed to say to his father. That final scene between the two was great. 

It was some closure for him. It was strictly for Jackson and not for Robert in the least, which is what made it such an amazing scene.

I'm glad there was no happy ending or an "all's well that ends well" type of scenario. Life just doesn't work that way. I'm also glad it wasn't one of those things where Jackson forgave his father for abandoning him. 

Jackson: I have a daughter. Her name is Harriet.
Robert: Harriet. Wow, that is wonderful. I'm a grandfather.
Jackson: No, no you're not. My mom is a wonderful grandmother and you seem like a decent guy. But you're not a grandfather.

Instead, he just spoke his mind, got his feelings out there and let the man go. Sometimes that's the best you can do.

I don't think that's the end of Robert Avery, however. It feels like the door is still open for a return appearance at some point. It was a great character study of Jackson, but there is still so much we don't know about him or the situation with his parents. 

Grey's could definitely revisit that again.

The final scene between Jackson and Catherine pulled at the heart-strings. Catherine really did the best she could raising him without his father. I don't doubt that in the least. It was sweet that he thanked her for that.

grey's 13x16

I still don't think he has been wrong in any of the things he's said to his mother prior to this, though. She's not perfect, and she still doesn't take enough accountability for her less-than-stellar actions. So while I loved the scene, I also couldn't forget that, either. 

It was such a refreshing hour. Jackson is one of my favorite characters, and he and April were long overdue for their story and relationship to be revisited. Jesse Williams and Sarah Drew were incredible. 

What did you think of the episode? Were you grateful for the reprieve from the hospital? Do you think Japril are reunited for good? What did you think of Eric Roberts' appearance as Jackson's father?

Hit up the comments and let us know what you think. Don't forget you can watch Grey's Anatomy online right here at TV Fanatic!

Check out the promo for Grey's Anatomy Season 13 Episode 17 below!

Who Is He (And What Is He To You)? Review

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Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 (146 Votes)

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You'll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on Twitter.

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Grey's Anatomy Season 13 Episode 16 Quotes

Freezing, choking, getting tongue-tied--there's a reason it happens. We lose our words because the stakes are so high and we have so much to lose. We're petrified of saying too much, or saying it wrong. When the truth is,the only wrong thing you can say is nothing at all.


Freezing, choking, getting tongue-tied--it's what we call it when your mind goes from brilliant to blank. you can prepare all you want, but the feeling can still hit you. So when it hits you, when your mind...your mind shuts down, when you open your mouth, and no words come out, the good news is, it happens to all of us.