Station 19 Season 5 Episode 16 Review: Death and the Maiden

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Elena's return cannot come at a better time for Andy.

It feels wrong and troubling even to acknowledge it in such a way, but through tragedy and tribulations, there's clarity for Andy, and we see such triumph and strength from her in Station 19 Season 5 Episode 16.

And Andy wasn't alone in that, with Travis, Ross, and the DeLuca/Bishop/Gibson triad also coming to grips with some things.

Elena's Return  - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 16

Jason George made his directorial debut on the series with this installment, and one can appreciate his distinct vision and touch through the hour. It would be lovely if he got the opportunity to do it again.

A few notable scenes stood out; the many with Andy and Ross were among them. Some of the car scenes felt almost claustrophobic and even dark as it was evident Andy and Ross had different perspectives on combatting sexism in the workplace.

There's no way we live in a world where Herrera gets charged with murder, and that guy is mayor.

Ben

Andy's passionate, chill-inducing, and impressive diatribe about how the system is the problem and those close to her play into it was one of the best scenes of the hour.

It sucked you right into their vortex, as the scene's chaos fell away with this sweeping focus on Andy having this big revelatory moment, and Ross had no choice but to feel the full impact.

Difference of Opinion  - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 16

Andy dancing with her mother in the closing moments was fantastically done. There was a mix of some safety, comfort, joy, exhaustion, relief, and release evoked by their impromptu dance-it-out moment.

Her doom scroll spirals and that beautifully shot scene of her waking up the next day to alerts only for the reveal that Vic had been staying with her was one of my favorite shots.

We also got some really great shots of contemplative Travis that plainly and simply took us on that journey with him as he slowly realized that he'd likely opt to run against Dixon. Beckett stewing through the glass while punishing Sullivan was also notable.

And the rescue of those indentured servants in that sweatshop was an emotional ordeal.

Travis Fed Up  - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 16

Devoid of the senseless relationship drama, Travis' disgust and malaise with the state of the world and all the awful people who want to rule it was so relatable and a reminder of what this character is like when he's at his best.

He was stewing and brewing the whole installment. Dixon's mere mention or sight would send him into the biggest funk, and how could it not? He had the displeasure of seeing Dixon on multiple fronts, professionally as disastrous and harmful but also in his personal life with his loathsome treatment of Emmett.

His annoyance that everyone was so passive about Dixon's potential ascent to the office was beyond warranted. But then again, it's realistic, isn't it? Most people give all the lip service, but they conclude there's very little they can do and go about their day at the end of the day.

Travis' disgust and disdain for Dixon have levels and are richly layered, so it makes sense that he could be firmly established as the heroic adversary to this evil little man.

Dixon for Mayor - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 16

It was a powder keg waiting to blow with Dixon's despicable hobnobbing with that, shitty, yes, I have to use that word, business owner who had the gumption to hold dozens of women captive in his freaking factory and was happily willing to let them burn to death.

As far as final straws, that's as good as any, and Travis publically going off on Dixon was satisfying even if there was a higher likelihood that he was screaming into a void of red tape, coverups, and corruption.

Andy: Men have this way of really over concerning themselves with my life.
Ross: That's endemic. In FD, in the military, a cashier at a grocery store. My entire career, two industries, multiple cities, and it's the same thing. That's why it's taking me long to get this far.

The irony is never lost that far too many individuals with their anti-immigration stances willingly rely on the unpaid labor of undocumented because they can exploit it to their benefit.

Dixon is talking about cleaning up the streets and using all the buzz words, but he also told his vile friend that he'd cover for him and work things out.

An Awakening  - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 16

How do you "work out" modern-day slavery?

What's troubling is that they still carted those poor women off in a prison van, and we'll never know if they will get the help they deserve or if they'll get shuffled into a flawed, irreversibly broken system.

But the hour set Travis up nicely for campaigning against Dixon for Seattle's mayor. It's a suitable pursuit for the man who has always been gifted and prime for advancement but remained stagnant at the same level out of choice.

It would be strong character development for Travis if he hurtles himself out of his comfort zone and doesn't squander his leadership and other skills but instead puts them to use, benefitting the masses. And the focus on this portion of his life would be a refreshing change from the disastrous turns of his personal one.

Dispute on a Scene - tall  - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 16

Travis' arc also fits with the theme of the hour and the season with the exploration of broken systems and their ramifications on many.

It fits nicely with what was happening with Andy as she asserted some realizations about a criminal justice system that has on her on trial for manslaughter after a sexual assault or the structure of the FD and a societal system that has her stalled in her advancement because she's a woman of color.

Ross: You are lucky as a woman of color to have the department looking out for you.
Andy: I am on trial for manslaughter. My name is all over local news next to the word Killer, and now you just fired for me. How is that looking out for me? And the fact that my luck is being discussed to my being a woman of color, by the way, kind of highlights how messed up this is.

But let's use the sandwich approach here. Before we wrap things up with Andy, which was the strongest plot of the hour, we'll get into the weakest plot point.

The Two Queer Women, an Orphan Donor, and a Baby plot felt so out of place with everything else. And while it's no secret that I've grown disillusioned with this plot, that isn't the only reason I wish they had simply left them out of the hour.

Creating a Family  - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 12

Sometimes the series opts for more humorous plots to provide levity in a heavy hour, but misplaced humor can get annoying, and that was the case here.

Maybe because of the ongoing theme of family, and it was meant to coincide with the return of Elena, that was the line of thinking with all of this, but it did very little for me.

It's like they have spent too much time on this storyline while not properly delving into it, which remains irritating.

Somehow, we've fast-forwarded to the point where Carina was ready to get inseminated. But the hour showed that right up until the end, Carina and Maya still haven't been on the same page or unpacked and properly hashed through their issues about having a baby.

Making Miller Proud  - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 12

Carina still feels like Maya is begrudgingly indulging her and accuses her multiple times of postponing the deed as if to suggest that Maya doesn't want to do this. And Carina also pointed out that Maya was only throwing herself into all the nuances of the process this late into the game to distract her from work stuff.

And she's not exactly wrong about that because Maya has routinely been focused on how she got screwed on the job, and she's only been checking in with Carina sporadically.

The two of them never had serious enough, sit-down conversations about any of this or ever delved deeply into one another's concerns. It's like expediting the process was a fix over communication.

We were treated to slapstick levels of hormonal Carina. And we'd get on the precipice of finally addressing some of the issues with everything, but then it would never go that extra step. It was agitating.

Happy C - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 12

And then they inserted Jack into the mix. It basically became Maya and Jack tag teaming each other with keeping a hormonal Carina in check or Jack making awkward commentary about jacking off to them or his plentiful sperm.

It was nonsensical that he only got an alert about his genetic test the day of the process. Shouldn't they have waited on that?

Jack: The genetic testing app just alerted me.
Carina: Is there a problem?
Jack: I don't think so? It says I have a brother.

And doesn't that once again draw the issue to one of the biggest arguments for using someone they know when Jack is a mystery genetically because of his upbringing?

Jack discovering this late into the series is a doozy, but it's a potentially good arc for him, and it makes me wonder why they just didn't give him something akin to that right out of the gate?

Choosing a Donor -tall  - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 11

It should've stood on his own (as he should as a character) instead of getting thrown into the mix as another contrivance on Carina and Maya's big day.

For precious moments, their baby-making process became about Jack, even without his intention, and summed up this entire arc.

But then, weirdly, the moments that probably should have been about Jack, like him having some type of reaction to the news that he has a brother and he's an uncle, bounced back to Carina freaking out.

I still don't understand what they were driving at with Carina, implying that she's unconsciously used Jack as a substitute brother since grieving Andrew.

Brewing Argument -tall  - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 11

She went from not wanting him to have too big of a role to fearing that he won't get to be "Uncle Jack" which, regardless of that terminology, keeps sounding like dad to their kid if he has "a real family" now and no longer needs theirs.

Long story short, they've done the deed, and the saga continues. And I still feel like all three of these characters deserved better than this storyline, and Marina deserved a better baby arc than this. But what's done is done.

Now, back to the strong elements.

Jaina Lee Ortiz continues to slay with her performance. My heart ached for her during that doom scrolling. It's so hard sometimes to avoid seeing things that are said about you when it's all out there in public.

A Big Scene  - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 16

She's become the face of something she didn't want, and now she's awaiting a manslaughter trial and could go away for some time.

But ironically, none of the focus or attention seems to be on this investigation just yet.

Everything feels more insular, and all the strife and emotion come from Andy coping in her daily life and needing to get back into the job.

We saw her in court briefly. And the most we get about the actual investigation comes from a surprisingly entertaining dynamic with Sullivan and Vic as they recounted their less than stellar experiences when the police questioned them, with the implication that it was because they're black.

Her Back - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 16

Vic served as Andy's biggest support, staying with her while she battled nightmares at night.

And it's Vic and Sullivan who face Elena first. Fortunately, Vic kept Sullivan from deciding whether or not Andy should meet her mother, and it speaks to an interesting but effective bond.

Carina: We're not doing this ... today! We're not doing this today.
Maya: OK, but you said--
Carina: I know what I said, but that was before he found out that he has a brother who is a father.
Jack: What does that have to do with anything?
Carina: You are distracted, and I am annoyed, and Maya, congratulations, you get another day. Woo!

Elena and Sullivan's conversation was tense, filled with all these unsaid things. Sullivan's judgment was strong, his protective streak for Andy radiating from him even now.

And Elena was understandably guarded as she realized that Andy formed a family there that knew more about her than most.

Sullivan Stands Tall  - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 16

But you knew Andy wouldn't get any of those messages since she cut her phone off and spent the day with Ross, so it would be a hell of a shock when she did meet her mother.

Andy wanted to direct all her focus toward the thing that brought her stability and comfort, her job.

Theo got that transferred to Station 19 after the shutdown, but her transfer was unknown.

Honestly, Andy should've known that she wouldn't get just to go back to work. Her temporary suspension pending the trial made sense, given that she's been charged with killing someone.

Playing the Game  - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 16

But that's not to say she wasn't correct about how everyone handled her kid gloves, managed all aspects of her career at FD, and how it's been inherently sexist.

Andy's frustration with Ross and the system at large was overdue and went far beyond her assault. Ortiz and Dandridge were fantastic.

Andy's revelation and honest, raw truth about all of it as she poured her heart out on the fire scene was years in the making.

Systemic sexism (and its intersection with racism) works just as she described.

Challenges of Captain  - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 16

One faces all these obstacles and everyone else having a say, or the power, or the control to do what they please with you, then will gaslight you into believing that you're the problem.

For years, Andy heard all these reasons why she couldn't climb to the top and hold the position she desired. Many were indulgent or patronizing, and they never aligned with how things were handled when it was her male counterparts.

Andy: For the longest time, I thought it was me. I thought something was wrong with me. That things just kept not working out, and I just realized it's all of you. Knowing, prescribing what's best for me. It was the guy in the parking lot who decided he knew better when I said I didn't want things to go any further. It was my dad when the idea of seeing his daughter take over would've been too big of a sign for him to know that he was done. It was Sullivan when he wanted to keep me in my place because his life was a mess, and it's you, trying to make this as slow, and hard, and painful as possible for me because if you had to come up this way, the hard way, then so do I.
Ross: You have been through a trauma, alright ...
Andy: It's this whole screwed-up system! The one that tells women of color that we should be grateful for even the smallest thing we're given. Even if we've earned it. Even if it's less than we deserve. Even if it's an open secret that the expectations on us are higher and the rewards lower because we should know our place, right? Because we're lucky to get anything to begin with.

Andy's fight to get to lieutenant and her aspirations for captain was fraught, littered with every bump and obstacle imaginable. Most of those hardships were because she was a woman and a Latina in this male-dominated field.

And yet everything she earned and despite all of her work, skill, and how capable she is, even while stalled and blocked, the implication was that she only got where she was because of nepotism or because she was a double minority.

Elena's Return  - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 16

Things that served as roadblocks for her regularly were heralded as advantages. And we've seen that on levels with her and Maya and the different treatment they face compared to their male peers.

And neither woman is asking for much. If anything, Andy limited her aspirations, put a cap on her potential, thinking that simply making it to captain of Station 19 was enough, and she realized she didn't even allow herself to dream of anything more. How's that for a reflection on how we internalize sexism and settle?

Ross represented something for Andy. She's someone who achieved a higher ranking that's unprecedented for a woman and person of color.

But Ross' old school, defeatist approach is discouraging and is part of the problem. Her surface-level approach to getting into the system before changing it only works if she's actively trying to do something about the rampant isms.

New Chief Smiles -tall  - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 9

Simply being a woman of color in her position isn't enough if other women behind her can't dream of achieving the same thing.

It's not a mark of equality or respectability: it's tokenism.

It was a slap in the face when she suggested that Andy should just be grateful that the FD is backing her at all as a woman of color.

Because the thought process is that it could be so much worse, like what it was like with Elena when she got assaulted at the academy.

A Survivor- tall - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 15

We know it can be so much worse. But it can be so much better, too.

And as frustrating as Ross' responses were, it came with a complete understanding that she's a victim of the same system.

It showed how easy it is to internalize all of it... to buy into the notion that as a woman of color, she should just be grateful she got a seat at the table at all, even if she's getting doled crumbs and that sear is a rickety stool held together with duct tape.

Because having a seat at the table doesn't mean anything if the seats aren't the same, right?

Grudges  - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 16

It didn't seem as if Ross realized that she had become one of those women who felt that those who came behind her should have to struggle just because she did. And that's part of what made Ross and Andy's scenes so compelling.

You could believe that Ross genuinely thought she was giving Andy good advice, acknowledging her trauma, and dealing with things the right way.

Andy's words had an impact on her. It must've prompted her to reflect on her job and the powers and control she relinquished. It seemed to especially resonate when Andy mentioned how Sullivan contributed to poor treatment.

It's believable that Ross would realize how she's shortchanged herself and relinquished her power by keeping her head down and going along to get along.

Natasha Ross  - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 9

And I'm all for her asserting herself and trying to rectify that. But it was bizarre when she was so icy and shut down Sullivan, discussing boundaries, when she was the one to initiate everything in the first place.

Ross has been such a cardboard character with very little substance, so it was generally refreshing to see something more from her.

I called Sandra. She gave me your address. I'm sorry. I tried calling your phone, but ...

Elena

And despite the fraught, complex background with Elena, your heart just swelled when Andy fell into her mother's arms.

Their reunion could've gone a dozen ways. It's still early, and the two women have so much to unpack, so Andy's feelings of betrayal, hurt, abandonment, and anger simmering below the surface can still come out in the future.

Past Returns - tall  - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 16

But for now, Andy just needed her mom, and for the first time in decades, she had her, and nothing else mattered in those moments.

Learning that Elena also got assaulted adds another layer to this incredibly complex woman of whom we have mixed feelings about, and it bonds her to Andy more than before.

With Elena's return, maybe we can anticipate Andy's charges getting dropped or her found not guilty, and the crux of her arc closing out the season and heading into the next one is a rich mother-daughter arc.

Remarkably, Elena is back in her daughter's life, and they can speak as two adult women. There is so much history there, and mixed emotions need to be explored.

Elena's Return  - Station 19 Season 5 Episode 16

We already saw how Andy's opinion of her father shifted after his death. She could barely look at a photo of him when she was unpacking.

Elena: I'm glad you fought that man off, and I'm glad he's dead. I know I shouldn't say that, but I am.
Andy: Thank you. For making sure that I knew how to defend myself.

It feels like Andy and Elena's journey is just beginning, and I look forward to it. Ortiz and Patricia de Leon have great chemistry thus far. And that final scene of them dancing in the kitchen because there's nothing left to do right now was touching, especially as Andy broke down crying in the middle of it.

Over to you, Station 19 Fanatics. What did you think of Elena's return? Should Travis run against Dixon? Are you excited about Jack's brother? Sound off below.

You can watch Station19 online here via TV Fanatic.

Death and the Maiden Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Station 19 Season 5 Episode 16 Quotes

Vic: For what it's worth, I don't blame you for reporting him.
Sullivan: Well, you might be the only one in this building.

There's no way we live in a world where Herrera gets charged with murder, and that guy is mayor.

Ben