We know that Grey’s Anatomy season 15 episode 19 is entitled “Silent All These Years,” and we respect that. This is a show that does like to utilize songs for episode titles; maybe consider our album title as a B-side, if you will. This is the title of a 2007 album from Foo Fighters, and they are also lyrics from the closing song “Home.” It’s a song of longing, hope, regret, and understanding the person you are now. These are the takeaways from this episode. The lyrics for the song may not otherwise match, but there’s something about the mood and the sorrow that feels the same.
This is not an easy hour of television to get through. It’s a reminder of what lies out there in the world, the echoes of darkness that we all wish to pretend aren’t there. Yet, we shouldn’t have to wait to be faced with them in order to understand their presence. They are there; even if we try to fix some, others will come. Pain is inevitable, and the best thing we can do is show a little patience and understand how every single person moves through it in their own way.
This is what Jo had to understand in this episode through her visit with her mother; meanwhile, at the end of the episode Alex had to understand it through Karev. He needed to understand that her silence was not a slight, but rather a mechanism. A way for her to stop the swirling in her head and find a little bit of peace through what she learned. With the proper grace, maybe there will be a time where she will open up. But now is not that time. That time will come when either the clouds clears or she just has a sweeping realization of “I am ready.”
Let’s flash back to the night’s key events. Jo met up with her biological mother in hopes of seeking answers. She was angry, she was curious, and she also refused to be dismissed. That was a woman who abandoned her and without all the facts, that made it all the more hurtful. Even with the facts it was hurtful; the prior actions don’t change the end result. Yet, the prior actions were horrific, painful, and devastating in a way we cannot even imagine explaining in words. Jo’s mother was assaulted by a TA while in college, which led to her being pregnant and then effectively abandoning her. Jo didn’t have a chance for a proper adoption; instead, she was cycled through the system with different parents and never a feeling of stability. In going back to “Home,” she never truly had one until she found Alex. Her seeking this out eventually led to her meeting Paul and misunderstanding what love and a home was. All he wanted was control — what he wanted and precisely when he wanted it.
The conversation between Vicki and Jo may not be left within this episode, or it could be mentioned down the line. That is Jo’s choice, but she does understand more now as to why she was left — she had a mother who wanted to love her, but also could not separate what happened from seeing her on the other side. We believe Vicki wholeheartedly when she claimed that she felt someone else would give her a better life; yet, she can’t will that idea into existence. She was able to find happiness, success, and a family. Eventually, Jo was able to do the same — but it doesn’t change the road that brought them back together and the shared pain that they experienced.
You can play the what-if game. You can ask all sorts of questions. For example, you can wonder if Jo would’ve ever ended up with Paul had she grown up in a better environment. You could wonder if she had a better sense of what love was. But, what-if games are useless in a world without time-travel, one where time keeps moving forward. All Jo can do now is wake up the next morning and recover from what she’s heard. She’s a product of one of the most horrific violations anyone can experience, but she can’t change why she was born. She can only help others find a way to continuing living and finding their own sense of self.
That’s what Jo did in the hospital tonight, as she alongside the other doctors did their part in order to assist a survivor of an assault to receive the proper treatment, be documented for the police, and eventually get the help that she needed. They could not force her into anything, but they could offer support, kind words, sympathy, and strength. The moment that she was in that hallway surrounded by doctors standing for her, she felt all of that. She had her strength and could combat this moment head-on. She could find justice and that is the answer that will exist for her on the other side.
The echoes are the reverberations. They are the fear that the pain will never go away. The silence is the fear, the recognition, or the trying to grapple with reality. The patience is the hope to someday see things better. The grace is what brings you through. Grey’s Anatomy season 15 episode 19 was a story of suffering and enduring the harshest traumas in life. It was about support for survivors, but also understanding the reality of what they went through and the scars that still remain even years after the fact. There are sometimes secrets that you carry through most of your life — including Jo revealing a past abortion to her mother, one of the few people who could ever understand. She knows what it’s like to be in those depths of despair and trying to find a way to see the surface.
This was a bold, courageous, and powerful episode about consent, survival, and even for Ben and Bailey, education when it comes to Tuck’s behavior. While this storyline may have just been a drop in the ocean for the hour at large, that is where the process of understanding begins. That’s where you can develop a culture that not only empowers others, but also yourself to be the best future person you can possibly be.
We won’t forget about this Grey’s Anatomy episode — and we absolutely won’t be silent about the strength of the writing, or the performances from Michelle Forbes and Camilla Luddington. If you want to see more discussion about it, you can do it in the video below.
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