Monday, November 20, 2017

Disability on The Fosters

5B - Promo

5x09 - Prom

5x08 - Engaged



5x05 - Telling

5x04 - Too Fast, Too Furious

5x03 - Contact

5x02 - Exterminate Her

5x01 - Resist

4x20 - Until Tomorrow

4x19 - Who Knows

4x18 - Dirty Laundry



4x15 - Sex Ed


Review: The Fosters 4x17 "Diamond in the Rough"



Originally written: March 22, 2017

JESUS AND LENA - DINING ROOM TABLE - RUNNING FLASHCARDS

Lena: [holds up a picture of a car]

Jesus:  [sighs, softly] Car.

Lena:  Good.  [holds up a picture of a lamp]

Jesus:  L-l-lamp.

Lena:  Nice.  [holds up a card that reads 'pony']

Jesus:  Where's the--the picture?

Lena:  Nope.  No picture this time.  What's it say?

Tara: I have soooooo many feelings about this scene.  It is obvious to me that Lena has been tipped off about Jesus’s reading difficulties.  For the record, this is a really crappy way to confirm said difficulties.  I would even go so far as to say that it’s cruel.  Forcing Jesus to do something he is not physically able to do?  Actively humiliating him, when a one-on-one conversation would accomplish the same thing?  I expect far more of Lena, who has a background in child psychology and education.  
Also, just the way she is speaking to him - terse and not at all warm.  The whole situation is super disheartening.

Tonia:  Agreed.  Lena's going out of her way here to humiliate Jesus here, which is in no way okay.  

Jesus:  Um... It's the--the--

[The letters on the card blur and move making it impossible to read.]

Jesus:  [shuts his eyes; sighs]  I have a headache, Mama.  

Lena:  No, you don't, Jesus.

Jesus: [looks at her, scared]

Lena:  You can't read it, can you?
Tara:  This is a huge issue for the disabled community.  Nondisabled people presuming to know a disabled person’s body and experience better than the person actually inhabiting said body, having said experience.  Nondisabled people dismissing our legitimate symptoms because they seem like an excuse or come at an inopportune time.
For the record, headaches are common post-brain injury.  (I would say that it was more surprising if I didn't have a headache in the months after my injury.)  They are also a common symptom of visual disturbances post-brain injury like those Jesus is experiencing.  
Lena is not in Jesus’s body.  She cannot feel what he is feeling.  Therefore, it is ludicrous for her to dismiss his legitimate pain out of hand.  And to follow it up with, “You can’t read it, can you?” She could have phrased that question a million different ways that were more sensitive to his self-esteem.  Because these “little” comments and dismissals?  They chip away pieces of us.

Tonia:  Couple what Lena says with how she says it, and this is a double-whammy for Jesus.  Lena's tone is impatient and disappointed.  As if Jesus's difficulties are his own fault and as if he is having them to make Lena's own experience even more stressful, which could not be farther from the truth. 

Jesus has obviously been afraid to tell his parents this.  (And it should not have gotten this far at all, to be clear.)  Jesus never should have been put in a position where his inability to read was on him to deal with and him alone at 16.  This aspect of the story should have been handled more accurately and in a way that's more respectful of the things people with brain injuries experience.  

To depict these things in a way that suggests their symptoms are their fault?  Well, that doesn't help anybody.

Jesus: [still scared; sighs; knows Lena knows]

Lena:  Honey.  Why didn't you just tell us?

Tonia:  And again, we have Lena putting the blame for this back on Jesus's shoulders.  (Lena, this is not Jesus's fault.  This is the doctors' fault for not doing their job thoroughly.)

Also?  Let's talk about Lena's use of 'just' in 'just tell us?'  Jesus is struggling with communication right now.  To suggest that he 'just' tell them something that makes him afraid and embarrassed?  As Tara often points out: aphasia gets worse with stress.  Jesus has been under tremendous stress this whole time trying to deal with not being able to read by himself.  The chances of him being physically able to say those words (and be listened to and not dismissed when he did?)  Pretty small.

Jesus:  Because--  I--I am so done with the doctors, and the tests, and the-- the stupid...th--therapy sessions. [Breathes shakily]  Why can't anyone...fix me?  [Puts his head down on the table]

Lena: [Rubs his shoulder; softly]  Okay.  Okay.  Okay.
Tara: Jesus asking why can't anyone fix him hit me right in the heart.  I’ve been there.  It is a legitimate question, especially in light of all the focus on what he cannot do or needs to improve on in therapy.  I hope Jesus begins to realize that some of his abilities will come back with time.  And some never will.  And that is okay, despite what he is constantly being told about “getting better.”  His abilities do not define him.  He is different now, and that is okay too.

JESUS AND LENA - A NEW DAY - WALKING IN THE HOUSE.  JESUS HAS HIS CANE AND NEW GLASSES:
Brandon:  How'd it go?

Lena:  Well, there's nothing wrong with Jesus's eyes.  It's his brain that can't read.  So they're giving him these glasses and they're supposed to help, you know, his brain sort things out.

Tara:  Prism glasses are a thing.  But wow, way to out Jesus’s medical info to the sibs.  For a show usually so focused on Moms respecting each kids’ private information, this was disappointing.  (Assuming, of course, that Jesus did not give off-screen permission for her to share.)
Also, just the language used in this scene is so negative.  “Wrong,” “can’t read.”  How about “Jesus’s eyes are fine.  His brain is still sorting things out, and the glasses should help with that.”

Jesus:  Yeah, but th--they're not even working.  I mean, I-- I st--still can't read.

Lena:  Honey.  You have to be patient, you know?  The doctor said it might take a while.  

Brandon:  You look like a minion. [laughs]

Jesus: [takes off his glasses; softly]  They're--  They're giving me a headache.

Tara:  Making fun of adaptive equipment is never cool.  We would never consider making fun of someone’s wheelchair - glasses are no different.  
Yes, Brandon is Jesus’s brother.  Yes, brothers poke fun.  This instance is different because Jesus needs the glasses to (hopefully eventually) alleviate symptoms such as headaches, aching eyes, motion sickness, visual overload, difficulty with depth perception, visual attention, visual scanning and visual memory.  By insulting Jesus’s appearance, Brandon is implying that Jesus’s adaptive equipment is unsightly.  And it suggests that a nondisabled person’s comfort is of utmost importance, superseding even a disabled person’s medical necessity.
This is not even to begin to speak about the issues around identity and brain injury.  Brain injuries are complex because, while they impact our abilities, they also impact how we think.  And how we think is very closely linked to who we are.  Often, post-brain injury, we do not “feel like ourselves.”  This can be very frightening, because if I don’t feel like “me,” then who am I?  I may not like the way I’m acting or the loss of my abilities or myself.  So, then why would anyone I love continue to love me?  Comments like Brandon’s, small as they may seem, really drive Jesus’s self-esteem down even further.

Lena:  Why don't you go ahead and lie down, okay?

Mariana: [gives Brandon a withering look]

Lena: [whispers]  Really, Brandon?

Brandon:  Minions are CUTE!

Mariana:  And you're a jerk.

Tara:  Nice half-hearted reprimand, Lena.  

Tonia:  Right?  Jesus's self-esteem is super low and to know that he can't even count on his parents to stand up for him must be super devastating...

Mariana: [to Lena] Is he...getting worse?  I noticed that his speech is all messed up again.
Tonia: Mariana, seriously?  This is awful.  If you’re wondering about Jesus, you know who you can talk to?  Jesus.  Not Mama.  And you don’t have to make comments about how ‘messed up’ his speech is.  This just makes me think of all the other times Mariana has come to Moms regarding something about Jesus.  The first thing they did, always?  Was to call Jesus into the room to talk to him, too.  Now?  Instead of going to him and including him in the conversation, or telling Mariana you’ll discuss it later when Jesus is up (and if he wants to talk about it) you’re having this whole conversation behind his back.  To quote Ellen DeGeneres: “No, I say to that!  No!”
Tara:  Also, Jesus’s speech is “messed up” because the stress of admitting he could not read was ridiculously high.  It’s called aphasia, Mariana.  Look it up.
Emma: [texting Brandon]  Hey.  Can I get that letter I wrote to your brother?  Don't want anyone else to find it.

Brandon: [texting Emma back] Sure.

Tonia:  Again, Emma.  This would be something to ask Jesus.  (But we know by now that Jesus has been sent from the room to lie down, and it’s the perfect time for Lena to keep talking about his medical issues behind Jesus’s back…) <— Sarcasm
Tara: Not cool, Emma.

Tonia:  And I'm so glad Brandon's decided to give Jesus's property back to Emma... <-- Sarcasm

Lena: [to Mariana] I mean, that's the thing with TBI.  It's two steps forward, one step back.  The doctor isn't worried about it.  The only worry is how it will affect Jesus's morale.
Tonia:  This makes me think that at least part of this conversation with Jesus’s doctor was held without him being present.  And how about not discussing Jesus’s medical stuff in front of his brother and sister without him there?  If you think he does not want to talk about it,don’t talk about it…especially with the siblings…come on Lena.  With Stef, I understand, as you’re his parents and that conversation would be held in private.  But as it stands now, it’s just you guys, talking about him behind his back.
Tara:  Also, I take issue with the whole nebulous idea of “two steps forward, one step back.”  Again, it takes legitimate issues that brain injury survivors deal with, and shoves them off to the side.  

Tonia:  Yes. Jesus's speech difficulties make sense given the stress of the current situation, not to mention being made fun of by his brother.  Lena minimizes that here with a gross overgeneralization that "with brain injury survivors" it's "one step forward, two steps back" instead of clarifying that stress makes speech harder for Jesus.  It absolutely strips any legitimacy from the real issues Jesus is dealing with here.

Mariana:  Okay.  So, maybe, comparing him to a cartoon character isn't very helpful.

Brandon: [walking by Mariana]  Sorry.
Tonia:  Mariana got an apology from Brandon, but Lena wouldn’t even call Brandon out for that in front of Jesus, so Jesus thinks it’s okay for the sibs to make fun of his adaptive equipment.  Okay, then…
Tara:  Yes, Mariana got an apology from Brandon.  You know who didn’t?  Jesus.  The person Brandon actually insulted.

JESUS - IN HIS (BRANDON'S) ROOM - MARIANA WALKS IN:

Mariana:  I think you look cute in your glasses.  Like Clark Kent.

Jesus:  Mm-hmm.  No.  You mean Urkel?  [Takes his glasses off.]
Tonia:  Mariana, you’re trying to boost Jesus’s morale.  Too bad it’s coming directly after Brandon’s assy comment.
Tara: We see Jesus’s self-perception here. :(

Mariana:  You're gonna get better.  

Jesus:  Yeah.  You know the more...people say that?  The less that I--I believe it.
Tara:  The problem with comments like this is, what if he does not have a miraculous recovery?  Most brain injury survivors have long-lasting symptoms.  By constantly “encouraging” Jesus in this way, his family is likely amping up his anxiety.  Because what happens if he does not fulfill his family’s expectations?

Mariana:  Are you drawing again?  Can I see?

Jesus: [flips his sketchbook against his body]  No...

Tonia: I love that Jesus’s drawing is still a thing!  I’m excited.  I want to see it, too.  But Jesus said no, so we should respect that, right Mariana?  Right???

Mariana:  Okay.  Fine.  [grabs the sketchbook]

Jesus:  Look-- Mariana!

Mariana:  [looking at Jesus's sketch of a treehouse]  Oh!  This is so cool!
Tara: That right-sided hand tremor must be improving, looking at this drawing.  

Mariana:  Do you remember those Magic Treehouse books?  About the treehouse that could travel back in time?  

Jesus: [laughs softly] Yeah.  Those were the first chapter books that I ever read.  

Mariana:  You used to say I was just like the sister.  She was always getting her brother into some crazy adventure.  

Both: [laugh]

Mariana: We used to always want a magic treehouse of our own.  

Jesus:  Yeah, I wish that we had one.  Then, I'd go back in time, before any of this happened.  
Tara:  This is a common feeling - wanting to go back to Before.  I hope Jesus can begin to reconcile that he is in the After now, and that he can build a life here.

MARIANA AND MOMS - KITCHEN - LATER THAT DAY:

Mariana:  You know who ISN'T alright?  Jesus.  He needs a project.  Something to look forward to.  And I have an idea.
Tonia:  Of course, you do, Mariana...

Stef:  Oh my God, your ideas scare me.  Should we be sitting down for this one?  

Lena:  [sits]

Mariana:  Okay, so Jesus has been watching this show about treehouses.  And he's actually been designing his own sketches and they're really good!  See? [shows Jesus's treehouse sketch to Moms]

Stef:  Oh wow.  Look at that!

Mariana:  What if we asked Gabe to help him build one?

Tonia:  I’m so on board with you through this point, Mariana.  As Moms would need to know.  And assuming you spoke to Jesus about this since you have his sketchbook.  (But of course, we’re not privy to that conversation.  Only the ones where Jesus is talked about.)

Stef: Oh, no.  Absolutely not.  Jesus is in this condition because of Gabe and his nail gun.  

Mariana:  Okay, but Gabe wasn't there to supervise Jesus.  And Jesus won't have to do any of the actual building.  He could be like...the architect.

Stef:  All right.  All right.  Exactly how do you plan to pay for all these materials?  We certainly can't afford all that.

Mariana:  See, I anticipated that question.

Stef: Of course you did.

Mariana:  What if...this was Jesus's senior project?
Tonia:  On the one hand, I like this because it shows that Mariana has confidence in Jesus’s ability and his future, but it’s a lot to be planning and I do wonder if Mariana talked to him about this aspect before pitching it to Moms..
Tara:  Why is Jesus not included his own potential senior project idea?  This is getting old, family.  Just saying.

Lena: [studies Jesus's sketch]

Mariana: There have been juniors that have been allowed to start their senior project early.  And if he builds the treehouse in a park or playground, he could apply for some of ABCC's community outreach budget and he can fundraise through the school.

Lena:  Well, I don't think it's a bad idea.  It could help Jesus get out of his depression.  It could help his brain make connections and the design is pretty cool.  
Tonia: Because you’re Lena and everything has to be about rehab.  It’s never okay for Jesus to be legitimately struggling…

Lena:  But you would still need to get faculty approval.  

Mariana:  Perfect!  Vice-Principal.  Approved.  Done.  

Lena:  Honey, I'm not the acting VP.  Drew will still have to sign off on this.  

Mariana:  Well, can you at least put in a good word?

Lena:  I will do what I can.

BRANDON SEARCHING HIS (JESUS'S) ROOM FOR EMMA'S LETTER - THE NEXT DAY:

Brandon: [Looks on the desk, through a pile of magazines, on a shelf above the desk, and finally, in the desk drawer.  He moves some get well cards and finds Emma's letter to Jesus just beneath them.]  Oh.  [Turns to see Mariana in the doorway, still holding Emma's letter]  You haven't seen my good sneakers around here, have you?  'Cause Grace is gonna be here, I think, any minute.

Mariana: Forget the shoes.  You need to lose the animal print before you get friend-zoned.

Brandon: What's wrong with my shirt?  It's got a bunch of, like, tiny little foxes on it.  See?  I'll change.

Tonia:  If Brandon had been snooping through Jesus's actual room here?  His actual desk?  To find Emma's note that is actually Jesus's?  A question would be raised as to what Brandon thought he was doing going through Jesus's things.  I guarantee you Mariana would not just come in and sit down on his bed and chat with Brandon...  I feel like the kids feel that because Jesus is technically living in Brandon's room currently, that it is okay to go through Jesus's things.  Which, let's be clear, it isn't,

Mariana:  What's that?

Brandon:  Um, it's the letter that Emma wrote to Jesus.

Mariana:  And what are YOU doing with it?

Brandon:  Well, Jesus didn't read it because he--he can't.  And Emma didn't want anyone else finding it.

Tonia:  Weird, Brandon!  Nobody else would find it if you would just leave it where it is!

Mariana:  So, why doesn't she just tell him?

Tonia:  She did tell him.  The minute she wrote Jesus that letter and Jesus had it in his hands, Emma meant for the message to reach Jesus.  

As for the actual letter-writing of it all?  That is a plot device, because Emma could have just as easily texted him if she didn't want to tell him face to face, and that way?  Siri could have read the entire text to Jesus.

Brandon:  Well, she realized that with everything else going on, it was gonna be too much.

Mariana:  Okay, well, I don't think that she should be putting you in the middle of this.  And for your sake?  I hope that he never finds out that you knew all along.

Tonia:  Oh, Jesus will find out, Mariana.  Not just about Brandon knowing, but about basically everyone in the family lying to him.  And it’s not gonna feel good…

JESUS AND MARIANA - WALKING DOWN THE HALLS OF ABCC - SATURDAY MORNING:
Mariana:  Don't worry.  It's Saturday.  No one's here.

Jesus:  Good.  'Cause I look like a...dork.

Tara: There is nothing more scary than returning to school changed.  :(

Mariana:  No, you don't.  Think of your helmet and glasses as a fashion statement.  You're basically a hipster without even trying.
Tara:  Nice thought, Mariana.  This still feels condescending, though.

Jesus: [scoffs, softly]  Why are you wearing your glasses?

Mariana:  I just felt like it.
Tara: I do appreciate glasses-wearing solidarity.

Kid on the Wrestling Team:  Jesus!  What's up, bro?  When are you coming back to school?

Jesus:  Soon.  Soon.  You guys are winning the meeting today?  

Kid #2:  You mean the meet?  Yeah, we're up by a couple points.  We actually gotta head back.  It was good seeing you, dude!  And the shades are dope!

Jesus:  Okay.
Tara:  In a situation with high stress, Jesus’s speech is more affected.  (He says “meeting” instead of “meet” because he is thinking about the meeting with Drew.)  I appreciated the awkwardness of this encounter, but also that the kids were so excited to see Jesus. :)

Mariana:  You ready to do this?

Jesus: [nods, nervous]

Mariana:  You're gonna be great.  

JESUS AND MARIANA - DREW'S OFFICE:

Mariana: [knocks]  Hey, Drew.  Are you ready for us?

Drew:  Yes.  Come on in.  [Stands and comes to shake Jesus's hand]  You must be Jesus.  Nice to meet you.

Jesus:  [shakes his hand]

Drew: Please, take a seat.

Mariana:  Thank you for seeing us on a Saturday.  

Drew:  Oh.  No worries.  I had to come in for a parent board meeting anyway.  Well, let's hear it.

Mariana:  [takes out Jesus's sketch; hands it to Jesus]

Jesus: [hands it to Drew; his tremor is back so the paper shakes]

Drew: [takes the sketch]  [To Mariana] Is this a treehouse?

Jesus: [nervously] Yes.  I...want...to...to build...it.  [breathes shakily]

Mariana: [smiles encouragingly at Jesus]

Drew: [looks at Jesus as if he is incompetent]
Tara:  This whole meeting was infuriating.  Drew seemed ready to take the drawing from Mariana.  (She passed it to Jesus to hand to Drew instead.)  Drew looks to Mariana first before the presentation begins.  (A small thing, until you’ve been the disabled person in a scenario where the person you’re interacting with continually looks to the person with you instead of you.)  

Tonia:  Yes!  (I once had an entire conversation at the bank, where the teller addressed my brother the entire time, despite the fact that I was the one answering all of the questions...)

Tara:  Drew makes a clear snap judgment in these first few seconds with Jesus, and it’s very disappointing.  (That aphasia impacts his intellect, specifically.)  The kids in the hall interacted with Jesus better than Drew did.  
I’m proud of Jesus for persevering through such a difficult speech situation.  It’s good to get used to how something like that feels and realizing that you can get through it.  

MARIANA AND LENA - KITCHEN:
Lena:  Hey honey?  So I spoke with Drew and he's not going to approve Jesus's senior project.

Tonia:  Of course he’s not…also, Lena, why are you having this conversation with Mariana and not with…I don’t know…Jesus?
Tara:  Also, is a phone call to Mama the usual way to unapprove a senior project?  Jesus did come in to present to Drew - the least Drew could do is extend the same courtesy by actually calling Jesus.

Mariana:  Wait.  Why not?

Lena:  Well, I mean, he loved the idea, but he's not convinced Jesus will BE a senior next year or even if he'll be back at Anchor Beach at all.  He thinks...we might have to send him to a special school.
Tonia: Okay, but really?  First of all, apparently, because ABCC is a private school, Drew can get away with the egregious ableism and overt discrimination of dismissing Jesus’s senior project idea on a one-time meeting (ahem, snap judgement.)  Also who exactly does Drew think he is to be telling Lena that Jesus might have to go to a ‘special school?’  That’s as bad as Dr. Danville saying that Jesus wouldn’t need a wheelchair based on Jesus lying in bed for two minutes.
Also, Lena?  Why didn’t you fight for your kid?  The idea that Drew could dismiss a project idea that he loved based on discriminatory ideas is just a bunch of malarkey and Lena should have been the one to point out that Drew is not in the position to judge what Jesus will or won’t be able to accomplish academically based on one meeting.

Mariana:  He's getting better.  Isn't he?

Lena:  He is but with TBI there can be setbacks.  He can't read right now and he's missing a lot of school.
Tonia:  Wow, Lena.  Seriously.  I get that you’ve got to be realistic about this but it just feels like one more betrayal of Jesus that you’re just lying down and not even speaking up on his behalf about this.  I get that you might not be able to make headway but it sounds like you didn’t even try at all.  Like you believe what Drew does, which is pretty devastating.

Mariana:  Okay, well, what if he goes to summer school to catch up?  

Lena:  [sighs]  Maybe.  If he can.  But we just don't know yet.  

Mariana:  You can't tell him this right now.  It'll crush him even more.

Lena:  I know.  

Mariana: I just got his hopes up and now I have to let him down again.
Tonia: Great.  I’m so glad Mariana and Lena are continuing the theme of these episodes which seems to be: Leave Jesus Out of Absolutely Every Pertinent Conversation and Lie to Him All the Time. <-- Sarcasm
JESUS AND MARIANA - JESUS'S ROOM:

Mariana:  Guess what?  Drew approved your senior project.

Jesus: Wait.  Really?  No way!

Mariana: Well, kind of.  He said it needed to be both of our projects because it was so expensive and all...

Tara: Okay, so Mariana is telling Jesus it is both of their senior projects.  HIS drawing.  HIS vision.  HIS work.  But he will not even get a GRADE for it?  And Mariana will?  Oh yeah, this will end well. <— Sarcasm

Jesus:  You want this to be your...project?

Mariana:  Yeah.  Why not?  I can be, like, the project manager, and you know I'm very good at bossing people around.  

Jesus: [laughs]

Mariana:  And that way we can be done and not have to worry about it next year when everyone else is freaking out.  

Jesus: [nods]  Thank you.

Mariana:  Now all we need to do is get Gabe on board.

Jesus:  What's that?

Mariana:  It's The Magic Treehouse.  The one where they go to the Ice Age.  I found it in the attic.  

Jesus: [puts his glasses on and opens the book; tries to read it but can't]  Um...  [scoots over in bed]  Do you wanna...read it...to me?

Tara:  Why can’t everything in this episode be just like this?  I absolutely adore these twin moments and the respect present here.

Mariana: [gets on the bed too.  She and Jesus each hold one side of the book.  Mariana starts to read]  "One summer day in Frog Creek, Pennsylvania, a mysterious treehouse appeared in the woods."

Jesus and Mariana: [smile at each other]

Mariana: "Eight-year-old Jack and his seven-year-old sister, Annie, climbed into the treehouse."

MARIANA - HER ROOM:

Mariana tweets:  I know I said no more secrets, but I'm keeping one from my brother.  Don't know what to do.
Tonia: Here’s an idea.  Maybe stop lying to his face :(

Mariana: [scrolls through phone numbers; calls Gabe]
Automated Voice:  We're sorry.  The number you are trying to reach is no longer in service.

Tonia:  Oh no!  Gabe, where are you?

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Review: The Fosters 5B Promo


Lena (to Jesus):  Honey, you're not broken.  And I promise you that we're gonna stop making you feel that way.

It's four seconds.  But it's a powerful four seconds that I need more than 280 characters to talk about.

The Fosters 5B promo was released yesterday, and I held my breath for any mention of Jesus.  Any inkling that his moms might recognize the harm they have been doing him, ever since he got his brain injury in 4B.  And these four seconds are like balm to so many in the disabled community who have been harmed by ableism.  Who could only ever dream of hearing these words.

We watch these four seconds and sob.  We watch these four seconds on repeat because we have never heard these words spoken on TV about us before.  We have heard the opposite.  Plenty of times, from plenty of people.  But these.  These words feel like holiday joy levels of elation.  Like maybe our entire year has been made.  It's hard to realize the power that just a few words have until you realize that these few words are powerful enough to save lives.

I know I have never seen a parent apologize for harmful disability beliefs on screen before.  And believe it or not, this is how change happens.  Seeing something on TV that you have never seen before.  Seeing people recognize the harm in their actions and apologize to someone who so desperately needs to hear it?  To feel valued and safe and loved?  That is how society will learn to do the same.  Media is an important tool.

The Fosters has gone from showing Jesus from the back when he's feeling vulnerable to showing us the levels of his distress.  To showing us the realization on his mothers' faces, of the depth of what has been done to their son.  Not by his injury.  But by their harmful attitudes toward disability.  It's beyond important that Jesus be shown in this moment.  That the devastating impact of ableism not be shied away from.  Showing Jesus's face here and staying focused on him humanizes him for the audience, who may have bought into the narrative that he is "gone," unpredictable," "dangerous," and "aggressive."  Who have been told for months that Jesus's reactions are unreasonable.

The audience gets a chance to see here (months in advance of 5B airing) that Jesus is a person.  The brain injury did not take away his humanness.  They get to hear Moms use warm and gentle tones and words with Jesus without pitying him.

I'm hoping we see some follow-through from Moms with regard to this conversation.  It's a good start.  And, as I said, it feels huge for this community as a whole, to be represented in a way that's real, where a character with a disability is treated with dignity and respect.  Because it suggests that maybe, finally, we are being seen.  Not as tragic burdens who make family life hard but as we really are, and from our point of view:

(We are people, living our lives the same as you - but very often - without  the basic access, respect, understanding or accommodations that many nondisabled people take for granted.)

It's why these four seconds are a rare and wonderful thing.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Review: The Little Mermaid

Ever since I first watched Disney's The Little Mermaid in theaters when I was eight, I have strongly connected to Ariel's story.  A girl who longs for a connection to people who walk, and for legs that work like everyone else's, not a tail / walker / wheelchair / crutches?  I totally related.  I felt bonded to Ariel from the first moment I saw her:

[This is me, at eight years old, the year The Little Mermaid was released in theaters.  I was in awe.]
Though I am sure my review of this movie would have been profoundly different had I done it as a third grader, I'm doing it now, and I will do my best to share my initial thoughts on what spoke to me and why, as I remember it.

Ariel: Flounder!  Come on!


Flounder:  You know I can't swim fast!

As I have not seen the movie for about four years, and many many before that, this line stood out to me.  Flounder is not a fast swimmer (and Ariel is not a patient mermaid...)

In a later scene, where Sebastian is charged with supervising Ariel, he, too, struggles to keep up with her.  This makes it clear that in the sea, where having a tail is an advantage, Ariel is able to navigate her environment really well, which goes to show that with proper accommodations, she excels.


Part of Your World remains the song, and the sentiment that speaks to me the most.  I remember being moved by it as a child.  Connecting so strongly to Ariel wanting to be "where the people are", wanting to be a part of that world, but feeling separated because she moves differently.  So all she has are these "wonderful things" from their world.  But their "stuff" is not enough.  Because Ariel wants real connection, real acceptance.  It's clear that she feels a pull to the human world.  Feels inferior because she uses a tail instead of legs to move around.  This was me as a kid.

Ariel: Is he dead?

Scuttle:  I can't find a heartbeat.

Ariel:  No.  He's breathing.

I'd forgotten that Ariel actually rescues Eric from drowning in a hurricane.  Because she's adapted to the water and she is a fast swimmer, she has strengths that humans don't.  But like Ariel, as a child, I did not see Ariel's strengths as strengths at all.  Because all of her (and my) focus was on being "part of that world."

Ursula:  The only way to get what you want is to become human yourself.

Ariel:  Can you do that?

Ursula:  My dear sweet child.  That's what I do.  It's what I live for.  To help unfortunate merfolk like yourself, poor souls with no one else to turn to.  ...Now here's the deal: I will make you a potion that will turn you into a human for three days...

Ariel:  If I become human, I'll never be with my father or sisters again.

Ursula:  That's right.  Life's full of tough choices, isn't it?  Oh, and there is one more thing: we haven't discussed the subject of payment.  You can't get something for nothing, you know?  

Ariel:  But I don't have any--

Ursula:  I'm not asking much.  Just a token, really, a trifle.  You'll never even miss it.  What I want from you is...your voice.

Ariel:  But without my voice, how will I--?

Ursula:  You'll have your looks!  Your pretty face!  And don't forget the importance of body language!

The very first nightmare I remember having as a child was when I was nine years old, the year after The Little Mermaid was released.  I identified so strongly with Ariel that I dreamed I was being chased through waterless streets by octopus villain Ursula, who was closing in on me.  Even on land, it was inevitable that she would catch me.  I was not fast with my walker.  And I knew that once she did, she would take my voice, just like she did Ariel's.

This scene also very much brings to mind my experiences in church.  So many people claiming to have the power to heal me.  To make me nondisabled.  But these attempts did not come without a price.  They didn't listen to my objections, to my questions, they did not honor my hesitance.  And they were nowhere around when the attempts to transform me failed.

At the end of this scene, after Ariel signs her name.  In a truly terrifying series of moments, Ursula makes her sing, and takes her voice from her.  This tiny shining light, that Ursula traps in seashell necklace she herself will wear.

Ariel's transformation is brutal as her tail splits, and she is suddenly human, suddenly unable to breathe underwater.  She (such an adept swimmer with her tail) now needs Flounder and Sebastian's help to reach the surface so she can breathe.

Ursula is nowhere around for this, and does not even care whether Ariel survives this transformation.

Sebastian:  She traded her voice to the sea witch and got legs!

Flounder:  Ariel's been turned into a human!  She's gotta make the prince fall in love with her - and he's gotta kiss her!

Sebastian:  And she's only got three days!

Though it happens quickly, we see that Ariel, Sebastian and Flounder spend late into the night swimming until they can find a place to rest.  Even the next morning, all three are exhausted.  Ariel is now voiceless, but not uncommunicative, as we can see she is excited to have her new legs.  She tries to stand and is very unsteady.

I also wanted to talk about the notion that in order to remain human, Ariel must make Eric fall in love with her. She is not only crossing cultures here, she is doing it in a place where she doesn't have a voice that matters.  She must adapt after she has experienced a traumatic silencing.  She must also make Eric love her.  She must prove she is worthy of human love if she is to remain a human in the human world.  And all of this, she must do, without a way to ask questions in a way humans can understand, without a way to advocate for herself that humans understand.

This is the catch-22 I know I feel living in the nondisabled world as a disabled person.  I have to constantly prove my worth in a world not built for people like me.  "Make them love you," rings very true.  "Make them love you, to prove you deserve to be here, while knowing all the time that your voice doesn't matter."

(And do it on a time limit.  Or you must go back to living completely separated from the rest of the world.)

Sebastian:  We could get the sea witch to give you back your voice!  Then you could go home and live with all the normal fish, and just be...just be...just be miserable the rest of your life.  

For so many of us, there is no going back.  Going back is not an option.  So it very much is "be isolated, disabled and miserable" or "be among nondisabled people and try to assimilate."  (Until you find "your people" at least...

8 MINUTES MISSING HERE

I'm trying to reach back in my memory for these missing minutes and I know Eric finds Ariel on the beach, and takes her to his castle.  I know he doesn't have any idea it was her who saved him, and she has no way to tell him that he'd understand.  I feel like he instantly pities her when he finds she can't speak and takes care of her because he feels bad for her.  But if I remember right, there is an attraction there on his part, for her, too.

I know he takes her to his castle, because the movie picked up with Sebastian trying to escape from Grimsby's plate over to Ariel's, after Grimsby suggests Eric take Ariel on a tour tomorrow.  I remember that Sebastian was almost cooked during Les Poissons.

Sebastian:  That was, without a doubt, the single most humiliating day of my life!  I hope you appreciate what I go through for you, young lady.  

Sebastian might as well be embodying Super-Crab right now, where the very heroic crab has to put up with "so much" to help Ariel adapt to human life.

Sebastian:  Now, we have to make a plan to get that boy to kiss you. Tomorrow, when he takes you for that ride, you gotta look your best.  You gotta bat your eyes like this.  You gotta pucker up your lips like this...

He also says that they have to come up with a plan to get Eric to kiss her.  Implying - not so subtlely - that not only would Eric not kiss her if she were a mermaid but he will not kiss her without a voice unless they trick him into it.  The false belief that disabled people cannot be loved by nondisabled people is a common one.  Sebastian talks about "getting that boy to kiss her."  Meaning he would not want to on his own, because, as the trope claims "disabled people are undesirable."

These lines by Sebastian also speak to the intense planning that goes into even the most basic situation.  There are barriers everywhere.  Adaptations to be made everywhere Ariel must go.  She will encounter unfamiliar obstacles, and it's impossible to prepare for everything.  But as Ariel is learning, you still try your hardest to plan ahead, because being spontaneous is not an option.

Sebastian:  You are hopeless, child.  You know that?  Completely hopeless.

At this point, Sebastian realizes Ariel has fallen asleep, while he has been planning for her to look her best when she tries to woo him.  While Sebastian says the above lines in an affectionate manner, it doesn't escape me that Ariel would be totally exhausted after a day spent adapting to a completely new place, with human legs and without a voice.

But it might escape Sebastian.  In fact, it did.  Because he dismisses her exhaustion in this moment and calls her hopeless twice.  Because she does not have the energy at this point to stay awake and plot with him how to best make herself lovable.

It takes a lot of work being disabled in a nondisabled world.  And fatigue is reasonable reaction after a day spent expending energy you are not used to expending.  Especially when disability is new.

Flounder:  Have they kissed yet?

Sebastian:  Not yet!

Ariel spends day two as a human dressed in a fancy dress and going around town with Eric.  She hangs upside down in the carriage, watching the horse's feet, and runs and points to things she wants to draw Eric's attention to.  Eric's reaction to these moments is still feels very pitying.  Like he is indulging the poor girl without a voice by taking her around town.

The moment it starts to change is when Ariel hands Eric what she had been holding in the carriage and takes the reins from him.  She urges the horses to speed up and jump a mini-gorge.  Eric is terrified at her lack of experience here.  But when they make it safely across and ride into the sunset, he relaxes, and even puts his hands behind his head.  It's a big moment.  He trusts that she is capable.

Sebastian:  She ain't got a lot to say but there's something about her...  Possible she want you, too.  There is one way to ask her.  It don't take a word, not a single word, go on and kiss the girl...  Look like the boy too shy.  He ain't gonna kiss the girl.

Kiss The Girl is an important song because it is Sebastian using his privilege as someone with a voice to communicate Ariel's desires.  She confirms this by leaning toward Eric and closing her eyes, clearly ready for a kiss, but he hesitates here.

Eric:  I feel really bad not knowing your name. Maybe I could guess?

Ariel: [nods]

Sebastian: [after several wrong guesses]  Ariel.  Her name is Ariel.

Eric:  Ariel?  It's Ariel?

Ariel: [nods happily]

Eric:  That's kind of pretty.  Okay.  Ariel.

Another notable moment where Sebastian uses his privilege to help Ariel.

Soon after this, they do nearly kiss and Flotsam and Jetsam (Ursula's pet eels) tip the canoe over.  Eric is heard saying, "It's okay.  I've got you," as he helps Ariel out of the water.  Human legs don't work as well as a tail.  And when Ariel rescued Eric, it wasn't out of pity, as his tone of voice seems to project for her here.  It was because he needed her help and she could give it.

Sebastian:  Ariel!  Hold onto this!  Get her to that wedding ship as quick as you can!

When Scuttle realizes that the mystery girl Eric has decided to marry overnight is, in fact, Ursula and they are getting married on a wedding ship, Ariel is quick to jump in the water.  She instantly struggles to even keep her head above the surface.  So Sebastian knocks a barrel into the water for her to hold onto, which Flounder pulls to the wedding ship, so Ariel can get there.

Scuttle acts as a diversion and Ursula's necklace with Ariel's voice in it falls off of her neck and shatters.  Ariel's voice is hers again.

Eric:  You can talk!

Ariel: I wanted to tell you...

It's subtle, but Eric's tone is totally different here.  Ariel is now a complete equal. With human legs and a voice, it's clear he is in love with her.

Ariel: Eric, you've got to get out of here!

Eric:  No!  I won't leave you!

But the sun sets before they can kiss and Ursula takes first Ariel, and then her dad, King Triton, captive.  What I had forgotten was that Ariel literally plays no part in saving the sea from Ursula.  Instead, this is all Eric, while Ariel is trapped in a whirlpool.

I was sure that with such superior swimming ability - and with her tail restored - Ariel had played at least some part in saving the sea from Ursula.

King Triton:  She really does love him?

Sebastian:  It's like I always say: children got to be free.  Live their own lives.

King Triton:  You always say that, huh?  Well, I guess there's just one problem left...

Sebastian:  What's that?

King Triton:  How much I'm going to miss her.

When all the 'poor unfortunate souls' that Ursula captured are restored, and Ursula is gone, King Triton sees Ariel again on a rock, looking at Eric, unconscious on the shore again.  He has the above conversation with Sebastian (not with Ariel) and without a word to her, transforms her from mermaid back to human.

It's very impersonal.  From a distance.  Ariel never sees it coming.  There is no consent, or lack thereof.  He just changes her.

Ariel and Eric kiss.  Then they marry.  King Triton, Flounder, Sebastian and all her sisters watch the wedding from the water.

Ariel: I love you, Daddy.

Music:  Now we can walk!  Now we can run!  Now we can stay all day in the sun!  Just you and me!  And I can be part of your world!

To be honest, I had completely forgotten that at the end, King Triton changes Ariel back to a human.  I remembered the wedding and her family being there, and I've been assuming that it happened with Ariel as a mermaid and Eric as a human.  That, somehow, they made it work.  After all, he did say to her, when she was a mermaid, "I won't leave you."

I can see why this movie resonated with me so much as a child.  I wanted nothing more than for my disability to just disappear so I could walk and run like the song suggests.  As a little girl, I could not fathom that other people needed to change.  Needed to treat me better.  So the idea of being changed so I matched everyone else sounded like a dream come true to me.  The idea that I was wrong as I was - and Ariel was wrong as she was as a mermaid - made sense to me.  That Ariel at least, had the chance to be accepted, was something to celebrate when I was a kid.  A happy ending, to be sure.  As an adult, though, this ending just makes me feel sad.

Because the movie is called The Little Mermaid, but in order to get the acceptance she craves, Ariel must be changed completely (once via coercion and a second time without her knowing) into a human.  Those around Ariel are never forced to confront why they treat her differently with legs but without a voice than they do with a tail.

I wish I had seen a movie where walking and running were not the goal, but where Ariel learned that having a tail was an asset.  That it gave her strength she does not possess with working legs.  I wish the end of the movie had shown Ariel accepting herself, tail and all.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Review: Speechless 2x04 "T-R--TRAINING D-A-DAY"

After seeing a few things about this episode of Speechless on Twitter, I thought I'd check it out.  For reference, I haven't watched since around 1x08 last season, when I just lost interest.  I tried again to tune in for the premiere last month, but I didn't last past the first five minutes.



JJ'S CARE GUIDE:

This episode, Maya is training a group of teachers (who don't really want to be aides) to be aides for kids with disabilities.  To do this, she tells them she has printed out her son, JJ's care guide and made copies, essentially, as study guide material.  She says she expects that they've read these.

What about JJ's privacy?  Was he asked if he minded if his mom printed out and made copies of all of his personal care needs as a study guide?  Would a parent ever share private information about what their teenage nondisabled child needs with a group of strangers?  And make copies for them to read?  This felt like an exceptional breach of privacy to me.

PFL vs IFL:

Near the end of Maya's training of the teachers, Kenneth (JJ's aide) talks to them about "working with disabled people" and one of the trainees speaks up, "Aren't you supposed to say people with disabilities?"  Maya says, "You're damn right, you are!"

There is this push for people-first language and usually it is by nondisabled people.  I don't mind person first language (people with disabilities) but I do identify with identity first language (disabled person.)  The problem arises, I think, when identity first language is framed as wrong.  It is a valid choice for a lot of disabled people and I wish Speechless would not make it seem incorrect.

THE TALK:

Jimmy happens to give Ray "the talk" as Ray has a girlfriend now, and Jimmy has noticed them getting closer.  Afterward, Jimmy comes home and tells Maya that he did this, and Maya's reaction is "Haven't we always said that whatever the other kids get, JJ gets?"  Jimmy objects that JJ doesn't yet have a girlfriend, but Maya insists that Jimmy needs to have "the talk" with JJ ASAP.

The notion that JJ should "get" The Talk just because Ray did is just plain ridiculous.  JJ should get The Talk because he is seventeen and he needs to be given this information so that he is prepared when he does encounter a situation.  Even when Jimmy and JJ do have The Talk, it's not implied that it happened, as it was with Ray.  JJ says he knows about sex, and Jimmy backs right off and asks if he has any other questions.  TALK TO YOUR TEENAGER.  I get that it's uncomfortable.  But you did it with Ray.  JJ is entitled to this information as much as Ray is, and not just via whatever he finds online.

CAMPING A.K.A. THE ACCESSIBILITY AND PLACE BLINDNESS NIGHTMARE:

For reasons I cannot fathom, Jimmy decides that he's going to take JJ camping to have The Talk.  I cannot think of a worse situation in terms of accessibility. 

Jimmy says he is going to gather sticks to build a fire, and JJ says he can do it.  Jimmy laments all the things that could go wrong.  Strangely, the question of "How is JJ going to reach sticks on the ground and carry them back?" is never raised. Adaptations and / or suggestions of that nature are never made.  Eventually Jimmy lets JJ go, sans accommodation, but tails him, leaving sticks in "obvious" places for him to find.  JJ finds Jimmy tailing him and naturally becomes discouraged.

This leads me to my final issue with the camping storyline.  Jimmy, at some point, has to use the outhouse.  While he's in there, a log rolls down a slight hill and gets lodged against the outhouse door, trapping Jimmy inside.  He checks for JJ, who is outside, and beeps his horn to indicate he is still present.  Jimmy says they'll just wait for someone else to come by and help.  But JJ decides to get help himself, and sets off down steep hills in the dark to find the ranger station.  He finds some signs and is eventually able to locate help for his dad.

If you've been around here long, you know I talk a lot about place blindness and how disorientation without sufficient landmarks is a very real thing for many people with CP.  Realistically?  JJ would be much more apt to get lost (not to mention flipping his chair down a steep hill) trying to find help.  But he's shown to be successful at navigating somewhere he's never been before and in the dark, no less.

CAN I HAVE A FAMILY?

I saved this part for last because it stood out to me as the most worrisome.  After JJ tells Jimmy he knows about sex, Jimmy says he is open to any questions JJ has.  JJ asks:  "Can I have a wife?  Kids?  Can I have a family?"  After giving him a very patronizing, "Yeah!  You can do anything you set your mind to!", they talk again.  Jimmy amends his answer to a "very sincere maybe."  Because "there are some things you can't do and this one is tricky to see." 

The implication here is very strong that disabled people cannot have families.  Cannot have children.  Cannot be parents.  This cannot be further from the truth, and it was difficult to see Jimmy give JJ a "maybe" (which was basically a "no, unless you prove me wrong").  This conversation could have gone very differently, had Jimmy been honest with his son about adaptations and accommodations that are available.  And that with the right support (as with anyone) JJ absolutely could be a father.

This was a hard one to watch because of all the faulty information that was shared in it.  I hope viewers will dig a little deeper and not take Speechless as gospel on these issues.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Review: Grey's Anatomy 14x04 "Ain't That a Kick in the Head"

AMELIA - IN THE BATHROOM, SHAVING HER OWN HAIR - MEREDITH AND MAGGIE OBSERVE FROM THE DOORWAY:

Amelia via Voiceover:  There are 100 billion neurons in the human brain making and remaking connections.  


Amelia: [turns to reveal an L-shaped patch of hair she's shaved, beneath a top layer, which she has pulled aside with a clip]


Maggie:  That's it?  That makes you look fierce.


Amelia: [touches the shaved area briefly, studying herself in the mirror]


Meredith:  Are you sure you don't want me to call your mom?


Amelia:  No.  She didn't come for my wedding.  She doesn't get to come for my tumor.  


Amelia via Voiceover: It's helping us with math, remembering our keys, our dad's voice, working hard all the time.  So when the brain is faulty, it's a big rewiring job.  And there's no margin for error.  


Tara:  My head was shaved more severely than Amelia's, but a layer was left to cover what would have otherwise been hemispheric baldness.  


Also, the @GreysMedical Twitter noted that, according to their neuro consult, it is bad luck to completely shave a head.

AMELIA - HOSPITAL ROOM JUST BEFORE SURGERY - 


Tom:  I'll go in through a subfrontal craniotomy - real clean - small incision in the dura and then scoop the tumor out.  I don't like the edema around the tumor but I gotta dance with the girl who brought me, so...  I imagine you have questions.


Chief Bailey:  How many of these have you done?


Tom:  So, so many.


Richard:  And what's the recovery time?


Tom:  I took a 13-centimeter tumor out of a cop in roughly the same place.  He was walking day one, talking day three, back at work in a week.


Amelia:  Thank you, Tom.  


Tom:  Yeah.  See you at the after party!  [Tom leaves]


Maggie:  He seems arrogant enough...


Amelia:  He's a showboat.  And he works best under pressure, so, DeLuca, ask him questions during surgery.  Make him show off.  And if I make it through--


Owen:  When.  When you make it through.


Andrew: --Early ambulation protocol.  


Amelia:  Thank you.  Okay.  Meredith.  If I die--


Meredith:  You are not going to die.


Amelia:  --But if I do.  You call my mom.  I'm sorry, but she likes you.  And you.  [Turns to Maggie]  Take my room!  It's way better!  I kinda scammed you on that!


Maggie: Stop it.


Alex: [under his breath] No, she's right.  It's way better.


Amelia:  Owen.  If I'm gorked.  Do not overthink it.  Do not visit me.  Just park me somewhere and go on with your life.  


Owen:  Amelia, please. Cut it out.


Amelia:  And, if I need unplugging, April has been named my power of attorney.  


April: [smiles weakly]


Alex: [scoffs]


Everyone: [turns to stare at April]


April:  What?  Was I supposed to say no?


Amelia:  She likes me.  She'll be there for you.  But we're not so close that she'll let emotion dictate her decision.  [Gets a little choked up] I don't know what's me and what's tumor talking.  [Shakily]  In this moment, I love you people tremendously.


[Camera pans to all the doctors' faces, as they take in Amelia's words.  The pan ends with Amelia in the center of the frame, looking back at them.  Owen puts a hand on her arm, in support.]


Tonia:  I really appreciated this scene.  Amelia is clearly in charge here, and even though everyone in the room is uncomfortable with the topic and they keep trying to stop the conversation, Amelia will not be detoured.  She is focused on giving everyone instructions.  I like that we see Alex backing her up, too, when she tells Maggie to take her room, because it shows that he has confidence in her words.


AMELIA - OPERATING ROOM - SHE AND HER ENTIRE O.R. TEAM (INCLUDING TOM AND ANDREW) ARE STANDING IN SUPERHERO POSE.  MEREDITH AND MAGGIE WATCH FROM THE GALLERY:


Tom: [softly]  I love this.  Are there really studies on this? 


Amelia:  Yup.


Amelia via Voiceover:  When you're going into surgery, you worry you won't wake up...


Amelia:  [still in superhero pose, waves to Meredith]


Meredith: [waves back]


Amelia via Voiceover:  ...But with brain surgery, you worry you WILL wake up...


Amelia:  [lies on the O.R. table.  Is secured in place with straps across her body.  Gets an I.V. and a mask with anesthesia.  The screen goes white.]


Amelia via Voiceover:  ...But you won't be there when you do.


Tonia:  I love that Amelia's neurosurgeon loves the superhero pose!  Of course he would!


Tara: Amelia's voiceover speaks of the common worry of being changed post-brain surgery.  The way she phrases it, she's worried that pre-brain surgery Amelia - the only person she knows - will be gone.  And while she's not entirely wrong, this feels as if it has been done for dramatic effect, as it is not something I have ever seen given the proper time, attention and through-line it deserves.

OWEN AND MEGAN - MEGAN'S HOSPITAL ROOM:


Owen: [takes her temperature]


Megan: If you say a number I don't like, I am going to hit you with this magazine.  


Owen: Still over 100...


Megan: Barely a fever...


Owen: A fever's a fever.


Megan: It's minor.  It's not like I'm having...brain surgery or something...


Owen: [scoffs]


Megan:  She avoided you during my surgery.  You're avoiding her now.  I suddenly understand your marriage completely.  


Owen:  Amelia has a lot of support.


Tonia:  They do have a very strange relationship.


Tara: To me, it makes perfect sense that Owen would steer clear of Amelia until she had made it through surgery. 

APRIL - ALONE IN THE HOSPITAL CHAPEL, PRAYING:


April:  Please don't make me have to unplug her. Please don't make me have to unplug her.  Please, Lord, let her be okay.  Please let her be okay.  Please don't make me have to unplug her.


Tonia:  I love that this scene is included, because it is taking time to make clear that Amelia's life has value to April.  It's also clear in this scene that April respects Amelia's words, and will follow through on them if she has to.  But only if she has to.  It is not something April wants to do.  Where this could have easily been April rationalizing about Amelia's potential 'quality of life' post-surgery, she does not do that.  We hear no such words from her.


April also does not say "Please let her be normal."  She says, "Please let her be okay," which was very much my own prayer while waiting.  We just want our people to survive and be okay.

Tara: I love this scene too.

AMELIA - IN SURGERY:


[Close-up on Amelia's face.  It is draped and she is on a vent.]


Tom: [singing with the music playing in the operating room as he does Amelia's surgery]  And she'll have fun, fun, fun 'til her daddy takes the T-Bird away!  


Andrew: Any issues with the edema?


Tom:  [still singing as he operates]  Well, the girls can't stand her 'cause she walks, looks, drives like an ace now! 


Andrew:  Also wondering if you're all the way around the dura?


Tom: [singing] She makes the Indy 500 look like a Roman chariot race now!


Andrew:  Also, why did you choose this particular music?


Tom:  DeLuca?  Sing along or shut up.  [Starts singing again]  ...Goose chase now!  She drives like an ace!  And she'll have fun, fun, fun, til her daddy takes the T-Bird away!  


Tara:  I was understandably worried about having to watch this surgery.  But I was so pleasantly surprised by how easy, how "fun" surgery is for Tom.


SURGEONS IN THE GALLERY WATCHING AMELIA'S SURGERY:


Carina:  I still can't believe...


Arizona:  What?  That masturbation diagnosed her brain tumor?  


Carina:  [nods]  God works in such mysterious ways.


Maggie:  The Beach Boys seems like an odd choice.  Like inappropriate.


Tom: [still singing down in the O.R. as he operates] Well, you knew all along that your dad was gettin' wise to you now! And since he took your set of keys you've been thinking...


Alex:  Why did he stop singing?


Maggie:  He stopped singing.  


Meredith:  This is the crucial part.  He has to cut the last vessel and sometimes it's a feeder to the--


Tom: [snips]


Maggie: [gasps]  What was that?


Alex:  What happened?


Meredith:  That was the vessel en passant.  It looked like it was going into the Meningioma, but in fact, it was going straight through to the brain.  He didn't have a choice.  It's okay.


Maggie:  Is it?


Alex:  It is?


Meredith:  It's probably fine.  It could be really bad.  I'm sure it's fine.  


[Fade to black on Amelia's face, draped, still on the vent as The Beach Boys' Fun, Fun, Fun plays in the background.]


Tonia:  I feel like it is a very intentional choice in these scenes to keep showing Amelia's face.  And it is significant as there are many depictions of illness and disability where every scene ends on a family member's stricken face.  But here, we know, the narrative remains centered on Amelia.


Tara: Yes, thank you, Grey's Anatomy.

BLACK SCREEN:


Meredith:  --I'm saying you clipped the vessel.



Tom:  The tissue went a little dusky.  It doesn't mean that--

Owen:  She's 11 hours post-op!


Maggie:  Shouldn't she be awake by now?


Tom:  I'm not concerned yet.  With that amount of bleeding, recovery time can be--


Meredith:  She's awake.


AMELIA'S PERSPECTIVE (A BIT FUZZY; LIGHTING IS DIM) - HER HOSPITAL ROOM:


Amelia:  [blinks]


April:  Thank God!  Thank you, God!


Meredith:  Amelia.  How do you feel?

Amelia:  I'm okay.  How'd it go?


Tom:  Amelia.  Can you hear me?  [fingers snap]


Amelia: [sarcastically]  ...Yes...I'm right here...


Owen:  Is she awake?


Maggie:  Or did she just open her eyes?  Amelia?


Amelia:  They can't hear me.


Meredith:  I don't think she's--


April:  Oh, my God...


Tom:  Listen.  Everybody's recovery time is different.  Let's not panic.


Amelia:  Oh, crap.  Am I gorked?


[Close up on Amelia's face.  Her head is wrapped.  She's on a vent and unable to speak. She's looking around, blinking]


Meredith: It's okay.  She's okay.


Amelia:  Oh, crap!


Tara:  This scene - Amelia's perspective and sarcastic inner voice - rang super true to me.  I loved the choice made to shoot from her viewpoint and perspective.  And the choice to include her inner voice allows us access to Amelia's thoughts - which are central to a story that is about her.


Tonia:  Having been through many surgeries, and one, where I was very slow to wake up from anesthesia, this rang very true to me. Hearing people's voices, having people say things to / in front of me that they probably would not say otherwise?  This felt so, so accurate to me.


AMELIA'S HOSPITAL ROOM - POST-OP DAY ONE:

Andrew: [checks on Amelia.  Then wakes Meredith, who's asleep in a chair in Amelia's room]  Hey.


Meredith:  Hmm!


Andrew:  Sorry.


Meredith:  Hey.


Andrew:  There's no change.  But it's 5:30, in case you wanna get a shower or something.


Meredith:  Okay.  Thanks.  [Walks to Amelia's bed; takes her hand; addresses her]  I'm gonna go take a shower, okay?  I'll be back soon.


Amelia: [inner voice]  Okay.  It's sweet you slept here.


Meredith:  [looks at Andrew]


Andrew:  What?


Meredith:  I think she just squeezed my hand.  Amelia?  Did you just squeeze my hand?


Amelia: [inner voice]  Ow...  Stop talking...  My head hurts, Meredith...  I'm trying to sleep...


Meredith: [to Andrew]  Maybe not.


Amelia:  [coughs]


Meredith:  Oh my God.  She's breathing over the tube.  Let's get her extubated.


Andrew:  Okay.  This is good.


Meredith:  This is good.


Amelia: [inner voice]  Ow...  God...  So much talking...


Meredith and Andrew: [put gloves on in preparation to extubate Amelia]


Tonia:  I appreciated this scene because it showed so much:  that Amelia had someone with her all night.  It showed Meredith speaking directly to Amelia, respectfully, presuming competence.  And it let us know Amelia's thoughts.  She is not just asleep / recovering in the bed, a silent non-participant.  The inner-voice being included is a fabulous way to keep us with Amelia and up to date on her thoughts as they happen.


Tara:  And her inner voice indicates that it is far too loud with people talking at normal volume.  A nice touch of realism.

RICHARD, CATHERINE, AND TOM KORACICK - HOSPITAL LOBBY:


Richard:  How's Shepherd?


Tom: She's responsive.  Not yet verbal.  It's early.  


Tonia:  I like that even when Amelia is not there, it's obvious she is on peoples' minds.


I also love Koracick's answer about Amelia's recovery thus far.  It reminds me of an earlier episode where a doctor said of Cristina (who was traumatized and nonverbal at the time) "She's violent and uncommunicative!" and Bailey responded, "Oh, she's communicating!  She just hasn't talked yet."

Similarly Koracick, Meredith and others we will see, don't assume that not being able to speak has bearing on Amelia's ability to communicate.

Tara: Right, to Tom, being nonverbal after this particular surgery is par for the course early on, and not cause for alarm (or pity).

AMELIA AND ANDREW - AMELIA'S HOSPITAL ROOM:


Andrew:  [putting Amelia's arms around his neck]  Here we go.


Amelia: [moans in pain]


Andrew:  Just a little bit more. [Helps her to sit on the edge of the bed]


Amelia: [sobs]  [inner voice]  Please stop.  No.  It hurts.


Andrew: [helps Amelia to her feet]


Amelia: [sobs]


Tom:  DeLuca.  What the hell are you doing?


Amelia: [leaning against Andrew; eyes still closed against the daylight]


Andrew:  It's early ambulation.  Dr. Shepherd does it with all her patients.  


Tom:  This patient is post-op day one!  Put her back in that bed--


Andrew:  She told me to do this.


Amelia:  [grimacing, eyes still closed]  [inner voice]  I changed my mind.  I changed my mind.


Tom:  No.  The giant tumor that was pressing on her frontal lobe told you to do it!  It also made me promise not to give her any opioids which is so incredibly stupid.  Put her back in this bed now!


Amelia:  [inner voice]  Agreed.  DeLuca, I agree.  


Andrew:  Sir, she made me promise.


Amelia: [inner voice] Damn it!


Tom: [chuckles softly]  Hey.  You sleeping with her?


Andrew:  What?


Amelia: [inner voice]  What?!


Tom:  You heard me.  You getting some extra office hours in with Shepherd?  


Andrew:  No!  Okay?  Just--  It's her protocol.  And her patients have a high recovery rate.  Higher than yours, which she wanted me to say to you, because she knew you wouldn't like this.  


Amelia: [gasping in pain]  [inner voice]  I am such an ass.


Tom:  If her intercranial pressure increases?  It's on you.  [leaves]


Andrew:  Okay, Dr. Shepherd.  You've got this, okay?  Just to the chair.


Amelia: [inner voice]  I mean, we could--  It's probably effective, but I--


Andrew: [helps Amelia to her feet]


Amelia: [screams]


Andrew: [helps Amelia pivot and sit in the chair just beside her bed]


Tara:  I definitely did this post-brain surgery almost 20 years ago.  I was on the edge of my hospital bed and in a chair Post-Op Day One.  I was not a screamer, but it was not pleasant by any means.


Tonia:  This was a tough scene to watch, with how much pain Amelia is clearly in, but also a great one.  We see Andrew keeping his word to Amelia, despite how much pain she is in.  Andrew's respect level for her never wavers.  We see it, too, in the way he refers to her as Dr. Shepherd, and does not take the vulnerable position she is in as permission to be overly familiar with her and addressing her by her first name.


AMELIA'S HOSPITAL ROOM - NIGHT:


Amelia: [through tears] [inner voice] In....  Ow, ow, ow...  Out...


[Camera pans out.  We see Maggie and Richard in the room with Amelia.  Each are holding one of her hands]


Richard:  Amelia.  The body can't heal as quickly when it's experiencing so much pain.


Maggie: [cries silently; strokes Amelia's hand]


Amelia: [crying; trying to keep breathing]


Richard: A.A. has no opinion on drugs for pain relief as long as you follow the doctor's orders.


Amelia: [breathing heavily]  [inner voice]  Opioids are my drug of choice.  What if they told you you could have just a drink or two if the doctor says it's okay?


Richard:  You're sure you don't want to reconsider?


Amelia:  [looks at Richard, determined]  [inner voice]  Please.  Stop.


Richard:  I didn't think so...but I had to ask.


Amelia:  [sobs]


Tonia:  Again, I love how Grey's shows Amelia being supported here.  She always has people with her.  In this case, Maggie and Richard.  Especially given the absence of Amelia's own biological family here, it's great to see her surrounded by people who are essentially her sister and the closest person Amelia has to a father figure.

I appreciate how they support her here, holding her hands, and just being there.  We can see, particularly for Maggie, that this is difficult, and she cries silently that Amelia is in so much pain.  But she stays.  She holds Amelia's hand.  She doesn't make it about her.  This scene could have ended with Maggie leaving the room, overcome with emotion.  A choice could have been made to follow Maggie, to hear about how difficult it is for her in this moment, but Grey's does not do that.

Additionally, Richard speaking to Amelia about options for pain relief is significant.  He gives her the opportunity to communicate whether or not she has changed her mind.  Amelia hasn't.  And Richard recognizes, accepts and respects Amelia's nonverbal communication as valid.  Instead of deciding for her that Amelia's own pain was too much.

Speaking of pain, I've read a comment by someone whose father is a surgeon, who claimed that no one should be in this much pain post-surgery because there are no pain-receptors in the skull.  I feel like no one but people who have been through brain surgery should get to comment on the accuracy of pain post-op.

Tara:  The pain Amelia feels is real - especially with no opioids.   


SURGEONS OUTSIDE ON A LUNCH BREAK - AMELIA IS NOW POST-OP DAY TWO:


Meredith:  I used to scream at her to shut up all the time in my head.  


Alex:  No, I heard you a couple times.


Meredith:  I mean, now I wish she would just say anything.


April:  How is she?  


Arizona:  Is she talking?


Maggie:  No.


April: [to Meredith]  Did you call her mom yet?


Alex: [to April]  Did you unplug her yet?


All but April: [laugh uncomfortably]


April:  That's not funny!  At all!


Tonia:  While Alex's comment initially struck me as crass and awful (and it remains crass and awful) his comment to April actually serves to remind April about Amelia's boundaries here.  Meredith was instructed to call Amelia's mother only if Amelia did not survive surgery.  Alex asking "Did you unplug her yet?" is a reminder to April that as long as Amelia is alive, Meredith won't be calling her mom.


Meredith:  I mean, seriously, so she left a thriving practice and a fiance in L.A. to come and live with her brother, who she resented.  


Alex:  Yeah.


Meredith:  THAT was the tumor!  


Maggie:  Wow!  How did we miss this?


Alex:  Man, I just wish I had a tumor to blame my stupid crap on.  


April:  No.  Guys!


Alex:  "DeLuca, I'm sorry I hit you.  Tumor."


Maggie:  This is not cool.


Meredith:  Riggs.  Tumor.  


Arizona:  MINNICK--


April:  No!  


Arizona:  --Tumor!


April:  Do not encourage them!


Arizona:  What?  You have to laugh, April. I mean, in situations like this?  You have to laugh.  


April:  No.  She trusted me with her life--


All, but April:  Tumor!


April: [laughing in spite of herself] Stop!


Tonia:  Here's another example of a scene that could have exclusively been about Meredith, Alex and Arizona chalking up Amelia's "stupid crap" to her tumor.  But in this scene, we have April, repeatedly speaking out against this.


Maggie saying "This is not cool" remains extra poignant, given that Maggie was just in with Amelia for at least part of the previous night and witnessed just how much pain Amelia's in.

In a scene where people are crossing a line in some way when it comes to disability, it is beyond helpful to have those contrary voices speaking out against the majority.  Well done, April and Maggie.

[Cell Phone rings]


Meredith:  Oh. Speak of the devil.  My tumor's calling.


Maggie:  Are you gonna answer it?


Meredith:  No.  Once that's diagnosed, you cut it right out!


[Maggie and Mer's phones chime]


Maggie:  It's DeLuca!


Meredith:  Amelia's talking!


Maggie:  She's talking!


MEREDITH, MAGGIE AND ALEX RUSH TO AMELIA'S ROOM:


Meredith:  She's talking?


Andrew:  Well...  Sort of...


Amelia:  [speaks French]


Andrew:  It's weird, right?


Amelia:  [turns to Maggie, continues speaking French]


Maggie:  It's French!


Amelia:  [repeats herself in French]


Alex: She speaks French?


Maggie:  I speak French.  She speaks German.


Meredith:  What is she saying?


Amelia:  [repeats herself in French]


Maggie:  Sorry.  She said she needs a glass of water.


Meredith:  Oh.


Alex: [pours Amelia a glass of water]


Meredith:  You know...all the Shepherd children went to French preschool!


Andrew:  And that's still in her brain somewhere?


Alex: [hands Andrew the water]


Andrew: [holds the cup for Amelia; steadies the straw so she can drink]


Amelia:  Merci.


Meredith:  I've seen this before.  It reverses on its own, but this--  It's still good.  It's progress.


Maggie:  Amelia?  [asks a question in French]


Amelia:  [responds slowly in French, looking confused, and a bit frightened.]


Alex:  What did she say?


Maggie:  I asked her if she could speak in English and she said, "Didn't even know I could speak French."


Meredith: [laughs softly]


Amelia:  [Openly afraid now]


Tonia:  I loved this scene because it showed the other doctors adapting for Amelia relatively easily.  No one was showing undue fear of her speaking French.  Maggie knows French herself and is able to communicate with Amelia.


When she asks for water, Alex immediately pours it, and hands it to Andrew, who holds the cup and steadies the straw for Amelia.  (No one expects her to manage this solo.  The scene, therefore, does not become about how "sad" or "tragic" it is that Amelia might struggle at this point to hold a cup steady.)

Notable, too, that no one insists Amelia speak English at this point.  Maggie, instead asks Amelia in French if she can speak in English.  And we can see by Amelia's verbal response and her facial expression that, perhaps she thought she was speaking English all along.

Tara:  Amelia's unawareness that she was not speaking English reminded me a bit of my experience with aphasia.  Sometimes, I was aware that I wasn't saying what I meant to say.  Other times, though, I was not aware of it until the words came out of my mouth and I heard them.  (Mental processing can take more time.)






Tonia:  Though not directly related to Amelia's storyline, I wanted to include this scene (video above).  April (left) and Arizona (right) are discussing the "new normal" that occurs post adjusting to only having their daughters part-time following their divorces.  Arizona's had some practice at this, but for April, it is still new.

Arizona talks to April about how it starts out really hard, but eventually it hurts less, and after that, April will discover things she finds joy in.  April laments she doesn't want a new normal.  I found this poignant, in an episode centered around Amelia's recovery from brain surgery - and that she is very much experiencing a "new normal" of her own right now.

Tara:  It is also significant that Arizona is disabled herself, and that she is bringing up a common disability-related topic in regular conversation.


AMELIA'S HOSPITAL ROOM - NIGHT TWO:


Owen:  Hey.  How is she?


Meredith:  The same.


Owen:  Meredith, what do you think?  I mean, how bad is this, long-term?  Do you think we'll get her back?


Meredith:  I wish I knew.


Amelia: [sleepily]  Would you keep it down?


Owen:  Sorry.  Wait--


Meredith:  That was English!  She spoke English!


Amelia:  ...When was I not?


Owen:  How are you?  How do you feel?


Amelia:  I'm okay.  I'm good.  


Meredith:  Do you know what happened?  Do you know where you are?  


Amelia:  ...I had a surgery.  ...I had a brain tumor...


Meredith: [to Owen] Call Koracick.


Owen:  Mm-hmm.  


Amelia:  Ugh.  No.  Koracick is such a blowhard...


Meredith:  [laughs]  This is good!


Amelia:  You should call Derek.


Meredith: [stops laughing]


Amelia:  What?


Tonia:  I'm curious about Owen's use of "get her back" here.  Because Amelia is right there in the room with both of them.  Does he mean "get her back" as in "Will she be a surgeon again?"  "Will she be able to work?"  I do appreciate Meredith's response in that she doesn't play into it or become overwrought at the possibility of Amelia being "gone."  She simply admits she doesn't know.


Tara:  I think Owen may mean "get Amelia back" in the sense that she can communicate in a way that he can understand.

I also noticed that Amelia has what is commonly referred to as a "flat affect" in this scene.  This is because vocal inflection takes energy that she does not have at the moment.  

Tonia: Also, I noticed that when Mer asked Amelia two consecutive questions ("Do you know what happened?" and immediately after "Do you know where you are?") Amelia only answered the first.  Can you comment on this?  Is it significant?

Tara: First of all, I would think Amelia may have been overwhelmed by consecutive questions.  Her brain may have been able to hold and respond to the first question only.

It is also possible that she may have trouble remembering the names of things, like the hospital or the name of it.  (Derek notwithstanding as a Very Important Person in her life.)  We'll see more potential evidence of this later.

AMELIA - IN THE MRI MACHINE - POST-OP DAY THREE - MEREDITH, ANDREW AND TOM ARE IN THE BOOTH:


Amelia:  [puts a hand up to stop the MRI tech from securing her head in place]


Tech: [stops and backs up]


Tonia:  We do not even see this MRI tech's face at this point.  But we see their hands responding to Amelia blocking their progress at securing her head for the scan.  The tech stops, and then takes a step back.  Just part of their silhouette is visible, but we see this person intentionally giving Amelia the space she's requesting.


These moments, though small, remain significant, because again, it is so common for a scene like this to play out with the tech (for example) assuming that Amelia doesn't know what she's saying or what she is doing.  It could have been a painful, ugly, abusive scene where the tech insisted on securing Amelia before she was ready.

But that isn't what happened here.  Amelia is respected as a human being, with the right to set her own boundaries and limits and have them honored by those around her.

Amelia:  I mean, I know that Derek is dead, I just forgot he was dead.  But then, the second that you tell me, it's all there.  It's like I have this jigsaw puzzle, but I can't put the pieces in until you give them to me.  What if I can't be a surgeon anymore?  What if I get into surgery and I can't find my way back out?


Meredith:  She's panicking.  [Ready to go next door to reassure Amelia]


Tom: [over the microphone] Amelia.  Work the problem.  


Amelia:  [fidgets nervously]


Tom:  What's the cause of your memory loss?


Amelia:  [shakily]  It's, uh, retrograde amnesia.


Tom:  [nods]  From?


Amelia:  From damage to the temporal lobe.  [Still fidgeting; still shaky]  But you were in the frontal.  There could be interruption of blood flow.  Ischemia-reprofusion injury.  Edema.  It's likely temporary.


Tom:  Say that again?


Amelia:  [props herself up on her elbows to see them in the next room]  It might be temporary.


Tom:  Yes.  It will be.  You know what this is.  You don't have to be afraid of it.  You will be a surgeon again.  You're too good not to.  So am I.  Now, I need you to simmer down so I can get these scans.  Okay?  


Amelia:  [lies back down]  Okay.


Meredith:  [to Tom]  Thank you.


Tom:  She was hot for teacher back in the day.  She tell you about me?  


Tonia:  We see similar respect for Amelia here.


The scene is not Meredith and Koracick insisting that Amelia comply.

Meredith recognizes Amelia's distress and moves to help.

Koracick gets on the microphone to help Amelia work through her panic.  He deliberately takes her through what she knows about her symptoms, a step at a time.  He gives her time to process what's being said and even asks her to repeat herself when she says her amnesia is likely temporary, so the truth of that can settle with her.  Once she's calm again, he tells her what needs to happen, and she is able to move forward with getting the scan.

AMELIA'S GETTING A NEURO CHECK - POST-OP DAY FOUR:


Tom:  Do you know where you are?


Amelia:  I'm at work.


Tom: Do you know who the president is?


Amelia:  I wish I didn't.


Tom: Very good.  Dr. Shepherd, you're post-op scans are pristine.  I'm clearing you to go home.  I'll see you in a few days for a follow up.  It's been a pleasure being treated by me.


Maggie:  Yay!  This is incredible!


Amelia:  I want to see my scans.  All of them.


Maggie:  Amelia.  He said you're fine.


Andrew:  You're cleared to go home.


Amelia:  Something's wrong.  Something's missing.  [To Andrew]  Um, please get my scans.


Tara:  Here we see again that Amelia declines to give proper names when getting a neuro check.  She answers in a way that makes it clear that she knows the correct response.  These workarounds are perhaps ways of saving face in front of her colleagues.  But we see that proper names could be part of the jigsaw puzzle for Amelia.


AMELIA, ANDREW AND TOM - TECH ROOM - LOOKING AT HER SCANS:


Tom:  I once had a patient with bipolar disorder and a malignant Glioma.  I took out the tumor.  Bipolar didn't change.  


Amelia:  Shhh...


Tom:  I once had a patient with an armpit fetish, pre-op.  Tumor came out?  He still loved him some pits.  


Amelia:  Are you saying you think I'm nuts?


Tom:  I'm saying there's nothing physically wrong with you anymore.  Go home.


Amelia:  DeLuca, schedule a functional MRI, a carotid duplex and a CT with contrast.


Andrew:  Dr. Shepherd, respectfully, I just--  I don't understand what we're looking for.  


Amelia:  I'll know when I'm looking at it.


Tonia:  I appreciate this scene because, in it, Tom does specify that Amelia did not become her tumor when she had the tumor, and similarly is not a blank slate with no personality now that it is gone.  I like that Tom tells Amelia not that she is nuts but that there is nothing physically wrong with her anymore.  And that, as always, Andrew's respect for Amelia remains.  (He even uses the word "respectfully" and then continues to clarify "I don't know what we're looking for."  He aligns them together and does not treat her as if she has no idea what she is talking about.


Tara:  Tom tries to reassure Amelia in this scene.  However, the fact remains that the surgery has changed her, however subtly, and she feels that change.

AMELIA - IN HER HOSPITAL ROOM WITH A TABLET WHEN ANDREW WALKS IN:


Amelia:  I can't find the operative report.  Did Koracick dictate--?


Andrew: [closes the door]  I think I figured out what you're looking for.  [Holds up Amelia's tumor in a jar]  This.  This is what's missing.  [Sets the jar down on Amelia's bedside table]


Amelia: [regards it.  Then regards Andrew]


Andrew:  I think you've been waiting for the other shoe to drop.  For...something to go wrong.  And, I think it might be because, for years now, something WAS wrong.  This thing was growing inside of you, and you were in constant danger.  But now it's gone.  And you're safe.  


Amelia: [a bit startled]


Andrew:  ...And, I think, for you...like something's wrong. But, uh...  You know, I'm sorry.  I thought I'd--


Amelia:  [stands and hugs Andrew, breathing shakily]


Tonia:  I love that this scene is here because it just continues to drive home Andrew's unwavering respect for Amelia.  He does not treat her like some pity case.  "Oh, poor Amelia.  She's freaking out over not having a tumor.  I have to reassure her / patronize her."  Andrew takes his suspicions about what could be missing for Amelia very seriously. Her feelings - of safety, in fact, feeling like a danger - are legitimate to him.  I also like that we see Amelia dealing with some of the trauma surgery actually is.  (She's said it before herself:  "Surgery is traumatic.")  And now?  Amelia is dealing, head on, with that trauma.  She's not just "fine" now that she's had the surgery.  It's much more nuanced than that.


Tara:  There is a specific vulnerability to being post-op, particularly being post-op from brain surgery.  I think Amelia is feeling and reacting to that.


Also, it says something that Andrew is able to put himself in her shoes to such an extent that he is able to address things she has yet to verbalize.  He brings that missing part of her back, so that she can see that it is actually gone.  So that that puzzle piece can snap into place.  It has to be said that that level of empathy cannot be reached or acted upon if what a person is feeling instead is pity.

AMELIA - HER HOSPITAL ROOM - PACKING TO GO HOME:


Owen:  Hey.  So, I stocked the fridge with all your favorites.  I set the thermostat to boiling, just how you like it.  I want you to come home, Amelia.


Amelia:  Yeah, I figured you would take care of your sister, and my sisters would take care of me.  And then--


Owen:  And then what?


Amelia:  And then I don't know.  And it's scary.  You were coming to end it - to leave me - when I told you I was sick.  


Owen:  Listen, I was upset, but I didn't know--


Amelia:  You were right.  I was awful to you.  You were right to wanna leave.  


Owen:  You had a tumor.


Amelia:  You married a tumor.


Owen:  I married YOU.


Amelia:  We don't know who that is anymore.  I don't know who I am.  So, you don't have to do this now.  You can be free.  


Owen:  Amelia.  [Walks closer; takes her hands]  You're my wife.  Okay?  In sickness and in health.  Come home.  


Tonia:  I like that Amelia does not see herself as a burden here.  She doesn't say: "You'd have to take care of your sister so my sisters would have to take care of me."  Phrasing it the way she does, it is simply what family does for each other. 


I like that Owen corrects Amelia when she says he married a tumor.  He says, "I married you."  He humanizes her.  So that even in this early moments when Amelia is struggling to come to terms with what's happened and who she is now, the audience is reminded that she is not her tumor, she is Amelia. 

I just cringe at Amelia's line telling Owen, "You can be free."  I know she thinks she is doing him a favor.  And I know it's common for people with disabilities to see themselves as different and as burdens, but I was sad to hear Amelia say it here.  Glad that Owen pushed back on that, even if I do agree with Amelia that he was coming to end it, because, like Amelia, I sure wouldn't want to be stayed with out of pity.

Tara: Amelia does not know who she is anymore.  This is very true to life.  It also feels true that she would want to give her husband an out.  It is a way of taking a little control back - of letting him go, so that he does not leave suddenly later.

Amelia via Voiceover: The trouble with crossed wires is you don't know they happened until it's too late.  So we have to be very careful with our connections.


APRIL - IN THE HOSPITAL CHAPEL - WITH BABY HARRIET:


April: [praying]  Thank you.


Tonia:  I can't say enough how much I appreciate that Grey's takes the time to show April being thankful that Amelia survived instead of grieving all the ways she has changed.  These scenes in the chapel are short but I imagine they are very involved to film.  They take time.  They take money.  They could have easily dedicated these few seconds to a minute of chapel scenes with April to something else, but Grey's chose to use the time and money for this minute of screen time to show that Amelia's life has value to April, and she is glad and thankful Amelia made it. 


I know I risk sounding repetitive here, but I don't know if I have ever seen scenes like these in media, and so I have to take time to say how glad I am that they are there.

AMELIA - IN THE CAR WITH OWEN AS HE DRIVES THEM HOME:


Amelia via Voiceover:  They take time, care and attention.  They take vigilance and single-mindedness.  We reconnect everything we can as carefully as we can.  And then we just have to pray to God...that we got it right.


Tonia:  I wonder how all will go with Amelia and Owen at home together?  Especially as she has not been home with him in a while.  I hope we get to see a bit more of her recovery at home, and that she does not just jump back into work in the next episode.  I'd also be curious to see if she has any deficits, and how she continues to cope and come to terms with the trauma of this and how Amelia feels changed by it.


Tara: This was such a great hour of disability representation!  And it is proof that this can be done right!