“Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” sees the Grey’s Anatomy doctors competing to create the best proposal for a $5 million surgical contest.


The episode starts with April struggling to come up with a good surgical innovation contest, and she is also upset that she herself can’t participate. She instructs her colleagues to each submit a proposal and that she and a panel of surgeons will narrow the pool down until there is an eventual winner who will receive $5 million.

Meanwhile, Karev and Amelia meet a patient, 12-year-old Kimmie, who has a brain tumor and is there for a follow-up. She sings “Maybe This Time” as she heads for her CT and she gives you hope that maybe this will actually be her time. Unfortunately, though, her head CT shows that the tumor has grown and will require a special surgery be performed while she is awake.

Elsewhere, Webber asks Meredith to consult an old A.A. friend of his who needs a new liver but will never get one. He refuses pain meds because of his past addictions, but when Meredith suggests hospice care, Harry tells her that he hasn’t given up yet. He still wants to do something good before he dies.

Catherine Avery has returned to the hospital and brought with her one of the nest plastic surgeons in the country: her friend Dr. Michelle Velez. She wants to help the Averys create a new type of vaginiplasty by using abdominal membrane. She is committed because she herself is trans woman and wants to revolutionize the lives of other trans women as well those born with genetic deformities.

Jackson, however, has other ideas. He wants to create spray-on skin. Catherine responds by reminding him that the rate of suicide among people with gender dysphoria is 41%, and she guilts him by saying that his participation would be his birthday gift to her.

Finally we take a peak at Bailey, who is home on bed rest despite telling her colleagues that she is on vacation. Being the surgeon that she is, she also wants to participate in the contest. She enlists her intern, known as Glasses, to help, and has him bring her the materials that she needs from the hospital. Glasses, however, misconstrues her assignment as a come on.

While Meredith tries to figure out what to do about Harry, an old patient returns – Judy, who had a splenectomy a few episodes ago. She’s still in pain but intern Helm (short for Hellmouth) says that Judy does not have an infection. As it turns out, her spleen grew smaller spleens, and the doctors must perform surgery to remove them as well. During the surgery, however, Meredith realizes that these mini organs could function as one regular organ, spawning her idea for the contest.

Owen, meanwhile, isn’t thinking about the contest at all. He’s busy in the ER saving lives with Casey Parker, the trans intern who helped during the cyber attack on the hospital. Kimmie’s surgery turns out to be unsuccessful, as Karev and Amelia realize that if they remove the tumor, then the child will lose her ability to speak.

In the meantime, Harry dies, but Meredith tells Webber that he became her inspiration for the contest, so he did end up doing some good in the world before he left. For the comic relief of the episode, Webber decides to take salsa lessons to surprise Catherine for her birthday. He enlists Maggie’s help. She also talks about her loser boyfriend Clive, who it becomes clear will not last much longer in the series.

We get a brief glimpse of Arizona, who is still reeling from the loss of a past patient from preeclampsia. She uses her anger to fuel her contest proposal, which will focus on reducing the rates of maternal mortality in the US. She asks Carina to “be here partner” on the case, to which she slyly replies, “only on the case?” They give us a smooch to let viewers know that their relationship is still going.

After work, everyone meets at Joe’s bar for a drink where they all speak about their proposals (Jackson went with his mom’s idea). Webber impresses Catherine with his newfound salsa moves, and April announces that everyone except Karev and Amelia made it to the next round of the contest. “Maybe This Time” plays once more, reminding us to be hopeful in spite of setbacks.

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