When a parent comes to visit Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital, you know the prognosis is never good. You either get drama, turmoil, relationship issues, angst, or in some cases, even death. Which one did Diane Pierce bring when she came back to get her treatment? Yeah… this is Grey’s Anatomy. We know the answer. (This was also Ellen Pompeo’s directorial debut after 13 seasons, so OF COURSE it was dark and twisty!)
So, let’s dive in. Turns out Diane’s tumor is worse than usual. She needs surgery to remove it and chemotherapy afterwards, and of course, Maggie goes overboard. She pushes everyone to take risks they wouldn’t normally take, arguing with them over what’s best, and eventually fires Meredith from the case when she refuses to perform risky surgery knowing how weak Diane is. This is why doctors shouldn’t treat their parents, darnit, and you think people on this show would learn that!
But Maggie has one thing on her mind, and that’s saving her mom. Obviously, it creates a rift between her and her friends, who don’t know what to do with her. She’s their friend and they don’t want to bring her down, and they obviously want to save her mom. But they know Maggie’s not thinking like a doctor right now. She’s thinking like a daughter. So they try their best to accommodate Maggie’s experimental treatment, and even though it obviously isn’t the best case for Diane, who is too weak, they push through it.
Turns out, the new treatment only speeds up the inevitable. But it affords Maggie the opportunity to spend time with her mother in a way that she hasn’t gotten to — Diane teaches her how to cook her special lasagna, she thanks Richard for raising such a smart daughter, and throws a nice dinner party. Awkwardly, she brings up wanting to know where Ellis Grey is buried so she can pay her respects, except, well… apparently Ellis was never buried. Yep. Richard and Meredith threw her remains down the sink in her favorite OR. Grey’s Anatomy, ladies and gentleman!
At least that breaks up the awkwardness with laughter. But joy turns to despair, as it normally does on this show, because no one can be happy for more than five minutes without things turning sour. Maggie rushes her mom to the hospital thinking the cough she developed can be fixed, but it can’t. And there’s no way around it: Diane is dying, because her cancer had been too strong, and her treatments had been too harsh. But because Diane didn’t want to cause her daughter any more pain, she pushed herself to the inevitable.
Richard eventually convinces her she shouldn’t do this for Maggie. She needs to think about herself. And Meredith tells Maggie that Diane didn’t know what was best for her, because Maggie was always needing things to be done her way. Family affairs all around! Maggie, naturally, doesn’t want to believe Meredith, and thinks she doesn’t understand her situation. I mean, what kind of child throws her mother’s remains down an OR sink?! When Meredith gets pissed off at Maggie, Riggs steps in to comfort her. (Awww.) And then Maggie does talk to her mom. She acknowledges the treatment isn’t working, and Maggie allows Diane to do things her way… which means stopping treatment.
See, Diane hadn’t wanted to prolong her life for no reason. She just wanted to have more time with her daughter, and have the long conversations they never got to have, and be there for her. And that happened when Maggie finally stepped back from being a doctor and just became a daughter.
Spoiler alert: Diane doesn’t make it. But Richard, bless his heart, knows Maggie is going to fall apart and flies in her father. Maggie gets to have his support, and by doing that, Richard learns to forgive Bailey. As for Meredith and Riggs? Well, that’s something that’s going to be put on the back burner yet again… because Maggie is going to need her sister for awhile.