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Performers Of The Month - Reader's Choice Performer of March - Sarah Drew

1 May 2018

Article lead by Luana Arturi with contributions by Nick Manesis and Jessica Lerner. Article edited by Donna Cromeans (@DJRiter). Article prepared for publication by Aimee Hicks.

Often TV shows with such big ensembles struggle to balance every story out. In Grey's Anatomy, the character of April Kepner has had her ups and downs, her story has been a crazy ride and actress Sarah Drew has been a force to be reckoned with throughout her portrayal of April. No matter how small the scene she always manages to stand out. Drew has made us root for April even when she was just the annoying sidekick and fall in love with her every time she grew as a human being in front of our eyes. Every time she was challenged, she rose to that challenge. Her story is one filled with pain, a lot more pain than happiness, and it is not fair, but then again life is not fair, for many of her fans this was the time for her to finally be happy, and though it seems that time will never come, it doesn't make her journey any less worthy.

One Day Like This (14x17) was a perfect way to show off her skills. April Kepner has been having a big crisis of faith, and faith has been what has anchored her for most of her life, so without it, she's utterly lost. But even then, she's amazing, she makes us feel like right there with her, through that rollercoaster of emotions: sadness, anger, pain, frustration. The episode was an opportunity to let Sarah Drew shine and gave her a platform, a way for the world to see just how amazing she is. So, by examining her performance in one of the best episodes in recent memory; one that showed perfectly that April's journey is not just about her, it's about life, pain, death, unfairness, faith. All of these are reasons why Sarah Drew is the SpoilerTV March Reader's Choice Performer of the Month.

In this episode, April starts tentatively, taking a deep breath, before she delivers her latest patient, Rabbi Eli (Saul Rubinek), his prognosis. She, unfortunately, has to tell him the reason his skin is separating from himself is due to a reaction from the antibiotics Bailey (Chandra Wilson) prescribed. While April doesn't have the heart to tell Eli just how dire his situation is, she sadly informs him it couldn't hurt to have his wife there. As April and Jackson (Jesse Williams) leave the room, Drew then does a complete 180-degrees, instantly shifting April's demeanor when Bailey asks how Eli's doing. Whereas April was gentle and hesitant with Eli, Drew's posture and tone suddenly change as April snaps at Bailey. "You know the expression, ‘makes his flesh crawl.' He's like that except in a hundred times more pain," April says coldly. All of the anger that has been building up over the past several episodes is now directed at Bailey with such intensity and ferocity. Any of Bailey's attempts to reason with April completely fail, as Drew unleashes episodes worth of bottled up pain onto Bailey. When Bailey offers to take over – Eli was her patient, to begin with – April jumps down her boss' throat. Drew's verbal punches land flawlessly as April frostily tells Bailey she's not going to let the chief of surgery sit vigil while Eli circles the drain. Eli will be lucky to make it through the night, April says, and if he doesn't, then that's on Bailey, with April purposefully walking back into her dying patient's room, her shoulders slightly lighter.

It is not common to find scenes that make viewers cry every single time they're watched. Yet the amazing performance of Sarah Drew and the wonderful Saul Rubinek delivers every single time. Their interactions will remain high on many lists of memorable Grey's Anatomy scenes. In these touching and heart-rending moments, April is determined to make Eli as comfortable as possible while they wait for his wife Elise to come. She explains to him patiently his wife is not there yet and keeps him company. He picked up on her anger towards Bailey and wants to talk about it to distract himself from his own pain. Even in the smallest moments, Drew is perfect, she becomes April and you can see her thoughts even when she's not uttering a word.

Eli tells her he wants to take her pain away even if it's just a part of it, that his job as a rabbi is important and he wants to do it until the bitter end, but she needs to open up to him. April has been reluctant to feel her emotions for a while, but she wants to help him so badly she's willing to be vulnerable again. Drew masterfully conveys April's inner turmoil. Although she tries to pretend she's fine at first, to tell him the story she has been telling herself, that she's finally taking care of herself; what she wants for once, even if what she wants, to drown the pain and forget about it, is not what she needs, he sees that she's in too much pain.

"You know, it's human nature. You face enough hardship, then you can't help but think that you're being punished, that you did something to deserve it."

She says she did nothing to deserve it and some flashes of anger dominate her features. She angrily declares she didn't, that no one deserves to go through what she's had to go through, much less someone with such a huge heart. She says she always followed the rules but he says that's not a guarantee, that in the Bible there was enough suffering to go around and expecting things to be different for the rest of the world doesn't make any sense, he says if people only believed in God when things are good not a single Jew would be a believer after the Holocaust.

Their terse exchange highlights these moments:

"Well, so, what? The world is just cruel and random, and there's nothing anyone can do about it?"

"Terrible, wonderful, devastating things happen. Who the hell are you to know why? Who are you to know why some people live and some people die?"

He tells her that she has a choice to make, that she can either believe things are random and pointless of that there is a larger purpose to it all. When his words strike a chord, you can see as Drew allows April's body language to change, then she breaks down and we all break down with her. We feel her pain and so does he, he tells her God is not indifferent to pain, he says the world is full of brokenness and it's their job to put it back together again. Drew's powerful acting makes it evident how profoundly his words are impacting April.

She begs him to let her take his pain away and he says she already did, he tells her he forgives Bailey. She tells him to hold on a little longer but he's lost, he thinks she's Elise and she goes along with it, trying to do anything she can to take away his pain. She smiles at him and lets him think he's dying in his wife's arms till the very end. Drew has delivered some exceptional performances during her time on this show, but this was one that will not be forgotten even long after she has departed this show. The writers gave her a powerful moment to play and she went all in giving her full heart and soul into the scene and it showed through her emotionally raw performance.

In the next scene, Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) is shown in tears, fumbling with a match as she's trying to light a candle for Eli Rigler who has just passed away. The camera pans around her and reveals April entering the Grey Sloan chapel reluctantly. This is the conclusion to April's painful journey, the rebirth after her crisis of faith. April has just gone through the emotional climax of losing Eli, who reignited the spark within her and took 1/60th of her pain and now she is starting to make things right with the people she hurt. Sarah Drew doesn't just portray the hurt, guilt, and remorse her character feels, she physically embodies it.

In a scene that is only about a minute and a half long, the scene unfolds primarily in silence. Without any dialogue, the scene is told purely through the actresses expressions and body language. April approaches Bailey peacefully and with her head down and it clearly takes a lot of strength for her to look her in the eyes after blaming her for giving Eli the wrong treatment in a very hurtful way. Instead of using any words, April takes the matchbox from Miranda's trembling fingers and lights one for her. Symbolically, April herself has just taken a fraction of someone else's pain. She looks at Bailey who still can't get a hold of tears, lights the candle for her and lets her know that Eli forgave her. Sarah Drew does a tremendous job of tackling April's headspace in this moment and her voice breaks as she speaks to Bailey, who opens her eyes and listens. Echoing what Eli told her previously, April tells Bailey that "some things just happen and we don't get to know why". Her words resonate with both Miranda and with the audience.

This scene didn't call for a big dialogue or apology, it was beautifully poignant in its simplicity. For the past few episodes, April has questioned her faith as well as the goodness in the world. Though it was all triggered by two tragically unlucky deaths, the young boy who was murdered by a policeman and Matthew's wife who died in childbirth, April has experienced her fair share of agony and loss and there's only so much a single person can deal with before breaking down (especially on a TV series that lives off of emotionally and physically torturing its characters).

The lesson to be learned here is that we are not in a position to question the bad things life burdens us with, we have to accept, forgive, and try to make the world a better place by finding the light in it. This scene has a very literal light, one that April has finally found again and that's allowed her to be herself and in doing so has also helped others around her. The scene ends with the two women looking up while the camera zooms into that light and as part of the closing monologue Sarah Drew soothes us with words of hope "One single day can pull us from the depths of despair". Keeping in line with the episode's theme of what difference a day can make when you least expect it, April proves that a single day can both break you and heal you.

In her career on Grey's Anatomy, Sarah Drew's talent has never gone unnoticed but in more recent years has she been truly and rightfully allowed to shine with such emotionally heavy arcs. From giving birth to a baby with brittle bone disease to dealing with her grief following his passing, and now losing her faith in the world and God, Sarah Drew continues to deliver some of the most profound and vulnerable character scenes of this show. The fact that this season will officially be her last, of course, only makes her scenes all the more enthralling and the audience will continue to savor her incredible performances until the very end.

And though she is amazing in every single situation, especially when the lack of logic in the world baffles and angers her, she's amazing, she makes us laugh and cry and root for her to be happy, which is why it will be so hard to let her go. There is no scene that hasn't been made better just because she's there, and even though a show that has to juggle so many characters' lives can sometimes betray them for the sake of drama, April's character was an amazing creation, one we knew the truth about even when drama took her somewhere else. Knowing the end of her character is coming, hopefully, it will be one to make the amazing April Kepner and Sarah Drew justice.

There are many who will miss her, Sarah Drew will surely find a new home where she can let her light shine fully. For these reasons and so many more, Sarah Drew was the Reader's Choice Performer of the Month for March. While this article has done its best to highlight her best performance in this episode it couldn't cover them all, so we would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

PLEASE READ: Please keep comments on topic and just discussing the performances of the winner.