ABC/Jennifer Clasen
Jessica Derschowitz
October 28, 2016 AT 02:36 AM EDT

You know that thing where parents can somehow tap into superhuman strength when their child’s in danger and are able to lift the car (or whatever) to save his or her life? “I always wondered if that was real,” Meredith-in-voiceover muses to herself.

She’s pondering this as Alex is heading out the door for a court hearing to set his trial date. He doesn’t want Mer to accompany him, though she offers to, and his trademark tough-guy exterior slips a bit when she asks if they should sit a minute before he goes. At first he resists, but then he reconsiders.

“If someone I cared about was hurt or trapped, would my instincts kick in? Would I know what to do?” Meredith continues. “Would I lift the car? Jump in front of the bullet? Would I be able to beat somebody senseless? I like to think I would.”

It’s a prospect faced by many of the characters we see this week. There’s Victoria, a woman Alex meets while waiting to get through security at the courthouse, who’s expecting a baby with her longtime friend — a last-ditch, “If we get this old and it hasn’t happened yet…” type of pact. She has a rash on her hands, and after stopping by the clinic after court, she tells Alex she’s been losing weight, which isn’t exactly a good sign when you’re pregnant. Cue the alarm bells. It turns out she has pancreatic cancer and a very grim prognosis — she needs surgery and chemo as quickly as possible, but would have to terminate her pregnancy to begin treatment. If she refuses treatment, she’d have less than a year to live and could die before delivering the baby.

Alex pushes back against Bailey’s assessment of the situation, but the chief of surgery — who had just been criticized by Catherine Avery for being too “lenient” with her surgeons, Alex included — says there’s nothing else they can do and that’s that. But he throws out an option anyway that could buy Victoria and the baby some time: A Whipple surgery to remove the pancreatic tumor, which would allow her to live long enough to deliver the baby but would essentially mean a death sentence for mom. Bailey is mad he overstepped, but he argues he’s not wrong and is just trying to do what’s best for the patient.

Bailey again asks Victoria about doing a D&C, instead of the Whipple, so they can begin treating her cancer immediately. “You would literally be sacrificing your life for your own child,” she says, as if that wasn’t spelled out clearly enough already. But Victoria’s willing to do it, because it’s the only chance the baby has. Otherwise, they both die. After she goes into surgery, her baby daddy, Jeremy, is devastated about losing his best friend and worries about raising their baby without her. But Alex, always the good doctor, tells him the only trick to parenting is showing up, which he’s already doing. Aww.

NEXT: Amelia’s terrible, no good, very bad day

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