Station 19 Season 5 Episode 17 Review: The Road You Didn’t Take
Can we collectively hug Jack Gibson? Because that poor soul deserves all the love.
You can tell the season is hurtling towards an end because they jammed a lot into Station 19 Season 5 Episode 17. We got updates on Andy’s manslaughter trial, Travis considering the mayoral run, and Carina’s green card situation coming to a head.
And they absolutely gutted us with some much-needed and delayed individual storytelling for Jack.
Do you see what happens when they give Grey Damon something worthy to chew on here? He’s fabulous.
The only downside to this Jack-heavy hour and storyline is that it took this damn long to get it. We could’ve had this arc the whole time!
Gibson’s ongoing issues as a man who grew up on the system and how that has impacted every aspect of who he is now — has always been something that we know exists, but the series never took the time to delve into and explore.
Honestly, it’s never made sense why they reserve him from one-off installments that remind us of his upbringing instead of giving the man a full-blown multi-episode arc on the subject matter.
We’re in season five, so it’s been due for some time. In that sense, it sucks that they opted to cram this heartrending storyline in which Damon produced some of his best work at the tail end of the season instead of allowing this to build throughout.
After Dean died, it would’ve been a prime time for Jack to look into his roots and eventually discover Joshua. He lost a brother and would’ve found one.
He didn’t have to suffer. He didn’t have to get passed from predator to predator. They didn’t want me. My parents didn’t want me.
Nevertheless, the condescending nature of this story arc didn’t detract from the heightened emotions and the journey both Jack and the audience took as he learned the truth.
We could guess that there was a lot unknown about Josh and what to expect, yet nothing prepared for all those hits that kept coming and left poor Gibson stunned into silence, frozen at that moment, paralyzed by his hurt, anger, and pain.
Of all the things Jack could’ve expected, Josh surpassed that. He’s a happy, healthy, well-adjusted, wealthy family man who seemingly has a perfect life.
It was already enough to put you on edge when Josh insisted on taking Jack and Andy around back rather than allowing them to enter his home or meet his family.
And the discomfort unfurled from that, easing into downright anger as we learned that Josh didn’t grow up in the system or with adoptive parents but rather their biological ones.
You can understand how a teenager gave her child up for adoption. But it’s much harder to reconcile that Jack’s parents went on to marry each other, start a happy life with good jobs together, and bear FOUR other children.
They gave Josh the downpayment for that mini-mansion he’s living in, and the whole family seems close. They never told their kids that they had another child out there.
It never even crossed their mind to find Jack when they found stability and brought him back into the fold. Jack never got adopted; he bounced around from place to place until he aged out of the system, which means had they only looked for them, they could’ve found him.
Jack missed out on this fantastic, stable, comfortable life with sports games, a backyard, and parents who happily loan money for fancy houses.
We have gotten bits and pieces of Jack’s experiences in the system growing up, enough to know that it was as terrible as it gets, including physical and sexual abuse. He’s been ripped away from the closest he ever had to siblings and never got to see them again.
He’s lived on the streets and gotten into trouble, too. And to think that all could’ve been avoided was the ultimate slap in the face.
Damon’s physical performance, facial expressions — the look in his eyes and all as he processed everything Josh told him were fantastic. The close-up camera work heightened the emotions, and you could almost feel what he was feeling.
Jack was speechless, damn near catatonic, and it was such a relief when Andy, holding his hand so tightly, stated that it was enough and pulled him away.
His eventual breakdown on the side of the road was absolutely gutwrenching. He recounted his experiences going from one predator to the next, acknowledging out loud yet again how he’s a sexual assault survivor.
And he sounded so broken when his voice cracked, stating that his parents just didn’t want HIM. When it suited them, they got their perfect little family, and he wasn’t part of that.
In Josh’s defense, he couldn’t possibly know how things were for Jack or how painful these revelations were for him, and he tried to be as gentle and positive as possible, but there’s just no processing that without feeling as if the rug was ripped from beneath your feet.
Jack: It seems like you got adopted by a nice family, so.
Josh: Jack, I wasn’t adopted.
Jack: What do you mean?
Josh: I grew up with our parents.
Jack’s entire life and world are shattered because of this news, but what he can hold on to too tightly is that he managed to find a family with the Station 19 crew.
It’s doubtful that this is the last of this storyline. If it isn’t covered anymore in the finale, it’s likely something that will crop up next season.
At the very least, we’re probably due to a moment where Jack can face his parents when he’s in a better place. But again, with a storyline like this, we could’ve spent time on this instead of using him as a catalyst to test Vic and Theo’s relationship, ignoring him grieving Dean altogether, or inserting him into the Marina baby arc.
Damon is too good and capable to get wasted or shafted narratively as often as he is, and this is the most compelling arc he’s had in some time, if at all.
He couldn’t have had a better person with him than Andy. It was interesting to hear her discuss what it was like for her to see Elena for the first time in so long. She admitted that all of the anger and hurt she harbored melted away when she saw her because she just wanted her mom.
It was the only information we got about Elena’s return, and we don’t know if they’re still rebuilding a relationship or anything else. Similarly, the update on her trial is that her friends can testify on her behalf.
The dynamic between Andy and Jack during the back half of the season, especially, has been one of the best. They’ve leaned into that more, and it serves both characters well.
It wasn’t a surprise when Jack confessed to serving as Carina and Maya’s sperm donor after she saw the “sperm snacks.” Jac can’t hold water or lie well most of the time, and Andy is his weakness.
And Andy’s reaction was not only priceless but satisfying. At least someone could acknowledge the situation’s absurdity and how crazy it is.
I’m here for Andy’s judgment and her pointing out that Jack broke their pact by engaging in a messy, complicated relationship, even if it’s not a sexual one, with Carina and Maya.
And Jack was there to remind her that what happened with Jeremy wasn’t her breaking the pact. Knowing Jack’s experiences, his firm insistence that Andy knew she did nothing wrong hit all the harder.
He could also point out that abusers don’t stop at just one person and that there are probably more of Jeremy’s victims. It would come in handy if those people came out of the woodwork for her case.
The issue is finding them. They’ve established that Andy is high profile now because of this case, so it’s not like those survivors don’t know what’s going on. If they haven’t stepped forward by now, how can Andy and Jack track them down and convince them?
The theme of complex families and seeking support carried over into that crisis one call Theo and Vic responded to with Matt.
The issue is important, make no mistake, and my heart ached for Matt. However, it was also an instance where they got heavy-handed with their social justice.
Sometimes it’s bordering on trauma porn, and it’s too much at once. Matt’s mother was horrible, and it’s infuriating that there are teens subjected to this.
He deserved his father’s loving, supportive environment and the gender-affirming care he needed, not some stereotypical transphobe who tried to kidnap him despite the custody agreement.
And why did the cops let him walk near his mother to talk to his father, who was about to get released from the cop car anyway? The whole kidnapping portion felt too dramatic and contrived.
Although Vic nearly hurtling her whole body at the truck was badass.
And Theo is the best man. He’s been a highlight of the season. We learn so much about his character and what kind of man he is when he shares stories about his background with Vic. And you can see her fall in love with him further every time he does.
Jack, I am so lucky you’re my brother.
I enjoy Theo enough to overlook how he always seems to have a personal story that matches a situation, whether it was a mom who had an abortion as Vic did, people who took him in after his father died like Ben did Pru, or a best friend, Angel, who reminded him of Matt.
Did Ross have anyone else fooled? The way she had been giving Sullivan the cold shoulder, it seemed like she was affected by something Andy said and wanted to back away from him.
She probably was, but only because she didn’t want people to judge her by her association with Sullivan. It hasn’t worked, though. No matter what they do, people use their relationship to judge them or make assumptions.
During the season, it seemed as if they would either revisit Andy and Sullivan or Andy and Jack, but now it seems like Sullivan is firmly with Ross, and Andy sees Jack as her brother.
Sullivan: A lot of people are wondering about the nature of our relationship.
Ross: What did you tell them?
Sullivan: That you’re the one who got away.
Sullivan: Don’t call me that.
While the Sullivan and Ross relationship hasn’t been the most exciting portion of the season, their sexual chemistry is out of this world, and that intimate scene with them was hot as hell. And there are no doubts how Robert feels about her; she’s the one who got away, and he doesn’t seem set on her doing that again.
As much as Sullivan has done some shady things, it genuinely sucks that everyone assumes the worst of him about the Beckett situation.
Ben, especially, did something similar when he reported Sullivan, so why wouldn’t he trust that the former addict was serious about Beckett’s drinking?
And Maya essentially admitted that she knows something is up with Beckett, but because neither she nor Carina has reason to care about or like Sullivan, it doesn’t matter.
Carina’s cattiness towards Sullivan was amusing because we rarely get that side of her. She’s protective as hell over Maya, and you could appreciate her going to bat for her how she did.
I would not want to get on her bad side, especially when she’s protecting Maya. She wants her happy family and life with her wife, and she doesn’t want anything to get in that way of that, and it’s sweet how fiercely protective she is over that.
It took ages, but they harkened back to the green card situation. Unfortunately, it puts you on high alert, assuming something terrible is on the horizon.
Carina has her interview, and the process is hellish and arduous. Why does it feel like things are going too well for Carina and Maya right now, so life is about to come at them fast?
If it wasn’t apparent enough already, ending their portion of the hour with a sweet, well-shot, and sexy scene as Maya woke Carina in the morning for a loving romp, well, that’s enough to have you fearing the other shoe is about to drop.
Travis’ arc is also a mixed bag. Like Jack’s, or how they reintroduced Carina’s green card situation or casually tossed in Ben getting Pru for good despite still working at the station, it feels rushed in late.
After dealing with a man whose toes fell off because taking care of his diabetes financially tapped him out, he was back on his anti-Dixon train.
But this time, he has the rest of the crew backing him up and supporting his possible mayor-run. By now, he should stop talking about it and just do it.
It remains an unusual storyline to explore, especially introducing it late into the season, but it’s all a matter of how Station 19 pursues this.
Over to you, Station 19 Fanatics. Are you worried about Carina’s immigration status? How heartbroken were you for Jack? Sound off below!
You can watch Station 19 online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.