Crack open a new box of tissues, you guys: The 13th season of Grey’s Anatomy has arrived. And it is good.
Frankly, it’s a little overwhelming to look back on all the surgeries, weddings, funerals, awkward elevator rides, sexy elevator rides, and kitchen-table C-sections we’ve witnessed through the years. It just feels right for this season premiere to focus on OGs Meredith and Alex.
Over the hiatus, I watched a lot of Grey’s Anatomy reruns (it’s because I care!). The greatest part about doing that — aside from watching a scene and being able to say, “Literally every person in that room is dead now” — was tracking the growth of Meredith and Alex’s friendship. In “Undo,” Meredith admits that when she first met Alex, he was The Actual Worst. Now, he’s one of the best people she knows. Meredith may gripe on Intern Alex, and yes, he was a jerk for a very long time (who’s mean to George O’Malley?!), but Mer has had an Alex-shaped soft spot for a long time. Remember when she was the best man at his and Izzie’s wedding? I do, because it was wonderful. Somehow, when no one was looking, the relationship between Meredith and Alex became the heart of Grey’s Anatomy.
Now, I’d like to continue tracking Meredith and Alex’s friendship as it slowly turns into a romantic relationship just like it should. (You can fight me in the comments if you want, but I’ll never let go, Jack.) Unfortunately, that might be hard to do if Alex Karev gets slapped with 15 to 20 years for aggravated assault.
Here’s why I’m worried: Not that one could ever forget, but please recall that in last season's finale, Alex came home to find his tiresome love interest, Jo Wilson, drunk in bed with Andrew DeLuca on top of her. Alex decided to introduce DeLuca to his fists. Repeatedly. Of course, we know this was a terrible misunderstanding that snowballed from the fact that Jo got blackout drunk in hopes of numbing the pain of losing Alex because she’s still married to a horribly abusive man from her past. Her name isn’t even Jo Wilson! This all should be very interesting, but, remember, Jo is a snoozefest.
To be honest, I thought we might be getting rid of her for good. Later, after she gets completely dressed down by Alex in the most horrible way, she tries to get an Uber and hightail it out of Seattle. Unfortunately, Webber has to show up and be a “great guy.” He convinces her not to leave, reminding her that running away won't fix her problems. “We don’t quit,” he tells her. Gosh, Webber, why do you have to be so lovely? If only that Uber driver had arrived a few minutes earlier. He’s getting a zero-star rating from me!
Alex is also left with a choice: Should he deal with the mess he’s gotten himself into, or should he make a run for it? He brings DeLuca to Grey Sloan for help and somehow dodges the “what happened?” question every time one of his colleagues asks. And they ask a lot. DeLuca looks really bad. Like, might-lose-his-eyesight bad. Ben quickly notices that Alex’s hand is all bloodied up, but decides to stay out of it because he, too, knows what it’s like to react in the moment and suffer horrible consequences. This doesn’t seem like the most ethical of stances to take, but the guy did just learn the art of DIY cesarean sections, so I guess he gets a pass?
The only person Alex can’t hide his guilt from is, of course, Meredith. After checking on Jo at the apartment — where she finds blood stains and decorative bowls of lemons toppled over (oh no, not the lemons!) — Meredith pieces it all together. She wants Alex to turn himself in to Bailey, but after he pleads with her and explains his version of events, she relents. She’ll cover for him. For better or worse, they’re stuck in this together now.
Big emphasis on “worse,” though. This is most definitely a horrible thing to keep from everyone. When Meredith goes to check DeLuca’s scans and confirm for an increasingly freaked-out Alex that he did not give the young doctor permanent brain damage, Maggie arrives to make things even more complicated. Maggie is in a weird position: She and DeLuca went through a tough breakup, but since she’s the one who knows him best, she's expected to hold his hand, fight for the best treatment, and call his parents to deliver the news. She still cares about the guy, so when she asks Meredith what she thinks happened and Meredith lies to her face, it’s a big betrayal.
It’s getting harder and harder for Meredith to protect Alex, especially when she discovers, through Stephanie, that he has it all wrong about DeLuca. He never slept with Jo; he was trying to keep Jo safe. Meredith relays this information to Alex, whose first reaction is to run. Fearing a fugitive situation, Meredith tries to appeal to Grown-Up Alex. They’re the bad guys in this story, she tells him, and he needs to face the consequences for what he’s done.
If Meredith’s heartfelt plea doesn’t work, perhaps a visit to DeLuca’s bedside will do the trick. Except Alex never makes it to the bedside. He goes to DeLuca’s room to find Jo inside, making sure DeLuca will keep her marriage secret between them (seriously, can we request another Uber?), and DeLuca freaks out the minute he sees his attacker. What’s more gut-wrenching: the terrified look on DeLuca's face, or the horrified one on Alex's as he realizes what he’s done?
In the end, the grown-up versions of both Meredith and Alex win out. Meredith knows she has to do the right thing and turn Alex over to Bailey, even though it’s hard. Before Bailey can do anything with this new information, though, Alex confesses to the cops and gets escorted out of the hospital in handcuffs. It is a long, slow trip to the parking lot, set to moody music as he passes almost everyone who works in Grey Sloan Memorial. Add “perp walk” to the list of things that make me cry.
It’ll be a tough road ahead for Alex, but at least he’s owning up to his mistakes. He’s lost almost everything because of his temper, except for Meredith, who, thankfully, isn’t scared to have a heart-to-heart through the bars of a jail cell. It’s probably because, deep down, they know they're in love with each other. DON’T HATE, THIS IS WAY MORE THAN FRIENDSHIP.
Honestly, Meredith discovering feelings for Alex would really help out with her other crisis: dealing with the very obvious thing that's happening between her and Riggs while Maggie continues to openly pine for the handsome doctor.
Throughout the episode, Meredith repeatedly gives Riggs the brush off as he pursues her. She’s trying to push him toward Maggie, but Riggs only has eyes for one of Ellis Grey’s daughters. It’s clear Meredith feels something too — when she’s angsting over the Alex situation, she seeks out Riggs for comfort — but after betraying Maggie once already, she promises her sister she’ll never do it again. Meredith lies to Riggs and tells him she doesn’t feel anything for him.
Okay, so she’s still technically lying to Maggie, but … baby steps?
Laughter Is the Best Medicine, Except for Real Medicine:
- There wasn’t much to laugh at during “Undo,” but you can always count on Catherine Avery trying to assert her power over April. This time it’s when April implies her baby may not carry the “Avery” name. Joke’s on Catherine, though: April and Jackson decided to hyphenate Kepner-Avery before Catherine even showed up. Her relief is audible.
- Speaking of baby Kepner-Avery: Her first name is Harriet, after both Tubman and the Spy. Which, as April points out, is a very good book.
- Just when you think you can’t love Maggie Pierce any more, you find out the girl loves a good turn on a wedding dance floor.
Sob Scale: 5/10
That first shot of DeLuca’s face after meeting Alex’s fists of fury is harrowing. Watching him yell for help when Alex walks into his hospital room is heartbreaking. But hand to Shonda if I didn’t shed a bucket of tears during Alex’s extended march out of hospital in handcuffs. We’ve been through so much together!