If anyone is an authority on death, it’s Meredith Grey. And not just because of the surgeon thing — because of the “losing everyone she loves” thing. We love her for her strength in the face of tragedy and trauma. It’s who she is! It is why we’re here — well, that and all the fun, sexy times. But honestly, for a show so littered with ghosts and grief, it’s about time Grey’s Anatomy celebrated Día de los Muertos. There’s no altar big enough to hold this show’s ofrenda, you know what I mean?
Once you realized the theme of “Flowers Grow Out of My Grave” is the Mexican holiday in which our lost loved ones come back to visit us, you probably guessed there’d be a nod to Grey-Sloan’s dearly departed. I wasn’t totally shocked to see George (oh, George!), Lexie, Ellis, Mark, and Derek pop up (although the CGI was a little startling). But Doc? Be still, my heart. And having the whole sequence set to a Spanish-language version of “Chasing Cars,” the unofficial crying theme song of this show?! That’s real cold, Grey’s. Cold and well-played.
There’s also an unwelcome ghost following Meredith around: Richard informs her that Thatcher has leukemia and is in hospice. Meredith spends the rest of the episode struggling with how to handle that information. Apparently, she hasn’t spoken to her estranged father since Lexie died — so, like, the guy didn’t even call when Meredith lost her husband and was left to raise three children on her own? SHE GAVE YOU A PART OF HER LIVER, SIR. Although people like Maggie and Jackson and Alex generally seem to point Meredith toward seeing her father before he dies, she has a right to question this decision. Yes, he was pushed out of Meredith’s life by Ellis, but he was the one who decided to stay out of it. Like Meredith says, she opened a door for him when she gave him a piece of her liver — he never walked through it.
Meredith decides to unload all of her conflicting feelings while out on her date with a mustache named Daniel. Thatcher wasn’t a father to her, so why does she have to feel bad for not feeling bad about this? Why is it the child who always has to apologize? And what is up with Father’s Day? Mustache is having a terrible time, but at least Meredith is finally able to articulate how she’s feeling. She doesn’t want to put her own kids through yet another death just so Thatcher can feel better. By the end of the episode, she’s just hanging out with Alex, Jo, and Link and definitely not going to see her dad — but it doesn’t seem like that option is completely off the table. We’ll see if she has a change of heart, or if one is thrust upon her.
On a happier note, Meredith should enjoy being the object of two very hunky doctors’ affections. Was anyone else getting total McDreamy-and- McVet-at-the-end-of-season-two vibes as Meredith stood between Link and DeLuca while waiting for the elevator? On one hunky hand, there’s Link, who cuts his own glorious hair to make a child with cancer feel better and is so good at flirting it makes me believe in flirting again. On the other hunky hand, there’s DeLuca. This dude opts out of a cool surgery because the little girl has such a crush on him that she doesn’t want him to see the inside of her belly. He still goes to see her before the surgery and also says some swoony surgical stuff to Meredith. I mean, you can’t go wrong with either of these guys. So yes, she’s upset about the dad stuff, but Meredith would do well to remember the hunky doctor stuff, too.
The entire episode is devoted to the different ways people deal with grief: Webber visits Ollie’s grave and tells her he can’t go to meetings because they remind him of the loss, Maggie buries herself in work but keeps a picture of her mother nearby — and this deep-dive touches on a patient, Roberta (Tracie Thoms), who is planning her own funeral in order to remove that burden and let her loved ones grieve.
The thing is, Roberta is still alive, and Bailey and Jo, her doctors, sure aren’t going to let her go without a fight. Roberta is waiting for a liver transplant, one she’s been awaiting for almost her entire life — but she is always expecting the worst. So when the liver transplant falls through, Roberta goes back to her funeral plans. (She wants people to cry, okay?) Bailey and Jo aren’t giving up so easily. Another patient dies, but has only been officially dead for five minutes when Bailey and Jo come upon him. He’s a blood-match for Roberta — there’s a liver in that dead body that could save her life.
What does Bailey do? She decides she’s bringing that dead liver back to life. This whole “warm perfusion device” thing sounds crazy — Jo calls it “zombie medicine” — but it turns out to be just crazy enough to work. The liver lives! Unfortunately, Chief Karev doesn’t like this idea. If Roberta dies from this transplant, it could hurt the hospital’s standing with UNOS. He shuts it down before they can do the transplant, or at least, he thinks he shuts it down. Bailey goes through with the whole thing and ta-da, Roberta survives! She’ll have to shelve her funeral plans for a later date.
Throughout the process, Jo remarks about how stressful bringing a dead liver back to life is. Bailey agrees because, duh, but this is the kind of stress she can handle, the kind of stress she thrives on. The kind of stress she can’t deal with is worrying that her husband is dead ALL THE TIME. Bailey’s texting Ben repeatedly without getting any kind of response, she’s taking her blood pressure, and it is not good — the worry she expressed last week regarding this specific stressor in her life isn’t getting any better. Not to alarm you all, but this Bailey-Ben problem is bleeding over onto Station 19, as well, so you know it’s serious. And now I’m stressed out! They can’t break up Mom and Dad, can they?
Laughter Is the Best Medicine, Apart From Real Medicine
• Here’s a real laugh: Teddy still has not told Owen she’s pregnant with his baby. She goes over to his house and then gets swept up in this whole “Where Is Betty?” debacle and Amelia is shrieking about finding her before she’s dead and Owen is rocking Leo to sleep and telling Teddy that he’s always wanted to be a father and it is all a complete mess — and she chickens out again. I don’t know how many more times I can yell, “JUST TELL HIM!” at my TV.
• Um, you guys, Nico and Glasses happened. Okay, so they happened and then quickly did not happen, but still. They kissed. ON AN ELEVATOR. That’s a very serious place to have a first kiss on this show. Once Nico realizes Glasses has never kissed a guy before, he puts the kibosh on the whole thing, because he already went through coming out and he’s not going back in the closet. He’s not holding Schmitt’s hand through this. But you don’t get a hot elevator kiss on this show and then just drop the whole thing. You just don’t.
• Link is so stinking cute. He gets a tiny human patient with osteosarcoma — the same cancer he had when he was young — and is so perfect with little J.J. and his mom that I am still screaming. When J.J. worries about losing his hair, Link cuts his own right there in front of him. I mean, awwww, but also I’ll be making an ofrenda for that hair.
• Jo is ’shipping Meredith and Link, hard. My favorite Jo is explaining-to- Link-that-Meredith-rejected-her-for-two-years-but-then-got-over-it-so-he-shouldn’t-give-up-hope Jo.
• Meredith to Jackson: “Hey, you have a deadbeat dad, don’t you?” All hail our savage queen.
• Even Alex Karev wants everyone to vote in the midterms — so just do it already, okay?
Sob Scale: 4/10
I mean, you know about the CGI ghost visitors. I can’t see George O’Malley and not cry a little.