Serious question: Is Grey’s Anatomy trying to be the most depressing show on television? I only ask because thus far this season we’ve watched six episodes of Grey Sloan living through COVID hell, saw The Meredith Grey get put on a ventilator and then had to wait three months for any updates, and then finally return only to have the show KILL OFF ANDREW DELUCA. Andrew! DeLuca! Will this show ever feel joy again? Even Maggie, who is getting extensively laid in a fancy hotel room, gets interrupted so that she…. can tell her tiny niece that her mother might die. That might honestly be the least sad story line in this episode! In this climate, Grey’s?!
Yes, friends, I’m sorry to tell you that angel person Andrew DeLuca has been added to the offensively long Major Character Death Toll at Grey Sloan. Don’t say I didn’t warn you after the last episode when he was all making Bailey proud and having his life together. Closure is the kiss of death on prime-time soaps, people! And as sorry as I am to tell you that DeLuca walked off Meredith’s death beach with his mother, I am even more sorry to tell you how he died. The show tries to make it noble and heroic, but in reality, the man followed a known sex trafficker through Seattle and ended up getting stabbed in a train station. If you did not watch the Station 19 portion of this crossover you missed that entire part, but I assure you, there were other ways to go about bringing Opal to justice.
Again, it’s over on Station 19 that Andrew explains his unwavering need to find and stop Opal: He blames himself for her getting away the last time she was at Grey Sloan. If you recall last season, he realized what Opal was up to but because he was having a manic episode and refusing to accept that something was going on with him, no one believed him. He believes he failed Erin and Jada and Shanice and countless other kids. He needs to make up for what he did — he doesn’t want to be anything like his father, who killed multiple people because he was operating while having manic episodes and showed no remorse. Carina, who is along for this entire chase through Seattle, assures him he’s nothing like their father. The DeLuca siblings have several heart-to-hearts during the first hour, including Carina singing the lullaby she used to sing to her baby brother when they were kids — a telltale sign that Andrew’s time is up.
By the time they get DeLuca to Grey Sloan, he’s in bad shape. Owen takes him to the O.R. for surgery, and although Webber wants to scrub in with him — remember it was DeLuca who saved Webber’s life when he had cobalt poisoning (!!) — Owen demands that they get Teddy to join him. In Iraq, their entire job was to work to save their own people — they even had a patient with similar injuries to DeLuca — so he knows Teddy is the only person he needs in that O.R. with him. Now, before you think this means Owen has forgiven Teddy for all the lies and sex voicemails, know that at one point he makes sure it’s clear that if he could’ve had anyone else in the room with him, he would’ve. The never-ending Teddy/Owen saga marches on.
But Owen’s right about needing Teddy in the O.R. The two work flawlessly together and DeLuca is stable and people are celebrating his recovery around the episode’s half-hour mark. This happening so early in the episode is the final signal that this man is going to die, in case it wasn’t clear enough.
Throughout the surgery, there’s been some emotional things going on: First, DeLuca visits Meredith on that beach. You’d think she’d be a little surprised to see him, but mostly she’s just happy to have someone to throw rocks into the ocean with. This gives DeLuca time to inform Meredith (and all of us) that he has no regrets about going after Opal. He saw a terrible atrocity happening and he fought to make it right, he has nothing to regret. Again, there were probably some safer ways to go about doing this, but this is DeLuca’s beach time.
Meanwhile, Carina is beside herself in the hospital chapel with her girlfriend Maya (Station 19’s captain). She can’t even fathom a world without her brother. Their mother used to call them “two halves of one whole” because she knew they “couldn’t breathe without the other.” It’s a gorgeous little scene and it’s a real shame that we’ve just started getting some deeper DeLuca sibling moments and now that dynamic is gone.
But before we get to the end, Owen and Teddy get to tell Carina that Andrew is okay and she gets to tell her brother that Opal and her partner who stabbed him were arrested and he has saved countless children’s lives. He did it. That’s when things go downhill: Later, as Owen is checking on Andrew, he starts bleeding out. Owen and Teddy get him back in the O.R. but the damage is too great.
Back on the beach, DeLuca is trying to build a sandcastle but the tide is coming in too fast and knocks it down. “I had more to do! I had plans!” he tells Mer as he tries to salvage what he built. Grey’s has taken so much from us and now it wants to ruin beaches, I guess. As heartbreaking as that moment is, DeLuca then seems at peace with it all. He tells Meredith that being with her made him want to be better, that she inspired him, and that in the end he realized that he had to figure out who he was, “[his] own soul, [his] own strength” on his own. You’d think Meredith could also give this man/spirit an inspiring speech about how he changed her, but nah, she’s good. “I’ll miss you” she tells him. He’s scared as they watch the sunset, but then he sees his mother in the distance and runs to her. Back in the O.R., Owen and Teddy have been trying to restart his heart for 40 minutes. There’s nothing more they can do, DeLuca is gone.
DeLuca’s untimely death is tough to swallow for a lot of reasons, but one big one is that DeLuca’s mental health journey, especially on the other side of a diagnosis, was interesting and important and it would’ve been nice to see it played out further. Not to mention there are several other characters that it would make much more sense to send packing before DeLuca.
Andrew DeLuca’s death is sure to reverberate throughout the show for a while and with several of our main characters: Obviously, Carina will be dealing with her grief; Owen and Teddy will have to process failing one of their own; Schmitt was already reeling once he discovered that he had treated Opal the night before and chastises himself for not realizing she who she was, and now he’ll surely blame himself for DeLuca’s death; when Meredith wakes up, she’ll have yet another loss to add to her records; Maggie used to date DeLuca, so this might hit her hard; Webber owes his life to the guy; and then there’s Bailey. Poor Bailey! She just lost her mother, has been watching Meredith fade away, and now DeLuca? It’s. Too. Much. This show needs an injection of hope, stat.
But it looks like Derek’s back next week. So at least there’s that?
The O.R. Board
• Amelia’s spiraling (I just copy and paste that from all my other recaps) over telling Zola, Bailey, and Ellis about their mom’s condition and has Link get Jackson to track down Maggie in her hotel room (awkward!) where she’s been ignoring her phone so that she can have lots and lots of sex with Winston (she deserves this!). Eventually, Amelia and Maggie buck up enough courage to step up and be strong for Meredith and her kids. They have a sit-down with Zola — precious Zola who has been through enough! — and explain that Mer’s on a ventilator. She remembers that her dad never got off his ventilator and makes her aunts promise not to tell Bailey or Ellis. She’s going to shoulder this burden alone. Zola! The best of us!
• Okay, but honestly, how long is Meredith going to be unconscious? It’s time for this show to move forward.
• Apparently the powers that be didn’t think this episode was sad enough, so there’s also Jo’s story line in which her hepatic pregnancy patient Val, who has still not seen her daughter Luna, dies. After all of that, the woman dies. Jo is devastated and we last see her holding little Luna’s hand in the NICU and crying. Jo is definitely going to adopt this baby, right?
• Webber’s desperate plea, “Please do not take this boy,” will haunt me. Everything is terrible!!
• Hey, speaking of getting rid of interesting characters, remember how Jackson has nothing to do this season and that for many seasons he had piping-hot chemistry and emotional story lines with April but Grey’s wrote that character off for no real reason? Cool, cool, kewl.
• Tom is a great character on this show, but the sooner he gets away from the Teddy/Owen drama, the better. This week, he asks Teddy to do him the courtesy of admitting she never loved him. It takes some time and a whole lot of tears, but she finally says it. It’s time for Tom to move on.
• In DeLuca’s first episode (season 11’s “Time Stops”), his very first scene is him hopping out of an ambulance with a trauma patient. His last episode (well, last when he’s alive, obviously, this show is into ghosts and spirit beaches, so) kicks off with him being pulled out of an ambulance after suffering a trauma. What a truly depressing full circle.