Meredith is in a bad way. And I’m sure you’re saying to yourself, isn’t she always? Isn’t that the premise of this show? I mean, yeah, sort of. After the bombs in chest cavities and drownings and plane crashes and C-sections during a blackout and patient attacks, you’d think we’d be used to seeing Meredith Grey hanging on for dear life, but this one — Meredith deteriorating after contracting COVID-19 — hits differently. Most people won’t have to deal with bombs in body cavities, but watching someone suffer from COVID is far too familiar for all of us these days. Emotionally speaking, it’s a lot — and it’s nowhere near over.
So, yes, Derek Shepherd is back. Any time Meredith falls asleep or passes out, she ends up back on that beach with her gorgeous sea-salted-wavy hair and her dead husband calling out to her. At first, she can’t get any closer. She’s worried about the kids, Derek explains. “The sand isn’t real,” he says. By episode’s end, as Meredith is getting worse and worse, she starts running toward him — she’s letting go. Of course she ends up face down in the sand before she can reach him, but it’s cute and Derek says “I love you” and that’s something we all needed to hear come out of that man’s mouth today. So it’s a fine line to walk between wanting Meredith to recover and wanting her to be able to get a McDreamy kiss. Or a McDreamy hug. Or, for God sakes at the very least some McDreamy hand-holding. We need to get Izzie Stevens up in here — the girl knows the mechanics of humping dead hallucinatory boyfriends.
Although that beach is a very McDreamy place, one thing we may or may not need to be concerned about there is the fact that Derek tells Meredith he’ll “be right here when [she’s] ready.” How soon will Meredith be ready to join Derek on that beach permanently? How soon, show?
Not very soon, if her very-much-alive loved ones have anything to say about it. Especially Maggie. Oh, poor Maggie. Not only did Maggie just lose her 53rd patient since the pandemic reached Grey Sloan — most of whom are Black women, and the most recent reminded her of her mother — but now she has to watch her sister succumb to the virus. We pick up four days after Cormac found Meredith in the parking lot, and when Maggie gets a look at Mer’s most recent lung scans, she’s terrified. She has to pull Teddy aside and make sure she’s okay to keep treating Meredith. She wants to make sure Teddy can put aside all of her personal shit (lol, never) and see Meredith through this. Teddy needs to be able to do that because Maggie cannot be her doctor: “I need to be her sister,” she says in tears. Later, Maggie gets on the phone with Winston and loses it. It’s too much and too hard and too sad. When will this man come to Seattle and hold his woman? (After properly quarantining, of course.)
The other thing pushing both Maggie and Amelia over the edge is having to even talk about Meredith’s medical directives should something happen to her. She doesn’t want to be put on a ventilator and her power of attorney currently rests with Alex Karev, who, as we all know too well, is far, far away from Seattle living on a farm with his one true love, Izzie Stevens. He won’t be very helpful if he has to make huge medical decisions over the phone. They want Meredith to reconsider.
Bailey comes and asks her, too. Meredith explains that Amelia “can’t even decide what’s for dinner” and Maggie has trouble letting people go. Eventually, Meredith chooses Richard. It’s a nice callback to that time Richard got electrocuted (remember??) and Meredith was given his POA. I mean, Richard isn’t thrilled with Meredith’s wishes, but he’ll do what needs to be done. He just wants her to remember that it’s not only her kids who need her — they all do.
Speaking of Richard, he’s thriving in his new Chief of Chiefs role. He’s getting things done! He’s increasing testing! He’s filming very informative videos for employees while looking very handsome! Perhaps his one misstep is putting Tom Koracick, whose job Webber took over, in charge of teaching the new crop of interns. He’s not good at it, nor does he have the patience for it. On top of the poor fit, it would be hard for anyone to keep new interns calm and focused as they face challenges that are bringing the most experienced doctors to the brink. After half of them quit, Tom tells Richard that Richard’s ability to teach, and to especially teach interns, is a gift, not a skill. Richard should be the one leading this new group (which includes the Ortizes, a mother and daughter!). And lead them he does.
Richard takes the three remaining interns into an empty O.R. and gives them an inspiring pep talk, just like he has done for so many intern classes before them. He talks to them about how he knows this isn’t what they signed up for and that everyone wants to be in “the before” but that “the before is gone.” “We’re in the now,” he tells them. That’s scary for patients and that’s scary for doctors, but “we’ll be okay. We’ll get through this together.” And Richard Webber makes them (and us, maybe?) feel a little bit better, even if for just a short while.
The O.R. Board
• Well, Link and Amelia demonstrate that a couple can find, um, release while still maintaining six feet of distance. Let’s just hope one of Meredith’s kids doesn’t wake up and look out the window. They’ve been traumatized enough for one lifetime!
• In case you haven’t been through enough horrors: Jo has a patient who has a baby growing in her liver. A liver baby! Although this type of abdominal pregnancy is rare and dangerous, that liver baby is thriving and mom and daughter make it out okay. Liver baby will still haunt my dreams.
• Owen continues to ice Teddy out completely. He’s not the only one: When she goes to see if Tom will talk to her, he tells her to leave — she broke him, he still loves her, and he needs to move on. Hey, maybe he’ll be able to do that while quarantining for 14 days since, yep, he tested positive for COVID, too.
• Intern Mama Ortiz has exactly no time for Tom Koracick! May she stick around for a while.
• Seeing Meredith and Derek together again after all these years is emotional enough, but dang, then Grey’s Anatomy has to go and play their theme music over their scenes? In the immortal words of Cristina Yang, somebody sedate me.
• Friends, more people are going to show up on Meredith’s beach. Who is next? Lexie? George??? There’s a laughable number of options of people who could come back from the dead on this show. It’s the best.