It’s George, guys. George O’Malley. Precious George is the next person Meredith runs into on her dreamy beach. I know lots of people are out there waiting for Lexie to turn up, but I have to say, I really missed George. In his final episode, when Meredith figures out that John Doe, the guy who got dragged by a bus to save someone else, is writing “007” in her hand and realizes it’s George, well, it still makes me burst into tears when I watch it. It’s George! It’s so nice to see him smiling and getting some sun, even if it isn’t real, confirming what Derek said about the sand, etc. It’s so nice to listen to him as he tells Meredith he checks in on her and her kids and that it made him happy when Meredith and his other friends started laughing at his funeral. (You had to be there — were you there? It was a real Grey’s moment.) It’s just really good to lay eyes on George O’Malley after all this time.
Of course, Meredith having a peaceful day on the beach with her dead friend means her battle with COVID is getting worse. Teddy and DeLuca, her primary doctors, want to put her in an experimental trial — patients have died while in it, but it could be Meredith’s best chance to turn things around. It’s not up to Teddy and DeLuca, however — it’s up to Webber, who you may recall was given Meredith’s power of attorney. It’s an impossible decision to make: He sees Meredith getting worse, she isn’t waking up at all anymore and her lungs are flooded, but the trial is a huge risk.
While Meredith and George continue their catch-up session, Meredith starts to hear Richard talking. He’s at her bedside angsting over what to do with this huge, impossible decision and then he appears on the dreamy beach, sitting next to Meredith and George. He doesn’t interact with them, he’s just there. He’s with Meredith. She isn’t alone in this.
Meredith is wondering if she has a choice in all this, too. (George saying that if he had a choice, he would’ve stayed with them really broke me. George!) She could stay in this peaceful idyll, leaving behind the people who love her, including her kids. She thinks they could be fine, it would hurt but they’d move on, eventually; It’s so Meredith, you have to laugh. George tells Meredith about how his mother was never the same after he died, about how some grief is just heavier, it slows you down and sticks with you forever. But Meredith’s been through so much. She could stay. “If you stay here, you might break him,” George says once Richard appears on the beach with them. Meredith knows.
Back at the hospital, Richard makes his decision: He hears Meredith, now visibly shaking, say something to George O’Malley, and knows when you start talking to dead people, especially at Grey Sloan Memorial, things are bad. He tells DeLuca to put Meredith in the trial. Now.
The beach is a little more peaceful than Mer’s hospital room. She’s still chatting with George. (He’s much more talkative and direct than Derek, huh?) Let’s be honest: Grey’s Anatomy did George dirty in his final season, giving him very little to do up until that big finish. So this conversation, in which Meredith tells George that his selflessness — in the moment he died but also in the way he treated his friends, family, and his patients while alive — changed her as a person, feels like a little step toward reconciling that. Can you tell I’m crying now? I mean, Meredith Grey telling George O’Malley that he changed her life? In season 17? A direct callback to Meredith’s voiceover from George’s last episode? What is this world?! What gorgeous closure!
Richard is still pained over his decision, but Bailey visits Meredith’s room and assures him he did the right thing. He’s really hurting, friends: He watched little Meredith Grey grow up, after all. He is floored by how helpless and alone he feels in this moment, just waiting. So Bailey stays, too. They’ll wait together.
And then, as Meredith and George sit on that beautiful beach together, reminiscing and I don’t know, talking about whatever you might talk to your dead friend about when he shows up in your hallucinatory dreams as you battle a deadly virus — hopefully not the terrible sex they had because not one person wants to relive that — the two of them are flanked by Richard and Bailey. Again, they aren’t interacting with them, they are just there with them, a reassuring, peaceful presence. And you guys, Bailey is sitting next to George on that beach because you know George was her favorite intern and she named her son after that sweet, bumbling man and I am too fragile for all of this right now!
Speaking of fragile, how are Meredith’s sisters doing with all of this? In short: Not so well. Maggie seems better than last we saw her, but only because she’s tied up in some of Winston’s drama this week. Winston tries to remind Maggie to find joy, no matter how small, wherever she can. That includes having virtual dinner with him and his Nana to celebrate her birthday. Things are going well until Winston’s dad crashes the party and it is immediately clear Winston doesn’t get along with his father. His father tries to be charming, but Winston wastes no time reminding him about how he spent Winston’s childhood gambling all their money away. And then Winston just leaves the chat! With Maggie still there! She stays on and starts awkwardly asking about cake, and I can appreciate that. She’s not mad at Winston, though. He gave her the space she needed when she was dealing with Richard’s, ahem, cobalt poisoning, so she is more than happy to give Winston what he needs to deal with his own father issues. Apparently the man has a temper and there’s some real drama here that will surely come up later. You’re telling me that Winston Ndugu has some long-simmering tension with a parent that has shaped who he is as an adult? Welcome to Grey’s Anatomy, sir!
Amelia, naturally, is spiraling. Link is trying to keep things upbeat at home with the kids, but Amelia’s mainly weeping into her garden. She’s fed up with Link trying to focus on the “bright side” of things. Finally, she lets him have it: He can’t keep dismissing her feelings. She’s scared and sad and angry and if he keeps making her bury those feelings, uh, things won’t turn out well. So Link sets up some chairs for them to talk. He’s giving her space for all of her feelings. It’s helpful! Later, she wants to repay the favor by letting him talk it out, but all he wants to do is play his guitar in peace. She pushes him until finally he has to explain that her way of dealing with her feelings in a high stress, upsetting time is not his way. After everything he went through when he had cancer as a kid, he realized what helped him cope was to focus on the good things. Amelia backs off, giving him space for his good things. Yes, friends, Amelia and Link are having mature conversations about their emotional needs as human beings and honestly, their relationship is so healthy right now it’s really freaking me out.
So the Sisters seem to be coping with Meredith’s dire situation fairly well for now. Still, Meredith is a long way from recovering and that beach is looking pretty cozy. We all might need some space for our feelings soon.
The O.R. Board
• Dr. Tseng, a resident from Pac-North, gets some air time this week: She realizes that Owen has misdiagnosed a patient and it has nearly killed the guy. Instead of appendicitis, the patient is suffering from right-sided diverticulitis. It’s rare, but it’s a condition that is ten times more likely to occur in Asian patients. If he had thought about that, they wouldn’t be in this situation. Tseng wants to confront Owen about his bias, but Nico advises her against calling out her attending. Instead, Nico does it. Sure, Owen was just following protocols, but as Bailey reminds him, the protocols are centered on white patients. She tells him that what matters now is what he does with that information. He can change protocols.
• Jo and Jackson don’t want to be “a thing” which means they are definitely “a thing” now. They attempt to forget about the sob-filled makeout from before with a “friendship reboot” that ends with them having sex. Multiple times. Both swear they can’t be in a relationship and are only seeking sex and friendship in these troubled times. We’ll see how long that lasts.
• Link’s playing around with a song he calls the “If The Virus Doesn’t End Us, Then Climate Change Probably Will Blues.” It’s a real laugh-to-hide-the-tears-of-truth type of situation.
• We should give Nico some slack since he has to deal with some real shitty, racist patients on a daily basis and still go about his job, but he and Schmitt are still hooking up and it feels like that can only end badly.
• Bailey mentions that she made her parents move to an assisted living facility in Seattle to be closer to her — and based on the promo for next week, it looks like Bailey’s worst fears of having her parents in there might be coming true.
• Something else to be concerned about: Tom has been angrily quarantining at home, convinced he doesn’t have COVID because he has no symptoms, despite several positive test results. Teddy gets word that Tom’s “in a dark place” and goes to visit him in an attempt to keep his spirits up. When he doesn’t come to the door or respond to her, she assumes he’s ignoring her (she did repeatedly crush his heart after all). If only she knew that at that moment Tom was actually on the floor, having trouble breathing — he’s gone from no symptoms to a dire situation in just a few hours. Cool, cool, cool. You know what, Mer? You stay on that beach. Things are terrible here!