Is it hot in here, or is it just Dr. Addison Montgomery making her highly anticipated return to Grey’s Anatomy? Guys, it’s both. There’s a heat wave in Seattle and Addison is back. Addison! Addison Montgomery, we met her in the summer she … you know her. And just to make sure you know this is a celebration for longtime Grey’s fans, her first line of the episode — “I’m Dr. Addison Montgomery and you must be the group that’s screwing up the program” — is a fun little nod to her first line in the series — “I’m Addison Shepherd … and you must be the woman who’s been screwing my husband.” A truly iconic moment in Grey’s history that introduced us all to one of the best characters in this entire series. I mean, she’s easily top five, right? Like, if you were to ever, say, start a note on your phone with your Grey’s Anatomy character rankings that you periodically update just for fun, she would be in your top five, I’m guessing. Anyway, having Addison Forbes Montgomery back in the halls of Grey Sloan feels right. She doesn’t get the most cohesive or emotionally moving episode as her triumphant return, but it does feel like it’s building up to something. So, bad news: Everything not Addison-related in this episode is pretty half-baked. Good news: Addison’s not done yet.
Why is Addison back in Seattle after all this time? Oh, you know, just changing the face of medicine with a clinical trial on UTERINE TRANSPLANTS. Her last patient for the trial is a woman named Tovah, whose family is based in Seattle. Tovah had a hysterectomy after suffering a placental abruption and losing her last pregnancy after years of miscarriages. Then her husband got cancer and froze his sperm before he died and now she wants to have a uterine transplant so that she can have his baby. It looks like the devastating trauma epidemic is less of a Grey Sloan type of thing and more of a general Seattle citizen type of thing. I mean, could they give this woman a sadder story? No worry, Addison is going to give her a uterine transplant, help her get pregnant, and then deliver her baby. Addison Montgomery is a superhero?
Not only is she back and doing something revolutionary (she’s already positive she’ll be winning the Catherine Fox Award this year, no biggie), but Bailey and Webber have enlisted her as a guest to their revamped residency program. She’s leading grand rounds for the residents today in hopes of continuing to whip them into shape. In fact, one of them will eventually be listed when she gets published for this clinical trial. That’s a big deal! Much to Jo’s chagrin, Schmitt is in the lead for this honor thus far since he’s the one who gets to scrub in on the transplant. Sorry to you, Pink Scrubs, that you have to perform the job that you decided was your one true joy? Jo is very confusing and it seems like the show doesn’t exactly know what to do with her now that they’ve separated her from the rest of the group.
The residents all know bits and pieces of Addison Montgomery lore, and it’s nice to hear some shout-outs to moments from Grey’s past, including the plane crash, because honestly it’s wild that people aren’t talking about the fact that it happened more. Or the shooting. Or, like, every once and a while Webber should be like, “Hey, remember when I got electrocuted? That was crazy!” I don’t know, just some things to think about.
The real show here, however, is the surgery. Addison is doing her thing and making history, etcetera, when the entire HVAC system goes out after overheating. Seattle was not made to withstand this kind of heat, people! The most pressing problem this causes, aside from attractive people in scrubs sweating, is that the HVAC system also controls the air filtration system. Anyone who is open on an OR table right now runs a very high risk of infection. Regardless of what Webber says, Addison will not close up. She’s halfway through Tovah’s transplant and she is seeing this through. If she’s going to move any faster, which is really the only option right now, she needs someone who understands the intricacies of what she’s working on. Perhaps someone who completed a successful abdominal wall transplant? Addison needs Meredith Grey. And so these two very successful surgeons with a rocky past work together in the OR to make this transplant happen. What a thing to see! There are some complications, but Addison and Meredith know what they’re doing. The transplant is a success.
That’s great and all, but the highlight of the entire episode is the Addison–Meredith elevator scene. That’s right friends, a tried-and-true Grey’s Anatomy elevator scene. We are not worthy. Meredith and Addison have shared so many awkward elevator scenes over the years, all, of course, having to do with the McDreamy in the room. Even after all these years, even with Derek gone, he is still very much in this elevator with Addison and Meredith. Within a few seconds of the doors closing, leaving the two women alone after such an adrenaline rush, Addison breaks down into tears. Meredith stops the elevator. It’s yet another callback, this time to season two’s “Into You Like a Train” (an emotionally devastating hour), when Derek breaks down and Bailey stops the elevator so he can have a moment. Ah, bask in the history of it all! Anyway, Addison tells Meredith that she thought that being back here would mean she’d feel Derek again. But he’s not here. He’s really gone. She’s never had to face his death like this; being in this place without him makes it all real. But Meredith, holding back tears, tells her that Derek is still there. “And he’s in his children, and they are very real,” she tells Addison. She wants her to meet them. Addison, of course, says yes. She also tells Meredith, who has hinted at being worried about what people like Webber and Bailey will think when she tells them about the Minnesota gig, that if she believes in the work, she needs to fight for it (she ends up breaking the news to Webber not long after). They hold each other for a brief moment before the elevator doors open again. We are all truly living now.
Addison gets a reunion with her L.A. buddy Amelia, too. Then, we watch as she meets Zola and Bailey Grey Shepherd for the first time. They ask if she was friends with their dad, and she tells them he called her Addie, and then Zola calls her Addie. It’s all very nice, watching Addison, Meredith, and Amelia, three women tied together by Derek, smiling and happy to be in the same room. I would like more of it.
The OR Board
• Winston gets a kidney for Rashida, and he gets Owen to agree to do the transplant — he doesn’t want to ask Bailey because then he’d have to explain how he maneuvered things to get Rashida on the transplant list in the first place. But the surgery is almost thwarted when the HVAC goes and they can’t perform the transplant in the OR. Owen decides to call in Ben Warren and his physician response ambo that’s set up to be an in-the-field surgical unit. They perform the surgery in the rig, and it’s very successful.
• Owen’s story line from last week also gets an update: He’s still trying to get in contact with Noah to help him with his pulmonary fibrosis — plus, he’s looking into burn pits and what the VA is doing (or, more to the point, not doing) about soldiers who suffer ailments because of them. It takes Owen knocking on Noah’s door and giving him an impassioned speech about fighting for not just himself but his fellow soldiers to get any traction.
• So Link is smashing HVAC machinery because he is still in love with Amelia but can’t fix what’s broken, while she is getting super flirty with Dr. Kai Bartley from Minnesota over Zoom. What will Link smash when he finds out that Amelia has moved on because, yeah, she and Kai are definitely going to hook up soon.
• Cormac gives a big speech to a teenager about how yes, it’s hard being a teenager, but it’s also hard being the parent of a teenager, and the world is scary. This speech is not as effective as he maybe thinks it is? Read the room, dude. Regardless, Cormac and Bailey’s budding friendship remains a very nice thing.
• It surprises me every time that Grey’s Anatomy still thinks we want Helm obsessing over Meredith constantly. No one ordered this, Grey’s.
• Now that Teddy isn’t having a mental breakdown, she’s been made leader of the fun brigade at Grey Sloan (Owen’s incredulity upon hearing this made me laugh so hard). Her first idea to boost morale is “wacky hats.” Her second is snow cones in the morgue. Maybe she is still having a mental breakdown?
• Okay, but shouldn’t Addison be sad that Mark isn’t there either? Poor Mark Sloan, getting the shaft from Addison even in death.