TV REVIEW: Life Goes on in Grey’s Anatomy “She’s Leaving Home”
Derek Shepherd is dead.
He’s really, really dead.
The hope of waking up in a Dallas dream are dashed in the opening minutes of “She’s Leaving Home” as we watch Meredith sit next to Derek as all his life support is disconnected.
“Derek. Derek,” she pleads as we see a flashback of Mer’s mom Ellis losing Richard, saying, “He was the love of my life. I doubt I’ll ever love another man the way I loved him… but he’s gone and I’m here.” We see that darn carousel spinning, spinning.
How the world keeps spinning like that carousel, how life just goes on is a little mystifying. Hasn’t everyone heard that Derek Shepherd is dead? Yes, he’s a fictional character but oh, such a well written fictional character that he became a part of our family, a part of our tribe. Now, he’s gone and we find ourselves wearing black as we grieve.
Tonight’s special two hour episode was an honoring of McDreamy, chock full of flashbacks of some of our favorite Derek scenes. Okay, deep breath. Patrick Dempsey is alive and well probably racing cars somewhere. We can do this. They all can do this.
A Meredith Disappearing Act
After Meredith announces to her friends that “Derek is dead,” she shows she is her mother’s daughter, packs up the kids and takes off. She doesn’t leave word of where she’s going and doesn’t keep in touch with anyone.
A few weeks later, there is still no word from Mer. Callie suggests hiring an investigator, some want to call the police. Webber says no, it’s kind of the Grey way.
We fast motion through months of a Meredith-less Grey’s Anatomy, catching glimpses of how everyone is dealing with their grief. April runs. She tells Jackson she’s leaving for some war torn country to learn new “techniques.” She gets on a plane as her husband can only watch dazed and confused.
Callie throws herself into treating her recently injured, boring one-time date, Dan. He’s a cop in danger of losing his leg, but keeps his humor and flirtatious ways intact. It’s just what the doctor ordered to help Torres move on.
Months inch by with Bailey and Ben tangling over yes to life support or no to life support. Miranda says no way, but Ben has a very different view. He’s all for “extraordinary measures” being used, putting his money on being the miracle man with a miracle recovery. Bailey is not happy with that answer and spends much of the episode trying to convince him otherwise.
4th of July
Alex and Maggie sit on the porch at night watching fireworks, lamenting the loss of Meredith. Maggie says she never felt abandoned by her birth mother, but she thinks this is how she would’ve felt if she had. Alex calls Meredith again leaving a message, “Just cut it out. This isn’t fair to any of us.”
April makes a call of her own. Jackson’s got exciting news to share first! They have a new couch. April says she’s not coming home just yet. These “new techniques” are so amazing, she needs to stay. Wow, way to put a damper on the new couch news.
We see Webber and Catherine having a romantic dinner. He’s about to propose when Catherine says not so fast. “Don’t ask unless you know what the answer is going to be,” she advises. She takes all the romance out of the moment leaving Richard bitter and withholding the actual proposal.
Amelia’s not doing well, even cracking Derek is dead jokes. On the surface, she’s having the hardest time dealing by not actually dealing. Stephanie says stop all the dead bro jokes, it makes her uncomfortable, even suggesting a grief group. “I’m fine,” insists Amelia. “Let’s just put it to rest, like my brother.”
Karev tries to keep the group together, hosting the holiday at his place. Jo’s watching a sad looking turkey roast in the oven, having no idea that it took so many hours to cook the dang thing. She pulls the “no mother” card and they all forgive the oversight.
Alex finally gets a call from Meredith, abruptly saying, “I’m fine, the kids are fine, please stop calling.”
Cute cop Dan is still in the hospital now making amputation jokes. Aw, Callie couldn’t save the leg.
Jackson gets a call from April while bombings occur all around her. He doesn’t understand why she’s not home, and the worry and frustration are written all over over his face.
The big twist of the night comes as we see Meredith tucking in Zola. When she gets up we see Mer’s VERY pregnant belly. A total surprise? Nah. Not after the baby bug Derek had gotten right before his death, when he talked about wanting “one more.”
Meredith is at the beach and we see that scene again, Derek saying they “have a lot of sex” and maybe it happens, another kid.
New Year’s Day
Jackson doesn’t understand April’s grief, or rather the way she handles it. He says he faces it each day and doesn’t understand why she doesn’t.
So many Mer/Der flashbacks, so many feels. The hot sex in the OR scene, all our faves come rolling back through for us to enjoy and not enjoy.
Dan gets a space age prosthetic with an excited Callie cheering him on as he goes through a “first run.” She cries thinking about Derek and the “badass neuro-sensors” he helped create that are helping Dan right now.
April returns home suddenly, welcomed with a huge hug by her husband.
Amelia’s confronted by Webber about her not going to meetings. What’s up? She snaps at his concern, saying it would be a waste of an hour or two. She goes on about people always leaving, ending up screaming at Richard, finally losing it. Owen walks in returning from duty. They talk later and Amelia admits she’s got a bag of oxy in her pocket, ready to take it. “Every man I’ve ever loved has died.” She truly loses it this time eventually collapsing to the floor. What an amazing performance by Caterina Scorsone – the grief, the raw uncensored emotion coming through. This has to be my favorite scene of the night, showing loss and sadness in such a real, authentic way. Nothing cheesy, fake, or melodramatic in the performance.
We get a little more Meredith as we watch her fall to the floor, bleeding. Zola calls 911. What a parallel scene to young Mer calling 911 when Ellis tried to kill herself. One Grey trying to end her life while the daughter is trying to bring a new one into the world. She is not her mother’s daughter in so many ways.
Meredith wakes up to a nurse saying, “Your husband is here.” It’s Alex and we all go, “Awww!” and wish we had a person as perfect as Karev. He really steps up tonight, showing how much he’s grown up over these eleven years.
“I had a baby,” she tells him, adding, “Derek is dead.”
The baby is brought to her as she hears Derek’s voice saying, “you’ll survive too.”
Alex holds Mer’s hand with her smiling, seemingly having a third purpose to go on.
We watch a little Bailey and Ben sexy time, she’s giggling and happy. Who wouldn’t be? He has an envelope for her, the romantic gift of a living will. “This gives you permission to pull the plug.” She is not amused.
“Isn’t this what you wanted?” he asks confused.
“This was the meanest thing you’ve ever done. You no longer love me enough to want to go on,” she cries admitting she’s terrified that something will happen to him. “I love you too much. Like you are a piece of me.” She finally won and can’t deal with it. There will be no plug pulling.
Ben hilariously says, “I promise you. I will let you die first.” He adds, “I love you too much too.”
Let There Be Light
We’ve Shonda-timed it through months of grief, through a sadness faced by each character in his/her own way and now return full circle. Yes, Derek is still dead, but the ending of this one is steeped in the light of new beginnings.
In a sweet turn, Catherine asks Richard to marry her in front God and the hospital staff. His answer, “About damn time.” A new beginning, and a new chance for the couple.
Chasing Cars plays again as Meredith returns home with Karev helping bring in the kids. She’s alone in her bed, their bed, looking at the empty space next to her. So sad. More nights go by with Meredith laughing at the thought of Alex hosting a Christmas.
Mer returns to work with the backdrop of Ellis’ voice saying, “You are anything but ordinary, Meredith. It’s a choice I’m making to move through this, move past it. I can do this.” She puts on Derek’s lucky surgical cap and gets to it, gets to the thing called living.
Was it enough? Did this episode honor Derek Shepherd in the way he deserved? Did it give a sense of closure to the characters who loved him? I’m not sure any amount of time or seasons could do all that. The Grey’s writers showed that the world keeps spinning and that Meredith will move on (unlike her mother). When Bailey asks her if she’s ready for this, Meredith replies, “I am. All I have to do is begin.” They’ve all done it, begin again. So, deep breath as we join them.
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. on ABC.