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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Grey’s Anatomy reboots Meredith Grey

Illustration for article titled Grey’s Anatomy reboots Meredith Grey
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For all of the deserved acclaim that last week’s half-silent episode gained for Grey’s Anatomy, there’s one truth that the show really can’t get around. Over the course of 12 seasons, Meredith Grey has had one whole hell of a lot of bad things happen to her. As she rattles off to her new therapist, her mother, stepmother, sister, and husband are dead. And that’s not even counting all the other weirdness that goes on at that hospital. Tonight a whole ambulance explodes right outside its doors and people barely blink, except to bring it up in passing later: “Hey, did you hear about that ambulance that blew up?”

Grey’s being Grey’s, the show decides to tackle the ridiculousness of Meredith’s life by taking it head on. “Have you read my file?” she smirks to the therapist. She’s so accustomed to disaster (helpfully highlighted by a brief tragedy montage), she’s even able to take this new hurdle—recently having to spend six weeks in the hospital to get over getting brutally attacked by a patient—in stride.

The unsubtle message, as Meredith told Alex last week: She no longer has just one person. She has lots of people. Instead of talking about her own problems with her therapist, she regales him with tales about her family and friends: Alex and Jo’s issues, her hovering sister versus recovering sister. And yet, Meredith doesn’t seem to want any of these people around, even as they fill her living room with pizza, gossip, and wine, so she soon just barks at them all to leave.

The therapist speaks for all of us in the world when he tells Meredith that she is fine. Not only fine enough to go back to work, but fine enough to get on with her life. She is no longer a victim, or a widow. Deep down, she really wants all of these people in her life instead of shunning them.

There’s only one patient-of-the-week (well, two, counting the exploding burrito guy), and teenaged Maya is our Meredith stand-in: absolutely convinced she’s right, adamant about what she wants versus what she doesn’t want, having to grow up early due to an ineffectual mother. So of course she immediately connects with Alex. Even though she “fires” him from her case (just like Meredith yells at her friends to get out), Alex still hangs around. At the last final moment, when Maya’s about to undergo the risky surgery, she asks Alex to stay. Which is a lot like Meredith too. Once she’s alone in the house (well, with her kids), she wonders where everybody went.

From day one, we’ve seen Meredith Grey as a mostly depressed, dark character—remember that near-death drowning incident—who felt unloved from her mother and liked to drink tequila shots in bars, occasionally going home with someone she didn’t know (like Derek in the pilot). She bonded with people early on, like the original other four interns, but it was rare (remember when they all hated Callie? Like, really hated her?). When Derek died, she left town for months instead of turning to the people she was closest to. Now, it’s as if this latest round of darkness attached to her attack has brought her all the way back around to knock the last bit of depression right out of her. For Meredith, who always thought she was alone, looking back on all those faces that surrounded her during those six weeks while she was recovering, she realizes that she’s the farthest thing from it.


It’s mostly a Meredith-focused episode, but second in line is Alex, protectively campaigning just as hard for Maya as he does for Meredith. His has been one of the most interesting character arcs on the show (he’s also one of the few vets left from day one): asshole-ish snark intern to passionate pediatrician. Meredith is quick to dismiss any thoughts of romance with Alex when the therapist brings them up, so this Maya case is meant to show Jo that that’s just how he is: When he’s tied up in a case, or a friend like Meredith, you may run second in his life for awhile. The kiss in the car at the end means that she’s accepted it, and Meredith’s blank expression seems to confirm that she needs to find someone as well. Hopefully someone better than Jo, whose appeal remains elusive.

So, the therapist and Meredith both ask by the end of the episode, now what? Her personal demons have finally been excised and she needs to move on with her life. This will likely result in the dating adventures of Meredith Grey. It’s something that we’ve never really seen on the show: Derek showed up in that first episode, after all, so even when Meredith distracted herself with people like veterinarian Chris O’Donnell, we knew it wasn’t going to take. But now, according to the therapist, and apparently, the show, Meredith has a clean bill of mental health. Her dark days are behind her, and she can do whatever she wants. Of course, she has no idea what that is, but it should make for some interesting fodder as the rest of her friends kiss in stairwells and supply rooms as usual. But at this point in the game, Grey’s main character needed to reboot herself, accomplished by a quick and painless therapy round and a chance to move on with her life.


Stray observations

  • So, after last week’s write-up got a decent response, we decided to test the waters with another Grey’s review, to see if it warrants weekly review status. Stay tuned.
  • That therapist was excellent in the manner of other fictional therapists, like Meredith’s former counselor Amy Madigan, or, for that matter, scruffy Judd Hirsch in Ordinary People.
  • In other news this week: Penny and Callie reunite; Bailey and Warren are still the best couple on this show; Hunt and Riggs work well together but remain at odds; and Chief alluding that his daughter is a “wildcat” in the sack is in a word, squick-worthy. And next week, do April and Jackson finally get divorced? We can only hope.