If Grey’s Anatomy stays on the air for several more years (and it probably will, what with ABC recently renewing the show for another season), I believe we’ll look back at these episodes and think of season twelve as the “transition season”. If we’re using the Friends episode-naming convention, we’d call this season “The One After Derek Died”.
It really does feel like this season has reinvigorated the show in more ways than one. Its constant reliance on its history has benefited it greatly, giving longtime fans more reason to stick around for Meredith’s incredible journey and simultaneously giving the original cast (what’s left of it anyway) a chance to shine in episodes like this one.
Skyler Shaye reprises her role as Katie Bryce, the very FIRST patient from Meredith’s intern year, and the best thing about Katie is that she’s still the iconic patient we remember from the pilot episode. Watching her butt heads with Meredith again about how she and Derek shaved her head last time and made her miss her pageant (she was just an annoying teenager back then!) was a brilliantly amusing touch, especially when they’re topped with some heart-wrenching season one flashbacks. The show doesn’t treat this patient like it’s any other medical case, but I’ll be lying if I said I wasn’t worried they were about to kill Katie off.
The fact that Katie’s return happens in an episode that feel like it’s straight out of season-one with its light tone and pacing such as Richard bullying an intern, Penny going back and forth between two attendings, the music (my God the music) and the iconic Meredith-sitting-on-a-gurney scene makes this episode all the more special.
Twelve years later, this show still knows how to pull at our heartstrings in the most compelling way possible, and I can’t but feel glad that I got to witness these characters growing in front of us for the past dozen years.
However, I am a little torn about the anticlimactic turn of events for the Katie Bryce case especially as I found it weird to have Amelia be her doctor instead of Meredith. On one hand, I feel like this was a wasted opportunity as Meredith and Katie would have had some hilarious interactions, but on the other hand it was a brilliant writing decision to have Meredith choose between staying with her current patient (a heartbreaking Daphne) or going to check on Katie (who represents Meredith’s old life with Derek). Meredith is moving on (as the show has been hinting at for a while) and My Next Life feels like the transitional hour preparing her to take on the next adventure.
Luckily, most of the other subplots in this episode are pretty solid as well. I can’t get enough of the Arizona/Richard pairing (their chemistry is amazing) and we finally get some answers regarding Owen’s sister (Riggs put her on a helicopter and the helicopter disappeared). However, if we’ve learned anything from TV shows and Shondaland in particular, it’s never to believe someone is dead until we see a body. I’m betting on a season-finale reveal, and I’m actually looking forward for it.
Bits & Scalpels
– If you didn’t know Katie was going to be in this episode (from the promos last week), the recap certainly made it clear. But seriously, the music they used, even in the teaser, gave me goosebumps.
– A lot of blood this week, and I loved the shot of the trail it left in the halls – brilliant!
– I love the continuity in Katie’s case: Katie being worried about Meredith operating on her since she was a train-wreck the last time was hilarious, but what I love even more is when Meredith asks her if she’s still doing rhythmic gymnastics and Katie says she stopped doing pageants and is coaching now instead.
– The cafeteria scene and even Alex, Ben and Jackson discussing their love lives felt like homage to the early days of Grey’s.
– Thankfully, the show doesn’t bother with its complicated timeline – keep in mind that the first three seasons all happened in one year and there’s been several time jumps since then.
– Hilarious scene with Arizona, Richard and the intern in the OR. I should learn that guy’s name though, right?
– Love that Amelia called Katie Bryce “Derek and Meredith’s surgical love child”.
– Bailey finally remembering Katie and making that “Derek was chasing your tail” comment to Mer was TOO good.
– I was heartbroken by Daphne’s story, especially as it didn’t get the happy ending it deserved.
– I don’t know if I like Riggs yet. I mean, he did call the morgue “the plumber”.
– The Alex/Jo drama was unnecessary. I don’t care if these two get married or not at this point.
– While I still hate April for not telling Jackson about the baby and was annoyed with their scenes this week discussing phone bills, I did appreciate the writers making Alex realize on his own that she’s pregnant.
– The hashtag for this episode (which was directed by Chandra Wilson) was #ReturnToDayOne.
– “Into the Fire” was used in this episode, the same song that was used in the pilot! I love all these little callbacks.
Katie: She was kind of a train-wreck. She kept getting me lost.
Meredith: It was my first day!
Meredith: Hey, Katie Bryce is back.
Bailey: Katie who?
Meredith: Katie Bryce. Day one of my internship. Mystery seizures, Cristina and I solved it, Derek operated. It was my first surgery, Bailey. How do you not remember this?
Bailey: You were an intern, Grey. You weren’t even a person to me yet.
Bailey: Oh, Katie Bryce! When Derek had all of the interns chasing their tail for the answer?
Bailey: And he was chasing your tail?
Meredith [smiles]: Yes.
Daphne: I have a history paper due on Wednesday. I’m supposed to blow that off? Plus two jobs. I only fight cancer on the weekends.
Arizona: You helped me be slutty again.
Richard: Well, I’m not sure I’d phrase it like that.
Katie: I was such a bitch to you.
Meredith: That was a long time ago. You’re all grown up now.
Katie: Yeah. You are too.
Meredith: I don’t get lost around here anymore.
Must Download Tunes
Into The Fire by Thirteen Senses
A great tribute to longtime fans and one of my favorite episodes of the season.