300 episodes. Wow.
I’ve grown up with Grey’s Anatomy. I’ve been watching this affecting and lovable show since October 2006. In fact, I vividly remember binge-watching and catching up with the middle half of season three a month after my father passed away. Since then, I’ve experienced so.much.life alongside Grey’s: my univeristy graduation, my mother’s cancer diagnosis, moving to New York for a year, returning to Lebanon for a year of miserable unemployment, starting my first job, my mother’s passing, becoming a freelancer after five years of corporate life, and this past year of pure existential crisis. It’s been a whirlwind journey as I approach turning 30 next year, and Grey’s has been there every step of the way. That’s the beauty of television; you grow alongside the characters, and you hurt with them and you love with them every step of the way
So what about the show’s much-hyped 300th episode? Well, it’s definitely a tearjerker. Is it one of the show’s finest hours? Not really, but it doesn’t try to be. It’s a simple and nostalgic hour that’s peppered with enough nods and callbacks that add gravitas to the journey, while still managing to be a pretty straightforward episode. Part of me does wish it was more of a gamechanger, but after 14 seasons, I’ve learned to never underestimate this show, because it could very well blow my socks off next week.
The best thing about this episode is the fact that it pays tribute to Meredith Grey. Across 14 seasons, we’ve watched Ellen Pompeo play the show’s lead with the utmost grace and heart, and it’s fitting that Meredith’s afforded so much acclaim as she wins the iconic Harper Avery award. Naturally Meredith chooses to miss the award show to save a life, but the sequence with everyone gathering to celebrate our esteemed surgeon is a rousing success. Although I kind of wish that uplifting speech (read it in its entirety below) was delivered by someone closer to Meredith, the message behind it is immensely powerful: Meredith is indeed a woman who endured so much and came out stronger for it. As stated above, I’m no stranger to a whole lot of loss myself, so I find this sentiment extremely empowering and poignant. The cherry on top is Meredith looking closely and seeing her mother in the audience clapping for her. For a woman who has ached for her mother’s approval for so long, it’s extremely satisfying and triumphant
Now let’s discuss callbacks. Naturally, the hour reuses a number of iconic songs from the show’s run (although I was sure they would utilize How To Save a Life in some way). But the highlight is undoubtedly the cover version of Ingrid Michaelson’s Keep Breathing– one of my favorite discoveries ever from the show. It must be noted that my musical taste over the past decade has been greatly influenced by my Grey’s Anatomy viewing experience, so I owe the show so much in this regard. But in addition to the music, the show’s 300th episode namedrops almost everyone who’s ever had an impact on the show. Moreover, the episode introduces “baby” versions of Izzie, George and Cristina. While I don’t love this idea, they nailed Cristina (in the form of Cleo). The mannerisms, the dialogue, the impeccable performance by Jackie Chung – it was all on point.
Bits & Scalpels
– How awkward was Amelia walking in on Owen and Carina naked? She even steals their french toast.
– Love the use of the show’s original theme song “Cosy in the Rocket” with that shortened version of the title sequence. I honestly got teary eyed when it started playing as the gang spotted the lookalikes. So much nostalgia.
– The guy trapped in the rollercoaster was a nod to all those patients trapped in cars and Gods-know-what right? Also, there’s a rollercoaster in the Shondaland logo.
– Alex carries Lizzie just like he carried Izzie after Denny died. I didn’t really notice the parallels until some ardent fans pointed it out online. Could it be a coincidence?
– Zola asking Maggie about her mom was heartbreaking, but her announcing she’s going to be a brain surgeon like her dad was beautiful.
– DeLuca and Sam’s shenanigans felt really misplaced in this episode. Bailey and Ben were a bit better. Here’s hoping that firefighter spinoff works!
– The final song in this episode – “Portions For Foxes” by Rilo Kiley – is the first song ever used on the show. Nice full circle continuity there.
– Bailey crying over George was really moving. God I love Chandra Wilson.
– Amelia mentions Derek! I kind of wish Meredith spoke about him a bit more.
– Why couldnt’ Teddy stick around for this episode? I loved Kim Raver on the show.
– Arizona imitating Sloan was spot on wasn’t it?
– I’m impressed by how mature Jo was when Alex talked about Izzie and the life he imagines for her. He sounds pretty in love with her still no?
– A Callie and Sloan picture! Woohoo!
– Hilarious moment: Owen not seeing the similarities between Cristina and Cleo. And then Mer name-drops Burke. Ha! Another lifetime huh?
– I really missed the old tunnel spot where all our interns used to gather. That’s why I loved the final scene with Meredith and Alex shooing the new interns away, and getting that call from Cristina as they popped champagne. But really Sandra Oh you couldn’t drop in or at least lend your voice?
Alex: Please don’t say that word!
Cleo: Look at them. The way they’re looking at you. That’s the “You’re gonna die” face.
Greg: Shut up, Cleo. That really isn’t helpful.
Cleo: We know that face. We use that face. It’s perfectly composed, gives nothing away. You should call your mom, let her hear your voice one last time.
Cleo: Oh, my God, Greg! You have surgical royalty tractioning your head right now.
Cleo: Bottom third of his class. Whatever. Ignore him. You’re gods to me.
Chief: I really hope there’s not a third one in there.
Ben: I’m saying that while I’m young enough, I want to try this because I don’t want to live with a ghost, – and neither do you.
Bailey: A ghost?
Ben: Yeah, the ghost of who I might have been if I’d been brave enough to try.
Jackson: Now, Dr. Grey has experienced more loss in her life than I think most of us would deem fair. She lost her little sister, Lexie Grey, who I know would love to be here tonight with us. She lost her husband, Dr. Derek Shepherd, who knew with total certainty that this night would happen. And she also lost her mother, Dr. Ellis Grey, who won this award twice once as a resident and probably would have won a few more if she hadn’t been taken from all of us so young. The most amazing thing about Meredith, though, is that she takes all that pain, all that loss, and she turns it into drive – drive to save lives, to make things better, and despite all that she’s lost, she continued to find joy in her work as a surgeon, as a teacher, as a mother. And she managed to share that joy through her spirit of discovery and of possibility and of hope right in the face of darkness. I am profoundly grateful for the lessons that I have learned from Meredith Grey, and it is my distinct honor to accept this award on her behalf.
Keep Breathing by Congratulationz
It’s not a mindblowing episode, but it’s a fitting tribute to a cornerstone of my TV viewing experience. Who knows how much longer Grey’s will go on, but I can tell you one thing for certain: I’ll be there right until the very end.