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'Grey's Anatomy' recap: 'With or Without You'

Derek returns to Seattle, and Owen receives some shocking news from his mother.

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Mitchell Haaseth/ABC

Grey's Anatomy

TV Show
run date:
Ellen Pompeo, Chandra Wilson, Justin Chambers, James Pickens Jr., Kevin McKidd, Jessica Capshaw
Current Status:
In Season

Grey’s Anatomy took its time answering the question on everyone’s mind—Did Derek cheat on Meredith?—tonight. We didn’t get a definitive answer under the last few minutes of the episode. Despite how long it took to get there, I’m fairly content with how it all landed, especially because it was an excuse to think about what Cristina said to Meredith before leaving last year. As Meredith’s opening monologue explains, tonight’s episode was all about our characters remembering that just because they have gone so long without something doesn’t mean they no longer need it. This thematic throughline ran all the way from MerDer’s situation to Stephanie, who, along with Wilson, was stuck in comedic relief land tonight. 

Let’s talk about why a woman answered Derek’s phone because that’s what Derek and Meredith are discussing when the episode opens. According to Derek, his research fellow Renee (NCIS‘ Scottie Thompson), who he insists is just his research fellow, answered his phone because he left it in the lab and was already at the airport. He realized he left his phone when he got to the airport, so he called it and found out about Renee’s chat with Meredith. Derek tries to convince Meredith that he came home to work on “them,” but she’s not buying it and is allowed to avoid having her worst fears realized when she’s called in to consult on a case. 

This week, Karev turns to Meredith for a second opinion regarding his patient Danny, Grey-Sloane’s resident 17-year-old hockey fanatic who is awaiting a liver transplant, quickly deteriorating, and whose tests reveal that he’s at risk of another infection. Karev wants to play it safe and just drain the infection, like they’ve been doing; however Meredith, who—lest we forget—is on a streak, suggests surgery to prevent the infection from reoccurring. It’s a risky surgery and neither Karev nor Danny’s sister, Kathy, wants to risk it. So now begins the butting of Meredith and Karev’s heads. 

No matter how much Karev protests, Meredith is resolute on her opinion. We know, and Karev knows, that this isn’t about the patient—it’s about Derek, but Meredith insists that it isn’t. Unfortunately, fate forces their hand when Danny’s condition starts to deteriorate and he insists, against his sister’s wishes, that Meredith proceed with the surgery. Kathy struggles with the decision because she’s taken care of Danny for most of her adult life and can’t imagine living without him; she’s in an opposite position from Meredith, who has imagined and has lived a life without Derek. 

Meredith and Karev’s bickering follows them into the surgery; however, Danny gets in even worse while open on the table. They are unable to save him… and thus ends Meredith’s streak. 

If there’s an upside to any of this, it’s that Karev is really getting the hang of being Meredith’s person. His first instinct after Meredith runs outside is to hug her, even though she rejects it because she blames him constantly second guessing her opinion for Danny’s death. Being the person she needs, Karev tells Meredith that she can be mad at him all she wants, even though she’s really mad at Derek—but he points out that she wasn’t a mess in surgery and Danny’s death is not her fault. This time, she accepts his hug. Guys, I really like Meredith and Karev’s friendship. 

NEXT: Age ain’t nothing but a number