This time of year, average writers of sitcoms and dramas dive deep into Halloween storylines. Characters dressed in classic or pop culture-themed costumes run around sets decked out in spider webs and pumpkins. Grey’s Anatomy is not your average show. That’s why their “Halloween episode” celebrated Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.
It feels like an oxymoron, right? Surgeons shouldn’t celebrate death. They should avoid death. What kind of symbolism is Shonda playing around with in this instance?
It’s not about celebrating death. It’s about celebrating the dead. The holiday is all about coming together to remember the ones who have passed away. And for our Grey’s Anatomy cast, that list is pretty long.
With death comes grieving and in this episode, everyone approaches the act in a different way. Take Teddy, for example. She’s been hanging around Seattle for a month now, summoning all the courage she can find to finally tell Owen that she is pregnant with his child. When she gets to his house and opens her mouth to confess, chaos ensues. Not because she tells the truth, but because Betty is missing and Amelia is freaking out. Visions of what Amelia did when she was an addict flood her memories and she snaps.
Of course, Teddy offers to help look for her, but to no avail. Teddy even volunteers to stay at the house to wait for her and when Owen comes back with a sleeping baby in his arms, it’s as if there’s a huge green neon sign above his head that reads, “TELL HIM.” But she doesn’t. Owen drones on about how all he’s ever wanted to be is a dad and now he has that with Leo. And Betty. He’s a dysfunctional family with Amelia and it works. Teddy leaves with tears in her eyes, grieving the father her own child will never have.
Her grieving is internal and silent. Others grieve openly and loudly. Take Roberta, for instance. She’s been on the waiting list for a liver for years and even though Bailey and Jo have promised her one, she insists on planning her funeral, demanding that her friend Denise throw herself on her casket when she finally dies. Roberta doesn’t trust UNOS to come through with the liver, so she instructs her friend to start crying now. It’s healthier.
Sadly, UNOS does call with a “just kidding” message, but as luck would have it, the organ donor down the hall died seven minutes ago and Bailey knows how to rejuvenate livers. Of course she does!
She harvests the liver, hooks it up to a machine, gets the okay from UNOS to give the liver to Roberta, and stands shocked as Chief Karev says, “Shut it down.” He’s afraid that if it doesn’t work, UNOS will be mad.
Does Roberta have to grieve her liver? Not a chance. Bailey does not shut the machine down, the liver is alive, and Jo preps Roberta for surgery. And it works. Karev is mad at his wife for blatantly disobeying his orders, but he is equally turned on that she is a medical genius. They are so cute together!
Speaking of cute, little Flora has a gallbladder situation and her entire family has come in to support her surgery, as well as celebrate the Day of the Dead. Marigolds, family photos, favorite foods, and frivolity fills the room. Everyone is in a happy mood, excluding Flora. She’s grieving not because she’s about to go under the knife, but because DeLuca will be doing the cutting and she’s majorly crushing on the hot doctor.
I totally get it. (Recap continued on next page.)