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. .)
DeLuca picks up on her darling cues (“What’s your favorite color? Who’s your favorite band?”) and opts out of the surgery so she feels more comfortable going in. Meredith finds DeLuca’s sacrifice adorable and an electric moment is exchanged between the two. I’m not sure how I feel about this potential pairing.
I’m also not sure how I feel about a Meredith/Link pairing. What I do know is that he is really good with kids and that in and of itself makes my heart melt. When JJ comes in with a broken arm and we later find out that he has a tumor, Link handles the mom’s breakdown beautifully. He reminds her that they caught it early and they can form a plan. We also learn that Link had the same cancer when he was a kid. Look at him now!
Sweet JJ grieves the fact that he’s going to lose his hair and Link even eases that tension. He does so by cutting his own hair. His own long, limp, terrible hair. PRAISE HANDS!
When Link sidles up next to Meredith to wait for the elevator, she notices his choppy new hairdo. They share a laugh. He takes her phone from her hands and types in his phone number. You know, for emergencies.
But Meredith is distracted. Weber broke the news that her dad has leukemia and only has a few weeks to live. She tried earlier to talk to Maggie and Avery about it, but comparing her almost dead dad to her dead-beat-dad is tricky. How is she supposed to grieve a man she barely knew? Does a five-minute conversation outweigh a lifetime of nothing?
When DeLuca walks up to join Link and Meredith at the elevator, things get awkward. Not as awkward as Meredith’s botched date with an English professor earlier in the day, but still bad. The elevator doors open and both men invite Meredith in by holding the doors for her. She chooses to take the stairs. Because nothing good can happen in a hospital elevator.
Just ask Schmidt. He is alone in an elevator with Dr. Kim who throws all caution to the wind and abruptly kisses a surprised Schmidt. Schmidt babbles on about how Kim is a good teacher. Kim thinks he means in ortho. Schmidt means future endeavors. Since this was his first kiss with a man, he’s eager for Kim to teach him the ropes. Kim gives a hard pass and leaves Schmidt alone to grieve what just happened.
There’s that heaviness again. It weighs on everyone. As I suspected, Bailey is grieving her troubled marriage. Maggie is sad about her mom. Amelia is tortured over Betty’s whereabouts and Weber is confessing his inadequacies to Ollie’s headstone.
But it’s Meredith who properly celebrates the Day of the Dead. We see her walk the halls of Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital and suddenly, George appears calling her name. GEORGE! Lexie is behind a desk, smiling. Meredith’s mom looks on approvingly as Doc the Dog rambles around the corner.
And then there’s Derek. Dr. McDreamy himself, standing there looking dapper as always. He’s joined by Mark Sloan. Bring on the waterworks. Meredith has lost so much! How will she grieve with this fresh flood of memories?
Easy. She’ll remember the good times, head to Alex’s house, drink a beer, and properly cut the hair of a certain ortho doctor who thinks she’s cute.
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