'Grey's Anatomy' recap: 'With or Without You'
Derek returns to Seattle, and Owen receives some shocking news from his mother.
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
Meanwhile, Owen is dealing with a personal crisis of his own when his mother (Everwood‘s Debra Mooney) is brought into the hospital after falling in the shower. To his surprise, she’s accompanied by a strapping young fireman named John, who he thinks was just helping out a stranger. Nope, that’s not the case—this is Mama Hunt’s boyfriend. They met in a writing class, got to talking, went out for coffee, and then a few dates that Mama Hunt didn’t realize were dates later, John kissed her.
Owen doesn’t take the news well and immediately assumes John is trying to take advantage of her because he’s 35 and she’s… much older. In a heartbreaking moment when Owen pays her a visit later on, his mother tries to explain how they fell for each other, but Owen doesn’t want to hear it and starts a sentence with “There’s no way a man like that could…” That’s all she needs to hear and she kicks her son out. Owen’s so worried about John hurting her that he doesn’t realize what he’s doing. He’s gone so long without someone to care for that he’s forgotten not only how much he needs that, but also how much other people—like his mother—do. However, her son’s words stay with her and she breaks up with John.
Mama Hunt is rushed into surgery after an abdominal aneurysm ruptures. While Weber and Pierce work to save her life, Owen has a moment with John, who, despite being dumped, is adamant about not leaving until he knows that the woman he loves is all right. No surprise here: Owen realizes John isn’t such a bad guy and pushes the two lovebirds back together once his mother survives surgery. His next order of business is to fix things with Amelia, who he yelled at earlier for suggesting that John might not be such a bad guy. Their conversation starts outside the hospital and ends in Hunt’s trailer.
Throughout tonight’s episode, we were shown flying cheerleader-less flashbacks to Derek’s time in D.C., which were meant to give us insight into the nature of his relationship with his research fellow. The two met when he first arrived at N.I.H. because Derek took an immediate interest in her research to find a cure for autism. Over the course of the next seven weeks, the two continue talking about medicine and start to develop a bond. At one point, Renee is close to giving up because she isn’t making any headway; however, Derek being his most McDreamy tells her that she’s so close to a breakthrough. On the day of the infamous call, Derek and Renee started to see some exciting results. Renee was so excited that she could kiss Derek—so, she does. But, Derek quickly ends it because he realizes he wants nothing more than his wife. He speeds out of the lab and to the airport, leaving his phone.
Back in the present, Meredith returns home and Derek calls Post-it to explain himself. He confesses that he thought everything was D.C., but he was wrong. Meredith is everything. To put it in Cristina Yang terms, Derek declared Meredith was his sun and that he couldn’t live without her. Speaking very frankly, Meredith says she learned that she could live without him—but she doesn’t want to. For now it seems there’s enough room in this solar system for two suns.
- Over in comedic relief land: Wilson gets handed a patient who has suffered from a headache since returning from China a month ago. The weird and kind of icky source of the patient’s headache: the leech taking up residence inside her nasal cavity. After Wilson and April remove it, Wilson asks if she can keep the leech.
- Deeper into comedic relief land: Edwards spent so much time working on Amelia’s tumor that she’s behind in her hours for other specialties. She tries bribing Ben with $50 to get onto Avery’s surgery, but he doesn’t budge. Bailey finds out about the bribe and takes her to task for offering up so little. This surgery was at least worth $175.
- We didn’t get enough Bailey or Callie this week.
- Is anyone looking forward to more bickering between the Shepherd siblings?