Grey's Anatomy recap: 'Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story'
In a poignant 300th episode, ghosts from Meredith's past show up to remind her how far she's come
The Vancouver-bound train crash from season 2 that yielded two strangers being shish-kebabed by a pole, the ferry disaster of the third season, and last year’s building collapse have been just some of the remarkable catastrophes that have made Grey’s Anatomy the worst tourism ad for Seattle but damn good television. Tonight’s 300th episode offers up yet another calamitous event to add to the Grey’s pantheon: a roller coaster car that derails at a local fair.
Before that emergency pulls in, though, the episode opens with an Easter egg (one of many): Meredith on a ferry, looking out on the water as her voice-over says, “Surgeons are scientists, trained to believe in that which we can see and touch. But that training doesn’t always take.” When she goes to another level, Karev is waiting for her on a bench. “Was he happy for you?” he asks. “No, he was jealous,” she answers with just a hint of a smile — the presumption being that Meredith was bucking her scientist training by speaking to Derek in one of his favorite places, telling him about her Harper Avery nomination.
Amelia, meanwhile, forgets something and walks into Owen’s house, catching both Owen and Carina off guard as they’re enjoying two French things: toast and kissing. Both Owen and Amelia awkwardly dance around the fact that this isn’t really as awkward as it should be considering they only recently divorced.
As for Bailey and Ben, they are actually having marital problems: Ben’s secret about getting into the fire training academy is out, and Bailey is mad enough to take public transportation just to avoid being in the same car as him.
At Arizona’s house, Arizona has painted several squares of different shades of green on Sofia’s old bedroom wall. There’s also a single blue square. For those who may remember: During their custody battle, when Callie’s new girlfriend Penny was being grilled on the stand about Sofia’s likes and dislikes, her favorite color back then was blue. The camera pans over to Sofia’s crib, long covered in plastic, and Sofia’s name in baby décor on the wall. It’s been too long since her baby’s been home.
Back at Grey Sloan Memorial, we’re greeted by a familiar site: the new interns on the stretchers in the tunnel where we first met Meredith and Co. when they were interns. The newbies are doing the same thing the old interns did: complaining about how tired they are.
Meredith and Karev are walking through the halls as Karev tries to convince Meredith to leave already and get on the Avery private jet bound for the Harper Avery Award ceremony in Boston. He tells the understandably plane-wary Meredith to think of the plane ride as a roller coaster. Before she can reply, the interns come stampeding by, shouting that there’s an incoming trauma.
The first ambulance in holds Dean, the guy who threw himself between some children and the errant roller coaster car. The next emergency vehicle holds the actual roller coaster car with the two riders still in it. The big surprise, though? The unlucky pair eerily resemble George O’Malley and Cristina Yang. They’re even bickering like they did, too, and their names are Greg and Cleo. Things get even stranger when their friend Liza, who is very pregnant (and thankfully wasn’t on the coaster), arrives. She is a ringer for Izzie and even says “seriously,” like, a lot. The similarities make the name of the coaster — the Mirage — seem especially apropos.
Meredith throws on a gown after chiding Alex for his joke earlier: “And you said, ‘Think of it as a roller coaster ride.’” Jackson sees Meredith gowning and is confused since she has to be on his jet, heading to Boston. Maggie, Zola, and Catherine arrive dressed to the nines, ready to get going, but Meredith is now determined to stay, especially after finding out that the ghostly trio are all interns at Seattle Presbyterian.
Bailey and Webber suit up to help out with the trauma, also completely floored by the resemblance to George and Cristina. Ben wants in on the action, too, but since Bailey is still angry, she puts him on literal clown-stitching duty.
Amelia insists that Dean needs a head CT. His circumstances absolutely remind her of Derek, but Owen says they need to deal with Dean’s life-threatening injuries first.
Pregnant Not Izzie/Liza is frantically impatient in the waiting area, insisting she’s fine, as Alex can’t stop staring at her. He tells Jo that Liza is Izzie, and creepily, Jo responds, “Seriously?” Without warning, Not Izzie faints, but Alex catches her, immediately scoops her into his arms, and carries her to a stretcher, similar to when Alex carried the real Izzie after Denny’s death in season 2.
Meredith, Bailey, Webber, and April are still tending to Greg and Cleo when Greg stops breathing. Webber quickly assesses that it’s his neck that’s the issue, which results in Meredith having to physically keep Greg’s head in traction. Because everyone keeps staring at Greg and Cleo, they finally explain to the pair that they look like their old friends. Unsurprisingly, this perturbs Cleo, whose angry outbursts sound so much like Cristina that I get goose bumps. Eventually, though, she realizes they’re being helped by the Meredith Grey and Jackson Avery, and similar to how Meredith’s fellow interns referenced Ellis Grey in the early days, Cleo calls Meredith and Jackson “surgical royalty.”
Webber devises a plan to get the pair out of the car, which is successful; however, complications arise when they realize Cleo has a puncture wound that starts bleeding profusely. As Meredith is rushing Cleo to an OR, Cleo tells her she no longer has an issue with Meredith thinking of her as her friend. “Pretend I’m your friend. Save me like I’m your friend,” Not Cristina pleads with Meredith. Guess who’s not going to Boston after that? (Recap continues on page 2)
Ben is stitching Bozo when Bello, one of the interns (and DeLuca’s ex), asks him where central supply is. Ben makes DeLuca show her, which of course magically becomes the perfect opportunity for them to have sex instead. Who knew surgical supplies could be so sexy?
Amelia is heated when she finds out from an intern that Owen is operating on Dean without having done a head CT. She bursts in on his surgery with a head CT machine and even puts the radiation apron on Owen as he’s operating so she can get it done. Feeling usurped, Owen mistakenly believes Amelia’s actions are about the “French toast” that morning. She insists that the French toast was excellent, and besides, it turns out her hunch was right: Poor Dean’s brain is bleeding. Luckily for him, Amelia saves him while also managing to rub it in Owen’s face. She’s such a Shepherd.
Greg needs a spinal fusion, and Webber and Bailey are operating on him when Webber calls him “O’Malley.” He tells Bailey that it’ll be good to be able to save this O’Malley.
It turns out Not Izzie’s baby has a tumor and she is experiencing Mirror Syndrome, where everything her fetus is going through, she also feels. Because Greg is her birthing partner and is obviously otherwise indisposed, she asks Karev to stay with her. Arizona rushes her into an OR, where, in an effort to distract her from the dangerous procedure she’s doing, she tells her about how Sofia is coming to live with her and how nervous she is. She goes into how much she misses Mark, even though she resented his perpetual ease. Your kid’s coming here. You’re freaking out about paint colors. You’re gonna take her for ice cream and it’s gonna be the best thing ever is what she imagines Mark would tell her in this moment.
After her baby is successfully delivered, Jo tells Karev to call Izzie. He tells her he doesn’t need to, that he knows she’s happy and married with kids, that her house smells like muffins, and that he just wants to picture her this way. He wants to picture Izzie as happy as he is with Jo. Cue the first tears of the episode…
As Greg is being wheeled out after his surgery, Bailey finally confronts Ben. She’s upset that he’s gone from wanting to be an anesthesiologist to a surgeon and now he wants to be a firefighter. Continuing with the theme of tonight’s landmark episode, he tells her that he doesn’t want to live with a ghost — who he might have been if he had been brave enough to try.
As Meredith and April successfully finish Cleo’s surgery, Webber and Bailey come into the OR. The rest of the staff and Zola file into the gallery above as they turn on a monitor. Turns out the Harper Avery Awards are happening in that moment. They watch as Catherine announces that Meredith has won and Avery delivers an acceptance speech that references each profound loss Meredith has experienced, but then explains that she’s turned her loss into drive. As the camera shows Bailey crying and Zola looking down proudly at her mom, it’s then that we see Ellis standing behind Zola, smiling down at her daughter.
The tears continue to flow in the next scene, when Arizona walks into her house with an apprehensive Sofia, who tells her that she misses her Mama. “I do, too,” Arizona assures her before telling her she has ice cream and she’s going to let her pick out her own room color. And by the time we are treated to a photo on the wall of Arizona, Callie, Mark, and Sofia as an infant, I’m weeping.
Owen and Meredith are standing outside Cleo’s room. “Really, you don’t see the similarity?” Meredith asks, incredulous, before offering to text Burke a picture to see what he thinks. Owen tells her there’s only Cristina, and we know he isn’t wrong.
Back in the tunnel where it all started, Meredith and Karev kick the interns off their stretchers. Alex pops a bottle of champagne as Cristina calls to ask Meredith if she feels different. “Damn straight she does,” Alex answers.
Meredith’s voiceover closes out No. 300: “History and memory and the ghosts of our past are sometimes just as tangible as anything we hold in our hands.”
Damn straight they are.