Grey’s Anatomy “One Flight Down” Review (Season 11 Episode 20)

The Grey’s Anatomy doctors are no strangers to handling medical emergencies stemming from any variety of natural disaster or traumatic event you could imagine. The characters have also repeatedly found themselves at the center of a traumatic, life threatening or life altering event. I often kid about the seemingly endless number of traumas that the Grey’s Anatomy characters have endured, so I got a kick out of hearing Bailey give a run down of the traumatic experiences that Meredith alone has suffered:

– plane crash;
– drowning;
– giving birth to a baby during a power outage; and
– dealing with Derek’s shooting.

Incredibly, I do not think that is an exhaustive list. Although Bailey mentioned Derek, there have been a pretty large number of trauma by association experiences as well. I will never forget the horror that came over me when the doctors realized that they were operating on George, who was rendered unrecognizable after being hit by a bus.

The number of traumatic experiences the Grey Sloan doctors have gone through during 11 seasons of the show has gotten so large that it has long surpassed reality and in many ways, is just laughable. Granted, Grey’s Anatomy is a very soap opera-like nighttime drama and I can forgive the writers for wanting to put the characters through the wringer. To the their credit, I have not reached the point where I feel jaded or emotionally unattached when Meredith goes through her 568th traumatic experience of the series.

My biggest pet peeve with this trope is the follow-up, or lack thereof, the writers sometimes give to the consequences of the traumatic experiences. This is actually a pet peeve I have with all of the Shondaland shows. Sometimes, we see the characters realistically struggle with healing and getting back to their normal lives after the trauma. Other times, the after effects of the trauma are completely bypassed, very likely due to constraints on time and pacing of other storylines.

That aside, the traumatic plane crash that Meredith, Cristina and Arizona survived has been pretty well-handled by the writers. Although I grew weary of Arizona’s anger towards Callie because of the amputation, I appreciated that the writers did not just zoom through the physical and mental healing that one would expect a plane crash survivor to go through. That storyline was revisited last night, as Arizona learned that Alex was the one who actually performed the amputation at Callie’s direction. I’m sure that there will be further ramifications of this revelation as the season progresses.

Most of the episode focused on Meredith’s PTSD and her increased anxiety due to her inability to get in touch with Derek after learning he did not show up for his meeting in Washington, D.C. I wish that we could have gotten a bit more into Meredith’s headspace. Without more insight, I got the impression that Derek being unaccounted for and the arrival of the plane crash victims caused Meredith to worry about something horrible happening to Derek. I know that Derek and Meredith were in a really good place in their relationship, but I would like to have known if she had even the slightest fear that Derek’s disappearance could have been connected to the mystery woman. The last conversation between the couple should have completely eliminated this fear, but I would not fault her for considering it as she went through all of the worst case scenarios.


It would not be Grey’s Anatomy if we did not have to watch two doctors in a romantic relationship act unprofessionally or inappropriately at the hospital – typically in front of at least one colleague. This week, is was Amelia and Owen’s turn at bat. You know what’s more annoying than watching a couple bicker over a patient because of a relationship-related problem? Involving Stephanie in the storyline. Blech.

I understand that growing pains should be expected on Grey’s Anatomy when a new couple is trying to find their way. This is not necessarily my favorite part of the show, but I can tolerate it more when the disputes/drama feel true to the characters. Amelia being upset that Owen reluctantly accepted her breaking up with him was just weird and did not feel true to the character.

That aside, Owen opening up about his guilt about being responsible for signing off on the plane that crashed was my favorite aspect of revisiting the fatal events from a few seasons ago. Kevin McKidd was so great in that scene.

Thoughts From The Grey Sloan Memorial Surgical Observation Deck

– I have mixed feelings about revisiting the plane crash trauma for dramatic purposes. As I mentioned before, I loved that the writers explored Owen’s guilt about the crash. However, it was hard to really settle into the writers exploration of the PTSD experienced by the various characters involved in the crash because of the less than subtle foreshadowing about whatever is happening with Derek. I’m interested to see what will happen in next week’s episode and if this heavy, ominous feeling throughout the episode was just the Grey’s Anatomy writers toying with our emotions.

– I had completely forgotten that during the midst of all of this sisterly bonding, Maggie knew nothing about Lexie. Watching Meredith and Maggie learn more about each other is absolutely one of my favorite things about this season. I was much less interested in Stephanie and Jo learning about the crash and their reactions to it. I would have strongly preferred focusing on Maggie’s reaction alone.

– Bailey might just be the Grey sisters whisperer. And yes, I know that Maggie’s last name is Pierce, but I needed a pithy way of describing Bailey’s ability to talk the sisters through their anxiety, so Grey sisters it is. It bears repeating, I really wish the writers would give Chandra Wilson and James Pickens more to do. They are far too talented for weekly pep talks and antidotes.

– Line of the night – Kate yelling to Stephanie, “You’re not helping!”
Kate’s words were true on so many levels. Stephanie proclaiming that Kate regaining her memory was somehow all about her was just . . . ugh.

Until next week!

Overall, “One Flight Down” was a solid episode – not my favorite, but pretty entertaining. Owen and Meredith dealing with their respective guilt and PTSD, along with Maggie learning about the crash and Lexie, were the strongest parts of the episode. Stephanie and Jo continue to feel shoehorned in less than compelling ways, which is extremely frustrating because I would rather see that air time used for Bailey and Webber. I may revisit this episode after next week’s episode airs, so that I can make a final call on the ominous feeling that weighed heavily over “One Flight Down.” I suspect that this is not going to be a repeat of the happy ending we got when Derek returned home recommitted to his marriage and family.

What did you think of this week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy? Sound off below!