Grey’s Anatomy “She’s Leaving Home” Review (Season 11 Episode 22)

On last night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy the Grey Sloan doctors grappled with the shocking loss of their beloved colleague and friend.

Like last week’s episode, I’m still not sure how I feel about last night’s two-hour farewell. I am, however, certain that either: (1) the episode should have been done in an hour or (2) the network should have just shown the two episodes in consecutive weeks. The episode was definitely a mixed bag for me, so I would have strongly preferred just spending an hour of my night on the show.

“She’s Leaving Home” was two hours of the reactions of Derek’s family versus the reactions of Derek’s friends and colleagues to his death. For Meredith and Amelia, it was about coping – or in some respects not coping – with the loss of a family member. For some of Derek’s colleagues and friends, his death magnified issues of mortality, loss and loneliness.

You know what we did not get a lot of? Outward acts of mourning or grieving. Had this been a typical hour-long episode, that would not bother me. However, when you show two episodes together, the very minimal time spent on Derek’s funeral or hearing Derek’s loved ones and colleagues reflect on his life is much more noticeable. To be fair, the writers definitely let viewers in on Meredith’s head space via flashbacks of her time with Derek, her childhood and through the voice of her mother.

Grey's Anatomy "She’s Leaving Home" Season 11 Episode 22 (3)

It was not a huge surprise to learn that Meredith was pregnant. The conversation she and Derek had about trying to conceive again stood out amidst all of the conspicuous foreshadowing to his death in previous episodes. Meredith facing her devastating loss and making a radically different choice from her mother was good development for the character. It was good to see her not choose to be alone in the end. That was a much more entertaining choice than simply having her spend nearly two hours crying or staring longingly at Derek’s side of the bed. I liked Alex’s determination to be Meredith’s “person” and Meredith finally welcoming her person back into her life when she gave birth to Ellis.

I am disappointed that Cristina was just referred to in passing. Alex is doing a great job at being Meredith’s person, but Derek’s death absolutely warranted Cristina getting her ass on a plane and being by Meredith’s side. I can appreciate the difficulty in getting an actor/actress to return after they’ve moved on and are no longer under contract, but it’s still disappointing nonetheless. With Derek dead, Meredith, Owen and April all out on soul searching endeavors, not having Addison Montgomery return as one of the doctors pitching in to help feels like another missed opportunity. More on that in a bit.

Grey's Anatomy Season 11 Episode 7 Can We Start Again Please? (3)

We finally got insight into Amelia’s grief when Owen implored her to not fall into the habit of using drugs not to feel her pain. Unsurprisingly, Caterina Scorsone and Kevin McKidd were really great in that scene. My heart sank when Amelia cried over all of the men in her life leaving her. Let’s hope that the writers will allow Owen to be the man that is not ripped away from her too soon. She and Meredith have really earned happiness – even if it is not the most dramatic or interesting thing to write on a show like Grey’s Anatomy. It’s been well earned and I’d like to see the payoff of their suffering and growth.

I still have a lot of unresolved questions about Derek’s death and what it means for Amelia. I was slightly peeved last week when the writers decided to have only Meredith present for Derek’s final moments. I know that Meredith and Derek will always be a symbol of the show’s legacy. I get that. I also understand that as Derek’s wife, Meredith probably knows better than anyone what his wishes would be if he was placed on life support. I get that too. And here comes the but . . .

The writers have also shown us Amelia’s importance to Derek. As a viewer, it matters to me that Amelia was the sibling the writers chose to make a permanent part of the show, that she was with him when their father was tragically murdered and that she has been someone he’s spent his life trying to protect. Granted, buying into this theory requires that Private Practice fans overlook Derek’s absence at some of Amelia’s lowest moments, but maybe that’s what makes the writers think it is okay to have not involved Amelia in Derek’s final moments. I think she could have been involved without compromising Meredith’s significance, but reasonable minds may differ. I could have let Amelia’s omission go last week, had the writers made different choices in this week’s episode with how Amelia learned about his death. I hate that Amelia learned along with everyone else. Actually, she learned after several other people and it was Owen who had to share the news – after she sees Stephanie crying. If that were my brother, I would be PISSED. But this is not real life, this is Grey’s Anatomy where characters make questionable choices for the sake of drama. Based on the previews for next week, it looks like Amelia has some pointed questions for her sister-in-law, which would explain the writers’ choices for her involvement in the storyline this week and last week.

It would be nice for the writers to give Amelia more of a support system. Owen is a pretty damn good source of support and Richard is always available for coffee or a meeting, but I would like to see Amelia gain a friend/ally with a deeper understanding of her as well as her history. As I’m sure many of you picked up on, Addison was one of the people Amelia mentioned was constantly checking on her to be sure she was okay. I would LOVE if this opened up an opportunity for Addison to return.

Thoughts From The Grey Sloan Memorial Surgical Observation Deck

– As I watched the episode, I kept waiting for that moment when I would finally connect with the characters’ grief and maybe even shed a tear or two. We were getting close to the end of the second hour and I was feeling more sleepy than sad – then Callie happened. I had completely forgotten about Derek’s role in the technology Callie and Owen were using with amputees. Callie’s tears and comments about Derek were what finally brought on the waterworks for me. The moment was sweet and Sara Ramirez nailed it. Of course, as soon as I thought the tears were done the Owen and Amelia scene came on. More tears. It was great to see Kevin Alejandro back. I really like his chemistry with Ramirez, but it does not look like the characters are meant to have a romantic connection – for now.

– I do not know what to make of April and Jackson. I am fine with the writers taking time to explore their grief and how they deal with it at a slower pace. I did get a little annoyed with April telling Jackson that she was supposed to celebrate Christmas with their child (or something to that effect), as though Jackson would not be experiencing the same sense of loss. It’s hard to gauge how unlike April the comment actually was because we really have not gotten a ton of insight into her feelings lately.

– It was nice to see Meredith break the cycle and not repeat her mother’s steps. However, I hope this marks the end of the parallels between the two. That well has run dry.

– Callie’s reflection on Derek’s life and contributions was probably the most satisfying of all the doctors. I also liked how Owen’s decision to reenlist to avoid his grief played out in his scene with Amelia. I did not, however, care for the choice the writers made with Bailey. I quite liked the dynamic between Bailey and Derek and I like that, in theory, the writers recognized that in having her being one of the doctors hit hardest by his death. I also thought focusing on her was a fitting recognition of her closeness to Meredith. As much as I like the writers’ intentions, I wasn’t a big fan of the execution. The whole debate between Bailey and Ben about what to do in the event of life support felt a bit predictable and just meh. I’d also like to think that Ben would know that his Valentine’s Day gift was a HORRIBLE idea.

– The Richard/Catherine subplot would have been better in another episode.

– The subplot with ladies in the burn unit was an unexpected, yet pleasant surprise. It was a much more natural extension of the episode’s theme of not choosing to be alone. The writers were clearly trying to do the same with Richard and Catherine, but I found the material with the women in the burn unit to be much more heartfelt.

– The more I see them interact, the more I love the dynamic between Maggie and Alex. I don’t think it’s necessarily romantic, but I do enjoy their banter more than I enjoy the Alex/Jo stuff. I hate man pain for Alex and love triangles way more, so I’m fine with Maggie and Alex being platonic and working on being Meredith’s “people.”

Grey’s Anatomy is definitely a different show without Patrick Dempsey, so the time jump made sense as a tool for leading viewers into a new, Derek-free world at Grey Sloan. I’m curious to discover if the time jump will be used to do more than allow the introduction of baby Ellis on the show this season.

– I loved Arizona’s cafeteria outburst. I needed it at that moment.

– If we must say goodbye to Derek, I think it’s also time for Grey’s Anatomy to say goodbye to Chasing Cars.

Until next week!

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