Grey’s Anatomy Season 11 Final: The Carousel Never Stops Turning*.

grey's anatomy season 11 final scene

Grey’s Anatomy fans upset over the sudden death of Derek Shepherd attempted to influence the show’s storyline by creating a petition to “Bring McDreamy Back!”, currently at over 100,000 signatures.

But I, for one, am excited to see where this hasty writing out of actor Patrick Dempsey will take Meredith Grey and the rest of the doctors at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about all the affecting, tragic deaths Grey’s Anatomy viewers have been subjected to over the years and they’ve all served as moments of growth for the characters: Izzie built a clinic for patients without insurance with the money Denny left her; Teddy’s husband’s death served as the catalyst to disrupt her friendship with Owen and to eventually leave the hospital; Lexie and Mark’s deaths influenced the change in hospital name and administration; and Dr. Thomas dying whilst operating with Cristina led her to return to Seattle.

In the episodes following Derek’s death, I was hoping for more of an exploration of the grief Meredith et al. were experiencing. Instead, about nine months of Meredith and her children’s lives flew by in one ninety minute episode as she found out she was pregnant with another child for her and Derek and fled Seattle as her mother did so many years ago.

But we’ve seen the “dark and twisty” Meredith, dwelling on her distant and sick mother, her father’s abandonment, Lexie’s death, George’s death, and now Derek’s death, so maybe, with the birth of Derek’s posthumous child, Meredith will come out the other side with a lighter perspective on life. The final scene of last night’s episode, with her taking sisters Maggie and Amelia’s hands and leading them to “dance it out” at Richard and Catherine’s wedding, would seem to indicate this.

This is not to say that grief won’t resurface as a theme of season twelve, which the show has been renewed for.

There might be hope for that yet as showrunner Shonda Rhimes said that “Meredith and the entire Grey’s Anatomy family are about to enter uncharted territory as we head into this new chapter of her life. The possibilities for what may come are endless. As Ellis Grey would say: The carousel never stops turning.”

Grey’s Anatomy has long ceased to be about the love affair between Meredith and Derek, anyway; hell, Derek was barely in this season as he took a job in Washington D.C. For the last two seasons, at least, the show has focussed on Meredith, her work and her friendships. In the aftermath of season eight’s plane crash, we saw Cristina flee for Minnesota while Meredith was left to cope with the death of her sister and an impending pregnancy. Cristina may be gone now, but the bonds between Alex and Meredith have strengthened, being the only two of their intern class to last in Seattle. The introduction of long lost sister Maggie and the return of Amelia means Meredith has other women to turn to, however begrudgingly.

But, if season twelve is the show’s last, it might make sense that Meredith’s pregnancy and disappearance were rushed. Despite Grey’s Anatomy being known as a show that rips beloved characters from Grey Sloan when we least expect it, perhaps it would like to go out with a celebration of the lives of the doctors still lucky enough to be practicing there. And the lives they’ve saved.

*Spoiler alert.

Related: Top 10 Grey’s Anatomy Deaths.

Leaning In to Grey’s Anatomy.

Elsewhere: [Junkee] 60,000 Seriously Pissed Off Grey’s Anatomy Fans Are Petitioning to Bring Back a Dead Character.

[Change.org] Bring Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd BACK!!!

Image via Buzzfeed.

TV: Top 10 Grey’s Anatomy Deaths*.

If Grey’s Anatomy knows how to do one thing (apart from stay on the air for eleven seasons despite most people being ignorant to its longevity) it’s a tragic death.

In case you didn’t catch last night’s high-stakes episode or were exposed to whisperings of spoilers on social media, Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd, the titular Meredith Grey’s One True Love and Grey Sloane Memorial Hospital’s resident neurosurgeon, departed the earthly realm with a combination of car wreck injuries and shoddy doctoring.

For those who have followed the show for the past decade or just tuned in to see what all the fuss was about, allow me to regale you with Grey’s Anatomy’s top ten death scenes.

Denny Duquette.

When people think of Grey’s Anatomy, they think of its season one-through-three heyday. Smack bang in the middle of that was dreamy heart transplant patient Denny Duquette (played by the equally-as-dreamy Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Izzie going AWOL by cutting Denny’s LVAD wire to move him further up the transplant list. That was all for nothing, though, as Denny later suffered a fatal stroke post-transplant and died. But not before proposing to Izzie.

George O’Malley.

Season five was when Grey’s started to kill its main cast off left, right and centre. It began with the death of original intern George O’Malley, who got hit by a bus by jumping in front of it to save an unknown woman on his way to join the army. Quelle tragédie. To add to the drama, George was brought into the hospital he used to work at as a John Doe patient, his extensive injuries from the accident rendering him unrecognisable. It was Meredith who made the ID, though, when George traced his nickname, 007—license to kill, after he almost did just that to his first patient—into her hand.

Reed Adamson & Charles Percy.

Grey’s didn’t wait long to thrust their next tragedy on its audience: season six’s cliffhanger saw a gunman loose in the hospital, intent on seeking out and killing McDreamy! He managed to hit his target, but not before taking out Mercy West Hospital transfers Reed Adamson and Charles Percy. Just to tug at those heartstrings even further, as Percy lay dying in Dr. Miranda Bailey’s (and Mandy Moore’s!) arms, he asked her to tell Reed that he loved her. Excuse me, there’s something in my eye.

Henry.

Having watched Scott Foley more recently on Scandal, it’s hard to believe Dr. Teddy Altman’s husband died all the way back in season eight. His love for Teddy started when he was her patient and she was involved with another man. Thought they only married so Henry could receive Teddy’s health insurance, Teddy soon fell in love with him only for him to die on the table whilst Teddy’s protege Cristina Yang was operating on him. Henry was somewhat of a Manic Pixie Dream Husband, serving as the catalyst for Teddy to break off her friendship with Chief Owen Hunt when he elected not to tell her that Henry had died until after she finished her own surgery.

Lexie Grey.

It seems that one season (seven) without a catastrophe was enough so season eight took us out with a bang. Or, more specifically, a plane crash. Derek’s hand was mangled and Arizona wound up losing a leg, but it was clear that Lexie bore the brunt of the crash, getting pinned under some debris. As Grey’s is wont to do, at least she got to tell Mark she loved him.

Mark Sloan.

Which brings us to McSteamy. He was also involved in the crash but, along with Meredith and Cristina, seemed to escape relatively unscathed. It wasn’t until the first two episodes of the following season that we realised the extent of his injuries, which saw him succumb in hospital. Why you gotta do me like that, Grey’s?

Dr. Thomas.

In season nine Cristina took a job at the world famous Mayo Clinic to escape “Seattle Grace Mercy Death”. Without her “person” Meredith and traumatised from last season’s plane crash, “dinosaur” cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Thomas takes Cristina under his wing only to die in the OR during surgery. While not as catastrophic as many of Grey’s other deaths, this one was positioned as yet another tragedy in Cristina’s life.

Heather Brooks.

Season nine’s cliffhanger saw a freak storm hit Seattle, flooding the hospital’s generator and leaving them without power. Intern Ross was sent to find Dr. Webber who was sussing out the damage in the basement however, not wanting to miss out on surgery, he roped intern Heather (played by Tina Majorino) into it which ultimately led to her (and Dr. Webber’s) electrocution. Only one doctor survived.

Derek Shepherd.

How many personal tragedies can one person handle?! Meredith has drowned, watched her husband get shot, almost become “pink mist” in a bomb threat, watched her mother try to commit suicide, been abandoned by her father (twice!), given birth in the middle of a massive storm that caused a power outage at the hospital and been in a plane crash in which her sister and husband’s best friend died. Phew!

But last night she faced perhaps the biggest tribulation when her husband Derek Shepherd died. Having saved four people from a car wreck on his way to the airport, we thought Derek would escape unscathed only to have a truck round the corner and ram his car. At the hospital, the doctors stated that they were not equipped to treat such trauma and rushed to treat Derek’s abdominal injuries instead of checking for brain swelling. By the time they realised he needed brain surgery and paged the on-call neurosurgeon, who was 90 minutes away, Derek was braindead. Oh, the tragic irony.

Honorable mentions: Meredith’s distant mother, dying after a long battle with Alzheimer’s; Lexie’s mum, who died after a routine exploratory surgery for reflux, spurring Meredith’s father to disown her… again; Bonnie (who you might remember as Dawson’s Creek’s Abby, a patient impaled by a pole) and Dylan, the bomb squad guy, were both very affecting losses to Meredith in early seasons; Doc, Meredith’s cancer-ridden dog who was then adopted by Derek and Addison; April and Jackson’s surprise pregnancy ended in tragedy as they had to terminate due to a fatal birth defect; Adele, Richard Webber’s wife, died of a heart attack after surgery for an aneurism.

Which Grey’s Anatomy deaths affected you the most?

*Spoiler alert for all eleven seasons of Grey’s Anatomy.

Related: Top 10 Grey’s Anatomy Moments.

Gun Shot Wound to the Head: Grey’s Anatomy Season Final.

Seattle Grace Mercy Death”: Grey’s Anatomy “Song Beneath the Song” Review.

TV: Grey’s Anatomy Final Asks “When Does Life Begin?”

 

Last night’s Grey’s final saw the seeming collapse of Derek and Meredith’s marriage over Meredith tampering with the Alzheimer’s clinical trial just as baby Zola came into their lives, pending the finalisation of the adoption papers.

Derek chided Meredith for swapping the active drug with the placebo for Richard’s wife, Adele, asking her how she couldn’t differentiate between right and wrong. Meredith replied that to her, things aren’t just right and wrong; there are shades of grey (hello, her last name’s Grey!), and that she’d do it all over again if it meant that Adele got better.

Derek should know this. Back in season five, when Derek introduces Meredith to his mother, she exclaimed that Meredith was good for him: he’s black and white and she’s grey.

But it didn’t stop him walking out on his wife for failing to see her reasoning, much like Owen failed to see Cristina’s reasoning, and kicked her out after she scheduled an abortion without his input.

Yes, that’s right: Cristina’s pregnant, much to her dismay.

She doesn’t want a baby. Never has, and never will. But Owen can’t understand this, and pushes her to see his side.

Now, this is where it starts to get messy. I’m not ashamed to say I’m staunchly pro-choice, so much so that I take the line of reasoning that if in doubt, abort. Especially if the woman in question is young, a victim of rape or incest, or can’t afford to have a baby. To me, life begins when the foetus is out of the womb and has taken its first breath. But I agree with Owen in that Cristina should have allowed him to have a say in the matter of abortion. But I also think that if Owen married Cristina knowing she didn’t want children but thinking he could persuade her anyway, he’s an idiot.

Cristina echoes this notion somewhat when she informs her husband she’s pregnant. Owen is overjoyed; Cristina has a migraine.

She tells him flat out that she doesn’t want a baby, and he responds with, “Well, you have one.”

“Are you getting all lifey on me?!” she remarks in disbelief, while he proceeds to ask her how far along she is, and if the foetus has feet and hands. How dare he tell her when life begins, she reasons.

While the storyline is clearly personal, not medical, it seems that Owen leans towards pro-life, though that could just be because the foetus in question contains his DNA. I don’t think doctors should push their personal opinions onto a pregnant woman who is coming to terms with the “unwanted tissue” inside her. I would go as far to say that I don’t think doctors with pro-life beliefs should be practicing medicine.

Still, Cristina is absolutely right when she says she’s not “compromising” on a baby: “You don’t have half a baby!… You don’t ‘give a little’ on a baby.”

While it’s perhaps easier for the father to bow out on raising their biological child, mothers usually don’t have that (ad)option. Cristina just plain and simply doesn’t. Want. A. Baby. But if she has it, she knows she’ll love it. (That’s the risk women run when they give their children up for adoption.) Owen shouldn’t have put her in the position to do something she doesn’t want to do (“It’s not like pizza or Thai.”), thinking she will “come around” later.

While Derek and Meredith deal with the fall out of Meredith’s “wrong” decision, how will Owen deal with Cristina’s decision? Was it “right” or “wrong”? And how will Grey’s Anatomy continue to discuss the “when does life begin?” question?

Related: The Underlying Message in Grey’s Anatomy‘s “Superfreak” Episode.

Elsewhere: [The Feel of Free] Cristina Yang + You Can’t Compromise on a Baby.

[Marinagraphy] Resisting Motherhood in Grey’s Anatomy.

Images via VideoBB.