After the long-awaited return for the new season of Shonda Rhimes’ Grey’s Anatomy, the 2-hour long premiere left fans with a shocking return and surprise at the end of its second episode. *Spoiler Alert!*
This special premiere for the new season had been highly anticipated by Grey’s fans after an early and abrupt ending to its 16th season, in March, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fans had waited almost nine months -longer than it usually is for new seasons- to see their favorite Grey Sloan Memorial doctors return to their screens at home during the pandemic. The sudden ending of the 16th season cut the season short by a couple of episodes. Luckily the writers, Krista Vernoff and Shonda Rhimes incorporated flashbacks from the unseen episodes into this season. This not only gave the fans a sense of how life was at the hospital before the pandemic hit but also refreshed the audience on storylines we may have forgotten.
The episode begins with highlights that came from the final episode of season 16. After the brief recap, we get to see what is new at the hospital and all its new protocols for COVID-19 through Richard Webber’s return to the hospital after recovering from his illness. They use his return to the hospital as a guide for the new protocols for the pandemic. No visitors, temperature checks daily, and most shockingly, the OR board is empty. Like many other fans of the show, I thought it was weird that fans would not see the doctors operating as much this season since the show centered around the surgeons in the OR. Of course with the pandemic, we get a fictional glimpse into how doctors and hospitals have been running for the past several months. We see all the COVID-19 patients from Meredith’s point of view. It seems as if every day, the pandemic gets worse, and we see the emotional toll it has on the doctors.
Fans also got to see the return of Andrew DeLuca after previously leaving for a couple episodes to deal with his mental health issues. He suggested that Meredith should go back home and see her kids who she hadn’t seen in over 2 weeks. When Meredith leaves the hospital, we see the new Chief of Pediatric surgery, Cormac Hayes in the parking lot and where he finds Meredith passed out on the ground.
Fans had been expecting something like this happening to Meredith seeing that she’s been through so many traumas throughout her 16 seasons. Like most had expected, someone had to get COVID in the show and once fans saw that scene of Meredith in the parking lot, a lot of them were convinced that Meredith would be the one to suffer with this terrible virus.
We see later on that Meredith keeps having dreams and visions on a beach, in fact the opening scene to the premiere was on the beach. Long time fans of the show all had to deal with Derek Shepherd’s death and Patrick Dempsey’s exit from the show in the season finale of season 11; it was traumatic and heartbreaking for Meredith, her family and her fellow surgeons who had all worked with Derek.
In the final few minutes of the second episode, we see Derek return to the show in Meredith’s dream on the beach. This return was not CGI at all, Patrick returned to the show for a couple of episodes, giving fans a huge emotional surprise. It was such a shock for me and other Grey’s fans.
Of course it wouldn’t be Grey’s Anatomy without the drama. Besides the pandemic being the main plotline for these episodes and most likely the whole season, we got to see the doctor drama that had continued on from season 16. One of them being Jo Wilson. After her husband Alex Karev left mid season 16, she had been on her own in their house. She was seen trying to take advantage of Jackson Avery after recently breaking up with his girlfriend, Vic Hughes from Station 19. She just needed to feel loved after Alex left Jo for his ex-wife and his two kids.
The love triangle between Owen Hunt, Tom Koracik and Teddy Altman continued into the new season. This had started when Teddy cheated on Owen -her fiance- with Tom, her colleague. At the end of season 16’s season finale, Owen received a voicemail from Teddy after his surgery which was not meant to be sent to him at all, in the message he heard Teddy and Tom getting together and Tom suggesting for Teddy to run away with him leaving Owen heartbroken and canceling their wedding.
Then we see Amelia Shepherd, -Meredith’s sister in law- with her boyfriend Atticus Lincoln (Link) with their newborn son. Link and Amelia have been watching Meredith’s three kids while nursing her own since Meredith is working in the hospital. Throughout the premiere, the two couldn’t agree on a name for their baby, but they eventually settled with Scout.
Maggie Pierce, -Meredith’s half sister- and her new boyfriend Winston Ndugu got together at the end of season 16. The two met up while at a reunion and they confessed their feelings for each other while in school. The pandemic has limited their time together as they’ve only been able to see each other through virtual calls.
Lastly, there’s Levi and Nico. They broke up in season 16 because Levi had been expecting more out of Nico in their relationship, and found out that Nico hadn’t even come out to his parents yet. This was after Nico had pressured Levi to come out to his mom. With Nico’s new job offering as an orthopedic surgeon for the Seattle Mariners, he was preparing to leave Grey Sloan to go there so the couple cut ties. Because of the pandemic, Nico didn’t leave Grey-Sloan, and the two are really awkward around each other.
After a long two episode premiere, Derek’s return was what hyped me up for the rest of the season. And obviously, there’s the new addition of the pandemic being brought into the show, but we also get to see more of the doctors that fans love. The season premiere was different from all other season premieres, but in the end, it is still Grey’s, and I am looking forward to seeing the new storylines and plots for the rest of the season!