“Grey’s Anatomy” season 17 premiere is jaw-dropping


Photo taken by Mariam Hanna.

Mariam Hanna, Editor-in-Chief


“Grey’s Anatomy” fans have been waiting seven months to catch up with characters they have grown up with and stuck with through good times and bad.

Last night was the season 17 premiere of ABC’s hit medical drama, and it left viewers shocked and asking question after question.

The biggest one: What was that ending? “Grey’s” Anatomy writers have not shied away from cliffhangers and crazy plot lines. Nothing is impossible in this show, whether it’s a traumatic, life-shattering event or a consequential natural disaster. The one thing fans never saw coming was the return of Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), but remember that “Grey’s” producers do not like the word “impossible.”

So Derek made an appearance after six whole years. But how? Isn’t he supposed to be dead? Well Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), once again, has found herself in the abyss between life and death. In the last two minutes of the two hour premiere, Cormac Hayes (Richard Flood) found her unconscious in the Grey Sloan Memorial parking lot. The scene instantly switched to Meredith dressed in white standing on a beach. She could hear Hayes calling her name, but he was not the only one. She looked over, and it was Derek, her deceased husband.

What does this mean? At this point, viewers can only speculate that this is the beginning of what can be presumed the season’s main focus: the downfall of Meredith’s health. As hard as a death this major will be for long-time fans, it might be a phenomenal way to end the show full circle. We just have to wait and see what producers Shonda Rhimes and Krista Vernoff have in store for us.

Not surprisingly, this season will also be revolving around COVID-19, the deadly pandemic that has not only taken over the world but Hollywood as well. It does seem necessary for a medical drama to cover a health-related topic that has touched billions of lives in one way or another, but it is a bit weird to see reality played out on a TV screen. I cringed a little watching them fight for masks and discuss new protocol; it is just a bit cheesy.

It has only been one episode and the ugly side of this Coronavirus has already reared its head. The doctors are dealing with patients dying one after another and the fear of their own adding to the death toll. Meredith broke down on multiple occasions; she was in pain seeing everyone come in and never leave right in front of her eyes. “All I do is run codes. I get a break to let a family in to say goodbye, then I run another code,” she said to Andrew DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti).

Not only did viewers get to see and feel the pain of doctors like Meredith, but also of deceased patients’ families. One of the storylines in this episode followed a teenage boy who got severely burned at a party. His burns went deep into his body and lungs and ultimately killed him. As I watched his father break down, chills were sent down my spine. Emotion is another thing not foreign to “Grey’s”, but sometimes it feels like recent seasons have not been filled with such raw feelings. It is refreshing (sad, but nonetheless refreshing) to see it again.

Of course, it would not be a “Grey’s Anatomy” episode if current societal issues were not addressed. “Grey’s” is known for its progressive plot lines, creators, and actors, and this episode was no exception. It showcased the racial aspect of this pandemic when a patient said that he does not want to be treated by a Chinese doctor since the virus came from China. Also briefly discussed was the harsher impact the pandemic has had on the Black community. Healthcare’s lack of ability, a hot topic in this show as season 16 heavily revolved around it, was also mentioned when frustrated Maggie Pierce (Kelly McCreary) said, “I hate that people are dying because they don’t have access to healthcare.”

At the end of season 16, DeLuca was at the height of his mania. When he accused a patient’s guardian of being a sex trafficker, he was made into the villain; nobody believed him. We later found out that he was in fact right and got to learn more about the situation in this premiere. DeLuca appears to be doing better, but we can assume that he will not stay this way for long as his mental illness progresses. His story is depressing because he genuinely wants what is best for everyone around him but sometimes crosses the line, negatively impacting himself and others. It appears we will have to tune in next week to hopefully find out more.

The season 16 finale also left viewers with many questions regarding relationships. It ended with Teddy Altman (Kim Raver) being unfaithful to Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) on what was supposed to be their wedding night. In the premiere, Teddy puts on a dramatic show begging for Owen’s forgiveness, but she does not get it. Both these characters might be the least liked by fans because of their actions over the years, so I am interested to hear who’s side everyone will be taking. Personally, I think Owen, who was unfaithful with his first wife, should get off his high horse and work things out with the love of his life. But what do I know?

We cannot forget about the newest addition to the “Grey’s” family, Amelia Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone) and Atticus Lincoln’s (Chris Carmack) newly named baby. It appears that Amelia and Link have taken time off work to stay with their newborn and watch Meredith’s three children as she attempts to save lives at the hospital, and they sure seem tired- rightfully so. It was revealed that they named the baby Scout Derek Shepherd Lincoln after Amelia’s late brother. Heart-melting, right?

With all this, plus Meredith’s love triangle, the impact of Alex Karev’s recent departure on Jo Wilson, Richard Webber’s return following his major hip surgery, the long-awaited reappearance of Jackson’s daughter, Harriett, Maggie’s new romance, and much more, it must have been a challenge to fit everything in two hours. “Grey’s Anatomy” is huge not only in its following but also in its cast, which is a good thing because it makes it like a big, happy family. However, it has its downside in that it does not allow for in-depth plot lines. There is just no time to cover the details of everyone’s lives in such a limited amount of time. This week’s episode was special in that it lasted two hours, but I am looking forward to figuring out how “Grey’s” producers will jampack everything in one hour in upcoming episodes.

This premiere probably left viewers with more questions than answers. What happened to Meredith? Does she have COVID? Why is Derek back? Does this signal the end of the series? Hopefully, we will all get satisfactory answers over the next few Thursdays at 9 p.m.- hopefully not answers that will leave us bedridden and bawling for days, though.