Saturday, February 25, 2023

Grey’s Anatomy 19x07 Recap: “I’ll Follow the Sun” (Farewell for Now) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“I’ll Follow the Sun”
Original Airdate: February 23, 2023

Well Grey’s Anatomy fans, the day none of us ever wanted to come: it’s time to say goodbye to Ellen Pompeo as a full-time series regular. While she will still be providing the voiceover narration at the beginning and end of every episode and is rumored to be returning for the season finale, we won’t have our beloved Meredith Grey on our screens every Thursday. It is a bittersweet moment for all fans, new and old. 

Meredith’s goodbye episode is also the midseason premiere, and we have waited three months to find out if Mer’s house was saved or burned to the ground during a lightning storm and how the Grey Sloan Memorial staff will send her off. The episode turned out to be nothing like I was expecting and it was honestly a bit of a letdown, since it felt like any other average episode. 


If you missed the midseason premiere of Station 19, I highly suggest giving it a watch, as it was a very powerful episode involving police brutality. In that episode, we learn that the firefighters were able to save Mer’s house by venting the roof. The house remains standing, and Grey’s Anatomy picks up two weeks after that fateful night. This episode opens with Mika’s van, parked on the side of a street, getting towed one morning with her still inside. Both she and Simone wind up late to work, with the latter’s car breaking down.

Mer brings all three kids to her last day of work. She sends Bailey and Ellis off to bring gifts to their former daycare teachers, while Zola sticks around with her mom. Maggie and Amelia catch up with Mer and Zola in the hallway, and we learn that Amelia is living by herself post-fire. Zola wants to watch a surgery while she is there for the day, and Maggie says she can watch her and Winston’s surgery later if Mer is okay with it. Mer gives her blessing, which excites Zola.

Jo finds Link right outside the hospital to ask for a favor since he is taking the day to catch up on charting. She asks him to go across town to pick up the cake for Mer’s going away surprise party because she needs to stay at the hospital for her newborn patient’s heart surgery today, as the parents are attached to her. Link agrees to help because he loves her, but Jo misses the reference to his real feelings, not friendship love.

Inside, Schmitt tells the interns that they will be rounding with Maggie and Winston for their groundbreaking surgery while they are getting ready for the day in their lounge. Mika and Simone come rushing in late, which prompts Schmitt to tell them about how Helm burned out as a cautionary tale to the young surgeons. They all then join Maggie, Winston, and Jo in the NICU to meet baby Arlo and his parents. Arlo needs a heart transplant and is in heart and organ failure. They have a donor heart, but it is weak and has been deemed not suitable for transplant. Maggie and Winston believe they can still use the donor heart for the world’s first partial heart transplant by only transplanting the arteries. The doctors don’t want to wait for another donor heart because Arlo won’t survive long enough. Winston tells the parents that if the surgery is successful, Arlo won’t need any other heart procedures or transplants in the future. The nervous parents ask Jo to stay with them, which she quickly agrees to.

Elsewhere, Mer is packing up her office when Nick comes in. He heard it is her last day and wanted to stop by. He is happy Mer’s house is still standing and it’s clear that they haven’t talked since then. He asks how the kids are, and Mer says that Zola is excited to start at her new school, while Bailey and Ellis are sad to leave Seattle. Nick then mentions that he has been trying to get in touch with Mer, which she has been avoiding. He wants to know if she was going to move across the country without saying goodbye or having a conversation first. Mer claims she didn’t know what to say to him, and Nick reminds her that he moved to Seattle to be with her. Mer turns it into an argument by saying that Nick didn’t say it back, but he’s confused. She reminds him that she told him she loved him and that he didn’t say it back. Mer had hoped they could pick their relationship up from where they left off, but she now feels he wants to take things too slow. So, in Mer’s mind, she didn’t think she had to tell Nick that she wanted to move. Nick believes that Mer thinks it is all his fault and they fight about what the other is thinking before Nick walks out. Mer doesn’t tell him to stay and really isn’t acting like herself here.


Maggie and Winston explain to the interns that their plan is to remove Arlo’s current pulmonary trunk and aorta and replace it with the donor’s. They will have room for one intern to scrub in and observe the surgery, and the lucky surgeon will be picked with a contest to see who can do the best vascular anastomosis in the skills lab. The group runs out, and Winston holds back Blue to tell him not to do finger exercises in front of patients. Blue explains he uses certain movements to cope and stay emotionally detached. Maggie likes his strategy and tells him to not let it be seen.

Teddy finds Richard in the hall and coyly asks how his search for the new chief of surgery is going. She starts to imply that she would like to be considered for the job without saying the words. Richard doesn’t catch on her drift and asks Teddy to join the voluntary search committee. The look on Teddy’s face is quite comical. We then see Jo getting paged to the NICU by Arlo’s parents. The mom doesn’t want to go through with the surgery and would rather wait for another donor heart. Jo says it could take another six months for a heart to become available, but the parents think they can get one in a few days since that is what happened the first time. Jo tries to nudge them towards the surgery without calling them delusional and making them understand that Maggie wouldn’t do the surgery if she didn’t believe she couldn’t save Arlo’s life. The mom would blame herself if her baby died, so she calls off the surgery. 

In the skills lab, the interns are struggling to get the anastomosis correct. Lucas can’t stop looking over at Simone, who is sitting next to him. Mika gets fed up with failing and walks out in an exasperated huff. Simone shows Lucas how to improve his work, and the chemistry between the two interns is absolutely electric. Their quasi-moment is cut short when they both get paged to the ER. They arrive and find author Tessa Hobbs back at the hospital. Schmitt is assessing Tessa’s abdominal pain and orders a CT scan. Tessa explains to the doctors that she picked up a bag of groceries and felt a pop. They remind her that she wasn’t supposed to do any heavy lifting for three months after her surgery. Lucas wants to bring Tessa straight to the OR, but Schmitt overrules him and tells the interns to bring Tessa to CT and page Nick and Mer.

Mika goes across the street to Joe’s Bar to meet Helm thanks to Schmitt’s speech earlier that morning. Mika asks Helm to teach her how to properly do a vascular anastomosis, but Helm isn’t interested. The intern tells the former doctor that she needs a win and needs a reason to keep caring because being an intern is almost too exhausting to bear. Helm agrees to give a lesson for $20, but Mika doesn’t have any money on her and instead volunteers to bar back on Friday night for free if she wins the contest. Helm agrees to those terms and teaches Mika the proper technique.

Back at Grey Sloan Memorial, Simone and Lucas get Tessa to CT, and Tessa is still going on about picking up the groceries. She sees a ring on a chain around Simone’s neck and asks if she is engaged. Simone says that she was previously engaged but is not anymore. The news is very surprising to Lucas, who is snapped out of it by Tessa insisting that she needs her purse. Mer and Nick arrive, and Mer tells the interns to book an OR immediately. Mer starts to play the metaphor game with Nick by saying, “She probably lives alone, is set in her ways, and it’s a lot for her to change and ask for help.” Tessa is afraid and doesn’t want to die because she still has something to say. Mer assures her patient that they will help her, and Nick sees that Tessa is bleeding out.

The scene cuts to Amelia talking to Maggie about her marriage. Maggie is happy that she and Winston came up with today’s surgery together and is rehearsing a speech for Winston. She reveals that they haven’t had a serious talk since the fire and feels they can talk after the surgery. Jo arrives with news that the surgery is off. Maggie is disappointed and knows she can’t talk to the parents because it is unethical to talk them into a surgery. Jo tells them that the mom is sure of what she wants. Amelia decides to go talk to the parents because she is not one of the doctors on the case. She brings Jo with her to the NICU and tells the new parents about how her Christopher only lived for 43 minutes. Amelia describes giving birth to him knowing that he wouldn’t survive but did so anyway because he could be an organ donor. She reveals that she has been thinking a lot about Christopher lately and knows that if she had a chance to save him, she would have taken it, which convinces Arlo’s parents into signing off on the surgery.


Nick, Mer, Lucas, and Simone scrub in to operate on Tessa. Lucas tells Simone that he should have fought harder to bring Tessa straight to the OR and is mad at himself for not doing so. Tessa starts to crash, and the interns run into the room to help Mer and Nick, who are already inside. We get a quick reprieve to see Winston judging Blue, Mika, and Jules’ anastomoses. Mika is declared the winner, much to the annoyance of Blue. Maggie and Winston then start Arlo’s surgery in the OR with Mika observing. Blue and Jules are in the gallery watching, and the former tells the latter that he thought she would win the contest. Jules admits that she tanked the contest on purpose because babies scare her. Blue is intrigued and must know why. Jules agrees to tell him if he owes her a favor of her choosing down the line. She continues to tell a story about how when she was five years old, her mother gave birth to her brother in the kiddie pool in their backyard. Her father brought her out back to see after the baby was born, which horrified her. Before Jules could process what she was seeing, her father handed her a pair of scissors and told her to cut the umbilical cord. Blue laughs, and Jules is mad because she was traumatized by it. She then starts to laugh, and Zola turns around to tell them to be quiet since the gallery is full of onlookers. 

We then get a montage of both Tessa and Arlo’s surgeries. Tessa’s procedure is not going well. They are all working frantically to save her from bleeding out. When Tessa flatlines, Mer starts compressions and pleads with Tessa to fight to survive. Maggie and Winston’s surgery is a success and Arlo survives. Tessa is not so lucky. All four doctors are upset. Mer calls time of death, and Simone asks if she can close her up to pay Tessa that respect. Mer walks out of the OR and is followed into the scrub room by Nick. He gets very emotional and says that it was stupid and didn’t have to end that way. He hates everything about this day, and Mer says she does too. Nick brings back the metaphor game by saying he is trained to wait as a transplant surgeon and knows how to wait for an organ to perfuse or be rejected. “Because that’s how humans respond. They’re not machines with an on/off switch,” he says. Mer responds with, “I’m a grown woman with a big life and a big career and three kids, and this move is what my daughter needs. I want you in my life if you want to be in my life. But if I have to choose, I’m going to pick me. I pick my kids, and I pick what’s best for us. And I’m not going to beg you to love me.” 

Mer leaves a stunned Nick in the scrub room by himself after that to go get some fresh air outside. Simone finds Mer and apologizes for being emotional in the OR. Mer urges Simone to not stop feeling her losses and then says that she hates that her last surgery at Grey Sloan Memorial ended badly. Mer asks Simone how her grandma is doing. Simone reveals it is awful because her grandma only calls Simone by her mom’s name. Mer gets how tough that is and tells Simone that she can call her Meredith now that Mer doesn’t work at GSM anymore. Simone tells Mer that she has Tessa’s final book. She found it on a flash drive in Tessa’s purse at the patient’s urging. Tessa wanted to give the book to her publisher in Boston, so Simone asks Mer to bring it with her. Mer is happy Tessa got to write her last story after all.

Back in the NICU, Jo tells Arlo’s parents that his heart is completely pumping on its own. Outside the room, Amelia tells Maggie and Winston that she is happy it worked out. Maggie passionately thanks Amelia for her help, and Amelia walks away while holding back tears. The couple is thrilled with themselves for pulling it off, and Winston takes in the miracle for a moment. Mika walks up to tell them that the day has been beyond her wildest imagination, especially since she lost her house van, and thanks them for letting her be a part of it. Amelia then walks past Lucas, who stops his aunt to talk. He asks her how to stop caring about what other people think. Lucas explains how he wanted to fight for his patient and didn’t because he thought about what others would say. Amelia says she cares deeply about what others think and then does what she feels is right anyways in those types of situations. She had to live a lot before being able to do that and urges Lucas to hold onto the pain he is currently feeling and learn from it. Amelia then asks her nephew if he found a place to live, which he sort of has.

Outside, Jo sees Link arriving with the cake from the coffee cart. She is thrilled that he made it just in time for the start of the party. He realizes he didn’t check if the cake was correct, and they find a bar mitzvah cake inside the box when they open it. They don’t have time to take it back, and Link isn’t sure what they should do. The party is being set up in the hospital’s lobby, and Bailey is the first one to see the cake when Jo and Link bring it inside. They removed some icing to sort of read “Happy Meredith” with a giant heart between the two words made out of the former Star of David that was in the center of the cake. Teddy goes over to Richard and gives a passionate speech about being top of her class in high school, second in her class in undergrad (but only because she had a bad case of meningitis), top of her med school class, completing a cardio fellowship at the Mayo Clinic, and training Cristina Yang. She feels she has an inarguable pedigree and was insulted that she was asked to be on the committee instead of being considered for the chief of surgery job. Richard explains that he didn’t want to offer the job to anyone at Grey Sloan Memorial since the program is falling apart, making the job that much more stressful. He says the job is hers if she really wants it. Instead of responding with a resounding “yes,” Teddy comically asks if she can have some time to think about it.

Mer walks into the very full lobby and is greeted with everyone yelling, “Surprise!” Mer jokes that they didn’t need to throw her a party because she might be back next week. Bailey gives a touching toast by saying, “Once upon a time, you were the bane of my existence. But no, you grew up to become one of my greatest points of pride.” She becomes too emotional to continue and taps Richard in to finish the toast off. He appropriately caps it with, “Dr. Grey, what Dr. Bailey is trying to say is this place won’t be the same without you.” The GSM staff toasts Mer, and as the camera pans around, we see Mer’s three kids are in attendance too. Zola tells Mer that Maggie’s surgery was amazing and that she might want to change her future specialty from neuro to cardio. Maggie asks Mer if she talked to Nick, and Mer replies that she did and that they have a plane to catch. She hugs her two sisters before leaving. The fact that we only get two or three minutes of a goodbye party is really upsetting because it doesn’t feel like a sendoff for the titular character.

Across the street, Nick is at Joe’s Bar to wash away his woes. Helm sees him and says hello. He asks her why she is there, and Helm replies she is living her best life. Nick explains that he had a rough day and called it early. Helm knows Mer is leaving and that the party is currently happening and doesn’t get why he is at the bar. She calls Nick an idiot and tells him the truth about Mer, which is that she is impossible, perfect, cares deeply, and can be mean when she needs to be. Helm knows Mer fell in love with Nick and tells him he is stupid for being at the bar when the woman that loves him is leaving. 


Maggie and Winston continue to watch Arlo and his parents from outside the NICU, and Maggie decides to attempt to convince her husband to stick with cardio because they created a miracle. Winston is mad that Maggie doesn’t respect him or his choice. He has been waiting two weeks for an apology, which he now realizes is not coming. Maggie believes that cardio is not a job for him; rather it is a gift, so he should embrace it. Winston thinks Maggie has no respect for him and never has because she has always been cold towards him. He walks away, leaving the once strong couple in very murky waters.

Nick runs into the hospital’s lobby as the party is being cleaned up. He asks Bailey where Mer is, and Bailey tells him that Mer is on the way to the airport. Nick runs back out as we see Mer and her kids at the airport gate. Nick is driving to the airport, but it is taking too long. The Grey-Shepherds get on the plane, and we see Nick hit traffic and audibly say that he doesn’t think he will make it. Once seated, Mer asks the kids if they want to read the final Tessa book. She is interrupted by an incoming call from Nick. Mer answers and tells him they are on the plane, and Nick immediately says, “I love you. I fell in love with you the first day I met you. I fell in love with you the second day I met you, and I have loved you every minute of every day that I have known you.” Mer smiles but responds with, “Umm, I can’t quite hear you. We’re about to take off, so I’ll call you when we get settled,” even though she heard every word he said. Nick tries to get her to hear him and talk, but Mer hangs up on him. 

The fact that this is the way the episode ends their arc is very frustrating. It’s as if this is any other episode and they can hash it out next week, which we all know isn’t the case. The only reason for this scene and the fact that this episode wasn’t one giant love letter to Mer is that Mer won’t be gone from the show for long. It doesn’t make sense to have this ending if Mer wasn’t going to be back in a limited capacity in the near future, i.e. next season. 

This episode didn’t say goodbye to the titular character and didn’t give her the standard Grey’s Anatomy sendoff. There was no pomp and circumstance, no flashbacks, no montages, no speech from every character around every corner, and no popular Grey’s Anatomy anthems playing in the background. To me, this is not a farewell to Meredith Grey at all. If it turns out that she does only have one episode left after this, then we the fans should all be pretty upset with the treatment of one of TV’s most iconic characters.

The episode didn’t end right there though. There were a few minutes left to quickly show how the series is going to keep moving on. The answer: with the soft reboot that has been set up from the first episode of the season. Mer’s ending narration turns out to be the book she reads to her kids while on the plane. Throughout the narration, we see Maggie and Amelia leave the hospital in the evening, with Maggie asking if she can spend the night at Amelia’s new place. Blue and Jules make out in an on-call room, and Lucas is searching for the hidden key outside of Mer’s house. Simone arrives at Mer’s house with a suitcase, and she is just as surprised as Lucas that the other is there. She says that Mer gave her a key and told her that she could stay there if needed. Amelia told Lucas the same thing, so he decided to have a proper place to live. Simone tells Lucas that her previous relationship ended when she got kicked out of her last residency program. She has feelings for Lucas, but doesn’t want to put him through a rebound situation. Lucas is down to be her rebound as long as they call it what it is. Simone isn’t so sure they should go that route now that it appears they will be living together. They go inside, and Simone thinks the house is amazing. 

For the audience, it’s a bit hard to see the iconic house empty. Mika then walks in and tells her puzzled colleagues that Maggie gave her a key since her house van got possessed. We are looking at Intern House 2.0 forming before our eyes and, as they order pizza, the reboot cycle is complete. The episode ends with a shot of Mer finishing the book with only Zola listening, as Bailey and Ellis have fallen asleep on the plane. Mer seems to be happy as the screen fades to black.


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