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Grey's Anatomy: Was Meredith wrong to be so mean to Penny on the job? (POLL)

Julie Sprankles is a freelance writer living in the storied city of Charleston, SC. When she isn't slinging sass for SheKnows, she enjoys watching campy SyFy creature features (Pirahnaconda, anyone?), trolling the internet for dance work...

Meredith's latest mean streak on Grey's Anatomy doesn't prove she's a bad person, it just means she's human

In the wake of the world's most awkward dinner party ever, Grey's Anatomy fans had to suffer through a skipped week for tonight's episode. Naturally, we couldn't wait to see how Meredith would respond to having Penny — aka Derek's doctor — on her rotation come Monday morning.

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And we soon discovered we'd get our answer early in tonight's episode, thanks to the fact that Penny (Samantha Sloyan) would be at the side of Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) tending to patients all evening long.

So we've got a new resident, and that's nothing new for Meredith — she has counseled tons of new residents since she crossed the threshold into Grey Sloan seniority status. For the most part, she is a fair and balanced (not to mention, really good) teacher.

But this is no ordinary resident. This is the doctor who failed to save the love of Meredith's life. She is at least partially responsible for his death. She is in some ways the reason we Grey's fans turn into blubbering messes whenever we realize Meredith is wearing Derek's favorite ferry boat scrub cap or when anyone mentions his name.

I mean, really, if we can't get our emotions together, how can we possibly expect Meredith to in this situation? She is still trying to adjust to life without her husband and the father of her kids when she comes face to face with the woman who will forever be linked to this harsh new reality. Many fans not only feel Meredith has a right to be angry, but they are livid right along with her.

Yet there are definitely those who think Meredith's behavior was unprofessional and — as Callie pointed out — small.

Which brings up a really important point I think Shonda Rhimes was trying to make tonight: None of us is immune from making mistakes. We all err. We all fall down. We all have to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and get back up — even when someone else is doing the pushing.

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This sentiment is echoed in the story line of the church pastor, who accidentally sent a sex tape to his congregation. He is fired for the mistake, shortly after which he and Penny discuss the fact that pastors are people, too, and are worthy of forgiveness.

Just like doctors.

Penny made a mistake. It could very well end up being the most defining, if not the biggest, mistake of her life. Because that mistake cost a life. Still, she's a doctor, and doctors aren't infallible. They aren't superhuman. They slip up just like the rest of us, so it's unfair to hold them to impossible standards.

Having said that, Meredith has every right to feel every ounce of anger and pain and resentment she is feeling right now. That's hers to work through. Treating Penny poorly on the job was a mistake, sure, but can anyone really blame her after what she has been through? I cannot imagine keeping any semblance of composure if I were in her scrubs.

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So there you have it. Neither woman is right or wrong. Rather, they are both human. When you really think about it, we're all a bunch of hot messes, right? I didn't want to like Penny. I wanted to continue to give her side-eye every time she came onscreen until she was written out of the story line altogether.

Then Meredith, in ultimately rising above, reminded me that Penny is a human and deserves compassion. Derek would have wanted that for her. Derek would have expected that of Mer. I guess that makes Meredith a pretty great teacher after all.

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