In the wake of last week's brutal attack on Meredith by a patient at the hospital, our favorite perpetually near-death character is ordered to attend therapy to ensure she's ready to return to work. And what the shrink taps into, it seems, suggests Meredith might be ready for a whole lot more.
Let's explore, shall we?
At the onset of Meredith's sessions with her company-ordered psychiatrist, she keeps insisting she is fine. Everything is OK. She's been through worse and this latest event is a blip on the radar.
As their counseling sessions continue, however, Meredith's walls start to come down. The psychiatrist chips away, revealing the root of Mer's anger. Surprisingly, it has less to do with the attack and more to do with what she is struggling to come to terms with after — that she doesn't have to be alone.
When her fellow doctors found her bruised and battered body after the attack, they took care of her. They stayed by her side. In some ways, this was comforting to Meredith. In others, it was disconcerting.
She is used to being left alone.
Of course, with this revelation comes a string of painful flashbacks (hello, tears!) as Meredith recalls Webber walking away from her and Ellis, Yang leaving, Lexie pinned beneath the plane, Derek dying and, well, you get the picture. If we'd been watching together, I would have passed you my tissue box.
So, now, coming out on the other side of all of this, Meredith is unsure of what she wants. She's unsure of who she is without those people and possibly without a pervading sense of loss.
With that epiphany, the psychiatrist feels comfortable recommending Meredith's return to work. Meredith, however, insists she feels worse than when she arrived. "What do I do now?" she asks. "Are you saying I can't be alone anymore?"
To which the doctor replies, "No. I think you can. I'm saying I don't think you want to." (Eek! Hold that thought for a minute.)
Fast-forward to the end of the episode, and Meredith, Maggie and Alex swing by Jo's to pick her up for their morning carpool. As Jo and Alex kiss and make up, Meredith gives a slight smile. Then Maggie asks the question: What do you want to do?
The episode fades to black, still awaiting a response from Meredith. But there is oh-so-much to infer from this moment for fans.
Sure, Shonda Rhimes has repeatedly asserted that this season was not going to be about Meredith's love life. This was not going to be a season where she picked up the pieces of her heart and put MerDer in the past.
This season, underscored Rhimes, was to be about Meredith's independence — she would be coming into her own.
And perhaps that's what this entire sequence tonight alluded to. Maybe this is simply the moment Meredith lets go of the anger for all of the horrible things that have happened to her and she begins to truly live again. With friends. With family.
However, in my opinion, it felt like the episode was building to another conclusion. That conclusion, of course, being that Meredith was ready to move on. Wasn't there the suggestion, in those moments, that she had realized she didn't have to be alone anymore and that she didn't want to be?
While a respectable amount of time has passed since Derek's death in the timeline of these characters, it doesn't seem like much time has elapsed to viewers. After all, the entire healing process wasn't shown, so we're playing catch-up.
It's weird to imagine the Grey's universe without MerDer in it, but that's the new reality. Will fans be able to suspend their allegiance to the love story that arguably made the show the success it is?
And, if Meredith does open her heart to love again, who will she date? Another doctor? So many questions, Season 12. So very many questions.
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