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Checking In on 'Grey's Anatomy' After a 14-Year Absence

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 31, 2024 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 31, 2024 |


Way back in the day, I used to regularly write about Grey’s Anatomy in inappropriately mean ways that probably have not aged well, like much of our Scathing Reviews for Bitchy People era. I haven’t seen an episode, however, since Katherine Heigl left in 2010. That was the series’ sixth season. The show just wrapped its 20th season. Out of deep curiosity (and because I didn’t have anything else pressing to write about today), I decided to revisit Grey’s Anatomy for its 20th season finale.

I know nothing about what’s been happening in this series beyond a few news headlines over the last 14 years. I’m not interested in catching up, but I did want to see what I could piece together after the long absence. Here are some scattered observations:

— Most of the original cast is gone — Heigl, Sandra Oh, Justin Chambers, Patrick Dempsey — although Chandra Wilson’s Dr. Bailey is still around and looks almost exactly the same, as does James Pickens Jr.’s Dr. Webber, minus a few pounds.

— Most of the second generation of docs are gone, too (McSteamy, Lexie Grey, etc.). However, a couple still remain: Kevin McKidd’s Dr. Hunt and Kim Raver’s Dr. Altman, although for reasons not entirely clear to me, her job is in jeopardy at the end of the season.

— This is true for much of the cast, in fact. One of the interns, played by Niko Terho, is about to get fired for messing up a surgery, but the rest of the interns and Dr. Bailey threaten to quit if he’s let go. That storyline ends in a cliffhanger.

— Dr. Webber also contemplates retiring from surgery, but that decision seems to be left up in the air as well.

— There are a couple of familiar faces (to me) among the interns, including Harry Shum, Jr. from Crazy Rich Asians and Glee. At one point, he’s treating a woman who says he looks familiar to her. He responds, “No. We’ve never met.” But when another doctor asks him if that’s true, he says, “She’s my fiancée.” Whoa. How does she not remember him, and why does he want nothing to do with her? I’m actually interested in that storyline.

— Another familiar face among the interns is Midori Francis, whom I know from The Sex Lives of College Girls. She nearly kisses another intern (Adelaide Kane) in what is apparently a tense moment before they are interrupted. This is the closest the episode gets to those old-school bang sessions in janitor closets.

— Natalie Morales is on the show, in case you’re wondering where she went! She’s only been on for six episodes, though, and she’s still billed as a guest star. I don’t know if she’s expected to become a regular next season or not. I’m torn. She deserves a regular paycheck (she’s been in so many short-lived sitcoms), but it would also preclude her from making another great, short-lived sitcom.

— There are some bland faces, too, that seem to have important positions in the hospital, like Chris Carmack’s Dr. Lincoln, a generic white guy (also from The O.C.), who is dating a generic white woman played by Camilla Luddington, who has been on the series for the last 12 years. She finds out she’s pregnant from her annoying best friend, a T.R. Knight type played by Jake Borelli.

— I thought Ellen Pompeo had quit the show two or three times, and yet, here she is. Dr. Grey is a researcher now trying to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, but the hospital boss — played by Debbie Allen — undermines her. Grey posts her research publicly and resigns. She and James Webber have a scene, and it’s nice to see them together again.

I’m not sure what that means for the future of her character since she’s already left the show, but Scott Speedman also makes a brief appearance at the end of the episode to move back to Massachusetts with her. Speedman was a big reason why I decided to watch (die-hard Felicity fan here). I thought he had a bigger role. Apparently, he just follows Dr. Grey around now. Bummer. Lookin’ good, though, Scott! (She still should’ve picked Noel.)

— Let me see if I can get this straight: Dr. Bailey is married to Dr. Warren, who used to be on the series but left to be a firefighter on the spin-off Station 19, which is now ending. Apparently, Jason George (who plays Dr. Warren) is returning to Grey’s, or at least the door is being left open for his return now that Station 19 is done. Dr. Bailey spends the episode really worried about him, as he’s trying to put out a giant fire that has led to an influx of patients at the hospital.

— In fact, I think the jobs of roughly half the staff are in limbo, which I suppose gives the writers and the people in charge of the budget some wiggle room going into season 21. I don’t know anything about him besides the fact that he’s a very handsome man, but I hope they bring back Anthony Hill’s Dr. Ndugu.

— Debbie Allen’s Dr. Fox, who has been around since 2015 and now runs the hospital, is evidently the resident villain/buzzkill. She undermines Dr. Grey’s work and is the one at the end of the episode contemplating firing all the interns. She also fired Kim Raver’s doctor, it seems. Debbie Allen also directed the episode. A person of many talents!

— It’s hard to judge the last 14 seasons based on one episode, but it wasn’t that compelling, especially for a season finale. They try to cram so many storylines and characters into one episode that no one actually gets their due. The writing is also mediocre. This episode is no better than the worst episode of New Amsterdam, which is the superior hospital drama (RIP), thanks in part to Tyler Labine.

I’ll see you again in another 14 years, Grey’s.