Grey’s Anatomy Recap: Life Goes on Without Derek

Content API Import Image_2935760597385887914
Ellen Pompeo, Greys Anatomy | Photo Credits: Mitchell Haaseth/ABC

Shonda Rhimes continued her assault on the emotional well-being of Grey’s Anatomy fans everywhere with Thursday’s episode, the first of the series’ P.D.* era. (*post-Derek).

There were so many time jumps, so much zig-zagging of feelings in this episode, that I almost don’t even know where to begin. (I’m honestly not even going to touch on the burn victim case-of-the-week story, which felt like such a waste when there’s so much other plot to deal with.) From my point of view, the episode doesn’t spend much (or even enough?) time mourning Derek. That blink-and-you’d-miss-it funeral footage? Pathetic. And quickly, we move on to the case-of-the-week plotlines – which, again, feel especially insignificant this time around.

But let’s go over the major points:

The episode begins with Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) informing her Grey Sloan colleagues about Derek’s (Patrick Dempsey) sudden death. And they all have their own ways of reacting – over the next nine months or so (!!).

Grey’s Anatomy: 13 reasons Derek Shepherd made us swoon

Amelia’s (Caterina Scorsone) response is particularly heartbreaking, as she initially doesn’t even want any details about her brother’s untimely passing. I guess when you’ve suffered as much loss as Amelia has, “dead is dead” indeed.

Bailey (Chandra Wilson) picks a fight with Ben (Jason George) about their end-of-life care preferences, and religion. April (Sarah Drew) decides to go on a tour of duty (what?!) with Owen (Kevin McKidd). Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) yells at the Type A doctor who’s insisting they need to replace the head of neuro right away. Jackson (Jesse Williams) buys a new couch. Webber (James Pickens Jr.) nearly proposes to Catherine (Debbie Allen), who – thankfully – talks him out of it. Callie (Sara Ramirez) gets flirty with her uniformed suitor, Dan, who sticks around for the next several months.

We also learn that Meredith isn’t that much different from her mother in the face of tragedy – starting with the fact that she goes MIA after Derek’s funeral, much to the horror of Alex (Justin Chambers) and Maggie (Kelly McCreary), who believes she and her half-sister were “meant to be a family.”

Ellen Pompeo speaks out about Derek’s death on Grey’s

Amelia, clearly suffering from shock, is overly flippant about Derek’s death, making quips about him “rolling over in his grave” and chalking it up to her own morbid sense of humor. Riiiiight. (Side note: Where are Derek’s other sisters?).

Before we know it, we’re at Thanksgiving (!), when Meredith finally calls Alex – but just to tell him that she’s okay and to please stop calling her. And then Christmas, punctuated by Jackson getting into a FaceTime fight with April about the fact that she keeps extending her tour of duty.

Finally we get a glimpse of Meredith, with Zola saying on Christmas Eve (what else?) “I wish Daddy were here.” Oh, and by the way, she’s pregnant! And even when she’s enjoying a day on the beach with the kids, she’s having constant flashbacks to conversations with her mother, Derek and Amelia, which all seem to foreshadow the sense of loss she’s feeling.

The story behind Patrick Dempsey’s shocking Grey’s exit

In the new year, April suddenly returns, unannounced, and gets welcomed with open arms (quite literally) by Jackson. We also learn that Amelia has apparently been skipping her AA meetings (as noted by Webber). She plays the “it’s a waste of time in my important job” card before finally breaking down. A lifetime of loss comes out in the middle of the hallway, much to the horror of all the doctors around her and Webber. But then her eyes fixate on Owen in his camouflage.

After he follows Amelia back home (to MerDer’s house, yes?), Owen tells her “It feels like I’ve been away forever but nothing’s changed” (summing up this episode). Amelia finally confesses that she’s on the verge of a relapse, ready to throw four years of sobriety away with the bag of Oxy in her back pocket.

“Every man I’ve ever loved has died, including my baby,” Amelia confesses. “But I’m good. I’ve got this.” I don’t believe her. “I’m doing great. I’m handling the dead Derek thing really well,” she adds. I believe her even less. Owen encourages her to embrace the pain and deal with it – and finally, Amelia hands over the bag of Oxy and collapses in Owen’s arms, sobbing.

Meanwhile, in the parallel Meredith universe, Mrs. Derek Shepherd nearly has a miscarriage in front of Zola, echoing her own witnessing of her mother’s suicide attempt a generation earlier. When she wakes up in the hospital, the nurse informs Meredith that her husband is here – but it’s actually just Alex, who’s Meredith’s new emergency contact. On a more positive note, her baby is safe and sound – a girl, named Ellis.

Cut to Valentine’s Day. Bailey and Ben have apparently resolved their DNR issues and are having sex on the floor in front of a fireplace. And then Ben gives Bailey the least romantic Valentine’s Day present ever – a living will granting her permission to pull the plug “whenever she sees fit.” This, unsurprisingly, sparks another fight. Bailey tells Ben she loves him too much to ever imagine living without him, and she’s been having middle-of-the-night panic attacks ever since Derek died. They agree to table their wills for now.

Also feeling the love that night is Catherine Avery, who proposes to Richard on the steps of the hospital. He says yes “About damn time.”

And finally, Meredith returns to her house, three kids and Alex in tow (over the sounds of yet another version of “Chasing Cars”). That bed looks mighty big without Derek in it, doesn’t it? Sadface. The silver lining? Amelia’s helping her out with the kids – but, judging by next week’s previews, their sisterly bond won’t last long. And we get the sense that Dr. Grey is going to be okay after all, as she steps out of an elevator and back into Grey Sloan Memorial, donning Derek’s ferry boat scrub cap in honor of her late husband.

So what do you think, Grey’s Anatomy fans? Are you still reeling from last week’s episode? Did Derek get an adequate send-off? And what repercussions do you think his death will have on the other characters? Sound off in the comments!

Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8/7c on ABC.

VIDEO: Relive MerDer’s best moments on Grey’s Anatomy:

View original Grey’s Anatomy Recap: Life Goes on Without Derek at

Other Links From

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.