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Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 premiere shocker: A beloved character returns from the dead

Meredith sees someone familiar
Meredith may or may not be dead as the premiere of Season 17 Grey’s Anatomy comes to a close. Pic credit: ABC

Grey’s Anatomy’s Season 17 return on November 12 was a long and mostly tortured event.

Three episodes — including one cross-over episode with Station 19 — covered everything. The episodes ran the gamut, from a burned-to-a-crisp teen to a shocker ending revealing a dead Grey’s Anatomy doctor who was suddenly alive.

Grey’s Anatomy takes on the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic served as a main character in both shows, beginning with the first hour when Station 19 was called into action as the storyline continued about a month after the coronavirus took over the world.

The Station 19 fire engines arrived on the highway near a Seattle park to assist a group of friends who inadvertently caused a car to flame out.

That vehicle fire spread into the nearby trees after the friends had gathered for their surreptitious night out, going against all kinds of coronavirus protocol.

All were eventually taken to Grey Sloan Memorial, many in terrible condition. Even though many doctors were on hand, lending heroic efforts to save the errant kids, one didn’t make it out of this mess.

He died.

COVID-19 hits hard at Grey Sloan Memorial

Throughout the course of three hours of dramatic ABC programming, it became apparent that the pandemic’s wrath had worn on the physicians at Grey Sloan Memorial.

Meredith in full COVID-19 regulation garb
Meredith Grey reacts to the stress of the pandemic’s ramifications. Pic credit: ABC

In particular, Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) did not fare well. Not at all.

The hotshot surgeon showed her frustration and anger early on in the storyline. At one point, she went into a supply room and pushed an entire shelving unit crashing down, its contents flying everywhere.

But that was not the most shocking aspect of Thursday’s Grey’s Anatomy season premiere.

After a particularly grueling day, and after trying their best to save lives under strict COVID conditions, Meredith joined the others as they headed out of Grey Sloan Memorial.

Unfortunately, she did not get any further than the parking lot.

Meredith Grey collapses on Grey Sloan Memorial grounds

Suddenly, the famous surgeon dropped to the ground, unconscious.

McWidow (Richard Flood) came to her aid. As the newest surgeon at Grey Sloan assessed Mer’s situation, the scene dramatically shifted.

Meredith left the real world behind in what appeared to be a dream.

The show’s main character was transported from the cold, hard ground in Seattle to a sandy beach where the sun was shining elsewhere.

Meredith leaves Grey Sloan behind

It didn’t take long for Meredith to realize she was no longer absorbed in saving lives and being distanced from her family due to COVID-19.

Instead, she had changed from her dark blue scrubs into a lovely white ensemble as she soaked up her uplifting surroundings.

Then, while the ocean lapped onto the shore not far from her, Meredith noticed a familiar figure. He was standing on the beach within eyesight but still far away as he waved at her.

Upon the shocking realization of that person’s identity, she reacted.

“Oh my god,” Meredith uttered as she stared at the person she had loved more than anyone else in her entire life.

It was Derek, her late husband who had tragically died during Season 11 of Grey’s Anatomy.

Derek Shepherd comes back from the dead
Dr. McDreamy returns to Grey’s Anatomy after Meredith goes unconscious. Pic credit: ABC

Yes, Patrick Dempsey — the man who became internationally famous as a character named Dr. McDreamy — was there in the flesh.

Or so it seemed.

Talk about a shocking ending and the start of what looks to be an intriguing new season of Grey’s Anatomy.

Stay tuned.

Grey’s Anatomy airs on Thursdays at 9/8c on ABC.

Hollywood-based New Yorker and veteran journalist Jane Lasky has covered leisure activities for a very long time. She has written for Esquire, Vogue, Los Angeles... read more
Jane Lasky


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