Talk about a cliffhanger!
During Thursday's midseason finale of Grey’s Anatomy, a two-hour crossover event with Station 19, the doctors of Grey Sloan Memorial fought ceaselessly to tend to two young Black girls, who were victims of kidnapping and sex trafficking, all while continuing their endless efforts to save others from the coronavirus, including their own Tom Koracick and Meredith Grey.
And, frighteningly, Meredith took a turn for the worse, leaving viewers wondering: Will she return?
After experiencing hallucinations the past few episodes due to COVID-19 complications — including her much-discussed reunions with late husband Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) and former Grey Sloan intern George O'Malley (T.R. Knight) — Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) seemed to have been on the mend. But after suddenly getting out of her hospital bed to tend to a Code Blue, Meredith passed out.
"Her stats are plummeting," said Teddy Altman (Kim Raver), who's been treating Meredith throughout this ordeal. "The experimental drug doesn't reverse damage that's already occurred. She might have been on a COVID high…I think it's time."
"No," said Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson). "She said she didn't want to be on a vent."
"Unless it was a last resort," said Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.).
"Meredith's lungs are at a breaking point," said Teddy. "I know early results were good. More and more patients are surviving after they go on a vent."
"Do it," said Richard, who is Meredith's healthcare proxy.
"Sometimes when you think the storm has passed, you realize you were just in the eye of it," Meredith says in voiceover as she's put on the ventilator.
Speaking with PEOPLE ahead of Thursday's episode, Grey's star Kelly McCreary opened up about the meaning behind Meredith's sudden downfall.
"I think that the idea that Meredith's life is kind of hanging in the balance right now is really symbolic of a lot of things going on right now," she said. "A lot of people's lives are hanging in the balance, whether they're intubated on a COVID table or they've lost a family member who was meaningful to them and supported them. Now they're more vulnerable because of that, or their business failed or they lost their job or they lost their health insurance. A lot of people's lives are in the balance right now."
"To me, the takeaway is that in the face of uncertainty and really high stakes situations for people, how can we still have hope, how can we still come together?" she asked. "How can we still help one another? How can we hold people accountable for their actions and get out of this?"
Meanwhile, after two Black teens were admitted to the hospital for injuries suffered due to a fire they started in an attempt to be rescued from their kidnapper, the doctors soon realized the girls may have been victims to sex trafficking — leaving emotions high.
"Everyone is outraged that this monster kidnapped these girls and that is awful," Maggie Pierce (McCreary) told Amelia Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone). "It's awful. But what about the monsters that got us here? The many reasons that Black girls are more vulnerable to being taken in the first place. I want outrage for that. I want outrage for the fact that we are seen as disposable and rarely seen as victims. That Black girls are less likely to be seen as innocent than white girls. Which makes people think that we don't need protecting and that it's okay to hyper-sexualize us in the media."
"Meanwhile we are being physically and sexually abused at horrific rates and not just by sex traffickers," she continued. "There are so many things waiting to rob Black woman and girls for our freedom and future, our joy….Now there's a plague that is killing Black people at a rate that should make everyone outraged. If COVID were killing white people at the rate that it is killing Black people, you better believe that everyone would be wearing masks because it would be the damn law."
As the girls recover, a familiar face returned to Grey Sloan: the women who Andrew DeLuca suspected of sex trafficking last season (before he had his mental breakdown). It seems as if she was there to make sure the girls' kidnapper didn't rat her out to authorities.
"I'm following her," DeLuca quickly told his sister after seeing her for the first time. "I let her out of the hospital once. I'm not doing it again."
As Teddy continued to fight for others, her own personal battle continued to take a toll on her.
"Teddy, I don't want to keep punishing you," said Owen Hunt. "We have kids. Maybe it's time we started talking about what we're going to do."
"Allison," said Teddy. "Not our [daughter] Allison, my Allison [former flame/best friend]. We weren't just best friends. I was in love with her and she was in love with me. We were so deeply in love and I don't know what this has to do with what I did to you, but I know that it is the only secret that I kept from you before Tom. I know you well enough that you need the whole story. I don't know all of it yet. But I wanted to give you what I do know. I just want you to know I love you and I love our kids and I loved our family. Even if it's over."
"Ever since our wedding day, I've been trying to piece it together," Owen said. "Our history … you became someone who was capable of doing things I couldn't understand. It turns out that I just never really knew you."
"That's not true," she said.
"You don't know what truth is," he said. "We named our daughter after a lie."
Grey's Anatomy will return March 4 on ABC.
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