Thursday night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy seems to be a rather polarizing episode, but for what it’s worth I quite enjoyed it.
“If/When” explored the fantasy possibilities of what would have become of everyone at Seattle Grace had Meredith’s mother not gotten Alzheimer’s. Sure, yeah, there’s no way to know exactly how things could play out and with only a one hour episode you had to suspend disbelief and just take the writers’ word for things. But it was fun to watch the characters we’ve gotten to know so well over the years be thrown into completely new storylines.
Meredith was living at home, with her mother and her (step)father, Dr. Webber. In fact, she was Meredith Webber. She was cheery. She wore pink. She was engaged to Alex Karev. And her “person” was April, who was actually sleeping with Alex. Yikes.
Derek and Addison were still together, but with a baby on the way – a baby that, as I expected, was actually Mark’s. Having Ellis Grey around didn’t change everything.
Bailey still had her long braids and glasses and was a bumbling, mumbling mouse. In what might have been the weirdest development, Callie and Owen were married with three kids – when would that have happened? How long was Owen even around Seattle Grace? Charles was still there, since I guess the shooting never happened? I had to chuckle when he said “Oh, someone just shoot me” after he realized he didn’t have a chance with April. Lexie was a drug addict, her and Meredith’s biological father had killed himself.
Stylistically, some changes made more sense than others. Meredith was all shiny and pink because she was constantly trying to please her mother. Cristina was a bigger bitch than usual because she didn’t have Meredith to befriend, and therefore no one told her those bangs weren’t working for her. Why did Alex look like Clark Kent, though? Other characters had almost no changes. Arizona was basically herself, though not married to Callie. April wasn’t all that different, and same went for Avery. Since Ellis Grey had won three Harper Avery awards, I would have expected her to be more buddy-buddy with the dude’s own grandson.
There were a lot of winking moments regarding departed characters. Dr. Burke left the state after an affair gone wrong with Cristina. George failed the intern exam and never returned. Izzy was that crazy intern who stole a heart for the patient she was sleeping with, and then Meredith went to her mom and got her fired. So brave, right? Barf. Man, I’m glad Ellis Grey is dead. Ellis was an overambitious, ruthless fame whore. She had “Mandy” Bailey fired for seemingly embarrassing her. She encouraged her daughter to steal surgeries and berated her for the smallest of failures. She was horrible.
The lesson, of course, was that even under other circumstances some things never change. Derek and Meredith still ended up in a bar together, but not before she formed something of a bond with Cristina. Alex looked cute in glasses and had a sunny disposition on the surface, but was still a self-destructive douchebag. My least favorite storyline was Owen and Callie’s strained marriage, because there was no context for it. He had stronger connections with Cristina, who was helping him with PTSD outbursts, and Teddy, who Callie thought was some dude he Skyped with. Bailey gave a classic Bailey speech (“Do you see me crying?” Never!) after getting axed.
I knew going into the episode that this would likely be a one-off, rather fruitless kind of experience. I enjoyed the trip into fantasyland, but it certainly didn’t progress the real plot at all. But you know what? I’m OK with that, because I thought it was fun. Grey’s has taken risks before and they don’t always pay off (collective shudder as we all remember the musical episode) but I’m glad they did this, if only because I enjoyed watching it. Now we can get back to reality (well, OK, it’s TV so it’s still fantasy) next week with a romantic Valentine’s Day episode.
What did you guys think? Were you a fan? Did you think it was a waste of time? Which character had the worst new life?