Any committed Grey’s Anatomy fan is very intimately acquainted with the knowledge what might befall a character at the fictional hospital when the show’s creator herself pens an episode. We know for sure there will be intense moments, horrible moments, deeply sad moments but liberating ones as well. Grey’s Anatomy creator has managed to turn this crazy mixture of moments into more and more real ones over the years. Ms Rhimes has been always negatively criticised for going for the jugular when it comes to characters’ exit. One thing can’t be denied though. No matter how dark it may sound, Grey’s Anatomy creator has been getting better and better at killing her characters- there is elegance, grace, denial, struggle and plenty of courage.
For many of you it might have come as a surprise when a few episodes before Grey’s Anatomy season eleven finale its creator took it upon herself to write an episode. Perhaps, the fact that Ms Rhimes decided to write an episode was more surprising than the episode number itself in the season she wrote.
“How To Save A Life” was well-written and thought-out episode, dedicated to Derek Shepherd. It was also Patrick Dempsey’s farewell to the audience. The episode was pretty straightforward filled with heart- stopping and walking on the edge moments and the most devastating one- when Meredith Grey decided to pull the plug on her husband.
It is futile to talk about the cheesiness and melodramatic events and the dreamy talk. Yes, Derek saved four people and talked about Meredith with mushiness and dreaminess. We know he loves her even when he hates her.
The way much better part of the episode was Winnie the kid, Derek’s physical injuries self- assessment (we got to hear it) and of course Derek’s transportation to some hellhole for a hospital.
Winnie the kid
If you have paid close attention, you might have noticed that this kid was a mini version of Derek, a mirror if you’d like and also the only person without any severe injuries. This girl was like a messenger for Derek, a reminder that he is mortal and doesn’t get to decide who lives or dies, a reminder that he can’t know what will happen next. And of course, a reminder of who he is- the little boy who witnessed his father’s death, the guy who likes fishing, the doctor who may not like treating criminals or people causing accidents, but he will do it anyway because this is his job.
What’s more, Derek didn’t get the privilege to be treated at Grey- Sloan Memorial. He got on the wrong ambulance, so to speak. The best part here is that Derek was conscious, though not talking. The creepy and freighting part is that he knew what was going to happen to him just because of some arrogant doctor’s ego. Derek’s quiet talking is his head was actually Derek’s last medical case, Derek’s last teaching moment- he was telling us what was wrong with him and what the doctors were supposed to do.
Probably, many of you are wrecking their heads with the question why Derek wasn’t transported to Grey- Sloan Memorial. The answer is simple, we wouldn’t have witnessed Derek’s last moments of being a doctor and the other reason- that was the last intimate moment between him and Meredith, just the two of them. They were not the doctors, but simply two human beings. So, the setting was well chosen. Meredith Grey was once again the wife in the waiting room; she was stripped from her doctor’s armour and became Mrs Shepherd, the wife who was vulnerable, the wife who had to decide what to do with her brain dead husband.
And she waited for Derek, a beat, two heart beats and then she let him go. Derek wasn’t there anymore. He never responded to her voice, he went quietly like his last breath.
No one probably has ever thought that such dreadful event might have befallen Meredith and Derek. No one probably has ever thought that Derek would die in such an ironic way, but trucks come out of nowhere and planes fall out of the sky. Despite his arrogance and giant ego, Derek Shepherd was the dreamiest man, the one with the cheesy talk and the puppy dog eyes. He will be remembered for his famous words “It’s a beautiful day to save lives”.
Certainly, Derek’s death will reshape Meredith’s life and will affect the others at the hospital. Once again a tragedy will rearrange and change the face of Grey- Sloan Memorial.