This is not going to be a popular opinion. I’m not sure why I hold it. Grey’s Anatomy is deeply a part of me. I’ve grown up with it—lived by it in some ways. And I know that to many, many fans it feels like the spine of the show has been ripped out. I should feel that way. I’ve spent the better part of eleven years invested in Meredith and Derek’s relationship. On the night the season four finale aired, I remember telling my mom I could die happy because Meredith and Derek were together again. I haven’t been able to re-watch the ferryboat crash arc in years, because of the possibility of Meredith’s death. But Derek died last night, and although I’m not happy with this, I understand.
Please note, that I’ve almost always had a strange ability to comprehend Shonda Rhimes’ choices in regards to Grey’s. I’m somehow on her wavelength in a way that kind of freaks me out. I stand by her choices—mostly, I’ll never be over Lexie—and this choice is not the exception. Patrick Dempsey has wanted to cut hours/leave the show for some time. He’s not extremely vocal about it, but fans know, and it’s visible in his story arc for the past year. His departure was bound to happen, eventually. I’ve heard people say that they wish he could have just stayed in DC, but how much sense would that make? It didn’t work, didn’t feel right this season, let alone stretched across innumerable future seasons. Meredith and Derek are an MFEO couple. Their relationship was the main storyline for the show’s first four seasons. I couldn’t bear to watch that fall apart, to have it end in a bitter break-up, a divorce with no chance of reconciliation. That is not the ending the characters, Patrick, or the fans deserve. That I would have hated. Instead, he died after spending a day saving lives. It’s devastating. I don’t know how Meredith will cope. But I do know that she will. She and Derek had their fairytale. It ended too soon, but it ended far more happily than it could have. And although I could see myself quitting the show if Meredith died in season three, I will not be quitting now.
I didn’t start watching Grey’s for Derek, after all—heck, at one point I shipped Meredith with George—from the beginning, I’ve watched for Meredith Grey, this flawed, strong, phenomenal woman. I will keep watching as she mourns the love of her life, raises her children to honor the memory of their father, and proves that she is a capable single mother, in the way that her mother wasn’t. In a way, this change makes sense for Meredith’s story. She had the kind of love her mother lost, and now she succeed in another way her mother could not. Other possibilities are opened as well—will she go back to Neuro, maybe, to seek out a change now that the husband who couldn’t trust her at work is gone?—possibilities that won’t let me quit the show, the way so many fans are doing. I understand watching for the love story, I do. But that’s not all the show—or Meredith—has to offer—not even eleven years in.