SPOILER ALERT: The story includes a detail about the April 1 episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy once again found a way to deliver a surprise. After the promo at the end of last week’s episode revealed that Chyler Leigh’s Lexie Grey would join Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) in the Season 17 beach motif, fans thought they knew exactly what to expect tonight, a sweet sister reunion. They still got that but there was a twist — Lexie was joined by Mark Sloan (Eric Dane). The on-again, off-again couple had gotten back together when they both died as a result of a plane crash in the Season 8 finale, and Seattle Grace Mercy West was subsequently renamed Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital in their memory.
With Dane and Leigh tonight, Grey’s Anatomy completed a return of the four longtime doctors on the show who had tragically died, including Patrick Dempsey’s Derek Shepherd, who has been recurring in the dream sequences, and T.R. Knight’s George O’Malley, who was featured in a December episode. Dempsey and Dane were also the top heartthrobs on the long-running drama with their monikers McDreamy and McSteamy, respectively. Separately, another Grey’s alum, Sarah Drew, whose character April Kepner is very much alive, also is coming back for a guest appearance this season.
As Meredith, still in a coma on ventilator in real life, sat on the beach with Lexie, the younger sibling said, “It’s so beautiful, I love it here.”
Said Meredith, “Me too.” Asked whether she would stay on the beach, aka in the land between life and death, Meredith was noncommittal, saying that she didn’t know the rules.
“I don’t think there are rules,” said Lexie, reminiscing how she loved rules when she was alive.
Enter Mark Sloan. “You totally did,” he interjected.
Mentioning his daughter Sofia, Mark told Meredith that she was “early” to join the dead.
“I don’t know how to get back,” Meredith remarked. “I keep seeing Derek, and he won’t help me get back or come close enough to touch.”
Said Mark, “It’s not up to him, it’s up to you.”
With that, the conversation shifted to Mark and Lexie’s relationship status.
“So you two are together?” asked Meredith.
“On your beach it looks like we are,” Mark responded before he and Lexie went frolicking by the waves while Meredith watched them with a smile. “I love it here,” she said to herself.
In the next beach conversation, Mark and Lexie talked about what they miss about being alive and Mark shared that he watches over his daughter Sofia, as well as her moms, Callie and Arizona.
“So much grief, so much loss, so much pain,” Meredith said, referring to the the harsh realities of the pandemic and the personal tragedies she has
faced that make her hesitant to go back.
She should be disheartened, Lexie contended. “The depth of grief that you felt for the losses is because of the depth of love,” she said. “As long you are alive, you get to feel it and you get to do something about it.”
In the end, both Lexie and Mark urged her to fight, assuring her that they will be “next to you, yelling in your ear” as she goes through life. “Don’t waste one single minute,” Mark said.
Moments later, Meredith was taken off the ventilator and began breathing on her own.
Check Deadline’s recap and a Q&A with Dane about his return here.
Dane joined Grey’s Anatomy as a recurring guest star in Season 2 and was promoted to series regular in Season 3.