The show that just keeps going. Of the original interns, only Meredith and Alex are left, of the original ‘grown ups’ only Bailey and Webber (who will forever be The Chief). Only four of the original cast that made me fall in love with the show are still there by the end of this season. The cast has seen some other great characters come and go over the years, but even someone like Callie who has been there since season 2 feels like something of an interloper. So when this season we had to adjust to the absence of Christina and then say goodbye to Derek the show should have suffered.
But it didn’t. Watching Meredith adjust to being without Christina and watching her relationships with other characters grow to compensate was absolutely fascinating. I particularly love her relationship with Alex. Evil Spawn has come a long way and yet is still true to the somewhat obnoxious character he was on day one. He and Meredith *get* each other like no one else really does, probably not even Derek or Jo. Watching him become ‘her person’ was so satisfying.
Then with the loss of Derek, Meredith has to grow all over again. I have never been a fan of Derek and am not particularly sorry to see him go. As Christina said, he may be dreamy (although he doesn’t actually do anything for me), but Meredith is the sun. It’s more interesting to see the effect he has on her than it is to watch any of his self-important preenings. The fact that he went out in such a stupid way (doing a 3 point turn on a blind bend and pausing to find his phone, I mean, come on) was quite fitting I thought.
While Rhimes may not be particularly great at writing good leading men (President Grant on Scandal is even worse) she excels at relationships. There were 14 main characters on the show this year and just about every connection had depth, all completely grounded and aware of the complicated shared histories. Every time there’s a reference to an event in a previous season I give a little cheer; the connections of love, betrayal, frustration and forgiveness are all there and all track through.
Fundamentally this is a soap. So the plots have to occasionally be ridiculous. There have to be so many life events to drive narratives that it can become repetitive. There are little tricks used to change things up, the turnover of characters helps there, as do things like accelerating timelines so we don’t have to spend a dozen episodes watching people slowly mourn. The medical cases are pretty daft, the emotional manipulation pretty blatant and the number of workplace romances likely to drive any HR department to drink. But it doesn’t matter. I love it. I love these characters (the ones that are present and the ones that have gone) and I can’t wait to see what ridiculous things are thrown at them next.