The May 15 season finale of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ was jam packed with tears AND surprises. However, it was Cristina’s heartbreaking farewell that we’ll remember the most.
On the Grey’s Anatomy season finale, Cristina’s (Sandra Oh) farewell take a backseat when disaster strikes a nearby mall. While Owen (Kevin McKidd) is worried about her well-being, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) is struggling with the idea of moving to Washington, D.C. with her husband, Derek (Patrick Dempsey).
‘Grey’s Anatomy’ — Cristina’s Farewell
Oh no! It’s barely started and I already want to curl up in the fetal position and cry. Here we go — I’m going to pull it together just for this recap!
First and foremost, I find it very interesting that the opening scene is the one and only preview clip ABC released before the episode aired. Also, doesn’t it feel like there is a bit of foreshadowing going on between Cristina and Owen and their non-goodbye goodbye? Hmm.
I hope you don’t think I missed that “getting hit by a bus” comment, either. RIP George, forever in our hearts.
Okay, onto everyone else. Derek is really into the idea of moving to Washington, D.C. and Meredith must be trying to appease him because they have already purchased somewhere to live when they get there. If they get there. Meredith is clearly putting off signing the paperwork on the townhouse, and I can already see that this is not going to end well.
Bailey (Chandra Wilson) appears to be campaigning for Cristina’s seat on the board. That is, until Jackson (Jesse Williams) cuts her trial funding and she’s too upset to care about the board anymore. Jackson reminds her that she almost got the hospital sued, along with almost getting fired, but she doesn’t care. And honestly? She shouldn’t. She saved that little boy’s life, and she did it in a way no one has ever thought of before. The hospital should be funding her brilliance so that they can save more people’s lives with her stem cell research.
Later in the episode, Richard tells Bailey that she is too good of a surgeon to be sitting behind a micro all day. He refuses to let her career end like that as opposed to in the operating room where she belongs. That’s when he tells her he is going to suggest she take Cristina’s seat on the board. Bailey is more than pleased to hear this, and she doesn’t seem too upset about losing her clinical trial anymore, either.
Cristina’s replacement, Maggie, hates her. That’s putting it lightly, especially while listening to her complain to Owen — of all people — about Cristina’s passive-aggressive attitude towards her. Technically, she is Cristina’s boss. But Cristina has never really cared about authority, and why would she start now? Owen assures Maggie that Cristina is leaving for good at the end of the day, but the pain in his voice is almost too much to bear. How is he going to deal with losing her?
April finally starts telling people that she is pregnant! She is pretty excited to tell Owen, especially since it is going to change how she is able to treat certain people. Even though he’s excited for her, his attention is stolen almost immediately by a news broadcast.
Here we go. It’s happening. I am so nervous.
‘Grey’s Anatomy’ — Disaster Strikes Seattle
There has apparently been an explosion at the local mall, and now Owen and April have started directing hospital employees to prepare for the influx of patients they are about to receive. As this is happening, the news broadcast states that this might be an act of terrorism. This leads us to Owen hosting a press conference at the hospital, where he is dodging questions about whether or not this is a terrorism situation.
The Department of Homeland Security get involved almost immediately, and they are looking for a specific group of patients that they need to interview. Owen passes them off to April, and then finds a moment of peace in the elevator. He takes that quiet moment to take out his phone and call Cristina, and it goes straight to voice mail. Chills run up my spine, but I do remember her saying that her phone was dead at the beginning of the episode. So let’s all take a deep breath and keep watching, okay?
And then Owen says it. Cristina mentioned going to the mall. That, I will admit, is something I missed. After Owen tells Alex (Justin Chambers), he tells him not to tell Meredith. Now would be a good time to tell someone though, because someone should go looking for Cristina. Is she at home? Is she in the hospital somewhere, sleeping maybe? Someone, please, go look for Cristina!
We are immediately distracted by April and her patient, because the patient is covered in a weird rash complete with blisters. No one knows what sort of chemical caused the explosion, but whatever it is it is causing a lot more damage than anyone could have predicted. I am even worried about April treating these patients, because if it’s an airborne chemical it could make her sick — and she has to worry about her baby now, too.
Catherine Avery makes a surprise appearance, much to Richard’s dismay. The good thing is that Catherine is already in doctor mode so she is tending to patients, but the bad thing is that she knows about Jackson and April’s baby. And she doesn’t seem too excited when she tells Richard she’s going to be a grandmother. Uh oh.
Cut to the DHS interrogating a teenage boy who is currently under Meredith’s care. Apparently the boy was at the hospital with his friend, and his friend was wearing a backpack. The DHS agents are demanding to know what was in his friends backpack, but he doesn’t answer them. When the DHS agent says he is taking the teenager into custody, Meredith protests. They don’t know the depth of his injuries, and he could potentially have internal damage they have not discovered yet. While they are arguing about this, the teenager passes out, and Meredith tries to help him while reminding the DHS agent that he interrupted this teenager’s care and may have potentially made things much, much worse for him.
While Alex is treating a little boy who is unresponsive, he gets help from Cristina. Yes, that’s right, Cristina! She didn’t have time to go to the mall. I have never been so excited to see her!
Leah makes a surprising return when she shows up at the hospital as a volunteer. April immediately puts her to work, and one of her first patients is a man whose eye is bulging out of his head. Shane is currently treating him, but isn’t sure what to do about his eye. Surprisingly enough, Leah does. He apparently has too much blood behind his eye, so Leah uses a needle to release some of the blood and put his eyeball back in place. The man can suddenly see out of his eye again, and Shane is impressed. It was pretty cool to watch Leah rescue this man, but it’s sad to think that she has already been fired from the hospital.
While all of this is going on, one of Cristina’s conduit patients finally gets the call that they have a heart transplant for him. Cristina schedules the transplant since it’s what she has been waiting for for two weeks now, but someone is not very happy about it. That someone is her new “boss.” Cristina demands an operating room, so her new “boss” gives her a room. That’s when Cristina demands that she prep her patient for her, and I’m pretty sure this new doctor is not going to last very long if Cristina keeps talking to her like this. Even if it is only for one more day!
While operating on a completely different patient, Cristina gives Alex a lecture that is sure to get him back to the Grey-Sloane Hospital. She reminds him that he needed a lot of vetting as a doctor, but that eventually she realized he was good. Too good. Not as good as her, but still good. She even asks him why he would want to put all of that talent away just for more money, and the look on his face is priceless. Does this mean we’ll get Alex back full-time? I hope so!
The DHS is really on Meredith’s case about the teenager they think is a suspect, and they are literally waiting outside of the operating room doors when he gets out of surgery. Meredith demands they leave him in the hospital to recover, and that’s when the main DHS officer gets a suspicious phone call and tells Meredith her patient is no longer a suspect.
In another part of the hospital, Owen and April catch a news broadcast that announces the mall explosion was caused by a gas main break — not a dirty bomb. That rules out terrorists, and everyone breathes a big sigh of relief.
‘Grey’s Anatomy’ — Cristina Is Forced To Say Goodbye
Throughout all of this, Owen has been searching everywhere for Cristina. He finally finds out that she’s alive when Link, the transplant patient, and his mother arrive saying they got a call from her. The sense of relief that floods Owen is bittersweet to see. I can’t wait until they actually see each other again!
Catherine randomly discovers April crying in a supply closet. April does not even seem phased by the fact that Catherine is in the hospital, because she is too busy being overwhelmed with emotion about the idea of terrorism in the world. How can she raise a child in a world where the first sign of destruction is immediately assumed to be terrorism? Instead of making April feel worse, Catherine does something surprising and soothes her with a story about how she one faced a horrible act of racism in the 60’s. It’s an inspiring speech about how if you are not afraid, then no one has the power to hurt you.
Cristina is scrubbing in for her heart transplant when Meredith finds her and tells her she doesn’t have time to do the surgery. She only has two hours until her flight to Zurich, and she needs to go this time. For real. That’s when it happens, Cristina finally breaks down. She tells Meredith that nothing feels finished, and she needs to see this surgery through to the end. But Meredith won’t hear it. Cristina is finally getting what she has always wanted, what she has dream of, and Meredith, as her person, is going to make sure she sees that through over anything else.
Cristina sucks it up and takes Meredith’s advice. As they are leaving the operating room, Cristina stops when she sees Derek. He is her first goodbye. It’s simple, but it hurts. “Derek. Goodbye.” But Derek being Derek pulls Cristina in for a big hug and wishes her well.
Next up are Bailey and Richard. They are in the middle of their discussion about the board when Cristina tries to say goodbye, and Meredith tells them she doesn’t have long to do so. Bailey insists that she leave, but she is interrupted by Shane who demands that Cristina take him with her. Wait, what?
Yes, Shane makes this big, dramatic speech about how he wants to be in control of his education, and he wants that education to come from Cristina in Zurich. She says yes, and he turns to Richard and says, “I quit! Respectfully, of course.” Then he runs off to pack his things. I definitely did not see that one coming!
But, back to the goodbyes. After Bailey cracks a joke about Cristina taking things as she goes, Cristina wraps her into a tight hug. Then, she also hugs Richard, who tells Cristina how proud of her she is. Meredith tries to drag her off, but she remembers there is one more person she has to say goodbye to. Owen.
Owen is in an operating room working on a patient whose abdomen was split open by the blast, and things do not appear to be going well at all. There’s a knocking sound and he looks up to the observation deck above the room, and there is Cristina. The moment is filled with raw emotion. They are saying goodbye without saying goodbye at all. No words are spoken, no embraces are had, just one long look that seems endless.
Owen looks away for a second, looks back, and Cristina is gone. Just like that.
Meredith brings Cristina out front to catch a cab, and in a massive case of coincidence one pulls up directly in front of them. It happens to be the transplant heart that she should have been operating on, and she suddenly tries to go running back into the hospital. But Meredith sends the heart inside and talks Cristina into the cab. There are no hugs there, either, so Cristina tells the driver to wait and looks up at Meredith.
“What, do you need an I love you or something?” Meredith asks, and Cristina’s expression says it all. She does. So, Meredith delivers. “I love you.”
Just like that the cab takes off, and we watch as the cab pulls out of the parking lot and turns away, leaving Meredith alone. Symbolic.
‘Grey’s Anatomy’ — The Real Goodbye Happens
Back in the hospital, Meredith stumbles upon Derek’s sister Amy who is having the time of her life as a neurosurgeon at the hospital. In fact she is enjoying herself so much, she feels bad about it. But she tells Meredith that she needs her and Derek to leave for Washington, D.C. so that she can continue to live this great life without being in his shadow.
And then Cristina pulls Meredith away. Um, what’s with these surprises tonight? Just kidding, I am really, really enjoying them!
Cristina pulls Meredith into a break room and says she can’t leave until they dance it out, because that’s what they do. That’s how they end things. But before they dance, Cristina demands that they call each other and text at least once a day. She also demands that Meredith take care of Owen and not let him get “all dark and twisty.” Of course she also asks Meredith to mock Alex once a day, and not to get into any more plane accidents, or hold anymore bombs, or do anything hero-like that will get her hurt.
“You’re my person. I need you alive. You make me brave.”
I am inconsolable. But Cristina and Meredith? They dance like no one is watching.
Before she leaves, Cristina gives Meredith some very sound advice about Derek’s job in Washington, D.C. She basically tells her not to go with him, because even though they are both bright surgeons, Meredith needs to do what she wants to do. Not what Derek wants her to do.
‘Grey’s Anatomy’ — Meredith Takes A Stand
After Cristina leaves, it turns out that her heart transplant patient’s surgery went fine without her.
In an interesting turn of events, while Bailey is celebrating her potential spot on the board, Alex finds a package that Cristina left him. Inside the envelope is a bunch of paperwork that appears to be her shares of the hospital board. So, she has basically left him her seat on the board. Both he and Jo shocked, but will he accept it? Can she even do that?
Meredith and Derek get into a row over moving to Washington, D.C. because she has finally admitted that she does not want to go with him. The argument is more about how Derek believes his career is more important than hers, and he admits that it is. Meredith makes it very clear that she is not going anywhere, and her argument is very valid. So, will Derek take the job in D.C. or will he stay with his family in Seattle?
The biggest shocked of the night comes out of nowhere. Richard sits down next to Cristina’s replacement, Maggie, to talk about her day, and she goes on about how it has been the craziest two weeks of her life. However, it’s not the craziest part of her new job. Apparently, two years ago she found out she was adopted. Her birth mother? Ellis Grey.
Richard’s expression is filled with shock, because it’s very obvious that Maggie is his daughter. A daughter he never even knew he had. Just wait until Meredith finds out she has another sister!
It sure looks like season 11 has a lot of new things in store for us! There are lots of questions to be answered. See you in the fall, Grey’s fans!
So what did you think, HollywoodLifers? Did Cristina get the send off she deserved? Let us know your thoughts below!
— Lauren Cox