Derek's death brought on new life in a sob-inducing two-hour episode episode of Shonda Rhimes' series

By Lanford Beard
April 30, 2015 10:50 PM

Raise your hand if you’re still crying.

Once the tragic news was delivered, everyone at Grey Sloan Memorial had to mourn the abrupt demise of Dr. Derek Shepherd in his or her own way on Thursday’s two-hour episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) naturally had the toughest time saying goodbye to the love of her life and father of her children after last week’s shocking exit by star Patrick Dempsey.

“He’s gone,” she said during a moving flashback montage featuring the highs and lows of their powerful romance. “And I know he’s gone. It’s like, I don’t know how to sleep alone.”

The sequence, including several of Derek’s McDreamiest moments was set to the Grey’s classic “Grace” by Kate Havnevik.

Showcasing several moments that cemented Meredith and Derek’s relationship – Derek’s support in the midst of her breakdown, Meredith’s belief the pair could be “extraordinary together rather than ordinary apart,” their cutest married-couple moments, their utter vulnerability during tough times and, of course, some steamy hospital sex – the montage was both a memorial and a silent prayer for Meredith, all underscored by Havnevik’s plea to “turn my grief to grace.”

It was also the point, 75 minutes into the episode, when even someone with the hardest of hearts most definitely lost it.

Yet more tears were shed as Meredith recalled lowlights from her troubled relationship with her mother Ellis Grey (Kate Burton) in a series of flashbacks that set up how Meredith would ultimately work through her grief – starting with a horrific, bloody prenatal emergency.

Don’t worry! Shonda Rhimes is not that cruel. (Just ask the panicked Scandal fans who thought Scott Foley‘s Jake Ballard had been killed off two weeks ago.)

Instead, Rhimes created a new reason for Mer & Der fans to bawl when Meredith suddenly delivered her baby, named Ellis for maximum emotional impact.

“I didn’t think I could do it,” she told her “person” Alex Karev (Justin Chambers). “Part of me thought, ‘What if I have this baby and just die?’ And then she arrived, and I saw her face, and I saw him in her. She’s beautiful.”

The episode closed with a new riff on another Grey’s musical staple: The Wind and the Wave’s cover of Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars.”

In a final Ellis flashback, the elder Dr. Grey delivered the speech that Rhimes referenced in her statement after last week’s episode: “I have to believe there’s a way, a way to step off the carousel, to start again, to start fresh. There has to be a way to leave all my ghosts behind,” said Ellis, adding, “It’s a choice, it’s a choice I’m making – to move forward, to move past this. I can do that.”

It harkened to a moment Meredith remembered of Derek telling her, “If there’s a crisis, you don’t freeze, you move forward. You get the rest of us to move forward. Because you’ve seen worse. You’ve survived worse. And you know we’ll survive, too.”

The final gut-punch? Meredith returned to the hospital and put on Derek’s head covering as she went into surgery, saying to herself (as much as to us), “All I have to do is begin.”

Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.

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