When I die of depression or boredom, dealer’s choice, can the Grey’s powers that be attend my funeral and let me down one final time?
The hyperbolic snark aside, Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 Episode 9 will be one of those polarizing hours. It’s one best described as an “acquired taste,” and fans will either love or hate it.
It’s also an hour that is difficult to unpack. And at this point, I’m not facetious when I say Grey’s should come with a trigger warning. Between COVID, 9/11, the depression, PTSD, and an hour that felt like an acid trip, it would’ve been advisable.
If you couldn’t tell, and it’s something I’ve acknowledged before, Kevin McKidd directed this installment, and McKidd is easily one of the best recurring directors on the series. He’s a personal favorite, and there’s this thrill every time his name appears in the credits because of it.
He has such a distinctive style, and this installment was no exception. The falling snow in Teddy’s dreamscape instantly reminded me of one of his previous installments, the equally as artsy and distinguished Grey’s Anatomy Season 14 Episode 17.
Given the nature of this hour, it must’ve been a deliberate callback since that was the hour where Owen traveled to Germany and professed his love for Teddy.
It’s those little touches that made this hour unique. They were the things that you sensed thought was put into, and likely it was attention to detail like that, which made this such a hyped-up and heavily promoted hour.
The cinematography was gorgeous, even when it was chaotic, confusing, and bizarre. The deeper into the hour, the stronger the stylistic choices, and by the end of the hour, once you adjusted to it, the direction was impressive.
Owen: Any luck?
Owen: Any longer and I may need to have her admitted.
And Kim Raver and Kevin McKidd’s performances were impressive as well. One thing that you can’t contest is that both can act their asses off. When given the proper material, Kim Raver always delivers magnificent performances.
She was fantastic. It was her installment for the taking, given that it was her centric, but McKidd edged past her, and it was a reminder that he truly is one of the strongest male performers on this series. It’s not even up for debate anymore.
Objectively, the hour gave us stunning performances by Raver and McKidd, and the direction was stellar. Unfortunately, it’s everything else that contributed to a frustrating and dull hour. Tom’s “eeny, meeny, miney, snooze” line could not be any more accurate.
In a season that’s been this heavy with no space for light, tossing in this unusual, stylistic hour when much of the audience is already fatigued and at their wit’s end with the other storylines was a disservice.
Eeny, meeny, miny, snooze.
The hour didn’t have the space to stand on its own in all its originality as one that chose an unorthodox route toward exploring grief and pain. Rolling into an hour like this after DeLuca’s death and months of bedridden Meredith talking to dead people on the beach stole this installment’s thunder before it even arrived.
Earlier into the season, hell, at the end of Grey’s Anatomy Season 16, this hour would’ve been superb, but now, it’s emotionally draining and not in any of the engaging ways.
It’s a filler episode, and sometimes those can be great. Grey’s Anatomy has given us some wonderful bottle episodes over the years, but on a shortened season of a series that’s playing mind games with us on whether or not it’s the final one, the hour felt like a waste of precious time.
And we wasted that time on Teddy.
You keep looking past me just like you always do. I’m right here.
Sadly, after a season and a half of making Teddy one of the most insufferable characters on the series “for plot,” devoting an entire hour to attempting to manipulate viewers into loving or sympathizing with her (again) was irritating, and it felt like too little too late.
Teddy hasn’t done anything more or less awful than any of the other characters on the series, and Amelia — with an iconic moment of calling Owen out on his bullshit — said as much. However, it’s no less irksome that they kept finding new ways to destroy her character beyond repair or care.
It’s felt like damn near two seasons of needless character assassination, and it’s hard to walk all of it back. The hour gave us insight into Teddy, and why she is the way that she is, I think.
She’s been through some awful things. She has PTSD, so the conclusion is that we shouldn’t judge her, I guess?
But if for a minute we knew that this storyline would thread through the rest of the season, then it’s easy to go with the flow. But Grey’s Anatomy doesn’t do that with their characters, especially when it comes to their mental health.
Owen went to one therapy session once, and suddenly, he was fine. We needn’t unpack the clusterfuck of shit going on with Meredith. None of the other characters had the good sense to recognize that Miranda’s obsessive fixation on DeLuca’s death was part of the OCD they rarely acknowledge.
Even this installment had Teddy snapping out of her catatonic state at the end of the hour after a healing conversation with St. Meredith Grey, in what is the most screentime Ellen Pompeo has probably had all season.
And by the next installment, we’ll go back to pretending as if Teddy’s grief didn’t literally knock her off of her feet. It’s hard to invest in hours like this exploring these topics when we know damn well there’s no throughline for them moving forward.
DeLuca: Did you always love her, Allison?
Teddy: Can we talk about this somewhere else?
DeLuca: Teddy, this OR is very familiar with your private life.
The trigger for Teddy was losing DeLuca. And make no mistake, you don’t have to be close to a person for their death to have a traumatic impact on you.
However, DeLuca had a significant role in Teddy’s dreamscape. From the moment he landed on the table, the show has attempted to convince us that Teddy was close to DeLuca and they were friends.
We have never seen that at all. Where are the receipts? It’s hard to find their interactions particularly meaningful when they’re trying to backdraft some friendship we never knew existed!
I love Giacomo Giannotti, but did they kill him off before his contract was complete and wanted to find new ways to incorporate him into the installments to fulfill his quota?
I didn’t mean to hurt anyone. I just fell in love with Allison.
Why did he take up so much space in Teddy’s dream? For that matter, why was his death a plot device to further Teddy’s storyline in the first place?
Ghost DeLuca was there to guide Teddy through her grief, and she also had some assist from Allison. We went from dream sequences at the hospital to those and flashbacks.
We got to see how things begin with Allison and why Teddy considers her the love of her life. I’ll never complain about seeing Sherri Saum in anything.
Teddy’s entire life is tragedy and pain. She’s lost so many people in her life. When her parents died, Allison was there for her, and she served as a lifeline.
Mer: Teddy, I’m sorry. This is over. Time of death: September 11, 2001, 9:59 a.m.
And Teddy always had a habit, as Mer put it, of running away from pain and into the safe harbor that is another person.
When her parents died, she ran from that into Allison. When she lost Allison on 9/11, she went into the military and fell in love with Owen. After Owen chose Cristina over her, Teddy went for Henry, and his death pushed her to Germany, and we know the rest.
It’s a cycle that she hasn’t been able to break, and it’s all rooted in her pain and loss. She has a genuine fear of getting close to people because she always loses them.
It’s a conclusion she came to in the second half of her dreamscape, but it was only after a thorough exploration of her relationship with Owen and how she felt as if she never came first.
Teddy: So Amelia comes first?
Owen: No, Cristina comes first.
We got so many Cristina mentions during this installment that Sandra Oh should collect a check for it. Teddy felt as if she was never the love of Owen’s life. She believed she fell short compared to his love for Cristina and Amelia.
Owen even said as much in her dream. If anything, the hour served as a painful reminder that Owen and Teddy aren’t good for or meant for each other.
It felt as if it was a chapter closing on Teddy and Owen as a romantic relationship, and maybe they’ll only make it as co-parents.
We know Teddy believes that you can have more than one love of your life, and that’s why she thought Owen was another one for her. And we had this long, convoluted, tedious exploration of Teddy’s life, pain, and all that good stuff.
But I also don’t know what we’re supposed to conclude from some of it either.
It seemed as though they were telling us that the only offense Teddy did was fall in love with Allison, and that’s not bad, but again, they keep doing this weird thing where they gloss over her chronic philandering.
It’s not to say that she’s not a human that makes mistakes, but by treating what is a clear issue and repeat pattern as if it’s not an error at all, or that she doesn’t hurt people in the process, and it’s just life is effed up.
They keep bypassing why many people were frustrated with her character in the first place.
Teddy: Please don’t die.
Mer: I’ll do my best.
And it still feels odd that we’re supposed to reshift how we see Teddy and Allison’s relationship. Think of how much more compelling and richer Teddy’s storyline could’ve been for years if we had known the extent of her first love from the beginning?
Think of all of the things that they could’ve explored better. And while it’s utter bullshit that Owen responds so terribly to Teddy having a Cristina of her own, and a woman at that, maybe he’s as annoyed as I am with the secrecy of it all coming out of the left field.
If they were going to spend their lives together, and they both thought they knew everything about one another, Allison is a hell of a blindside, and naming their child after her is still a conflicting choice.
But when Owen wasn’t genuinely worried about her, he was an asshole. Amelia is the MVP of the season for going off on Owen the way that fandom has wanted to for years.
Do you walk around telling everybody how you strangled Cristina?!
Owen has effed up so much through the course of the series — too much for him to be this judgmental and unforgiving. He’s cheated before. He, too, has suffered from PTSD.
He’s forgiven Amelia for that godawful Tumor Amelia plot. He needs to let all of the anger and hostility go.
And it’s true that he shouldn’t judge her for her PTSD looking different than his. However, it also didn’t feel right to compare Teddy consciously and repeatedly cheating and carrying on hurting both Tom and Owen for months to what Owen did to Cristina while he was sleep.
They both have cheated and hurt people, and that’s comparable, but Owen’s ordeal with Cristina isn’t the equivalent of Teddy sleeping with Tom on their wedding day. It just isn’t.
I’m never going to be enough for you.
It sucks that Amelia’s one day away from taking care of a dozen kids at Mer’s house was used to drag Owen by every last one of his ginger follicles. But I suppose her presence made about as much sense as anything else during this installment.
And Teddy’s moments with Meredith were just weird. She’s the one who Teddy told about Allison, so in that sense, it made some sense, but overall, I don’t know.
Whatever Mer said, it was enough to snap Teddy out of her catatonic state because Mer is gifted like that or something. And Teddy was right there taking care of the baby as if nothing happened.
And to this precise moment, even with everything we kind of maybe learned or something, I still cannot tell you what the point of this entire hour was.
Eeny, meeny, miny, snooze.
But, hey, I managed to wax poetic and clock 2000 words on an hour of Grey’s I did not understand, that bored the ever-loving shit out of me and felt like a waste of time. Put me in a writer’s room!
Over to you, Grey’s Fanatics. What are your honest thoughts on this hour? Did you enjoy this Teddy-centric? Do YOU know what the point was?
You can watch Grey’s Anatomy online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.