Grey’s Anatomy Round Table: Was Jackson’s Big Farewell Underwhelming?!

We said goodbye to TWO of Grey’s Anatomy’s finest, and we do mean finest!

Jackson and Tom both left Grey Sloan Memorial by the end of Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 Episode 15. And the hour also saw Meredith returning home and reuniting with her family after her battle with COVID.

Join Meaghan Frey, Jasmin Pettie, and Jasmine Blu as they discuss the hour.

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After 12 years, was Jackson’s farewell acceptable? What would you grade his exit and how they honored him?

Meaghan: I’m giving it a C- and that is being pretty generous given my thoughts on it.

I fully understand that the previous episode was 100% dedicated to him, but that doesn’t make it OK to completely gloss over his goodbye in the episode that they touted as his goodbye episode.

Jackson Avery has been around for most of this series, and he deserved more than he got. Honestly, it felt like DeLuca got more of a goodbye than Jackson did.

Grey’s has never been great about doing goodbyes, in my opinion, but I think given that this season has been so heavy and we have so few old cast members left, I really wanted them to get this one right.

Jasmin: I’d give it an A. I think his farewell was well done!

I loved his conversation with Meredith and how he was the one to sneak her out. I loved Meredith’s voiceover for this episode and how it followed Jackson’s actions and the flashback montage to music. I thought it was fitting.

I would have liked him to have said goodbye to Ben because they were the Plastics Posse until he left to become a firefighter but apart from that, I was happy with it.

I agree with Meaghan that they seem to be focusing on DeLuca, his death, and his absence more than they should. I get that the writers and people behind the scenes liked the actor who played him.

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But the character himself was pretty widely detested by the other characters for seasons 15 and 16, so having them talk about him like he was such a great guy that everyone was super close to and that they all miss feels hollow to me and annoying.

Jasmine: Yeah, I’m echoing Meaghan here. C- is generous. Despite the previous hour’s devotion to Jackson, they claimed THIS was his goodbye episode, but it didn’t feel that way at all. I would’ve rather they kept it at Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 Episode 14, and outside of Jackson confronting his father, that hour did NOTHING for me either.

It was such an underwhelming goodbye for a character that lasted over a decade. I expected more, and it does feel as if the series devoted more time to remembering and saying goodbye to DeLuca, even here. And also, there was a lot of time on Meredith going home, too, so it undercut the goodbye.

I agree with Jasmin’s point about how odd it is that some of the characters act as if they were besties with DeLuca, but I still don’t get the DeLuca animosity comment. When did everyone detest him for two seasons?

What was your favorite Jackson goodbye? What was your least favorite? Were there any you felt we missed?

Meaghan: My favorite had to be Meredith. It was the only one that was actually emotional.

I always felt like the two had great chemistry when Jackson first was introduced. But they never really did much with the characters’ friendship throughout the years, so I was actually surprised that I got a little teary-eyed during their goodbye.

I did hate that they turned their goodbye into a Meredith compliment session — which was my complaint the entire episode. Meredith going home was a huge deal, and it shouldn’t have been in Jackson’s final episode.

I almost wish they had not made last week a bottleneck episode and cut out the scenes with Jackson and his dad and put Mer getting discharged in instead. Then they could have done a real goodbye to Jackson this week.

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My least favorite had to be Bailey. It was so brief and just felt like a box for Jackson to check off. I was incredibly disappointed they didn’t have a Maggie and Jackson goodbye scene. Out of all the characters on the show, he had the most history with her, and they deserved that.

Jasmin: My favorite goodbye was Meredith too. I, too, got emotional.

I loved that Meredith tried to lighten the mood by joking about how she won because she’s the last one standing. That scene when she hugged the pillow after Jackson left because she misses him and everyone else really got me.

I also really liked the conversation he had with Bailey and Richard. I’m glad he said a proper goodbye to Jo, although I didn’t find it super emotional.

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I agree that the episode could have been improved by splitting Meredith’s discharge and Jackson’s goodbye into two different episodes.

In addition to Ben, I would also like to have seen a goodbye with Maggie. I’m surprised they didn’t do that. Maggie was so focused on Meredith’s recovery that it’s not clear if she even knows that Jackson is moving to Boston.

Jasmine: I mean, I have to pick Mer by default since it’s the only real goodbye they spent time on or whatever.

I always felt the two Legacy Kids had an underrated relationship/friendship, so I liked that they shared time and hated that it reminded me of how little they did with that dynamic over the years.

But that it turned into a Mer ass-kissing hours made me roll my eyes, and that was also my issue with having Mer’s return home and Jackson’s departure in the same episode. Mer usurped his goodbye, and it pissed me off.

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And honestly, they only did the Jo goodbye so she could make that Alex joke. But I was incredibly disappointed by how brief his goodbye was to Bailey and Richard. I loathed that they completely ignored both his friendship with Ben and his entire relationship with Maggie. It was such a disservice!

Were you surprised that Tom left too? What do you think of his exit?

Meaghan: I was shocked. I didn’t see that coming at all, and I’m not happy about it.

I actually wasn’t even sure that he was leaving at first because it was so rushed. It wasn’t until I Googled and saw the articles about his exit that it sank in.

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While it was a lovely sentiment that surviving COVID changed him, it felt like it came out of the left field.

Tom recovered a while ago, and we haven’t seen any of this play out on screen.

With Jackson, his entire series arc has been building up to this point, whereas Tom truly feels like he is deciding to leave his whole life behind on a whim.

Tom brought a lot to the show but never reached his full potential thanks to being bogged down by the love triangle nonsense. Regardless, I will truly miss him and his cynical charm.

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Jasmin: I was, and I wasn’t. I love Tom and will truly miss his character, but ever since the affair came out and he and Teddy split, and she started working on repairing her relationship with Owen, Tom hasn’t had a lot to do.

I’m sad they didn’t do more with him because he’s such a great and complex character, and I know some people had speculated they might pair him up with Mama Ortiz, which could have been interesting. I’m sad we didn’t get to see him say goodbye to Amelia, Link, Teddy, or Meredith.

Tom and Amelia are old friends, he and Link seem to be getting along, and he was ready to be a father to Teddy’s baby before she got back together with Owen. Tom and Meredith had such an emotional scene earlier this season, and he’s been praying for her every day. I was expecting a follow-up scene there, so I hope we get one.

Jasmine: I was and wasn’t. For one, they spoiled it ten minutes into the episode, so I saw the articles. But outside of that, they didn’t know what else to do with him.

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They did saddle him with that stupid love triangle, screwed Tom over, and they’ve been wasting Germann ever since, so as much as I hate to see him go, I get why he left.

Tom’s departure did feel out of nowhere, though. Follow-up? On this season? Ha!

Some of the time they devoted to Mer, they could’ve spent building this up with Tom. He survived COVID, but we barely saw his recovery or any of his dynamics with his roommates.

They alluded to his Survivor’s Guilt, and then he disappeared for multiple episodes. He randomly returned to work, and he mostly disappeared again.

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And he deserved a chance to say goodbye to people, too. I know the series forgot, but he and Amelia were close — she’s his mentee– and he and Teddy were close. Hell, a scene with him and Owen putting everything behind them for good, or any follow-up with Mer.

Meredith finally left the hospital and returned home. React!

Meaghan: Finally, we can put this storyline behind us!

It was great to see Mer reunited with the kids and see the sense of relief on Amelia’s face when she walked in that door. Amelia has held their family together while Mer has been sick, and this must feel like a huge weight was lifted off her shoulders.

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I’m disappointed that Mer didn’t go through the clap out. I understand that she thought it was over the top, especially when so many others have lost their lives, but come on. Does she not realize how many people worked tirelessly to make sure she survived?

This was a huge win for them. They needed that moment even if she didn’t.

Jasmin: I am so happy that Meredith is doing better for real this time and got discharged! I’ve been waiting for this since the mid-season point.

I, too, loved the scene where she reunited with her kids, and Amelia was panicking about the state of the house, and Meredith told her it was fine, and that was just how she liked it.

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Meredith getting Jackson to sneak her out of the hospital felt very in character to me. As her voiceover says, Meredith isn’t one for tradition or big hullabaloos, which is why I think the others tried to keep it a secret. I’m not surprised that she ducked out early.

While I get what Meaghan is saying, I feel like the other characters should know by now that’s not her style.

Jasmine: Yay. It was long overdue. It was cute to see her with the kids and Amelia.

Yeah, Mer doesn’t get a pass from me either on skipping the clap-out. I think it’s tacky that she bailed, and we’re supposed to think it’s endearing because it’s Meredith Grey being herself. Nah.

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Jackson specifically told her why the clap-outs were important, arguably more important to the medical staff than for the patient. People spent g*ddamn months fighting to save her and keep her alive.

People have lost their lives. People are burned out. People have had full-blown mental breakdowns. People have taken care of her entire brood of children.

Literally, all she had to do was sit in a wheelchair and wave for two minutes, and she couldn’t even do that but proclaimed that she didn’t know how to thank everybody and they should be clapped for — something she could’ve done herself if she bothered to make a speech or something.

It was tacky, self-absorbed, and annoying AF. Hayes’ being a good sport about it was amusing, though. He’s better than me.

Teddy and Owen are back together. Thoughts?

Meaghan: Next question, please.

No, but seriously, while I am happy that they both are in better places mentally than the first time around, we’ve been down this road before, and it was a train wreck.

I’m not opposed to a Teddy and Owen endgame. I just wish they had spent more time rebuilding their relationship as a friendship first and then let it blossom back into a romantic relationship.

I hope that if the writers are taking us down this road, that the drama is done. As long as that is the case, I’ll get on board.

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Jasmin: I’m with Meaghan on this one! I’m happy for them. I am happy that they are happy and that the fighting and long-drawn-out drama is over, but I don’t really have any strong feelings about it.

I’ve never been a ride-or-die Teddy and Owen shipper, so I don’t feel an emotional rush seeing them back together.

I loved Tom and Teddy together, and he treated her like gold, so I’m sorry that ended, especially since, as Meaghan said, Teddy and Owen are a train wreck.

I also think that they should have spent less time fighting and more time rebuilding their friendship before getting back together.

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Jasmine: I would’ve liked it if they worked on rebuilding their friendship and co-parenting dynamic before falling back into bed together. It feels redundant, so I’m past the point of caring too strongly about it either way.

However, hopefully, this means they’re in it for good, and we can get off this merry-go-round.

Is Helm moving in with Levi (and Jo?) a good idea? Do you think they’ve neglected her burnout storyline?

Meaghan: It isn’t a bad idea? I don’t know; I’m kind of indifferent towards it.

Yes, they’ve neglected the burnout storyline, so it feels like that came out of nowhere, but it makes sense. I’m honestly shocked we aren’t seeing more of them go through similar experiences.

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I think Levi probably should have run it by Jo since it is her apartment, but Helm clearly needs some TLC, so it will be good for her to be less alone.

I loved your comparison to Mer, Izzie, and George in your review, Jasmine!

I would be totally fine with them playing up that angle. I feel like the way they were able to survive most days was by having that support to come home to, so I definitely think it could help Helm, Jo, and Levi.

Jasmin: I think so. I think it will give Helm the support she needs, and I’m glad Levi is there for her.

We haven’t seen Jo and Helm interact much, so I’m interested to see how Jo is going to feel about her moving in.

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Also, where is Helm going to sleep? Jo and Levi live in a one-room loft where Jo sleeps in a large bed, and Levi sleeps on the couch.

I would have liked to have seen more scenes along the way building up to this as Levi and Helm haven’t had a scene all season, and now, right at the end, you see him trying to help her.

I hadn’t thought of the Mer, Izzie, and George angle! That could be interesting.

Jasmine: The tiny apartment angle is a head-scratcher. I’ve been trying to figure out the logistics of that for a minute. Did Jackson leave Jo his penthouse apartment when he left?

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In what has been an ongoing pattern all-season, they introduced us to Helm’s unraveling, and then they didn’t follow through with it, so now that it’s back onscreen, it’s jarring. I would’ve liked it if they showed us more of the burnout.

Doctors living together was always a cute element of the series, so I can see them going for that again.

Are you happy Richard will officiate Maggie’s wedding? Should Link just accept that he’s House Dad and will never get out of the Sister House Coven?

Meaghan: I’m so happy that Richard will be able to be part of the wedding! When Richard got all weird about it and said he shouldn’t have assumed he was invited, I was so confused. They’ve been playing the father-daughter role for a while now. Of course, he was going to at least be invited to the wedding.

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Obviously, the problem was more that he wished he could be more involved, so this is the perfect solution.

I was so disappointed in Link’s response to the situation! I mean, it is a completely logical and normal response, BUT I just don’t want them to move out! The man just needs to accept his fate and get used to the fact that, at least for now, he isn’t going anywhere.

Jasmin: Yes! I posited on Twitter a few days ago that I thought Maggie might ask both her dads Bill and Richard to walk her down the aisle as she’d want to include both of them in the ceremony.

I think having Bill walk her down the aisle and Richard officiate is lovely. It reminds me of when Bailey stepped up to officiate Callie and Arizona’s wedding.

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I get why Link wants to get out of the Sister House, but I agree that he was a bit unrealistic about the situation. I foresee them going with a hybrid approach next season where Maggie and Winston moved to his place and Link, Amelia, and Scout move to Link’s, but they still spend time at Meredith’s house frequently.

I imagine after being away from her kids for so long, at some point, Meredith is going to want her house back and to spend time alone with them.

Jasmine: It was weird that they played up the drama of Richard fretting over if he’d be invited or not. He had no reason to suspect he wouldn’t be, so it was clunky. However, Richard’s officiating is precious.

Poor Link never had a moment to enjoy first-time fatherhood because he got thrown into the deep end with a soccer team’s worth of kids and a revolving door of sisters and brother-sisters. But Nah, he’s not getting out of that house anytime soon, and outside of that year that she ran away, Mer hasn’t lived alone in damn near decades.

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What was your favorite moment from the hour?

Meaghan: Jackson standing at the railing looking over the hospital, throwing it back to his first day. It is crazy to think about how far we have come from the days of the merger.

Since then, he has come so far as a character, and I’ve loved his journey, even if the writers haven’t always known what to do with him on that journey. He will truly be missed.

Jasmin: Hands down, when Mer skipped her clap-out, Perez psyched them out, and Hayes laughed and said, “Nice one Grey, Brillant!” And then he wished everyone a good night and headed out.

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If Meredith isn’t there, he’s out, and I love that he laughed about it like it was some big cosmic joke they were both in on. He knows her so well.

Jasmine: I liked the railing shot, too. It was a lovely callback.

Is there anything else you’d like to address?

Meaghan: If Mer was going to be able to remember her time on the beach, I wish that she could have delivered some parting words of wisdom from Mark onto Jackson.

Mark was such a huge part of Jackson’s journey initially on the series, and I think it would have been nice if he could have felt like Mark had seen the great doctor he had become.

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Jasmin: That would have been nice. I’m interested to see Meredith talk about her time on the beach in the upcoming episodes.

My guess is that she will have an emotional scene with Hayes because he will understand her desire to stay because of how he lost his wife.

I found the patient storyline between Tom, Levi, and Indigenous intern James Chee really moving. Grey’s has never had an Indigenous patient or doctor on the show before, and I’m glad that they spotlighted so many important issues.

Jasmine: It was contrived how they got there, but I appreciated the moment when Mer said DeLuca was happy with his mother. I liked seeing some Indigenous rituals onscreen.

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Over to you, Grey’s Fanatics. Do you agree with us or disagree? 

Hit the comments below and respond. 

Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays on ABC. 

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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