This blog post will contain spoilers from Grey’s Anatomy up until season 16. If you haven’t watched it yet but intend to, I’d recommend you not continue reading here. That said, if you’d want to know what to prepare yourself for, there may be reason to continue reading.
character: deaths, breakups, divorce, children, cancer.
non-character (real): possible death, covid-19, lockdown
I’ve been watching Grey’s Anatomy pretty much since it started, but the past few years (quite a few years) I’ve not been watching it regularly, but I will catch up once in a while. Recently however YouTube began recommending me clips from the show, and I knew if I began watching them it would start recommending me clips from episodes I haven’t seen yet. Even knowing this I watched a few, which I knew I’d seen, and then down the rabbit hole I went.
Eventually I began seeing clips from more recent episodes. I knew that the series had come up to season 16 (and now 17), and that a lot have happened. I knew that Derek had died but I hadn’t seen how. Which means I haven’t seen season 11 in full. I had however seen Christina Yang leave, at the end of season 10, but I don’t know if I actually had registered it as her leaving permanently.
I was enjoying watching clips, reminding me of the powerful episodes that really stuck with me, that would always make me cry, and that would make me cry more than I think I’ve ever cried to any shows. I used to use the show as my wind-down on Friday’s while I was still on sickleave, but training to leave the house regularly. It helped me cry and let out any stress that built up over the week. And me watching these clips this week was helping me do just that (it’s surprisingly stressful to move during a pandemic, and the 3rd lockdown in England).
I got to see two of my favorite broken characters not only get together (which I had seen on the show), but also get married, as the clips showed me. And here is where it took a really bad turn for me. So many times Alex Karev had said to Jo (Wilson) that he wouldn’t leave her. When I saw the clip of them finally getting married, my heart sang. They were growing together, and becoming stronger and better people together.
Alex’s development had partially started in earlier seasons with the help of Izzie Stevens. But she had left him in the most heartbreaking of ways, without saying goodbye, she had just left him a letter and gone away. He had later told her, that he didn’t deserve someone who’d leave him like that. And he was right, he deserved better.
So that brings us up to the dreaded 16×16 episode. We find out that Alex has left, for real. He was “missing” kind of, not where he was supposed to be. And his friends and wife get a letter each, explaining what happened and why he was gone. And it just hurt so deeply.
While I understand why they kind of had to go with it creatively, with Justin Chambers leaving the show abruptly, emotionally I’m reeling. It just pierced me with the reality that even when you think a relationship is good, and strong, and even fortified against any kind of disruption. Even when you know you would communicate about your issues to try and fix it, you could get hit by something completely unexpected.
In the story line there are somethings which makes it kind of make sense. There are children involved, children that Karev didn’t know about when he married Jo. Children made with frozen fertilized embryos he and Stevens had saved when she was going through radical cancer treatment. Embryos he had released to Izzie some seasons earlier. Karev brings this up in his letters.
A part of his letter that really bothers me is this part: “It was like no time had passed when we started talking again” (paraphrased). Because the last time they saw each other wasn’t necessarily a good time, it wasn’t a time where they were happy and in a good relationship. I understand what they were trying to go for where, when trying to salvage the actor leaving so abruptly. I also went to do some digging, what was his actual last scene, and yeah. It was tame, it was him reading out letters in court.
I guess in a way, this was not just Alex Karev leaving his wife, but also Justin Chambers leaving Grey’s Anatomy. “There’s no good way to say goodbye.” When that goodbye is happening on short notice because your priorities changed, and you want to go elsewhere, you may end up in this kind of a situation. Chambers has been on the show for 15 years. And it’s understandable that he wanted to go out and spread his wings and get a chance to get new opportunities.
I am pondering if it stung me harder because of the stress in my own life right now. Big life changes, me and my partner are moving into our first house together. Our own house. And the stress of moving, combined with the current pandemic, and feeling like a lot of things are out of my control, and I just have to keep swimming in order to stay alive. The thought that I can do everything right and everything can change by the drop of a hat is incredibly painful.
This isn’t revealing any hidden emotions or thoughts about a possible ending of my current relationship. But rather just reminding me that anything can happen, especially right now. Either of us could die, either from Covid-19 or something else.
I did not think I would write a whole blog post about this, but it kept stirring in my head, and I kept crying to various clips and montages relating to this particular episode, and some other heart-wrenching episodes. I just needed to put it into words.
Tell me about something in a story that struck you a lot harder and deeper than you had expected it to?