The Great Pretender (episode 12 of season 11) follows one of the most heartbreaking episodes in Grey’s Anatomy’s history. It also marks the halfway point of this season. (I can’t believe we’re only halfway through the season!) Rightfully so, this episode was filled with some great comic relief, balancing out the darkness that surrounds Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.
Several storylines play out in this episode:
Bailey, Ben, and Ben’s brother: They start off in the woods, where they’re shattering Ben’s father’s ashes. Ben’s brother falls, and they need to take him to the hospital.
Meredith: Meredith has just returned from her weekend away. She’s actually very submissive when asked about her weekend. Immediately, it’s apparent that something isn’t quite right. Maggie later reveals that Derek called three times, so she knows that Meredith wasn’t with her husband. They lead viewers to believe that Meredith is cheating on Derek, even going as far as to have Alex ask if Meredith told Maggie about her weekend. In my opinion, it looked like they were trying to make it seem like Alex knew something and wanted to cover it up. That, or they were trying to show Alex is jealous of Maggie and Meredith’s growing bond.
Dr. Herman, Arizona, and Amelia: Amelia is running scans of Dr. Herman’s brain. Arizona comes in after being pushed out of the shower by a naked Jo. Dr. Herman makes light of the fact that Arizona lives with a resident. Dr. Herman is one of the main sources of humor in this episode.
Owen: Owen approaches Dr. Herman, pointing out that she stole the couch from the Attendings’ lounge. Dr. Herman comes onto him by asking if he wants to test the couch out with her. It’s really a light, funny scene, which cracked me up. Later, Owen approaches Amelia about Dr. Herman, confessing that she was flirting with him. Amelia asks him if he likes tall, and he tells her that he doesn’t. She then goes onto ask about dating co-workers.The Owen/Amelia flirt was quite adorable, I must say.
Callie, Jo, and Amelia: They correspond with a patient who faked fainting to avoid accepting a proposal with her boyfriend. The case parallels Amelia, who moved to Seattle after fleeing from her boyfriend’s proposal, and Jo, who turned down Alex’s proposal last season because he wasn’t ready. Later in the episode, Alex confesses to Meredith that he’s going to marry her, so it looks like they’re going to be bringing up Jo’s commitment issues again. Perhaps Alex and Jo will actually have some drama this season that doesn’t involve Meredith.
We find out that – surprise, surprise – Meredith isn’t cheating on Derek. (Did anyone actually think she would?) She reveals that she froze and couldn’t get on the plane, which in a way, feels like regression. It’s not about the fact that she’s afraid to fly, which would have made perfect sense in season nine following the plane crash. She later reveals to Alex that she really wanted to go, but she was scared. She was scared Derek wouldn’t be happy to see her. She was scared that they would argue or talk about fighting. This is Meredith avoiding, which definitely is a regression to season 3 and 4 Meredith. I think it’s sad to see her in this state. Clearly, she’s lost and doesn’t know who she is anymore. It also goes back to the 11×1 voiceover: “Sometimes, we have to get lost to find each other.”
Hopefully that quote will make a full circle by the season’s end. It seems like they’re running a drifting apart storyline with Meredith/Derek, though we’re only seeing one side of the story. I think Derek has it worse than Meredith, since he’s in DC alone without his family and without his friends. Meredith makes it clear that she doesn’t want to leave him, but she doesn’t want to be with him right now, either.
Meredith has some serious residual daddy issues. She’s afraid of rejection, and she’s afraid of losing Derek. Long distance relationships are hard, and it’s only natural that she would start to create scenarios in her head that simply aren’t true, such as Derek not wanting to see her as much as she wants to see him. Communication is a two-way street, and communication has always been one of Meredith and Derek’s biggest barriers. Communication is vital, especially in long-distance relationships.
Additionally, Meredith has never been alone. She’s always had Derek and/or Cristina, so it’s good that she has this time to discover herself as an individual. Everyone needs alone time. I just hope they don’t milk the Meredith and Derek drifting apart storyline too far. We already saw that with Callie and Arizona. It would be nice to see a television couple work through their issues together and come out stronger on the other side, rather than see another couple split up. Plus, this storyline has to hit close to home for Patrick Dempsey, who is going through his own divorce right now. It would seem almost too cruel to make Meredith and Derek go through the same situation he’s going through in real life.
Elsewhere, Arizona and Dr. Herman bond over Arizona’s “naughtiness.” I have to say, even though I’m not a huge fan of Arizona, I enjoyed these scenes. They were a nice comic relief after some very serious scenes this season. Jackson makes a brief appearance in the OR with his mother and Richard. Catherine reveals that Jackson needs to stay close, but out of sight so he’s there when April needs her. This leads Richard to believe Catherine is using him. Honestly? I’ve had enough of the Richard/Catherine saga. Either keep them apart or let them be together and happy (preferably off screen).
Ben discovers his brother is becoming his sister and doesn’t take the news lightly. Honestly, when the news surfaced that there would be a transgendered storyline this season, I never expected it to be Ben’s brother. I was disappointed with Ben’s reaction, but he had to react like that for drama’s sake. Once the initial shock wears off, hopefully he’ll come around.
Amelia brings sparkling water to Owen’s trailer because she doesn’t drink wine. Then they share a beautiful kiss, which I thought was very romantic. I have to say I’m enjoying Amelia and Owen much more than I did Cristina and Owen. At least Kevin McKidd didn’t look like he was chewing off Caterina Scorsone’s face like he always did with Sandra Oh. Owen and Amelia have a natural energy to them, and I want more. They’re both damaged and they’ve been through so much, so I hope they can find comfort in each other. With everyone else’s relationships crumbling apart, we need a constant. Plus, Owen and Amelia don’t need more drama in their lives.
All in all, “The Great Pretender” was an enjoyable episode. I laughed more than I have in weeks. Grey’s Anatomy has dealt with some pretty serious stories this season, so it was nice to watch a lighter episode that brought in some good old fashion Grey’s humor.
And I am suffering from serious Patrick Dempsey withdrawals. The void that his absence creates is really starting to hit me. I know I’m not alone.
That’s my two cents. What did you think of the episode? I have so much more I could say, because if you didn’t know, I’m a Grey’s Anatomy addict and I could talk endlessly about it. If you ever want to talk about Grey’s, I’m your girl!