Warning! Spoilers ahead for the most recent episode of Grey's Anatomy. Look away until you've caught up!
Man, Grey's Anatomy has not pulled any punches this season when it comes to kicking viewers right in the heart with emotional reveals and storylines. On screen, it's still the early days of the pandemic, and the staff at Grey Sloan Memorial are dealing with a lot, none the least of which is Meredith having the virus, and her condition being very touch and go. Every time Mer gets worse, she mentally retreats to a beach, where she's seen Derek a few times already this season. Now the show has given us a touching moment with the last remaining original cast members, and we're hearing how it all came about.
Fans were shocked, but also extremely pleased, when the final moment of the Season 17 premiere showed Mer on the beach and unexpectedly (even to her) reuniting with her dead husband, Derek. While we've been promised that he would continue to show up here and there as she battles the virus, it's been only natural to wonder if she'd meet other deceased characters in the same way. This week brought Meredith and T. R. Knight's George back together, along with some sweet beach time for them and the two other original cast members, Chandra Wilson (who plays Bailey) and James Pickens Jr. (Richard), who are still going strong.
Showrunner Krista Vernoff spoke to Deadline about the scene, and had this to say about how it happened:
Well, it certainly wasn’t just a coincidence. It was a beautiful pitch from Meg Marinis and Andy Reaser, who are my number two’s at Grey’s Anatomy. I had written the George-on-the-beach scene. Some of the writers this season didn’t even know who the special guest stars were, so I wrote all the beach scenes, and when Meg and Andy read them they came to me, and it was Meg who said, there is an opportunity here because Bailey and Richard are talking over Meredith’s bed, to have them appear on the beach, and to have this, what I think is, an instantly iconic moment of the four of them together again, and I was like, yes, please. That’s why you hire smart people. It’s so good.
Meredith was in her happy, dreamland place for most of the episode, as her friends tried to figure out the best way to help her and the mountain of other patients suffering from the same illness. So, we got to see George and Meredith reconnect throughout the episode, but, towards the end, Bailey and Richard are talking over Meredith's hospital bed after getting her enrolled in an experimental clinical trial for a drug to beat the virus. Suddenly, they showed up on Meredith's beach, and had a chance to sit with her and George.
T. R. Knight left Grey's Anatomy and George behind (after much behind-the-scenes strife) in Season 5 when his character was killed off in what is still one of the most talked-about episodes of TV. While having George show up was certainly a big deal for fans, returning to Grey's and being able to work with so many old friends, also brought up a lot of emotions for Knight, who said:
It was incredible, it was just an overwhelming feeling of love in that moment. We were apart from everybody quite a bit because that was a drone shot, and so it was just the four of us, and the sun was setting, and this big fly buzzing around our heads, and it filled me with just a lot of joy.