Grey's Anatomy: Meredith's Farewell Episode Called Back To Derek And Cristina In The Best Way

Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey on Grey's Anatomy.
(Image credit: ABC)

Spoiler alert! This story contains spoilers for Grey’s Anatomy’s Season 19 midseason premiere, “I’ll Follow the Sun,” which aired February 23. Proceed with caution if you’re not caught up!

Meredith said goodbye to Seattle on Grey’s Anatomy’s Season 19 midseason premiere, moving her family to Boston in order for her daughter Zola to attend a gifted school. “I’ll Follow the Sun” wasn’t full of flashbacks from Ellen Pompeo’s biggest moments from her 18 years as Meredith Grey, and the emotional speeches were minimal. But it wouldn’t have done the character justice without a hint at her past, and this episode beautifully wove in Cristina Yang and Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd in subtle ways that proved our hero is going to be just fine.

With Ellen Pompeo leaving as a series regular, one big question going into the rest of Season 19 was whether or not Nick Marsh (Scott Speedman) would follow her to Boston. It’s only fitting that Meredith’s final episode would have echoes of the last time we saw her twisted sister Cristina (Sandra Oh). In the Season 10 finale, “Fear (Of the Unknown),” Derek (Patrick Dempsey) was trying to convince Meredith that they should move to Washington, D.C., and before Cristina left for Zurich, she told Meredith:  

He's very dreamy. But he is not the sun. You are.

The title of the Season 19 midseason premiere, “I’ll Follow the Sun,” seemed to reference that sentiment, and possibly indicate that Nick would move yet again to be with Meredith. The couple’s relationship had been rocky since the end of Season 18, though, and with so much of Meredith’s focus (rightfully) on her daughter, the two had trouble staying on the same page in the first handful of episodes this season.

They continued to fight on Meredith’s last day about what both of them wanted, and emotions ran high following the death of author Tessa Hobbes (Patricia Richardson) on the operating table. Meredith showed just how strong her character has become over the years, when she told Nick: 

I’m a grown woman with a big life and a big career and three kids, and this move is what my daughter needs. I want you in my life if you want to be in my life. But if I have to choose, I’m going to pick me, I pick my kids, and I pick what’s best for us. And I am not going to beg you to love me.

How far we’ve come from “Pick me. Choose me. Love me.” Those were Meredith’s words to McDreamy in Season 2’s “Bring the Pain,” and although that has become one of Grey’s Anatomy’s most famous lines, Ellen Pompeo has said she was “horrified” when she read the script that her character would beg a man to love her. And on this night, she didn’t. 

In the end, Meredith set off for Boston not beholden to a man. Nick made an effort at a dramatic airport scene, but his “I love you” phone call was too little too late, and she pretended she couldn’t hear him before hanging up.

Meredith’s episode-ending narration drove home that the character is going to be just fine, as she reads from Tessa Hobbes’ final book, saying that she’s saved lives and had her life saved. She’s survived “broken bones and a broken home and the death of people I love.” And there’s no such thing as happily ever after, unless that simply means we’re still alive. Her final words on “I’ll Follow the Sun”:  

As long as the sun rises on your life, there will be new dragons to slay. So the end of my story is not any kind of ever after, because I’m still alive. I’m still here. And the sun still rises on my life.

Meredith. Is. The. Sun. 

Grey’s Anatomy will continue (sans Ellen Pompeo) at 9 p.m. ET next Thursday, March 2, on ABC. Season 19 episodes are available to stream the next day with a Hulu subscription, and you can relive all of Meredith’s glory days, with the first 18 seasons available to Netflix subscription holders. 

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Heidi Venable is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend, a mom of two and a hard-core '90s kid. She started freelancing for CinemaBlend in 2020 and officially came on board in 2021. Her job entails writing news stories and TV reactions from some of her favorite prime-time shows like Grey's Anatomy and The Bachelor. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in Journalism and worked in the newspaper industry for almost two decades in multiple roles including Sports Editor, Page Designer and Online Editor. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.