Look, don’t misunderstand me. I really do like Meredith, and she is, of course, the core of “Grey’s Anatomy” (heck, her name is part of the show — if she left, what would they call it? “Anatomy”?). Oh, and don’t assume I mean that Ellen Pompeo needs to go. Fired doesn’t mean gone, especially not on “Grey’s.”
But I have to admit, during this season’s earlier shake-up of Seattle Grace, I was excited when the hospital teetered on the brink of a shut-down — and I was more than a little disappointed when the place was saved at the last minute by Dr. Avery’s mom, Catherine (Debbie Allen). With funding in place, everything can proceed (pretty much) as normal, albeit with poor Avery (Jesse Williams) stuck taking on a more high-profile role than he seems to want. Interns can go back to chasing one another, Yang (Sandra Oh) and Owen can continue their post-marriage fling, Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) and Callie (Sara Ramirez) can go back to healing and parenting. Plenty of drama on deck, I’m sure (those budgetary problems aren’t necessarily disappearing just because of the big infusion of cash). But perhaps not the cosmic change that had seemed to be at hand.
If there’s one thing we know about Seattle Grace, this place is the most watchable when it’s shaken to its core — and the same could be said for Meredith. Lately, however, Meredith hasn’t been shaken or stirred by much, even though there’s been plenty of plot twists that could have (and maybe should have) thrown her off balance more than they did.
Granted, it’s been nice to see her evolve from a “dark and twisty” pessimist, leaving the constant anxiety to the new kids at Seattle Grace. These days, even surviving a plane crash seems well within Meredith’s skill set — except for a few emotional moments and that episode where a patient reminded her all together too much of Lexie, she certainly hasn’t curled up into a ball of PTSD symptoms.
She’s even pregnant, a plot twist that had seemed to have been backburnered after Zola’s arrival on the scene. In many ways, she’s become the calm, cool center around which the other characters churn, wrapped up in their own dramas and narcissism. The problem is, she’s also receded into the background. Calm and cool just isn’t as exciting when there are romantic entanglements to unravel.
That’s why I was hoping that Meredith might, yes, leave Seattle Grace for at least a few episodes.
Given how well Meredith handles just about everything (or at least has been lately), I’m curious to see how she might cope with losing her stomping grounds of the last nine seasons. I certainly don’t wish any other kind of trauma on her, after all. Not another miscarriage, not a split with McDreamy, not a fight with Yang.
After nine seasons, it could be expected that a character might not yield the same high-flying dramatic storylines of seasons past. It’s a relief that Meredith and McDreamy have, despite everything, been able to make their relationship work (despite it coming very close to crashing more than once). Some characters could fade out for most of the season until called upon to be interesting, or even be written out completely. But when a character is (or at least was) the character around whom the whole series was built, it’s worth it to give that character a reboot. There are lots of things that could happen to Meredith, but I hope that, somehow, that Harvard option is still on the table (hey, she doesn’t have to be fired; she can just leave!)
Yang’s temporary exit from Seattle Grace was so interesting, I wouldn’t be averse to seeing something similar for Meredith. Although I was initially reluctant to go along with it, I quickly came to love Christina’s short stay in Minnesota at the Mayo Clinic. She made exactly one friend (“St. Elsewhere”‘s William Daniels) and got entangled with her boss, but it opened her eyes to possibilities beyond being hopelessly entwined with her “person” Meredith as well as a whole new batch of complications and hospital politics. More importantly, it showed us a new side to Yang — and after so many seasons, that was some welcome insight.
Meredith could use a similar jump start. Unlike Alex, she can’t be shaken up by a new romance (well, she could, but really, let’s not), and she’s already grappled with motherhood (which didn’t seem to slow her down much, except for that unfortunate child-napping incident prior to Zola’s adoption). Maybe a new location, even for a little while, might be enough to bring Meredith back to center stage and into an interesting new light. Hey, it’s gentler than a plane crash.