‘Grey’s Anatomy’ season 11, episode 21 review: Did Derek Shepherd die for pain, or ego?

The future -We imagine that there are many tears across the “Grey’s Anatomy” community tonight, and it is somewhat sad that some of the news got out in the days leading up to this. Derek Shepherd’s condition was touch-and-go after saving a family after a gruesome car accident, but it was not that long after that when we started to understand one thing: There was no way he was going to make it out of this alive.

Why kill off the beloved character now? The only answer we can think of is that there was a pressing need to write out Patrick Dempsey, and you really cannot justify keeping Derek away from Meredith or the family that he loves without making him look like a terrible jerk. You cannot write someone out without it making sense. This is why we’ve lost people like Derek and then Mark and Lexie before that.

Dempsey did give a heck of a performance in the episode, giving us the character’s inner monologue when he did not have the words to speak. What we learned through him was that the loss of his life was due in part to arrogance by so many people who were in the hospital. Sometimes it was a male superior not listening to a smart young doctor under him. Other times, it was medical bureaucracy, or not learning how to utilize patience. There were no evil intentions, just mistakes. Derek died largely because of mistakes.

Here is what we really did not like about this episode: The fact that there was a brief trick where Meredith believed that Derek was actually going to be okay. What was the point of screwing with fans who obviously had their hopes up, only to them drop the hammer on them? That is devastation for devastation’s sake.

There were full-circle moments throughout as the episode closed, from the reprisal of “Chasing Cars” to the flashbacks from past seasons. Given that this was only an hour, Shonda Rhimes (writing her first episode solo since “Flight”)¬†crammed as much as they could into the hour. We have no clue where the show goes from here. It’s hard to even speculate. We’re choked up as we’re even writing this.

Derek was a hero to some, and at least some doctors tried to be hero tonight. Maybe they’ll take this as a learning experience. Maybe they won’t. All we know how to do in closing this episode review is to say goodbye to Derek, and watch the lights go off.¬†Grade: A-.

Let us know what you thought about the show’s handling of Derek in the comments, and head over here to get other news related to this episode and Dempsey’s exit. Also, sign up to get some other TV updates sent to you via our CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: ABC.)

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