‘Grey’s Anatomy’ season 13, episode 8 review: Owen’s sister, Meredith and Derek, and other ghost stories

Grey's AnatomyThursday night’s new episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” carried with it the title of “The Room Where It Happens,” and yet, for much of the episode we saw the doctors within the operating table doing everything that they could to get outside of that room to either face the ghosts of their pasts, or to try and understand what it could have been for their patient.

So why was Richard Webber trying so hard to create his own identity for this patient, right in the middle of surgery? Maybe in some way, this was an attempt by him to try and humanize the patient before him, but we also think it was a reflection of his own identity crisis. He is starting to recognize that Bailey is making changes at the hospital that could threaten his role, and he’s clinging to whatever he can, whether it be his own status as a leader or his skills as a doctor. It was powerful stuff, and we do still admire that Shonda Rhimes and the show’s writers continue to find new material for James Pickens Jr. to play after all of these years.

Here’s the twist for him: The identity he came up with wasn’t quite original. He seemed instead to take it from his own past and the tragedy he experienced there. It was a rare window into Richard’s past, something that we hadn’t quite experienced much of in a long time. The most prominent example of it in his past with his late wife.

As painful as this was, there were other stories that were the most heartbreaking, as we had an opportunity to see his sister and her fiery red hair for the first time. Unfortunately, this was in a flashback / dream sequence, where he thought back to what happened to her and explained why he was do desperate to save this particular life.

As if the tears here were not enough, we later transitioned to Meredith, as we saw for the first time her tell her children what happened to Derek. It was every bit as painful as you would imagine, and you have to admire the strength that she tried to show for them in this moment. Watching this was the emotional equivalent of someone pouring a bucket of tears into your eyes; it was excruciating, and we mean that in the best way possible. You want to feel something when watching this sort of scene, since otherwise you’re completely hollow.

These scenes were simple, and in many ways, the construction of the episode was, as well. “The Room Where It Happens” was about value, and that is something that we often forget to think about when watching this show. In seeing so many cases, just as the doctors see so many patients, we tend to become disillusioned and start to think that the lives are meaningless. This was a testament to how every single one is important, and through the time in the operating room, we had insight into how everyone dealt with the loss and heartache of their past.

The great news is that the patient did make it through surgery despite the various disagreements and visions of the past. Can you imagine how depressing this would have been otherwise? In the closing minutes, Webber and Meredith worked through some of their differences from the OR, and he revealed to her precisely why he was starting to develop more of a personal touch. Speaking of personal touchings, how about that sighting of Derek at the end? We can’t confirm if that was new or old footage there, but it’s notable nonetheless.

Grade: A. The best episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” since “How to Save a Life.” We know that not every episode can be like this, but seeing these episodes when they are around is a reminder that this is why we’ve made it to season 13. Without this sort of quality, it would’ve been gone long ago.

Next week You can head over here to read some of the first details on the upcoming winter finale. (Photo: ABC.)

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