Ellen Pompeo’s Grey’s Anatomy Directorial Debut Was Stunning

Photo: Richard Cartwright/ABC.
Grey’s Anatomy may be on track to continue for at least another 100 years, but if the TGIT drama does ever come to an end, we don’t have to worry about Ellen Pompeo. The Shondaland star could continue acting, or she could start a dazzling new career behind the camera. Meredith Grey’s alter ego made her directorial debut with season 12’s “Be Still, My Soul” and now we know she’s a complete pro.
Pompeo signals she’s mastered the art of directing in the very first few minutes of her episode with a powerful opener that’s wordless, save for Meredith’s voice over. We know everything we need to know about the characters through Pompeo’s shots and the actors’ movements. It’s obvious Maggie (Kelly McCreary) is dealing with her mom Diane’s deteriorating health after getting breast cancer.
Things only get more emotional throughout the hour as it becomes clear Diane (LaTanya Richardson Jackson) isn’t going to win her cancer battle. Pompeo isn’t afraid of these heart wrenching moments and zooms in on characters with tight, nearly claustrophobic shots to really drive the point home. She doesn’t even let up when (spoiler alert) Diane passes away with her eyes wide open. Instead, she keeps the camera trained on the woman’s hauntingly still face as Maggie whisper-sobs, “Mom?”
Pompeo is equally fearless about Maggie’s understandable breakdown. Seconds earlier the doctor had been painting her mom’s nails and now she’s lost one of the most important people in her life. The most moving image from the entire episode is an aerial shot of Maggie finishing painting Diane’s nails, as if her mother’s spirit is now floating above her.
The final shot is a similar one, as the camera hangs above a grieving Meredith, Maggie, and Amelia while they silently eat Diane’s final lasagna. I was near tears and I’m not even a diehard Grey’s fan.
Thankfully, this won’t be the last time Pompeo steps behind the camera for Grey’s. She already confirmed she’ll helm another episode in the upcoming season 13, telling Variety, “Right now, I’m just scheduled to do one next year because they really want me in the show — you know, a lot. And I understand that and it’s fine.”
Fingers crossed I come away from that one without any mascara dripping down my face.

More from TV

R29 Original Series