It's Thursday night, which means another new episode of Grey's Anatomy. So far season 15 has been all over the place with new secrets, romances ,and characters. But with "The Winner Takes It All," everyone's favorite medical drama returned to its tear-jerking roots. Be warned, you may even need tissues to read this.
Picking right up where the series left off, Catherine (Debbie Allen) is heading into surgery to remove the tumor from her spine. Grey Sloan doctors are skilled at taking care of outside patients, but when one of their own is in the operating room, things get a little nutty. In particular, Jackson (Jesse Williams) and Richard (James Pickens Jr.) are spiraling the most. Still, Catherine puts on her bravest face and preps for surgery.
Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) attempts to comfort Richard, but he rebuffs her. Instead, he tells her that the health of her father Thatcher (Jeff Perry) is rapidly declining and encourages her to go see him. When she arrives at Thatcher's house, he's overjoyed to see her. The feeling isn't exactly mutual, though, and Thatcher looks like he's on his last breath. Meredith tells him that she didn't come to talk (or listen) and asks if they can just sit in silence. So much for a happy family reunion.
Meanwhile, Catherine takes a stroll down memory lane, recounting her first surgery ever. Jackson listens in awe as his mom explains how nervous she was, but how Diana Ross' "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," got her through it. Jackson says he felt the same way, and Catherine admits she knows, because she was there. Turns out she'd snuck into the gallery of the operating room Jackson performed his first surgery in. The two laugh over the moment and promise each other that they'll watch Harriet from the gallery together, should she decide to follow in their footsteps. Okay, so who's chopping onions?
Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) and Tom (Greg Germann) are now ready to operate, and Catherine is wheeled into the operating room. Catherine says her "I love yous" to Jackson and Richard, and this is where the waterworks really start flowing. Jackson surprises Catherine by playing her previously mentioned power anthem before surgery gets underway. Catherine is overjoyed, and for that moment it's like time stands still. Everyone in the room is laughing and dancing. It's such a sweet scene that I wouldn't mind if every surgery on the show began with this "dance it out" moment.
Over at Thatcher's, Meredith listens as he tells her about his many travels overseas since his wife and daughter died (RIP Lexie.) Meredith explains that while she's happy he tapped into his wanderlust, it seems like he "didn't give a damn" about the people he left behind, meaning her. Eventually, he tells Meredith that he never stopped caring or thinking about her. Thatcher even reveals that he came to Derek's funeral. He just didn't speak, out of fear of taking attention away from what was happening. This seems to be all it takes for Meredith's wall to come crumbling down, and soon the two are laughing and reminiscing. She even tells him about Maggie (Kelly McCreary) being the daughter of Ellis and Richard. He takes this news surprisingly well. Thatcher, unfortunately, also begins to dwindle with every breath.
There's bad news in the O.R. too. Something goes wrong with Catherine's surgery and there's a chance she'll lose function of her hands, which is pretty much the kiss of death for a surgeon's career. Richard suggests a new experimental method to help remove the tumor and preserve function, though even he is skeptical that it will work.
Things aren't looking too good for Thatcher or Catherine. That's when we see that classic Grey's juxtaposition of two ailing patients, which leaves viewers wondering who will live and who will die. At the end, it's revealed the reaper has spared Catherine. Despite the fact that the doctors were unable to remove every piece of the tumor, Catherine is ecstatic. She notes that "Miracles aren't always punctuation marks, but they are worth celebrating!"
In some ways, Meredith celebrates too. Before Thatcher died, he informed her that he'd bought gifts for her kids. This, despite the fact that he's never met them. In the last scene, the Grey-Shepard clan is shown happily unwrapping the presents and Meredith watches with a look of calmness. Meredith and Thatcher never had the best relationship, but in that moment she got closure. Safe to say we used a whole box of tissues in less than an hour.
Now, with Meredith finally at peace with her past, Grey's can return to that steamy love triangle the writers have teased for weeks. Who will Meredith choose? DeLuca or Link? At this point, it's anyone's game.