The surprise season 16 exit of Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) rightly shook up Grey’s Anatomy. Alex was the very last OG new resident save for leading lady Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), to remain on the ABC medical drama. Now, Meredith is the last member still standing from her class, as a recent conversation with Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) reminded viewers.
Yet, the series hasn’t really explored Meredith’s grief over losing her final best friend to the misfortune of Grey’s Anatomy. Instead, the vessel for that sadness has been Jo Wilson/Karev (Camilla Luddington), Alex’s ex-ish wife. As we see in Thursday night’s “Give a Little Bit,” Jo is so upset over her husband’s abandonment she doesn’t even know what she wants her name to be.
But Grey’s may be plotting a surprise outlet for Meredith’s pain — and that outlet could just be Meredith’s “person,” Cristina Yang (Emmy-winner Sandra Oh).
“Little Bit” closes with a conversation between Meredith and suggested new love interest Cormac Hayes (Richard Flood). The pair spend the episode trying to manage pro-bono surgery day at Grey Sloan, which goes terribly. One poor woman is left in excruciating pain for 24 hours, and Meredith’s ex-boyfriend Andrew DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) accuses the relative of a patient of being a human trafficker. (He's probably right). Meredith even uses the failings of the day — and some dirt she gets on new boss Thomas Koracick (Greg Germann) — to ensure the philanthropic event will continue monthly.
“I see it now,” Cormac says. “The Twisted-ness.” All Meredith can say in response is, “Took you long enough.”
For fans who don’t pore over every word said on Greys Anatomy, this interaction likely feels confusing. All references to the word “twisted” may remind longtime viewers of Cristina — and her soulmate-style friendship with Meredith — but “Little Bit” purposefully doesn’t do a lot to explain what Cormac is talking about.
To understand the true context of the “Little Bit” conversation, you have to go back to February 2020 episode “Snowblind.” At the beginning of the installment, Cormac, a former colleague of Cristina's at her Swiss medical research facility, recalls what she said about the MIA Alex Karev. (“She used to call him The Devil or something?”) When Meredith asks what her very best friend in the world said about her, Cormac demurs, claiming he can’t remember Cristina talking about Meredith. Then, at the end of the episode, Cormac takes his statement back.
“She talked about having a ‘Twisted Sister,’” Cormac abruptly announces with a flirty smirk. “Yang did. I’m guessing that’s you?” In the moment, Meredith playfully refused to comment. But, in “Little Bit,” Cormack can't help but notice the ferocity of Meredith Grey. Hence the “Twisted-ness” remark and yet another nod to Cristina.
At this point, Cristina has become a constant looming presence in Grey Sloan since 2019 midseason finale “Let’s All Go to the Bar.” Cormac makes his debut in that chapter and is eventually revealed to be the “package” that Meredith’s BFF sent to her. Since then, Cormac is constantly referencing his time with Cristina in Zurich, and Meredith keeps asking questions about it. Grey’s Anatomy is a show built on a very specific structure. Someone isn’t mentioned in almost every other episode for 10 episodes straight without something big — like a true cameo — ahead.
After all, Meredith is now squarely best friend-less. In season 11, Karev offered to be Meredith’s “ person” in Cristina’s stead (her portrayer, Sandra Oh, exited the series at the close of season 10). Now Karev has deserted Meredith, her ex is possibly in the middle of a mental health crisis, and her second “sister” Amelia Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone) is likely embarking on her own life with new partner Atticus “Linc” Lincoln (Chris Carmack).
If anything could help Meredith process the many stressful new changes in her life, it would be a heart-to-heart with her lifetime best friend Cristina — who would also probably be happy to chat about the cute new Irish doctor in Meredith’s orbit. Meredith has gotten multiple written messages from Cristina this season, but she deserves more. She deserves a real back-and-forth conversation, at minimum.
Don’t be surprised if you see Cristina Yang back on your screen before Grey’s Anatomy season 16 comes to a close — even if she’s just on the other side of a lengthy, tequila-y phone call.