The ABC medical drama has brought fan favourite Patrick Dempsey back for an appearance in the 17th season, which is dedicated to healthcare workers who are fighting the global coronavirus pandemic.
WARNING: spoilers ahead.
Thursday’s premiere episode teases that Dr Meredith Grey might have COVID-19.
The end of the episode saw Ellen Pompeo’s character passed out in the hospital parking lot, but wait for it, before seeing a vision of her late husband, Derek, aka MCDREAMY.
“The most important task we had this season was to honour the reality of this global pandemic and the impact it’s having – particularly on healthcare workers,” showrunner Krista Vernoff said in a statement after Thursday’s episode aired.
“Along with that we had to come up with creative ways to allow our show to still be fun and romantic and provide some escapism. Enter Patrick Dempsey.
“The beach motif – which will continue beyond the premiere – provided a way for us to live outside the pandemic even for a little while here and there. And Derek’s return provided pure joy for us, for Meredith, and for the fans.
“Season 17 has been a herculean effort by our cast, our crew, our writers, and our partners at Disney and ABC – and we are proud of it. But our effort is nothing compared to the work of our frontline healthcare workers to whom this season is dedicated.
“We hope our show inspires you to wear your masks to protect them and each other. As Derek Shepherd would say, ‘It’s a beautiful day to save lives.’”
Vernoff did not confirm or deny whether or not Meredith Grey has COVID or not, however the diagnosis would make sense for the season that is dedicated to the pandemic.
Derek – Meredith’s husband and love-interest on the show – was killed off in the season 11 finale, breaking fans’ hearts around the world.
While he reappeared in the season 17 premiere, it’s not the last time viewers will see him.
Dempsey is set to make another appearance in next week’s episode, titled My Happy Ending, as well.
Successfully, Vernoff noted how Dempsey’s return was done in secret, in attempt to ward off spoilers.
“Most of the actors didn’t know. Some of the writers didn’t know. Most of the good folks at the studio and network didn’t know. It’s so fun watching it all unfold,” she tweeted.
The hit show made its return for the 17th season on Thursday in a two-hour premiere, which was centred on how the doctors in Seattle were tackling the coronavirus.
Meredith Grey struggled with the emotional and physical toll of the pandemic, something that the show hopes can resonate with frontline workers during this tough year.
Pompeo appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live after the episode aired, revealing that she had been working on the show that week, which most likely means she won’t be leaving the franchise anytime soon.
However, her contract is up this year and sources claim that ABC has been in conversations for a renewal for at least one more season.
Creator Shonda Rhimes has time and time again claimed the show will run for as long as Pompeo is down to be on the show.
Hopefully that is forever.