Though I’m dying to know about the fallout of Owen and Christina’s argument from the last episode, If/Then was thoroughly enjoyable. Shonda Rhimes is apparently a huge Buffy fan as evidenced by the amount of Buffy people she has guest starring on Private Practice and Grey’s, and her love for this show shines through yet again with an episode of Grey’s about alternate realities. Alternate realities are one of my favorite television tropes—I love the acknowledgement that there are so many different directions the show and the characters could have taken, I love getting to see the writers play around with the characters in interesting ways, and I love seeing what changes about the characters but what ultimately stays the same.
The most beautiful moments for me, of course, came at the end when despite their cardio-fueled rivalry, Christina and Meredith yet again find one another and connect the way they did all the way back in season one. Right after that scene, Derek and Meredith connect the way they did back in season one. The idea that sometimes there are people you are just always going to find is something I love in shows, and I think Grey’s did particularly well with that. Derek without Meredith was McDreary instead of McDreamy, but the moment they connected again you could see the joy between them. The Alex and Meredith pairing was also a really smart choice for this episode, because it was a direction I could have seen the show taking early on before it was established that these two made great friends. The fact that in this universe Alex still deeply deeply hurt Meredith was also fascinating.
I’m not going to recap the whole episode here, but there were a few key points that my brain keeps going over, some good, some bad.
The fact that there’s a universe in which Alex and Meredith fall in love is so plausible, one of those half-steps away from reality. Her friendship with Alex has always been one of my favorite friendships on the show (others off the top of my head include Meredith/Christina—no shit—Callie/Mark, Teddy/Calzona, Mark/Avery, Derek/Mark, Bailey/the Chief). I can envision a world in which Meredith didn’t go to the bars, drinking tequila whilst looking for inappropriate men to sleep with. In a world where she’s not so dark and twisty, she still may have been drawn to bad boys like Alex but in this world made him something better…sort of. Heartbreakingly enough, Alex still fucks everything in his life up.
One gap I couldn’t fill, though, was the Callie/Owen thing. Burke still left, and there was no evidence Erica Hahn didn’t show up after that. Callie was never with George (I think…because it sounded like he left really early on), but I just figured that would be even less of a roadblock to her discovering that side of her sexuality. Wait. But Callie was in cardio so maybe they just didn’t need to replace Burke? See, this is just not quite adding up for me. Especially considering in our universe Owen and Callie barely interact, it just was not a very exciting alternate universe point. And the whole Callie not doing ortho because Mama Grey pushes everyone to do cardio was stupid.
Also didn’t understand why Bailey was meek and not awesome. Gap-filling leads me to assume it was because of Mama Grey? Also stupid. But I guess anything is plausible in this world because a million things could have gone differently. Alternate universe’s are awesome but make my brain hurt with the possibilities.
The Addison/Derek thing was totally plausible in this world, and I loved getting to see Addison back on the show. Given what I’ve been seeing on Private Practice I’m so sad she didn’t keep this baby. Sad times at Ridgemont high. In a world where Derek never met Meredith at the bar, the decision to try to work things out with Addison was easier (but still just as shitty and impossible). I guess his willingness to try to work things out was why Mark didn’t come sooner.
And I guess in this universe the “what if” for Lexie was not going to med school? Or something? Her storyline was so dumb and pointless. It taught me nothing about her character or her relationships with Meredith, Avery, Mark or anyone.
Christina without Meredith is tragic and beautiful, and their blossoming friendship at the end was perfect. God, loved it. Also loved Christina’s connection with Owen. See, that made sense. Given what’s going on with them in our universe it made me even sadder. Also, Christina without Meredith gets awful haircuts apparently. That’s the real tragedy.
Fuck Izzie and George in every universe. At least in this one we avoided their terrible attempt at dating each other or whatever the hell that was .
The Chief as Meredith’s dad was lovely. Their dynamic has always been so poignant and interesting.
The end with Derek and Meredith was perfect. Love love love. I wonder if they actually have their own kid together in this world since the shooting never happened and Meredith was able to get pregnant before the miscarriage.
April still sucks in this universe, and I wish they had shot her instead of Percy. Oh, Percy, your “just shoot me now” line was fantastic. Please come back and make April leave, I beg you. Can your ghost haunt her and then it turns out she has an incurable brain tumor? Thanks.