Grey's Anatomy "What If" Episode: Intriguing or Idiotic?

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Grey's Anatomy fans are buzzing - and in some cases up in arms - over the news the show is planning an episode taking place in an alternate reality, which will feature (among other things) Derek married to Addison.

After all Meredith and Derek have gone through, fans of the show's signature couple aren't exactly thrilled about a new installment revisiting the married Derek and Addison, however it's conceived by Shonda Rhimes.

Is this upcoming episode, reportedly titled "If/Then," a terrible concept designed as a shameless ratings ploy? Or is it a compelling idea, and based on something broader than fans are giving it credit for?

Addek Reunion

According to TV Guide, Addison and Derek may be the focal point of fan debate, but the triggering "what if" device is more about the impact Ellis Grey (Meredith's mom, played by Kate Burton) would have had.

The worlds of Meredith and of Grey's Anatomy as a whole would have been a whole lot different had Ellis not succumbed to Alzheimer's, and the continued marriage of Derek and Addison is part of that scenario.

This may well be another crazy experiment like the musical episode or the Seattle Grace reality show, but Burton's portrayal of Ellis was always powerful, so there may be something more complex at work.

What do you think? Do you like watching the show take risks in the name of delivering episodes that shake things up, or would you rather stick with conventional Grey's Anatomy? Vote in our survey below:

Grey's Anatomy's alternate-reality episode sounds ...

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


I thought the episode was going to be on tonight? It's a repeat... I was looking forward to it. It looked so good. I hope it wasn't pulled off due to fans being 'up in arms' if you are a fan of greys, you wouldnt complain!!!


I'm SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It will be a nice change.


YAY!!!!!! I'm so excited about this episode! I WANT GEORGE BACK!!!!!!!!!!! And I think non-Alzheimers Ellis will be an interesting angle. It's only one episode anyway! It's fun! All those people complaining that Grey's is going down hill need to get over it. I still love it and will be devastated when it eventually dies :( But please please PLEASE let it not be soon!!!!


Shonda, are you gonna throw some credit at Jeff Pinkner, J.H. Wyman and JJ Abrams??
If this is a nod to their brilliance, I agree with you on that point. But this just doesn't work in the GA realm. Two very different shows. And it just feels completely wrong for you to take the idea.
Seems to ring about as true as, say, John Doe story/ER, don't you think? Bottom line, at least pass credit where credit is due!


I hope it means we'll finally get to see Mer with someone other than Derek. I think the writers are starting to understand how much they've limited these characters in their development. Which is why I don't understand why some MerDer fans are so up in arms about it. Everything - every single thing - these two characters have done in the history of the show was always limited to each other. Derek had absolutely no chance to develop outside of his role as the eyecandy boyfriend. I find it so hard to believe that people find that appealing. Same goes for Mer. So much wasted potential. Should be a good opportunity for their respective actors to showcase that their talent extends beyond staring into each other's eyes too. I'm excited to have Kate Burton on the show again and the other Kate, Kate Walsh, is always awesome too. Just sad we won't get to see Burke, Izzie or George again.


I am a huge Addison fan and I loved her and Derek together, but I think this a huge mistake. Grey's Anatomy is going downhill. It has been since Izzie and George left. I love the show but I think Grey's needs to call it quits. If they are at that point where they need an alternate reality episode because they are out of ideas then Its time to end the show. I will always be a Grey's fan and I will continue to watch every episode, but it makes me sad to think all of the best episodes were back in season 5.


My guess would be that none of the stuff you mentioned would have happened in this universe. I'm not quite clear on where Meredith will be actually, but if Ellis didn't get Alzheimer's then Meredith would have had no reason to come home and go to med school. I'm not saying she wouldn't have gotten there eventually, but I just think that this would have been the way it went: Mer doesn't go to med school as soon as she did on the show or maybe even ever. So then when Derek comes to Seattle to escape his adulterous relationship with Addy he doesn't meet Mer in a bar and doesn't go home with her and their relationship as we know it never happens. So then Addy follows him out to Seattle and he takes her back just like he did in the show except that he's not heartbroken and desperately in love with Meredith. I'm not saying he's happy with Addison, but I think they would stay together and go back to the way they were in New York which is usually described as Derek being distant and indifferent and Addy being desperately lonely.
My guess for Meredith's state of mind is that she would be very unhappy. If she never met Derek (her knight in bright and shiny whatever) or Cristina or any of the rest of her crazy little Seattle Grace family, then I'm betting that she never would have moved past the wicked, depressed, sleeps-around stage of her life. I'm thinking though that it's probably even beyond that. She was very angry before her mother got sick. She was rebellious and pretty childish and too busy hating her mother to be the Meredith we know and love. If she didn't go to med school I'm betting that she would be that same angry girl that was sleeping her way around Europe (She would be "Death") If she did go to med school, she might be a irresponsible, not-so-great doctor like Sadie was, or she might be fabulous and cold like Ellis.
Now, if it were up to me, in the course of this ep Meredith (heretofore unknown to Derek) would have some business that brings her into the path of the unhappily married couple and MerDer would meet all over again and Derek would be all moth-to-a-flamey at her and she would experience an undeniable attraction to him as well. I don't know for sure what would happen after that, but that's why I really want to see the ep. :-) Sorry, I know tmi for a response to your questions. This ep just really has the gears in my head turning. I'm supper excited! Sorry to explode. :-)


It'll be nice to see Ellis again.


I don't even watch Grey's anymore, but I'll definitely tune in for Addison and Derek. Their chemistry... how do I even begin?




Grey's Anatomy Quotes

Did you say it? 'I love you. I don't ever want to live without you. You changed my life.' Did you say it? Make a plan. Set a goal. Work toward it, but every now and then, look around; Drink it in 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow."

Meredith (closing voiceover)

Burke was- He took something from me. He took little pieces of me, little pieces over time, so small I didn't even notice, you know? He wanted me to be something I wasn't, and I made myself into what he wanted. One day I was me Cristina Yang, and then suddenly I was lying for him, and jeopardizing my career, and agreeing to be married and wearing a ring, and being a bride. Until I was standing there in a wedding dress with no eyebrows, and I wasn't Cristina Yang anymore. And even then, I would've married him. I would have. I lost myself for a long time. And now that I'm finally me again, I can't. I love you. I love you more than I loved Burke. I love you. And that scares the crap out of me because when you asked me to ignore Teddy's page, you took a piece of me, and I let you. And that will never happen again.