Despite being in its 13th season, Grey's Anatomy still has its creative juices flowing.
Grey's Anatomy Season 13 Episode 8 was a bottle episode that found Meredith, Owen, Richard, and Stephanie working on a John Doe patient. More importantly, each one of them visualized something from their past that still influences their present.
If you haven't seen the episode and only saw the title, "The Room Where It Happens," don't worry, Shonda Rhimes did not create another musical episode in order to pay homage to Hamilton!
Bottle episodes are always tricky to pull off. They usually end up being the most divisive in the eyes of the fans.
While at times gimmicky, I appreciated the unique format. Let's break down the episode by doctor and their visual manifestation.
Richard - Gail
After getting little to no sleep, Meredith and Owen were both exhausted as they entered the OR to work on a John Doe patient involved in a car crash. Richard walked in to offer his assistance, and he was definitely well rested.
With Owen and Meredith not taking the time to teach Stephanie, who was also assisting, Richard took it upon himself to explain a game.
In order to connect more with the patient, he wanted them to imagine their life as a fully realized person. Richard decided to turn John Doe into Gail.
Richard: What do we need to know in order to do our jobs and not simply be mechanics?
Owen: How are we... we're not being mechanics!
Richards: You're treating this patient like a sack of organs on a table.
I'm all for using this method to teach compassion because surgeons tend to have the worst bedside manner. However, it's a bit strange we've watched Dr. Webber all these years and this is the very first time we've seen him use this method.
Richard described Gail as a mother of three and a talented cellist. Right before our eyes, we began to see this woman walking about the OR.
I shouldn't have been surprised he was talking about his mother the entire time, but I was. Then it dawned on me... I don't remember learning much about Richard's life pre-residency and Ellis Grey.
Gail died from pancreatic cancer, and Richard found himself feeling numb as a young doctor. So he decided to change in order to connect.
It's amazing that after 13 seasons, we still have so much to learn about these characters.
Owen - Megan
After disagreeing with Meredith on the best course of action to save the patient, Owen's mind drifted to the time during his army days. It's here where we finally met his (presumed) dead sister, Megan.
Megan was strong, smart, and called Owen out. I like this woman, so now I'm just waiting for her "shocking" reappearance that most viewers are assuming is coming.
Anyway, the images of her began to meld into the OR. She questioned what was wrong with her brother, speculating that maybe his marriage wasn't going well. She even commented that maybe he should have married Meredith instead.
So the question must be asked. If this was Owen's mind wrestling with itself, does this mean he doesn't think his marriage to Amelia is working out? Why would his subconscious make the comment about Meredith?
Also, Owen definitely let his imagination cross over into reality when he had his outburst... in front of everyone... while a patient lay open on the table. Owen's mind is a dark place.
Owen: You don't stop until you've got the final answer. You don't stop until you save them or you find out that they're.. that they're dead.
Megan: Owen, this guy isn't me.
At least the vision of his sister prompted Owen to go against Meredith's orders and had Stephanie call UNOS for a liver transplant.
Stephanie - Young Stephanie
Stephanie hasn't gotten a lot of material to work with so far this season, so this particular episode was a nice change of pace. She envisioned her younger self who urged her to speak up.
The patient wouldn't stop bleeding, and young Stephanie reminded her that she knew what was wrong with him. Stephanie finally found her voice and definitely helped save the patient's life.
Meredith - Her Children
This was the vision that punched me in the gut the most. Meredith reflected back to the night Derek died, and how she had to explain to her children their dad was dead.
Nothing would be harder than telling your kids such devastating news. I've been seeing more comparisons between Meredith and Ellis, but seeing this side to Meredith reminds me she has a lot more love to give than her mother gave her.
The pain in her eyes as she tried to explain how no one could fix Derek was a moment I now realize we never got to see.
Then there was the ending. After saving John Doe, Meredith apologized to Richard for snapping at him, and then took a moment for one more reflection.
Your body hurts. Your brain becomes foggy. And you feel like you're trapped in a tunnel, when all you want is your bed. So, how do you keep going? How do you not just sit down and give up? Sometimes it's easy. Sometimes you play games in your head. You make up someone. Someone good. Whatever you need to keep you going.Meredith
As Meredith was washing up, she imagined Derek right next to her, with that charming grin on his face. Despite the time that's passed, seeing Derek made me remember how much I still miss their relationship.
Much of this special episode was a success. The visuals were engaging and reminded me of watching a stage play. The music was striking and helped highlight the emotional aspects of the stories. I also appreciated that we got to learn new aspects to Richard's life and that we finally got to see Megan.
Like I said before, I'm sure plenty of people hated this episode. Some may have found it slow, wished we had seen the other characters, or wanted to see different patients.
I'd like to say how I enjoyed the escape from the typical format, the artful cinematography, and the break from all the romantic subplots.
So over to you. What are your predictions for Grey's Anatomy Season 13 Episode 9? Get your first look below!
Don't forget to watch Grey's Anatomy online and get caught up before the winter finale!
Amanda Steinmetz was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She went into retirement in June of 2027. Follow her on Twitter.