What a lovely commemoration for a momentous occasion.
Grey's Anatomy Season 14 Episode 7 was a beautiful payoff for fans old and new, but long-term viewers who have followed the series since the very beginning were the real winners.
There were so many touching tributes and acknowledgments, and they all built up to the pivotal moment of Meredith's Harper Avery win.
This hour felt like a love letter to the fans. It was a "thank you" for sticking through 299 episodes of tragedies, heartbreak, laughter, tears, love stories, friendship, and all the things associated with the series for 14 seasons.
It was light at times, but emotional too, and it did the right thing by putting the majority of the focus onto Meredith, Alex, Miranda, and Richard.
Meredith has had quite the journey, and one couldn't help but think about that while watching everything unfold in this installment. She's truly grown as a character in all of this time, and that growth, all that pain, experience, and life coming at her fast has led her to this moment.
It's not how she envisioned her life being, but despite everything that she has endured, she's in a good place. That's the way life works, right?
Admittedly, I wasn't a big Meredith fan for years. She wasn't exactly the character who captured my attention, nor one I found particularly endearing. But somewhere around season 11, I begin to feel something more than tolerance for her.
My point is, even as someone who wasn't in love with her character from the start, I felt nothing but pride when she won her Harper Avery. It was like watching an old friend accomplish something unprecedented. It was as rewarding as a viewer watching the honor bestowed upon her as it was for the characters.
All those callbacks were special in their own ways, but it was nice that there was the constant reminder that Meredith doesn't like to fly. She was doing everything in her power not to get on that private jet and head to Boston.
It never mattered what kind of airplane that woman ended up on, something bad always followed, but it would have been just her kind of luck to be headed to the Harper Avery Awards where she was expected to win to wind up facing something tragic with another freak accident.
I was relieved she never made it on that plane, and it made the reveal of her win all the sweeter.
Meredith seemed stuck in the past. Part of her probably didn't want to face that crowd and accept that award when Derek wasn't alive to see it. Maybe she didn't think she'd win at all. Whatever was going on with her, she looked for any reason not to go.
You take your talent for granted and you know some of us work really hard, and we're just average.April
I liked that no one pushed her too hard on it. Catherine acquiesced easier than she typically would, Jackson seemed to understand inherently, Maggie and Alex were her support system regardless, and April backed off eventually.
April and Meredith have come a long way in their relationship, and it's quite sweet that they've formed a friendship and that Grey's remembered to showcase it.
The same goes for Meredith and Jackson. Their friendship is very underrated and one of my favorite because as two legacy kids, they always bonded over working their way from beneath their parents' shadow. They always have a mutual understanding, often unspoken, and when they have those moments, it's something special.
That's why Jackson helping support Meredith when she was stabilizing Baby George felt symbolic and giving that amazing speech at the Awards ceremony was noteworthy.
It's good to know that Jackson Avery can give a mighty fine speech just like his real-life counterpart, Jesse Williams; both can move you.
Meredith in the OR, the place she loves the absolute most, surrounded by her friends, family, and colleagues watching the announcement of her name, and Jackson paying her (and Lexie) tribute was already emotional enough.
Meredith standing there in front of beautiful Zola, wearing Derek's scrub cap, and seeing the proud ghost of Ellis Grey, though, is what put that scene over the edge. Were you bawling your eyes out? How could you not?!
Then, they took it all back to the beginning with Alex and Meredith sitting on their "intern gurney" in the hallway (with Cristina joining them via phone) celebrating the occasion. That was also a fantastic scene.
The very brief hug she shared with Miranda was special too, because Miranda always had love for her interns. She can be proud of herself for helping to shape Meredith into the doctor she is, as can Richard.
Those two got to me the most when Baby Cristina, George, and Izzie came in though. It started off as another one of those fun, whimsical cases, and the three patients just happen to remind the others of their friends from the past, but then it kept getting more emotional as it continued.
Most of the interns just blurred together over the years, but O'Malley, I can't forget. It will be good to be able to save him...to save, this O'Malley.Richard
Greg A.K.A. "Baby George" was the toughest. Perhaps it's because George is dead, and Greg was in danger of dying, too. He was so self-deprecating and sweet, just like George.
It was especially hard watching Richard and Miranda interact with him. Miranda always loved all of her interns; M.A.G.I.C were (are) like her children, but it's no secret that George was her favorite.
She had a special bond with him ever since he saw her through her labor and delivery. She named her kid after him.
She took it so hard when he died, and it was like reliving that all over again. When she broke down and cried outside of Greg's room, it was like a dagger to the heart.
Richard: I know. I know how you feel about O'Malley.
Miranda: These are not O'Malley tears. I cried all of my O'Malley tears.
Richard understood though because he, too, had bonded with George back when George was "the chief's intern." Saving Greg was like being able to make up for the fact that they couldn't save George.
Baby Cristina, who was as blunt and career-driven as the original, didn't have the same emotional impact until she asked Meredith to treat her like she would her friend.
And Baby Izzie seemed like a non-factor or just something to spark some cutesy interaction between Alex and Jo until Baby Izzie latched onto Alex while delivering her baby. In that moment, Alex looked as if he imagined what life would have been like if he and Izzie had their kid.
It was one of the best moments of the hour when Alex told Jo about how he envisions Izzie living now. It was a moment when, as viewers, we could really appreciate his growth as a character.
Yes, I agreed with him. I wouldn't have wanted to see a Baby Alex because Baby Alex would have been an asshole.
Maggie and Zola's scenes were surprisingly touching, as well. Zola has grown up so much, and she's such a mature young girl.
She's a future surgeon in the making. It hurt hearing her talk about how much she misses Derek, but she handled it in stride.
Speaking of Derek, there was another satisfying moment (much like Bailey and Webber saving some version of O'Malley), and that was when Amelia saved Owen's patient with a simple CT Scan.
Remember how crushed she was when she found out her brother died over something that she could have fixed had she known? What a way to touch on that again.
The show wasn't done destroying us in the "feels" because there was also that glorious moment when Arizona acknowledged how much she cared for and misses Mark. Her impression of him was precious, especially since they spent so long at odds with one another.
She admitted to missing Callie too, of course, but it's not the same. The zoom in on that picture of all of them together? It was rough, guys. Seriously.
They even started the hour off with the old montage of surgical gear and sexy clothes with the theme song. It's like Shonda Rhimes was trying to overwhelm us with nostalgia.
It worked. It was enough without being too much, and life was still going on in the hospital, so other plots moved forward.
Like Ben and Bailey being at odds because he finally told her about his firefighting aspirations. Poor Ben is in the doghouse. Bailey wasn't having it.
Bailey: Keys, please.
Ben: You driving?
Bailey: I'm driving myself. You can take the firetruck.
Owen and Carina are still a fling kind of thing for the foreseeable future. Is anyone else craving French toast now?
We also caught a few more glimpses of the interns. They are an interesting bunch. It would be nice to see the others develop some more because so far, the focus is mostly on Sam.
So, she and Deluca had an unhealthy relationship, but they seem to be kryptonite for one another, eh? They're not over each other, clearly, given that bang, they had in the Skills Lab.
Andrew, we're bad for each other. We both know that.Sam
I do miss the days of hot hookups in on-call rooms and supply closets, but I can't decide how I feel about DeLuca and Sam just yet. Thoughts anyone?
I wish there were more Lexie mentions and perhaps more Burke for good measure. Perhaps even an Addison mention.
So, over to you Grey's Fanatics. Did you enjoy the trip down memory lane? Are you proud of Meredith? Which moment made you the most emotional?
Do you want to relive Meredith's journey? You can watch Grey's Anatomy online right here at TV Fanatic!
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.