Alex Karev has exited the Grey's Anatomy universe.
In one of the most polarizing character exits to date, we learned how Alex would depart the series during Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 16, and it left many in shock.
Join TV Fanatics Meaghan Frey and Paul Dailly, and Grey's Fanatics Berea Orange and LC as they discuss the hour.
Alex left Seattle behind for a life with Izzie and their kids he discovered he had. Did you like this ending for such a pivotal character?
Meaghan: I was nervous to be the first person responding to this round table because I guarantee that I'm not going to be on the same page as anyone. I loved this ending for Alex.
Since Izzie left, the only way that I wanted Alex's story to end was her coming back into his life, and him leaving Seattle to be with her.
Aside from MerDer, they were my favorite of the couples among the originals. I feel like people forget that Izzie was a great character until the writers chose to destroy her because of their issues with Katherine.
My only complaint is that we didn't get to see how he came to this decision. I would have loved for them to have kept Alex around a little while longer to see him contacting Izzie, to see him meeting the kids. I think that people are having such a hard time swallowing it because it is sprung on us.
LC: I enjoyed this episode. There were a lot of theories being tossed around on what the writers would do, and this I didn't expect. I've wanted Alex to leave bland Jo for the longest, but I never NEVER thought they'd come through with this mouth dropping hour of feels.
This actually felt like Alex to me. I might be in the minority here, but I feel like this may have always transpired whether Justin left or not. Every single couple is going through something currently, and Jolex was never safe. This is Shondaland; no one is safe, especially on Grey's Anatomy.
A few weeks ago I said there was no way they were going to have Alex leave Jo. I felt this way because the past few seasons Alex has felt more like a sidekick to Jo than an original character.
Berea: You guys. I LOVED this ending. I know some people didn’t, but I have literally been begging for this to happen for years, and I have the receipts!
I went back to check (my twitter), and I have been saying since 2012 that Izzie should come back to the show with Alex’s kids from those frozen embryos that were forgotten back in Grey's Anatomy Season 5.
And when I look at my kids and wonder if I can do right by them, I just think of you.Alex
That story never felt complete to me. I accepted Jolex and even started to like them eventually, but I never liked them as much as I did Izzex. I have wanted them to get back together before the show ends for the longest.
That said, I do feel sorry for Jo. Alex took the coward’s way out and just sent her a letter with divorce papers. He didn’t even have the balls to have a conversation with her. But if it weren’t for Justin’s sudden departure, I don’t think this would have happened.
Paul: I hated it. If it happened seven or eight years ago, I could get on board with it. His love for Izzie was strong, but he had moved on with Jo and even got married to her.
For me, the writers destroyed Alex's character in just one episode, to the point that I don't even want Alex back for the series finale.
On a scale of 1-10, how much did you enjoy the flashbacks?
Meaghan: Ten! The flashbacks pulled at all my heartstrings. I was crying pretty much from start to finish this episode, mourning the loss of such an amazing character from this show.
LC: I give the episode 8.5, only because I'm not a fan of episodes being flashback heavy, and Grey's does that often. However, due to Justin's exit, they had no choice.
Oh, I love them, Mer. With every inch of me, and every cell. And I get to be their dad.Alex
Berea: I give it a 9, and I only take that one point out, because I would have actually liked to see Justin and Katie one last time. I know that couldn’t be helped, though, so I won’t harp on it.
Paul: Five. I liked them at first, but the moment Izzie came into it, I zoned out. It's not that I dislike Izzie, it's that it felt like too long since Izzie was a part of the show.
Which of Alex's letters (and to whom) resonated with you most and was the most emotional for you?
Meaghan: Meredith. His relationship with her was the one I cared about most out of the four. As far as the show goes, they have the most significant history.
Yes, Jo's should have probably been more important, but I also was never a fan of their romantic relationship, so I was fine with it not being the best.
I did love his letter to Bailey, though. She helped raise such incredible surgeons and people with her interns that year. She deserves so much credit for the people and the doctors they have become.
If I say anymore in this letter, there is going to be feelings all over the place. I'm just writing to say goodbye, and thanks. I love you, Dr. Bailey. Dr. Alex Karev.Alex
LC: "I love you, Dr. Bailey." Alex Karev and Miranda Bailey's relationship is severely underrated.
We know everyone adores his relationship with Meredith, but the bond between Bailey and Karev is one that not only had up and downs, but I feel one of the most organic developments in the series.
So many pivotal career and life moments they both showed up for each other regularly. His letter to her was heartfelt, with doses of comedy, and growth.
And although Alex's situation is all around messy, I honestly believe Bailey was proud of him
Berea: My favorite letter was to Meredith. Probably because of all the flashbacks of everything they’ve gone through over the years, many of which included so many past original characters we miss.
It also broke down his feelings for Izzie and how he ended up there with her and the kids, and I loved it. I wish there was more in his letter to Bailey, and I wish we could have heard the letter to Richard.
You always said Cristina was your person, then I was your person, but you've always been your own damn person. A force of freakin' nature. You've never needed anyone but you.Alex
Paul: Meredith's letter hit me the most. Alex was her person for so long, and she was worried about being the last member of her group still at the hospital. People come and go, but Meredith held on to the people she worked with since day one for longer.
The fandom response is mixed. Do you find his behavior out of character or perfectly reasonable?
Meaghan: I 100% understand people being frustrated that he just wrote them all a letter. That portion of what happened feels out of character for Alex.
However, the writers were very limited with what they were able to do with Justin either choosing to or not being allowed to film any additional episodes. I can let that aspect go.
There's really no good way to say goodbye.Mer
LC: I mean the fandom is wishy-washy. Let the fandom tell it … It was okay for Jackson to stand up at April's wedding to Matthew. Let's not forget the iconic couple that is MerDer and their beginnings. So yeah the fandom isn't the best barometer for all things Grey's because their memory gets foggy.
His decision to leave was reasonable and not out of character. I think people, especially the fans, forget that life can be rather messy. You can love one person, but be in love with someone else.
Sometimes it just happens that way. Izzie was always his soulmate. He was never a sidekick to her. I think she inspired him more than anyone else.
You have to be brave to let go of EVERYTHING you've started and built with one person and go after the love that completes you. What sucks is we are going to get so much woe from Jo going forward. I'm exhausted at the mere thought.
Berea: While most people think this ruins his character development, I don’t necessarily think that’s the case. If we’ve learned anything over the years, we know Alex is still Alex at the end of the day.
We thought he’d grown, then he told on Mer in Grey's Anatomy Season 7 about the clinical trial because he didn’t want to lose chief resident to her.
We thought he got better again, and then Grey's Anatomy Season 13 he faced trial for going too far in beating up Deluca. Alex is and always has been flawed, no matter how much we’ve grown to love him.
I also believe they were already planning on him finding out about the children this season, but with Justin’s sudden departure, they decided to have Alex stay and have his happy ending with Izzie. I’m not mad at it.
Paul: I don't think it was out of character. Alex was raised in a broken home and was scared to have children in case the same fate awaited them. That's why there was no doubt in his mind about what he was doing.
How would you have written Alex out of the series?
Meaghan: As I said, this is the ending that I always wanted for him, so I would have done it exactly the same except with seeing him go through the events instead of just telling us about it after the fact.
LC: I wouldn't have changed a thing. Wait no retract that. I would have added clips with him and Maggie. Also Zola!
Berea: This is the perfect ending for me. For people who would have preferred an ending that didn’t have him leave Jo so unceremoniously (while leaving Camilla on the show), killing him off would have been the best option. That’s too easy, though.
Alex going off to live with Izzie, and their twins, is the perfect ending to his story for me.
Paul: I think I'm in the minority, but I thought he was secretly battling a mental illness and didn't want to tell Jo because of what she went through.
My heart skipped a beat when the letters arrived because I thought he wrote them before killing himself. It's dark, but I would have liked it much better than Izzie popping back up.
Do you have any other thoughts about the hour not addressed with the questions?
Meaghan: I am so happy that the Bailey and Ben potential drama is over before it ever had a chance to really start.
Alex leaving was probably the best thing for this situation because it gave her a good example to use for Ben on how important it is for people to have good supportive people in their lives.
When I asked you to marry me, I meant it. When I told you, "I love you" I meant it.Alex
LC: I felt like Jo reading the letter then going to work like nothing happened was slightly unrealistic. Especially since she hasn't been working much the last few episodes, just running her mouth.
She gets a "Dear Jo" divorce letter, and now she's this powerful surgeon? Is Tyler Perry on the writing staff? No wait he writes alone, my bad.
Berea: I kind of agree with LC here. The Jo we know would be drowning in her sorrows. However, this might be a turning point for her.
She might be turning colder and harder. I hope all of this trauma that she’s been through makes her stronger.
I’m also glad they didn’t drag out the drama with Bailey and Ben. I mean, did anyone truly believe they were in any real trouble, to begin with?
Paul: I have to disagree with LC and Berea here. It seemed like Jo had already resigned herself to the fact that she had been left behind.
This was just the confirmation she needed. Jo has developed a lot over the last few years, but she recognized that just because this happened, it doesn't mean that her patients can wait.
What would you rate this farewell episode, and what was your favorite moment?
Meaghan: Out of 10 I would probably rate it a 7. I am disappointed that Alex had to end up looking like a jerk for him to get a happy ending, but I am thrilled that a happy ending is what he got.
I'm also disappointed that we had to be told instead of shown, but again, the show did its best given what they had to work with. If they had killed Alex off, I don't think I could have gotten over it.
My favorite moment was just reliving so many incredible moments. I loved that even Arizona was included in his flashbacks because their relationship was so essential at one point in time.
LC: My rating is 8.5. My favorite moment is seeing the twins!!!
Shondaland needs to get the Zola lead spinoff ready for Netflix. All the kids of Grey's being interns? Yeah, I'd like to see it.
Berea: I would give it a 9 because it’s the ending I’ve always wanted for Alex.
As Meaghan says, I hate Alex had to end up being the villain in Jo’s story for this. I would have preferred this be a multi-episode arc (or maybe even season-long) where we got to see Alex spending more and more time with Izzie and the kids, and over time, he realizes he never got over her.
Hearing about it instead of seeing it on-screen makes a difference in perception.
If I started the whole list of everything I learned from you, I would never stop writing, and right now, my hand hurts.Alex
My favorite moment of the episode was hearing Alex say “They’re MY kids Mer.” You could hear the emotion in his voice, and it was great voice acting by Justin.
I also just LOVED all of the Alex and Izzie flashbacks, including hearing their wedding song “Turn to Stone” by Ingrid Michaelson over their scenes.
Overall, the episode was very well-done considering the limitations they were given. Everyone won’t be satisfied, but I was.
Paul: 5. It was the most convenient exit ever.
My favorite moment was Miranda not wanting Joey to have a future that was down to chance. Recognizing that Alex was an anomaly hit me because it further explained why he was such an ass in those early days of Grey's.
Do you agree with our round table? Hit the comments below.
Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays on ABC.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.