Grey's Anatomy Round Table: Did You Love or Hate Teddy's Polarizing Centric?

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It was all about Teddy. 

And it seems the fandom (and the round table) is divided about Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 9, making it one of the most polarizing episodes of the series to date. 

Grab a snack and join Jasmin Pettie, Meaghan Frey, and Jasmine Blu as they discuss the hour!

Grey's Anatomy Round Table 660px

What would you grade this Teddy standalone episode?

Jasmin: I would grade it an A! The promo trailer looked super interesting, but I wasn't sure what to expect going into it. I have to say I loved it.

The writing was excellent. The premise was super interesting, and the cinematography was super cool with some very interesting shots. It was very avant-garde, and when done right, I love that stuff.

Also, we got to see Meredith back in action as she wandered around Teddy's dreamscape and talked to her, which I loved. They took a risk with this episode, and I think it paid off.

Teddy Dream - Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 9

Meaghan: I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum. I'd have to give it a D, and that is being generous. Nothing was wrong with the episode in itself. I just didn't care about any of it because of who it centered.

The writers have spent an insane amount of time making us hate Teddy, so it is hard to care about an episode focused on her. If we had gotten this episode when she first returned, it would have been a different story, but to me, it was just too little too late. It also felt way too similar to the Mer drowning episode.

Kevin did a good job with the bones of the episode with his stylistic choices, though, and the actors did well with what they were given, so that is why I can't commit to an F.

Owen: Any luck?
Amelia: No.
Owen: Any longer and I may need to have her admitted.

Jasmine: Yeah, I echo a lot of what Meaghan said here. Because the acting and direction were superb, and the concept was great. Unfortunately, the writing, timing, and things of that nature were offputting.

I was genuinely excited about Teddy's return, and I was a fan of hers, so it's not a matter of blindly hating the character at all. I feel like this episode is something that should've happened much sooner.

I understand how and why this episode resonated with so many. However, I couldn't get past the transparency in them writing themselves into a corner with Teddy and desperately trying to find a way out of that.

Do you feel that you have a better understanding of Teddy after the peek inside her mind? And did this make her sympathetic and "redeemable" in your eyes?

Jasmin: I do. I've struggled to understand her motivations and her point of view all season as she's been treating Tom terribly and screwed up royally with Owen and then seemed to magically expect forgiveness for her horrible actions.

The episode made me understand her point of view better and made her more sympathetic in my eyes. As Amelia says, Owen and Amelia have openly acknowledged and received active treatment for their illnesses and issues. Teddy never has, and clearly, that's been affecting her more than any of them, including Teddy, realized.

Teddy Snaps Out of it  - Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 9

Meaghan: I kind of feel like this was all stuff we knew, so it didn't change anything in my eyes.

We knew about her struggle with Allison's death. We knew she always has felt second fiddle to Cristina and Amelia. I think, if anything, the episode made Owen less redeemable in my eyes.

Teddy was in a full-blown catatonic state, and all he seemed to be able to do was think about himself. It would be one thing if he focused on what she did with Tom because that is understandable. But no; instead, he focused on the fact that she kept Allison a secret.

Clearly, Teddy had never come to terms with her sexuality and had never fully processed Allison's sudden tragic death. Instead of supporting her as a friend when she finally opens up about it, he takes it as a personal attack and uses it against her. Thank God Amelia put him in his place.

Amelia to the Rescue  - Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 9

Jasmine: I think in part some of this is stuff we've already known. But again, I also feel like the series has presented us with two variations of Teddy. It's the tale of Two Teddys.

We have pre-Germany Teddy before she left the series, and then we have post-Germany Teddy. While there's some overlap, I've found them to be incongruent.

We get all of this extra backstory, but instead of expanding what we've already known, it's retconning. The inconsistency and sporadic continuity are frustrating.

You keep looking past me just like you always do. I'm right here.

Teddy

I can handle a flawed, complex woman. My problem is that the series essentially retconned the character, back drafted her backstory and characterization, and then presented it like this was part of the character's trajectory since her inception, even when it doesn't align.

It takes me out of Teddy's journey, and the entirety of this hour did that for me.

Obviously, the intention was to make her sympathetic and "redeemable" after a series of poorly thought-out plots generated for drama and buzz got prioritized over actual characterization.

Dream State  - Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 9

All of this felt like a poor attempt at wrapping a bow around the missteps they made with her character since her return and presenting it as if this was the plan the entire time and they were leading up to this when it's really a frustrating attempt to write themselves out of a corner.

I've always had sympathy for the character. I resent the emotional manipulation used to make Teddy "redeemable" and sympathetic through this, which feels like a copout that didn't take actual effort.

What are your thoughts on the series choosing to explore Teddy's deep love for Allison this late into Teddy's tenure on the series?

Jasmin: I'm of two minds on this. On the one hand, I wish they had introduced or hinted at Teddy being bisexual or being in love with Allison earlier on in the series, as it would have made more sense and been less of a shock.

On the other hand, I've really enjoyed seeing the show explore this storyline more and dive deep into what trauma does to people and how the devastation of losing someone in a tragic incident such as 9/11 can make you close off parts of yourself.

Sherri Saum does a fantastic job, and she and Kim Raver have great chemistry.

Teddy and Allison Together  - Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 9

Meaghan: They should have done it way earlier. Even if they didn't reveal it to the core characters, it should have been to the audience. It has become such a huge aspect of her character, so to not have known anything about it for this long, it ends up feeling like an afterthought just tacked on for shock and awe.

I would have loved to see them explore this back when we first met her. It would have added some much-needed depth. We could have learned about it through her opening up to Henry. Maybe it wouldn't have come out to the other characters after Henry's death, but we still would have known.

Mer: Teddy, I'm sorry. This is over. Time of death: September 11, 2001, 9:59 a.m.

Jasmine: Oh boy. Yes, Meaghan. The characters within Grey's Universe did not need to know about Teddy's sexuality, but this is something that the audience should've known. It would've made Teddy's character far richer and compelling if we were in the know.

The only reason for not doing that is that it must've been a recent character choice. As a result, they have spent a total of two or three episodes trying to sell us on this love story that we're supposed to be invested in, that she's Teddy's great love, and that everything we've known about Teddy over the years connects to this person.

So yeah, it does feel like an afterthought tacked on, and a dash of catering to the LBTQ fandom by suddenly revealing that this established character is bisexual without doing any of the work.

Allison - Tall  - Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 9

And we're supposed to be distracted and grateful by more queer representation (however problematic it may be as we once again reinforce the queer infidelity trope) that we're willing to overlook the disservice done in the execution.

Even now, because all we know about Allison is through Teddy's memories, flashbacks, and dreams, we're presented with Teddy's idealized version of Allison that has only grown more pronounced in the years of grief and guilt Teddy has carried.

I hate that logically I have to wonder if Teddy's love is rooted in survivor's guilt more than anything else. Raver and Saum sell the hell out of it, but it's still a generally frustrating way of handling this, and I can't forget that.

How do you feel about Owen's behavior toward Teddy throughout the hour? Do you think it's time for him to let go of all of his animosity?

Jasmin: While I understand why Owen was upset, I felt it was hypocritical of him to be so mad at Teddy for not telling him that she and Allison were lovers when he married both Cristina and Amelia without telling them that Teddy existed.

They both found out after they got married to him that he was in love with Teddy when she showed in Seattle.

What Teddy did was awful, but Owen's no saint. He has done just as bad and worse. I think it's time for him to let go of his animosity toward her and forgive her. I'm also just really sick of watching them fight all the time. No, thank you.

Owen Worries  - Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 9

Meaghan: I'm over it. Owen needs to hop off his high horse because he has made PLENTY of his own mistakes. Teddy deserved to suffer the repercussions of Tom but not for Allison.

Owen needs to realize that before everything else, Teddy was his best friend, and friends support each other no matter what. Teddy just revealed a huge part of herself to him, and she deserves to have her best friend be there for her.

Even if they can never get to the point where their relationship is a romantic one ever again, it is time for him to let it go.

Owen: Any luck?
Amelia: No.
Owen: Any longer and I may need to have her admitted.

Jasmine: But was Owen in love with Teddy before he married Cristina? She loved him, but it wasn't as if they had dated or carried on an affair, so I get that Owen is the worst at times, but again, it doesn't feel comparable.

Owen gives me whiplash. And once again, it was another frustrating aspect of them switching things up for plot convenience.

We started the hour with OWEN noting that he had seen Teddy's state before -- that she was shell-shocked, traumatized, lost in grief, suffering from PTSD. He's been a soldier for most of his life, and he's been around them. He knows the damn signs of it all.

But then moments later, he's making ignorant comments about how she should snap out of it -- that if he could move past it, then she can too, and so forth. I know damn well Owen wouldn't have said that to any number of his fellow brothers or sisters overseas or coming back.

Taking Care of Teddy-tall - Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 9

Owen can be an asshole, but I'm also tired of them cherry-picking when he's going to be an ass when it suits the plot, even when it's not consistent. He's nurturing and playing hero, but then he's belittling and ignorant about her mental state and making it about him.

Owen's hostility is hypocritical and excessive, I agree. He doesn't have to be with Teddy anymore, but they have to co-parent. He's both suffered from PTSD and made terrible choices in his relationships, so his self-righteousness is laughable.

But again, I'm annoyed with the displacement of anger with Owen. He has legitimate reasons to be upset, but instead of focusing on those specific reasons, it shifts to absurd things that make him look like a jackass.

Distance Between Owen - Tall - Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 6

He has every right to be upset about Tom and the cheating. He can be upset about their child getting named after a former lover without his knowledge. Owen can be angry that Teddy hasn't apologized so much as tell him that he needs to forgive her.

But getting upset that Teddy was in love with Allison is insane. His anger that Teddy can't snap out of a mental state is ridiculous. Calling her despicable is abhorrent.

Amelia served as a Teddy advocate and form of counsel for Owen. Thoughts?

Jasmin: I thought Amelia was great in this episode. She told Owen what he needed to hear, knowing he was likely to listen to her more than others.

Amelia supported Teddy and advocated for her even though Amelia didn't have to because that's who she is. Amelia wants Teddy to experience the same sanity and peace she attained now that she's had her brain tumor removed and has her addiction under control.

Plus, I think she genuinely wants Owen to be happy and for the kids that they are all raising together to be happy. Happy parents make for happy children. She wants that for them.

Amelia to the Rescue  - Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 9

Meaghan: Amelia and Link are the VIPs of this show at this point and deserve to become the leads. They are the only reason the show is bearable in most episodes. Amelia gave him the tough love that he needed.

Hopefully, now that Teddy is back up and running, Amelia will continue to be there for her because Teddy literally has no one. I think with Amelia's help, Teddy could manage to get back on a better path both for herself and the audience.

Do you walk around telling everybody how you strangled Cristina?!

Amelia

Jasmine: I agree that Amelia and Link have become the MVPs and the bright spots of this series. Amelia made a turnaround, and I appreciate that she could give Owen some tough love and serve as a mediator between him and Teddy. I loved that she let him have it and reminded him that he is not a perfect person.

On the flip side, and this is an unpopular opinion, some of the comparisons used to get through to Owen bothered me. And it ties into how the series is using PTSD as some magical hand wave.

It's a fine line between suggesting that PTSD/mental illness explains a person's behavior versus pushing that narrative that excuses or justifies it. The entire episode came across as if we're supposed to forgive or ignore all of Teddy's actions because of her PTSD.

Catatonic Teddy - Tall - Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 9

And by suggesting that losing her parents early on led to Teddy suffering from PTSD ever since and making bad choices as a result of it, you've essentially made her unaccountable for anything she ever does.

The show never used Amelia and Owen's addiction or PTSD to justify their actions. They still faced consequences and were held accountable for their choices even when their struggles were evident. Their stories walked that line, and they answered for their actions.

It's a specific form of gaslighting to suggest that all the hurt that Teddy has caused to many people over the years -- often with little remorse -- is because of her PTSD, so everyone whom she hurt should "get over it" or "understand" because of her mental illness.

Distraught Owen

Where do we draw the line on that? Owen has PTSD and mental health issues, too, so what if his mental illness makes him incapable of letting this hurt go?

Amelia said Teddy's PTSD looks different, and I love that. But she still fell into suggesting that makes all of Teddy's actions valid and forgivable, like ALL of them ever, but Owen's means he doesn't have space to be hurt or entitled to his feelings either.

And it also suggested that every terrible thing and conscious choice Teddy made can get handwaved off as "her PTSD is different," and that's a disservice.

Were DeLuca and Meredith effective, logical character guide choices for Teddy during her dreamscape?

Jasmin: I think so. I loved seeing Meredith up, about, and talking to Teddy and guiding her through her trauma and her response to it. Meredith is Teddy's patient, and she wants her to live and because she's Cristina and Amelia are her sisters, and she's known Owen by extension for a long time.

Mer has information that's useful to Teddy, so I thought that made sense. DeLuca made sense to me since he was someone she worked with closely during the pandemic who died on her table. She desperately wanted to turn back time and save him the same way she wanted to go back in time and save Allison and her parents.

Mer Guides - Tall - Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 9

Meaghan: Effective? Sure. Logical? Absolutely not. Realistically we should have seen Allison and Henry be the ones to help guide her through things.

For selfish reasons, I would have loved to see Scott Foley again, but I get that with the pandemic, that probably would have been a stretch.

DeLuca only even remotely makes sense because his death is what pushed her over the edge, but they need to stop pretending that we knew they were BFFs. It felt like the only reason Mer was there was because it is the last season, and they are trying to get the most use out of Ellen as they can while having her in a medically induced coma.

COVID- Specialist- Tall  - Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 4

Jasmine: For the life of me, I am genuinely trying to understand why they keep telling us that Teddy and DeLuca were good friends. I feel like I'm being Punk'd every time someone brings it up. If ALL of the friendship happened offscreen, then does it count?

DeLuca looked handsome in the dreamscape and had amazing hair. Mer was phoning it in and felt like meeting a quota. Allison should've dominated the dreamscape as a guide.

And yeah, I get they couldn't bring Scott Foley back, but THE HENRY DISRESPECT was unfathomable. But this goes back to my annoyance that they keep retconning character background and history and expecting us to go along with it.

So, Henry meant nothing to Teddy at all? No one even mentioned him until the final five minutes, and it was a throwaway line.

Is there anything else you'd love to discuss that we haven't addressed yet?

Jasmin: The sets in this episode were gorgeous! So, hats off to the set department. I also loved Meredith's coat and the clothes that Teddy and Allison wore, especially her blue wedding dress, so the costume department deserves kudos as well.

The road trip with Tom and DeLuca was hilarious, and I loved seeing more of Tom and Teddy together in the hotel room.

I loved the Beth and Cristina mentions and all of the flashbacks, especially the early one to when Teddy first shows up. We, the audience, learn that she and Owen have been in love forever, but he's married to Cristina, and before that, he and Beth were engaged.

Dream State  - Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 9

Meaghan: I agree that visually this episode was stunning. I genuinely wish I had liked this episode more, especially because I feel like the series' conclusion is near, and I've been a negative Nancy about this season.

I honestly feel like I've just checked out of 90% of the current storylines, and I'm just living for the cameos by the old cast. I'm already 100% more excited for next week with Lexie gracing the beach (and also praying that McSteamy swims up to that shore in all his Mcsteamy glory).

Also, can we please talk about the fact that Teddy was catatonic, and they didn't seek out the appropriate treatment for her, and they are just going to let her take care of the baby again? Yeah, that seems logical.

Teddy Snaps Out of it  - Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 9

Jasmine: I genuinely respect and love that this episode registered with so many people, especially those who battle their own mental health issues and saw themselves and what their mental illness looks like via Teddy.

I've seen many of the overwhelming responses to this installment by some fans. It made me wish I loved the episode more than I did.

I don't think every person who disliked the episode is insensitive to mental illness, or only driven by their hatred of Teddy, or that it means they can't grasp or appreciate a storyline that's exploring PTSD. I think there's a culmination of factors that made this a polarizing episode. But when it comes to mental health, I often struggle with the show's ability to portray it and stick to it.

Teddy: Please don't die.
Mer: I'll do my best.

Nearly every character on this series is battling something, and yet, all of them treat mental illness as if it's this cross to bear and worthy of shame. They treat therapists in the same vein as cop shows regard Internal Affairs as antagonists.

They didn't followthrough with a complete storyline onscreen when it came to DeLuca's Bipolar Disorder. They handled Owen's PTSD sporadically, and then he and even Amelia implied after his handful of therapy sessions that he somehow doesn't have it anymore. He spoke of it in the past tense.

Hopelessly Waiting - tall - Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 8

Miranda's anxiety and OCD lie dormant until they randomly reference it again, usually to imply why she's not fit for something at the moment. Parker had an entire PTSD episode where Teddy was the one who helped him, and we literally have not seen him since.

And this hour ended with Teddy snapping out of a catatonic state after a conversation she had in a dream and behaving as if all was well, and I have a suspicion that we'll see it fade away.

I love mental illness storylines and when a series chooses to explore them. However, I do feel they should be more than big one-off plots. And Teddy's inconsistent writing was too distracting for her mental health arc to be as compelling as it deserved.

What was your favorite moment and/or quote from the hour?

Jasmin: I don't have a favorite quote, but my favorite scene was when Tom and Teddy were in the hotel room, and the grenade suddenly appeared, and then it went off! I didn't expect it to go off and blow up Tom!

It was shocking and made for an interesting transition. Honorable mention goes to the snow scene with the field of bodies at the hospital. That scene gave me chills. I also found the scenes with Allison particularly moving.

Catatonic Teddy - Tall - Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 9

Meaghan: If I had to choose, it would be when Teddy imagined she and Tom pulled a Japril and left Owen at the altar. Teddy was so genuinely happy with him, and maybe that's what she needs: to just be with Tom and leave a relationship with Owen in her past.

Jasmine: The Grenade scene was great. Tom's snooze line was a killer, especially given my feelings on the episode.I also loved Owen and DeLuca's lines and facial expressions during the dreamscape.

And, of course, Amelia laying into Owen.Honestly, the actors were fantastic during this installment. I loved them all.

Over to you, Grey's Fanatics! Do you agree with us? Hit the comments

Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays on ABC.

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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