It's feeling like old Grey's again, and that couldn't be more welcome.
So much of Grey's Anatomy Season 18 Episode 2 felt like the early days of the series and made for an enjoyable hour.
We got intriguing cases, the teases for new romances, competitive residents playing Webber's version of the Olympics, and the series covering important topics without doing so in a heavy-handed manner.
Bailey and Webber's portion of the hour felt the most meta as Bailey made commentary about how many of the medical staff are experiencing burnout. The residents aren't the only ones in need of a boost in morale.
Bailey is losing doctors left and right as many are retiring, quitting, or doing other things. It's one of many reasons that she's worried about Mer taking a job in Minnesota.
Bailey losing Wong to early retirement was a stark reminder of how short-staffed they have been since the pandemic.
But she brought up wanting to do retreats and other communal types of events as they used to do, hell, maybe the baseball games or something of that effect.
She wants to build up the remaining doctors there and make them feel like a family again. Bailey mentioned joy and finding it in what they do.
Everyone needed the reminder of why they're doctors in the first place. Webber's interest is reignited now that he's taking over the teaching in Meredith's absence.
When is the last time we've seen Webber this excited?! It's been ages. He feels like he's found his purpose again, and he's right back in his element.
The residents performing the surgical Olympics was fun and hilarious. It was a reminder of how little time we've spent with the majority of the residents outside of Levi.
It was hard to remember most of their names, but we did learn from Ortiz that Mama Ortiz is with Jackson, and she's happy to have space from her mom to carve a path of her own.
Perez continues to be comedic gold every single time he's onscreen. And it speaks volumes about how behind the residents probably are if Helm and Levi are still duking it out with the newbies over a solo surgery.
Perez: I thought Dr. Grey was teaching the residency program now?
Webber: Who do you think taught Dr. Grey?
Despite Helm coming across as the competitive Cristina of the bunch, Levi won out, and his reaction to that was hilarious.
And when he stressed out during this solo surgery (which, didn't he already perform one of those before?), the other residents were there to cheer him on and talking him through it.
Are these residents meant to give us the M.A.G.I.C. goodness? Not necessarily, but at least we're getting to know them, and we have that element of the show back in swing a bit.
All the other attendings rotating their time judging each event and being amused at the residents made you think of the good old days. Those scenes were the most fun of the hour.
From the casual snacking and laid-back demeanors to the uber-competitive spirits, you smiled while watching them.
And Webber had the meta moment too when he proudly proclaimed that they were back. It applies to the series as a whole.
We had some of those bizarre cases that get you talking, too. The shots of the vaginal exam were effective, as a girl was crossing her legs by the time Jo PULLED A STRAWBERRY OUT OF ROBIN'S HOO-HA.
Webber's reaction to that was priceless, but Jo's wasn't any less hysterical. So, there are so many questions about whatever the hell Robin thought she was doing.
Who would put a strawberry in their vagina? And how exactly did she swallow the yoni egg?
Jo is living her best life with her cute blond hairdo and pink scrubs, despite cases like that. And can we give Link a round of applause for that vagina/pink/scrubs exchange?
She and Link are such great friends, and it feels good to see casual friendship like that again. They have their whole little system of taking care of the kids while Link laments his situation with Amelia.
We even have the Hunt siblings going rogue and kicking ass while practicing medicine and helping patients. The Owen, Megan, Teddy sibling vibes are strong and fun.
The Hunt siblings are already pretty amusing when they share the screen, so the two of them working together is brimming with potential.
Teddy and Owen are blissful these days, and it's better than all of their relationship angst. Owen is even really good in dad mode.
Leo loves wearing dresses and channeling Elsa, and they're all about Leo's free self-expression. Owen is surprisingly great with all of it, and Teddy's fears about how society would react to Leo got the better of her before Owen came through with the best advice.
You can understand Teddy's fears as a mother. She's all too familiar with a world that isn't kind, but she also can't project that onto Leo before he has to learn all of that. Right now, he enjoys his dresses, and nothing anyone says or does to him changes that.
Let him live in that blissful confidence that comes with youth for as long as he can.
Meanwhile, they're teasing some vibes between Megan and Hayes, yes? Will this be the second time Mer and Megan will share a love interest? Oh, so Grey's!
Teddy and Owen working on a case with another veteran was welcome, even if Owen couldn't let things go with Young. One could appreciate Hayes leveling with Owen as a husband and father who watched his wife struggle with a terminal illness and remembers what that was like for her and the kids.
Hayes and Owen are a duo that never interacts much.
Jo: Robin, there's a strawberry lodged in your...
Robin: OH, that tracks!
And to balance out the kookiness of Jo's case and the sadness of Teddy and Owen's, we got the informative one with Winston and Ortiz.
The hour managed to touch on one of many racist practices still in healthcare, and that's the racial disparity in eGFR, which is considered the best way of measuring kidney function.
Because of the inequity in calculations, factoring race results in millions of people of color, Black folks, in particular, dying of kidney disease because they aren't eligible for transplants based on their estimated rate during the test.
You could guess that it was an element the series would address when Rashida was thrilled to share with her followers that she had a Black doctor.
Kraus: This is not protocol.
Winston: It's not. It's a life. Rashida's.
Her excitement was because of exactly what took place. Without Winston advocating for her so much, going toe to toe with Kraus about this testing, and how ridiculous it was that they denied her a spot on the transplant list, Rashida would've died.
It's the first time that Winston got a case that took up so much of the hour where he stood out on his own and officially felt like part of the cast beyond Maggie's love interest.
And he and Ortiz worked well together.
It was a great case, and the series managed to introduce the topic, make it informative, and get viewers invested without getting too preachy as they had been doing.
It was perfect, and Maggie's absence ensured that Winston got to stand out on his own.
Back in Minnesota, the chemistry between Mer and Nick continues to smolder in all the best ways.
Nick is smitten with Mer, and it oozes through in their every interaction. They're fun and flirty, but he also manages to get through to Mer in ways that she needs, and they're taking their time showing how well these two work with one another.
Mer was giving Hamilton's offer more thought than you'd imagine. It was more surprising that she expressed doubts and hesitancy about this revolutionary medicine she could participate in there.
Amelia was trying her hardest to convince Mer to take the offer. She was all-in, no questions asked, and it'll be great for Amelia.
At least Amelia makes sense for this project. It's still a bit ridiculous that Hamilton wants Mer for this when she's a General Surgeon, not neuro or anything else.
Amelia's giddiness over everything was adorable. She geeked out the second she waltzed into the lab, and she didn't even have to think about jumping on board.
She also got noticeably giddy when she met Dr. Bartley.
Mer: I'm scared to say yes, and I am very rarely scared.
Nick: What are you scared of?
Mer: Failure. This project will cost millions of dollars, will be risky, win or lose will be written about, and I'm not sure it's the first thing I want to do after surviving COVID.
Let the record show that I am still beyond pissed off about how this series chose to destroy Amelia and Link's stable, healthy relationship out of the blue for the sake of drama. It's the most contrived storyline we have right now, and it's irritating on so many levels.
The idea that they're even teasing a new relationship is offensive. However, Amelia behaved like a giggly schoolgirl when she saw them, and in her defense, they're attractive.
It's Amelink all day for this reviewer, but until they get their crap together, if the show chooses to explore Amelia and Bartley, well, begrudgingly, it's intriguing.
It felt as if Amelia and Hamilton gave their best efforts convincing Mer to take on the project, but in the end, Nick's proper assessment of her seemed to be the tipping point in favor of agreeing.
Despite what Mer was saying, a research job is more stable than anything else. She can't let her COVID experience keep her from seizing the best opportunities. It's more of a reason why she should.
Mer negotiated her terms, and it means that we'll have her at Grey Sloan with the rest of her family and friends. We'll get that wonderful escapism with this groundbreaking project where she gets to work alongside Amelia, and she can have sexytimes with Nick.
It's the best of both worlds!
Over to you, Grey's Fanatics.
Did this hour give you the old Grey's vibe? Are you happy Mer said yes? Sound off below!
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Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.