Did Grey's Anatomy manage to reboot itself after 19 years?
That seems to be the case from the very first moments of Grey's Anatomy Season 19 Episode 1. And we're all pretty excited about it and what the rest of the season has in store.
Join Meaghan Frey, Joshua Johnson, and Jasmine Blu as they discuss the premiere, the new interns, and much more.
How do you feel about this reboot, if you will, of the series, and does it work?
Meaghan: This is exactly what Grey's Anatomy needed to breathe life back into the series.
Yes, they've introduced new intern classes throughout the series, but it never felt like they fully shifted focus to them. They always ended up being additions to the already massive cast, and only one or two ever transitioned to main character status.
With this episode, even though the old cast was there, it felt like the new group was front and center. At the start of the series, the old cast felt more like Bailey, Richard, Burke, and Derek; there to guide the new cast but still prevalent characters in their own right.
For the past few seasons, it felt like the writers ran out of stories to write for the old cast. Because of that, they've started making them act out of character to give them something, anything, to do, and it has been frustrating to watch as a viewer.
It's not necessarily the writers' fault, though. It is what happens when a series has been on for so long. Doing a soft reboot gives them new stories to tell without forcing those stories on the existing characters.
Joshua: When I first heard about Ellen Pompeo's limited appearance this season, combined with a focus on a new intern class, I was initially hesitant.
As Meaghan said, we've seen this show introduce new intern classes in the past, but they were either meant to be foils to the residents or were watered-down versions of the original interns.
Except for Lexie, Grey's Anatomy Season 9 was the show's first time investing in new interns as characters when they introduced Jo's class, and then again in Grey's Anatomy Season 13 with Schmidt's class.
Adding five new interns to an already bloated cast seemed like a set-up for failure, and I have never been happier to be wrong. Pivoting the focus of the series from the main star to five new characters was a hugely risky move. But the episode and characterizations felt like the writers really took their time to ideate and develop the new interns.
Jasmine: I haven't felt this excited about the series in years. At some point with this show, you tune in out of habit and loyalty, even if it's like going through the motions. But I felt excitement for the possibilities ahead of the season, and this soft reboot didn't disappoint.
They pulled it off wonderfully, reminding me that the series still has it. It was a risk to focus on a whole new batch of interns, but they cast them and executed it well. It both felt earnest, fresh, and new while scratching all the nostalgic itches.
What's your first impression of the new interns?
Meaghan: I'm really enjoying them! I love the similarities between them and the original intern class that brings on the nostalgia, but there are also slight differences in their personalities that make them feel fresh and new.
Each of them is intriguing, and I want to know more about them. It also helps that they cast a stellar set of actors that have been doing great work but are super overlooked.
Joshua: So far, I think they're great. What I appreciate the most about this development is that, as viewers, we already know what's in store for the interns as they progress through their training, so we get to see how they progress through the program compared to the original five.
The show has a great opportunity not just to mirror stories from the past but to write entirely new ones for entirely new characters. Because these new five interns are already so well characterized from each other, I think we have the potential for many new and exciting stories.
Jasmine: I agree with Meaghan and Joshua. I love them. I loved each and every one of them instantly, and I don't see that changing at all. They chose the perfect actors to bring these characters to life, and that's half the battle right out of the gate.
One of the things that made Grey's so fantastic in the first place was how they took the risk in introducing us to lesser-known or criminally underrated talents and shined a rightful spotlight on them and their abilities.
Shum and Kane are criminally underrated, and the others are rising stars and lesser-known talents, and it makes you as excited about the actors portraying them and their journey as the characters.
And yes, they managed to give them similarities to past characters, inviting comparisons to the original M.A.G.I.C. while making them their own personalities, which works.
Almost instantly, I was delighted that Lucas reminded me of George, but he's also a totally different character, and so forth.
I have never been this invested in new characters and excited about following their journey mere seconds into their introduction.
Because we know what's in store for them, we get to watch their stories unfold as seasoned viewers while also enjoying the nostalgia of them finding their way and becoming something great with the help of characters whose journeys we've already witnessed along the way. It makes it feel like they're our fledglings, too, which is cool and effective.
How do you feel about that Lucas/Derek connection twist?
Meaghan: I loved it. It caught me by surprise but in the best way. When he delivered Derek's trademark "It's a beautiful day to save lives," I couldn't help but cry. It shows what an impact his uncle had on him.
I also liked that Meredith pointed out that even though Lucas idolized Derek, he is more similar to Amelia. Amelia has always felt like the black sheep of the Shephard family, while Derek was the shining star. Watching Lucas grow and develop as a surgeon will allow Amelia to see how incredible she is.
Joshua: It caught me off guard, and I had to rewind to watch it happen again. It was such a subtle moment, a surprise from a show like Grey's, which I feel has come to treat viewers like Whack-A-Moles with their very important moments.
This almost breezed right in, making it feel natural and unexpected.
I also look forward to Amelia perhaps finding a member of her family with whom she actually connects. She's so misunderstood in her own family, and while she has Meredith and Maggie as her chosen family, it will be nice to see if she can find a place to belong in her biological family as well.
Conversely, I think it'll be intriguing to see how she provides support and a safe space for Lucas to make mistakes in a way that Amelia couldn't.
Jasmine: Yes, I agree with you both.
The moment was remarkably and effectively subtle, making it that much stronger and impactful when my brain caught up to what happened. My jaw dropped, my eyes misted, and I smiled. It didn't help that I instantly fell for Lucas because of how genuinely sweet, earnest, and disastrous he was.
But it was such a brilliant move. It keeps the past and those characters and stories alive in a new way.
I love what this does for Lucas as a new person coming into the fold with this love for his uncle and trying to prove himself. I love what this does for Amelia; as I mentioned in the review, it opens up the door for her to see herself reflected in someone, and it be a good thing.
Do you think there will be something more between Link and Jules?
Meaghan: I think eventually, but I am fine with it being a slow burn.
When Meredith slept with Derek, she fell for him almost instantly. He became the center of her universe, and her career was second to him. It wasn't until around the point that he died that she blossomed and became the surgeon that everyone treats like a god. Jules not falling into that same trap is refreshing.
Joshua: I mean, probably? I think I might appreciate it more if--you all know how I feel about this show constantly needing to pair people off. But I love Adelaide Kane, so I'm more than willing to be patient with what happens.
Jasmine: I honestly don't know. I loved the Mer/Derek parallel, but I can see them doing something entirely different, and it ends here. Typically, I'm annoyed or indifferent with some of the pairing merry-go-rounds, but it's Adelaide Kane and Chris Carmack. I'll go on this ride if I have to and not complain.
Should Nick take Meredith's offer? Do you think they'll rekindle things after clearing the air and six months apart?
Meaghan: Yes, he should. Nick has consistently been shown to be an incredible teacher. It's one of my favorite parts of his character. The new interns could use a teacher like him.
As far as he and Meredith go, I am rooting for them to find their way back to each other, but regardless, I want Nick to stick around for the long run.
I'm really frustrated with Meredith that she didn't even bother to go after him that last day. Did she think yelling his name was enough? At least follow it up with a phone call or something. Nick needs to make her sweat it out a little bit.
Joshua: I agree with Meaghan; Nick's style of teaching is refreshing at Grey Sloan, and an outside perspective is something the hospital needs to rekindle its residency program.
Regarding his relationship with Meredith, I appreciate that she lowkey got read the riot act for how little she did to follow him--something I remember wanting at the end of last season.
For years, Meredith constantly pushed Derek away when she was overwhelmed by something or when she wasn't ready for something in their relationship, and Derek always gave her space and returned.
I like that Meredith is having to unlearn her old habits with Nick and realize that if she does want someone new in her life, she's going to have to learn how to be in a relationship with that person, and that might mean there are consequences to her actions.
Jasmine: Damn, y'all. I don't have anything to add! I love Nick and what he brings as a mentor, and his teaching style just endears me to him and is the fresh take that the residency program needs. I'm not surprised that Meredith recruited a class of misfits and diamonds in the rough inspired by him.
And I totally agree about Mer learning to be mature in her relationships and be equally accountable in them, and so forth. You guys hit the nail on the head, and all I can do is cosign.
Are you disappointed that we bypassed the Teddy and Owen legal stuff? How do you think Owen's suspended license situation will work?
Meaghan: I'm disappointed to the extent that they tied it up in a convenient bow, but at the same time, I wasn't looking forward to watching the two of them be on the run.
If last season taught us anything, it's that we can't be splitting time between Grey Sloan and somewhere else. It just doesn't work for this series.
I think Owen's suspended license could create some amusing situations. We will have to see him working under doctors who were his equals just six months ago.
I'm not sure how Owen is going to handle it. Part of me was hoping that April had come back and taken over as the trauma attending in his absence and be his supervisor temporarily. Given that we haven't heard any rumors about Sarah Drew returning again, I don't think that will happen.
Joshua: I don't know if I'd say disappointed so much as not surprised. Krista Vernoff has a habit of magically fixing complicated plots. It's always needed, but it's frustrating to see a plot get written into a corner only to have it wrapped up off-screen (see Meredith and McWidow dating off-screen between Seasons 17 and 18, after two seasons working up toward a possible relationship).
That said, I didn't realize that Owen and Teddy hadn't been in the episode until they showed up, and when they did, I felt the wind go out of my sails a little bit.
That was a great opportunity to write off Owen and Teddy, who don't have much room for plot or character development at this point.
Jasmine: Yeah, it was more of an annoyance that they just wrapped it all up off-screen, but I also wouldn't have wanted to see all of it play out. Owen's prospect of navigating a place in this hospital could be interesting.
But overall, as Joshua mentioned, I didn't even think about Owen and Teddy's absence until they came barging in at the end. It threw me off, and they didn't fit.
What was your favorite moment from the hour? What are your hopes for the remainder of the season?
Meaghan: My favorite moment is the classic interns on the gurneys scene. We've seen it recreated before, but it never fails to bring me right back to the beginning.
My hopes for the season are that they continue down this new path that they are on. The writing feels stronger, the characters more likable, and I'm excited about the show for the first time in a long time.
Hopefully, they won't fall back into old habits and push the new interns aside again. If they do this, they have to commit and make them the show's stars. That's the only way they will be able to know for sure if the show has a real future.
Joshua: It's hard to pick one favorite moment; what I enjoyed most from this episode was seeing how each of the interns connected to medicine and the new program and established themselves as quality characters with excellent chemistry. Basically, everything that Meaghan said.
Jasmine: Yeah, I'm right there with you. I pretty much loved everything with the new interns. I agree; the scene with the interns in the hall on the gurney was my favorite and always gets to me. I had touched my hand to my heart and smiled and everything. I also loved the Lucas/Derek reveal.
Meaghan nailed it. I want them to keep up this same momentum all season. I want them to commit to these new characters and not drop them by the wayside because they have found the spark and magic with them.
Do you have any additional things you'd like to add?
Meaghan: Please, writers, give Lucas and Levi some scenes together. As someone who fell in love with the chemistry between Jake Borelli and Niko Terho in The Thing About Harry, I need to see them on screen together again.
They've dropped the ball on Nico and Levi for so long that, honestly, I'm rooting for them to break up and have Levi and Lucas give it a go. But I'll try not to get ahead of myself.
Joshua: As an actor, this episode reinvigorated my desire to get cast on the show. For me, that's always a sign of something going right--when a show, or a movie, or a play is so good that all I want is to be a part of it. I'm happy to have the desire--and the show--back; it feels like an old friend came home.
Jasmine: The first thing that came to my mind when the casting got released was a reunion between Borelli and Terho. We need to see them onscreen together again!
Levi and Nico have been disastrous, and the part of me that loves Levi and also loved every second of Borelli and Terho's chemistry in The Thing About Harry is all for a romantic. However, I also saw a possible something between Lucas and Simone, a dynamic I can get down with, too. We shall see!
Over to you, Grey's Fanatics. Do you agree with our round table? Do you disagree? Sound off.
Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays on ABC.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.