Instead of going spooky with some Halloween-themed caseload for this week's episode, Grey's Anatomy is celebrating the Day of the Dead by bringing back some familiar faces that are sure to send a chill up anyone's spine.
See, Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) is hot stuff around the hospital right now, as both DeLuca (Giancomo Giannatti) and Link, aka "Ortho God" (Chris Carmack), have very obviously taken a shine to her — and the latter of those two has the approval, and even encouragement, of her pseudo-bestie Jo. But while she's willing to give Cici's method a shot and go out another blind date, she's hopelessly conflicted about something else altogether right about now.
Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) has informed her that her father Thatcher is now on the brink of death. He didn't fall off the wagon, but his body is still failing him, and there's nothing that can be done. He'll be gone in a matter of weeks. Webber suspects she'll want to know so that she can say goodbye, but Meredith isn't so sure she needs any further closure from him — as far as she's concerned, she's way past the chapter of her life that included her dad. Even so, she seeks the counsel of those she knows who's also had conflicted relationships with their fathers: Alex (Justin Chambers) and Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams). When neither of them proves helpful, she decides to listen to the family of her patient — a little girl whose GI surgery is complicated enough to warrant her attention — and learn about how they celebrate the spiritual beyond on this occasion instead of mourning with solemnity.
Grey's suffered a lot of losses over the years — her mother (as hellish as she was, that loss was still cataclysmic), her sister Lexi, and, of course, her husband, to name a few — and the idea that these little marigold flowers represent something more for any or all of them seems to bring her comfort. As she's leaving the hospital, we're treated to a little ghost show, with George, Lexi, Ellis, Derek, Mark, and even Doc the Dog (!!) greeting her on her way out of the place.
Well, if that isn't a multi-punch combo aimed right for the ruddy feels... Ouch, my heart!
Meredith ultimately decides not to entertain the attention of either potential beau — although they definitely both shoot their shots — and instead heads to Alex and Jo's for some R&R. Link is there, too — after letting a boy with cancer cut off his locks to feel better about his own impending hair loss, he needs a trim — and Meredith decides to take the scissors into her own hands. But she seems unconcerned about any love life opportunities here or the chance to say goodbye to the man she barely knew or cared about. She's made peace with not needing to make peace with Thatcher.
Back to Link for a minute, though. He might seem like some hotshot who doesn't have the kind of character to hang with Grey, but this week we've learned a little more about him that might tip the scale in his favor — if she ever does get serious about dating again. As it turns out, he is a childhood cancer survivor who's willing to put his precious tresses on the line to make a little one and his mom smile. It's solid stuff. But then again, the same can be said for DeLuca, who bows out of a surgery he really wants to be a part of so that the little girl who's crushing on him hard won't feel embarrassed about having her innards scattered all over the table in front of him — it's the last thing she needs to worry about right now, and he respects that, teachable OR moments be darned.
They're both pretty great guys, so it's probably a good thing she just takes the stairs when they both fall over themselves to hold the elevator door for her.
One person that does get a little action in the place where all the things happen on Grey's is Glasses, whose long-gestating connection to Nico Kim (Alex Landi) finally comes to a head after they spend the day together diagnosing Link's patient. Kim is openly gay, but Glasses hasn't quite figured things out for himself just yet. Kim plants one on the nerdy intern but is discouraged to find out that he's such a novice to his own desires. He has no interest in coaching the kid into his homosexuality, so Glasses is left high and dry after one epic elevator kiss. Harrumph.
In other news, Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) enjoys some much-needed respite from the all-consuming concern she has about Ben's safety, as she revives a dead man's liver for a woman in desperate need of a transplant. Jo (Camilla Luddington) goes along with it above Karev's chiefly orders not to use the organ — his concern is that it'll put the hospital's relationship with the usual transplant service in jeopardy — and while he's peeved that she's disobeyed him, he's also turned on by her good work. This is where his power position cedes to his personal interests, obviously.
Meanwhile, Maggie (Kelly McCreary) is still not completely over Jackson's abandonment of her. He tries to kiss up all day long by bringing her three different lunch options, but she blows him off. This day and Grey's situation with her father has drudged up the somber memory of her mother's loss, and she doesn't really want Jackson's company in dealing with that grief. He doesn't give up, though. He brings her a bouquet of those fabled flowers, and it does seem to help her a little as she pulls up a prime photo of herself with her mother and manages a smile.
Speaking of mothers, Teddy (Kim Raver) comes very, very close to telling Owen (Kevin McKidd) about their bun in the oven, but she's interrupted by Amelia's (Caterina Scorsone) desperation over the disappearance of Betty and then again by his need to take care of little Leo. She wants to tell him; it's all over her face. But she also knows that he has created a happy home for himself with the kids he already has, and she doesn't know what to do.
She never gets an answer to her question of whether Owen is happy, so we're left to wonder whether she'll end up like Meredith has this week — content to never have that last word — or if she'll circle back and realize that Owen's big heart can probably handle another kid ... even if it's already committed to another woman.
Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8/7c on ABC.