Sometimes comparing a spin-off to its flagship is an undesirable thing. Station 19 has worked very hard to establish its own drama outside of Grey's Anatomy-- though last week's crossover proved that it does know how to blend the the worlds of the two shows effectively. That being said, I mean it in the best way when I say that Station 19's first episode after their first major character death had fantastic old school Grey's Anatomy vibes.
The death of Chief Ripley (Brett Tucker) was an emotional rollercoaster for the firefighters, specifically Vic (Barrett Doss), who was about to get engaged to Ripley before he collapsed from inhaling toxic chemicals in a recent fire. They had a deathbed goodbye before his heart finally gave out, bringing their torrid love affair to a tragic close.
Thursday's episode followed up that emotional farewell with an even more tear-inducing episode that forced Vic not to retreat into solitude but embrace her grief at Ripley's funeral. It included all the great hallmark scenes of a Shondaland post-death episode. Vic flipped out on the people who tried to help her, including her best friend Montgomery (Jay Hayden) who also lost his husband in a fire. It brought in Schmidt (Jake Borelli) from Grey's Anatomy to confirm what Vic should have already known, that she was the most important person to Ripley before he died. And it brought her together with her fellow firefighters and Ripley's family to celebrate his life and say goodbye.
What made the episode exceptional though, was that it showed how Ripley's death affected everyone else at the fire station as well. For Sullivan (Boris Kodjoe), it brought up difficult memories of his wife's funeral. The bells at the end of the service triggered Andy's (Jaina Lee Ortiz) memories of her mom's death. The emotional nature of the circumstances helped Andy and Maya (Danielle Savre) get over their Jack-centered schism.
By exploring the grief the firefighters were experiencing in the wake of this traumatic loss, Station 19 not only honored what a big role Ripley played in their lives but delved deeper into the emotional lives of these characters and brought the audience closer to them. It's the same trick that Grey's mastered early on after the deaths of iconic characters like Denny Duquette (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Mark Sloan (Eric Dane). That's not bad company to keep at all.
Station 19's Season 2 finale airs Thursday, May 16 at 9/8c on ABC.