Grey’s Anatomy Finale Ends in Cliffhanger After Meredith Grey Returns  

[This story contains spoilers to the season 19 two-episode finale of Grey’s Anatomy, “Wedding Bell Blues/Happily Ever After.”]

The two-hour conclusion to Grey’s Anatomy’s 19th season welcomed back two of its recently departed characters, and ended with a potentially tragic cliffhanger for another.

After exiting the hit ABC medical drama as a series regular earlier in the season, Ellen Pompeo made her anticipated return during the May 18 two-part finale, “Wedding Bell Blues/Happily Ever After.” The episode split its time between the veteran cast and the younger batch of interns, with the main storyline centering around Simone’s (Alexis Floy) wedding day and the young doctor ultimately calling off her nuptials and choosing Lucas (Niko Terho). With the wedding as the backdrop, love was in the air for many of the characters — including Jo (Camilla Luddington) and Link (Chris Carmack), who finally vocalized their love for one another.

And both Meredith (Pompeo) and Maggie (Kelly McCreary) — after wrapping each of their stories by choosing their own passions over love — rekindled their relationships on their own terms in their returns. When a group of the Grey Sloan Memorial doctors fly out to Boston to attend the ceremony for the coveted Catherine Fox Award (where Chandra Wilson’s Bailey, in a heartfelt moment, received a surprise award for her devotion to reproductive health care after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision), both Nick (Scott Speedman) and Winston (Anthony Hill) got the chance to reunite with their estranged partners. Meredith and Nick last spoke when she pretended to not hear his “I love you” while she boarded her plane to Boston with her children; and Maggie and husband Winston left their marriage up in the air when she moved to Chicago to pursue her medical ambitions.

Meredith and Nick cleared up a few misunderstandings, mainly that Nick should have never let Meredith walk away. “I want to live a whole life with love, and mess and pain… and you,” he told her, to which she replied, “Well, OK, then,” and they shared a kiss. Meanwhile, Winston finally matched Maggie’s ambitions and when he did, they agreed to start here and figure out the rest as they embark on a long-distance relationship.

But the episode wasn’t all about tying things up in neat bows. Meredith, who has been working to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, potentially put her career in jeopardy by making public her new findings, which contradict decades of studies. Webber (James Pickens Jr.) potentially put his sobriety in jeopardy after being rocked by a near-death experience on the flight to Boston. And Teddy (Kim Raver) ends the episode unconscious and on the floor of a surgery room, her fate unclear by the episode’s end. Teddy, who was recently named Chief, spent the episode complaining of a toothache before falling to the ground in the final moment.

On McCreary’s part, in a previous interview with   about her exit, the actress left the door open to cycle back into the show in the future, similar to exiting stars before her (Kate Walsh appeared in three episodes this season, reprising her Dr. Addison Montgomery). “I love that about the show, that people come back. I think it’s open. I think that’s a question for Meg Marinis, who is the new showrunner. But I am open to it and I think the storyline leaves it pretty open,” she said.

The finale also brings an end to Krista Vernoff’s run as showrunner, as she passes over the reins to Marinis for the 20th season of ABC’s longest-running primetime scripted series, created by Shonda Rhimes. Vernoff and Marinis co-wrote “Wedding Bell Blues,” while Marinis wrote “Happily Ever After?” The episodes were directed by Kevin McKidd and Debbie Allen, respectively.

Since her high-profile exit, Pompeo has remained an executive producer and the show’s narrator. The door remains open for her return, per sources, and while her involvement in season 20 has yet to be made official, the finale certainly set up more to explore with Meredith Grey.

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