Why Grey’s Anatomy Season 19 is a Not-So-Secret Reboot


Since Grey’s Anatomy first premiered in 2005, it has aired 19 seasons, 406 episodes, and birthed 3 spinoffs. Naturally the show has had to adapt as cast members come and go throughout the years. This sometimes makes it hard to recall what exactly went on in season 1. Although who can forget Addison Montgomery (then Shepherd) saying the iconic line, “I’m Addison Shepherd … and you must be the woman who’s been screwing my husband.”

With every new intern class that Grey’s introduces viewers to, it always throws in a few Easter eggs to remind fans what made them fall in love with the show in the first place. However, it seems season 19 wanted to take this even further. Grey’s Anatomy season 19 launches a soft reboot that allows the series to ground itself in its season 1 roots. If the “begin again” tagline of the season 19 poster wasn’t a giveaway, season 19 throws back to some key scenes and storylines from the first season’s interns: Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), Alex Karev (Justin Chambers), George O’Malley (T. R. Knight), Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl), and Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) – a quintet collectively known as “M.A.G.I.C.” by fans.

Grey’s Anatomy season 19 introduces five new interns of its own: Benson “Blue” Kwan (Harry Shum Jr.), Jules Millin (Adelaide Kane), Mika Yasuda (Midori Francis), Lucas Adams (Niko Terho), and Simone Griffith (Alexis Floyd), who take the place of M.A.G.I.C. This revives the show by giving it a new set of characters while also harkening back to a blast from the past that parallels season one. So what specifically does Grey’s Anatomy reference from season 19?

Meredith and Derek’s First Meeting

The Grey’s Anatomy pilot famously opens with Meredith kicking a random stranger she had a one night stand with out of bed, only to later discover the stranger is the head of neurosurgery at Seattle Grace Hospital where she’s just started interning at. It’s the start of Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) and Meredith’s relationship but also Meredith’s journey to becoming a surgeon at the hospital.

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Season 19 parallels this as on her first day Jules learns that she had slept with the Head of Orthopedic Surgery at the now-named Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, Dr. Atticus “Link” Lincoln (Chris Carmack). The only difference with Jules and Link’s story is that Jules makes it very clear she will not be entering an intern-attending relationship like Derek and Meredith or Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington) and Cristina.

Another throwback to the pilot episode is how Simone is late on her first day at Grey Sloan, much like Meredith was the last one to Webber’s intern speech on her first day. But unlike Meredith, Simone was late because she was simply just running late rather than because she was sleeping with an attending.

Loved Ones With Alzheimer’s

Meredith’s mother is award-winning general surgeon Dr. Ellis Grey (Kate Burton) who in the first season we discover has Alzheimer’s and is in a nursing home. This is something that Meredith is forced to keep a secret as a promise to her mother, which Meredith does until Dr. Ellis is until she is admitted to Seattle Grace in season 2 episode 3.

In season 19, Simone is the caretaker of her grandmother who also has the disease.  Viewers and Simone’s fellow interns discover Simone’s secret when her mother shows up at the hospital in episode 3. Meredith’s own understanding of the illness and her own journey with looking after the mother leads to a great moment between Simone and Meredith.

In season 1 and pretty much through Meredith’s whole time on the show, viewers witness the complicated relationship between Meredith and her mother Ellis Grey. Having a famous surgeon for a mother is hard but pair that with a mother you feel could have done better as a parent is even more difficult. It led to Meredith working extra hard to establish herself as a great surgeon without the added pressure of being Ellis Grey’s daughter, 

Likewise in season 19, the show introduces Lucas who is Derek and Amelia Shepherd’s (Caterina Scorsone) favorite nephew, which also technically makes the current interim chief of surgery Meredith his aunt through marriage. Like Meredith, Lucas doesn’t want anyone to know their familial connection so leads his fellow interns into believing that he is sleeping with his aunt Amelia. Unlike Meredith it takes a couple of episodes rather than days until the interns finally find out the truth in episode six.

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Lucas continues the connection to Derek throughout the season. After he messes up on his first day, he aids Nick in a transplant surgery, where Lucas says Derek Shepherd’s iconic phrase, “It’s a beautiful day to save lives.”

The Return of the Basement Hangout

Doctors work long shifts and Grey’s Anatomy does not shy away from depicting this, as both the pilot and the season 19 premiere portray the interns’ first shift and the exhaustion it comes with. In season 1 the basement becomes the interns preferred hangout spot as it is equipped with vending machines and old hospital beds to relax and catch a nap on. Season 19’s interns seem to be utilizing the space viewers hadn’t seen in so long.

The Mystery Case

In the first episode of Grey’s Anatomy, teenage rhythmic gymnast Katie Bryce is suffering from seizures. Nobody can figure out the cause so Derek Shepherd decides to motivate the interns to discover what’s wrong with Katie and says whoever is the first intern to properly diagnose Katie would get to scrub in on the surgery. Cristina and Meredith end up figuring out Katie’s diagnosis together but with only one intern being allowed in at a time, Derek decides on Meredith. 

In season 19 episode 2 Meredith, now a general surgeon, assigns the interns a mystery case. The mystery case is Chase, a college student who has a variety of symptoms, including a full-body rash, difficulty breathing, and bleeding. The extremity of his symptoms and the offer of scrubbing in, have the interns rushing to diagnose Chase’s symptoms before it’s too late. Luckily Jules and Simone came up with the answer, but only Simone ends up scrubbing in. 

Grey’s Anatomy season 19 returns with episode 7 on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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