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Long-time Grey's Anatomy fans got a pleasant surprise at the very end of the Season 17 premiere a couple of weeks ago, when Meredith had a vision of her late husband, Derek, after passing out in the hospital parking lot. It turns out that Mer is in some trouble, which means that she'll be seeing these visions of Derek for a while, here and there, as the season progresses. This also means that Patrick Dempsey will pop up as Meredith's story continues to unfold, and one Grey's Anatomy star thinks he knows why Dempsey's return is "perfect" for the show.
Kevin McKidd, who's played Dr. Owen Hunt on Grey's Anatomy since Season 5 in 2008, spoke with People about Patrick Dempsey's return recently, and said that he knows why now is the right time for Derek's reappearance:
The idea of having Mer, with her illness, have these waking dreams where she connects with the love of her life is fitting and cathartic for everyone — for the fans especially. Mer and Der were the core relationship of our show for many years, and it feels like the timing is perfect for real closure.
As fans will no doubt remember, Dempsey left his time on Grey's behind in Season 11, when his beloved character was killed off after getting hit by a truck. While a dream scenario was the only likelihood of him returning, even that didn't seem to be possible, considering the rumored tension which had built between himself and show creator Shonda Rhimes. But, Rhimes left her day-to-day duties on the medical drama behind some time ago, and with Meredith past the most difficult days of her grief, now was a fitting time for fans to see Derek again.
As Kevin McKidd said, it makes total sense that Meredith would imagine seeing the love of her life right now. Not only has she (along with all of the other medical professionals at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital) been dealing with the effects of the pandemic on a slew of patients, and sometimes without enough resources to help them all, our tough, do-it-all heroine also has now been diagnosed with the potentially deadly virus herself. This, of course, is why she passed out at work.
As viewers noticed in last week's episode, with Meredith going in and out of consciousness after finally being admitted to the hospital, whenever things get really bad for her, she mentally heads back to that beach where she can see and talk to Derek once more. This has led many fans to (rather morbidly) hope that Mer has an extended period of unconsciousness, you know, like a coma or something, so that we can all get more Derek time on screen. I mean, Grey's started us down this path, so I don't think that's weird or selfish (she's got little kids!) at all, do you?
We can all see how things go down with Meredith, dream Derek, Owen, and everyone else when Grey's Anatomy continues every Thursday on ABC, at 9 p.m. EST. For more on what to watch, check out our guide to fall TV!