“You’d think these people would learn. Don’t fly.” This was the assessment my viewing companion made after watching the promo for the Grey’s Anatomy episode, “In the Air Tonight.” You’ve got to admit, he has a point. To be even more accurate, don’t fly with Meredith Grey. Anything that can happen to this woman, does. She’s survived a bomb, a near drowning, an active shooter, a plane crash, and an earthquake. She operated through a miscarriage and eventually gave birth during a super storm. Then her husband died. So, yes, Meredith Grey has been through everything imaginable. Except she hasn’t. Because this bottle episode, is #GreysOnAPlane, The Sequel. Buckle Up!!!
“Me” Time. Don’t Ruin it.
As the story opens, a passenger (to whom I shall refer as “Belligerent Guy”) is arguing with the flight attendant. Soon he segues into complaining about the noise the young boy across the aisle from him is making. Not so fast, Belligerent Guy … Meredith Grey is seated next to the little boy and his mom and Meredith is not having it. After taking B.G. down a peg or two, Meredith discovers that the boy’s dad is also on the plane and offers to trade seats with him so the family can be together. She quickly regrets her random act of kindness, however, because who should be seated in the row to which she just moved? That’s right! Nathan Riggs! The swoon-worthy surgeon with whom she’s been in an on-again, off-again (mostly off-again) relationship. The really nice guy she pretty rudely stood up in the last episode. Awkward.
It turns out that the doctors are both headed to the same professional conference. Riggs immediately sizes up the situation. Three days away. No one from the hospital around them. What could be bad about that? Meredith shuts him down, saying she was clear that nothing was going to happen between them. She wants him to leave her alone and says she’s going to stretch her legs. To her shock, Riggs follows her into the bathroom, saying she did “that thing” with her eyes that meant he should follow her. “Umm, no…” she protests. But does she really mean that? “What even happens, this never happened. Got it?” And soon, MerThan are the newest members of the Mile High Club.
No sooner do they return to their seats (the woman who was once between them having moved over, clearly done with them talking over her) then the plane experiences major turbulence. Meredith and Nathan both look spooked and share that they both survived plane crashes. Nathan and some friends crashed a crop duster when they were stupid kids. Meredith…well, long-time viewers know that story already, but we also get Meredith flashbacks to the ill-fated flight of the Seattle Grace Six Five.
Anyway, several passengers are injured as a result of the turbulence, including Max, the super-nice guy Meredith met coming out of the bathroom (ahem) earlier. Max has a nasty head wound. Long-story short, Meredith and Nathan figure out that he probably has a brain bleed and have to go all MacGyver and use things like nail clippers and drinking straws to drain the fluid from his head. They’re ably assisted by Ingrid (Nathan’s seatmate), Candace (a flight attendant whose wrist Nathan reset) and Harrison (a pediatric dentist who answer the call for doctors). Adding to the chaos? Belligerent Guy (who revealed earlier that he has a pulmonary condition) collapsed and had to be revived by Nathan. Eventually, the captain of the plane is able to land the aircraft. But, wait. There’s more. Rewind.
I would be remiss to not go back and focus on the real meat of this episode: getting to the bottom of Meredith’s hesitation to get involved with Nathan. When they finally have a break between patients, Nathan gets Meredith to open up about the previous plane crash. She confesses that her sister, Lexie died in that accident. And that only three of the six doctors on that plane were still alive today. To their credit, the writers acknowledged the elephant in the room. Meredith has been through hell. Multiple times. And now the flashbacks flow freely to revisit her losses. Derek dying. Cristina leaving. Lexie dying. The plane crash. The shooter. The drowning. The bomb. Even Meredith as a little girl witnessing her mother’s suicide attempt.
Nathan quickly connects the dots and realizes that Meredith’s current rationale of protecting Maggie has a lot to do with losing Lexie. Yet, he argues, that’s not reason enough to keep them apart. And then, as Nathan gently pushes Meredith to stop trying to resist their attraction, she (after arguing that she was choosing family over herself) cries out, “I’m married!” And there it is, at last.
Once they are safely off the plane, Nathan gives things one final shot. “You’re scared,” he says. Scared of “letting him go.” And scared of losing Nathan. He could have been the guy injured on the plane. But he wasn’t, Nathan assures her. And Nathan, having lost Megan, speaks plainly to Meredith about losing Derek. Meredith and Nathan are still alive. Time to pull themselves together and move on. And what better place to do that than in Sioux Falls, the site of their emergency landing? After an epic MerDer montage, Meredith sighs and says, “It better be a nice hotel. And I am not holding your hand.”
Memorable Moments and Quotes
Nathan: “Where’d you come from?”
Meredith: “4C. I was being a Good Samaritan and reuniting a family. Serves me right.”
Meredith: “Sometimes I feel like I’m cursed. A lot of people die around me.”
Candace: “I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t tell you all to be seated right now.”
Meredith: “And I wouldn’t be doing mine if I listened.”
Nathan: “You’re scared.”
Meredith: “Of what?”
Nathan: “Letting him go.”
Meredith: “My sister died out there.”
Nathan: “You have another sister?”
Meredith: “My kid sister, Lexie. I loved her.”
Grey’s Anatomy returns on April 27th 8/7c on ABC.