Warning: Spoilers for this week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy ahead!
You’d think that Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) would have been the least excited person to meet Callie’s (Sara Ramirez) new girlfriend on this week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy. But, as it turns out, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) was in for a shock when she opened her front door to welcome the couple into a house party and realized that her friend’s new love interest, Penny (Samantha Sloyan), was the doctor who failed to save her late husband, Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey).
Meredith spent this week’s episode lecturing young doctors and interns on handling grief and breaking bad news to patients’ families. It was a callback to last season’s tragedy, when Derek died after being in a car accident and was transported to a hospital with improperly-trained doctors, forcing Meredith to make the decision to pull the plug.
"Yours is the face they will remember for the rest of their life," she told the young residents. "You are changing this person’s life forever. You are responsible for this moment. For the instant that person goes from wife to widow, is you."
Apt foreshadowing, as the sight of the Penny later caused Meredith to flash back to Derek’s death, recalling Callie’s new girlfriend as she apologized for being unable to save her husband.
"People love to say that what doesn’t kill you makes your stronger," Meredith’s voiceover echoed as she relived the painful memories. "But sometimes those people don’t know what the hell they’re talking about."
Grey’s showrunner Shonda Rhimes opened up about killing off McDreamy during this summer's TCA press tour, explaining that she felt the death was the only organic way to end the show’s most pivotal relationship as Dempsey departed the show.
"Meredith and Derek's love had to remain Meredith and Derek's love," Rhimes explained. "As painful as it was for me as a storyteller, the only way to preserve what felt true to me was Derek was going to have to die for that love to remain honest."
Time will tell what kind of effect Penny’s presence has on all the doctors at Grey-Sloan Memorial, but from the looks of new week’s previews it won’t be smooth sailing.