'Grey's Anatomy' Producer Reveals the Emotional Story Behind the Closing Scene
Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Thursday's episode of Grey's Anatomy.
Grey's Anatomy ended its latest episode with a voiceover by Chandra Wilson's Miranda Bailey, where she's heard giving life to a handful of names of those who have died from the coronavirus. A scroll of names also plays for several seconds before the screen fades to black.
In the episode, "Fight the Power," Bailey's mother is admitted into the ER at Grey Sloan after testing positive for COVID-19 following a recent move to a Seattle nursing home. After having breathing problems and her health rapidly deteriorating, Bailey's mom dies with her daughter by her side. In the accompanying voiceover, Bailey says those who have died from the coronavirus "are not faceless," as she reads off a few names.
Former ER physician-turned-writer/executive producer Zoanne Clack, who wrote Thursday's emotional hour, revealed the origins of where the names came from, as well as the inspiration behind the creation of the episode.
"The inspiration for saying the names in the final voiceover was multifactorial. When my mom contracted and almost died of COVID, I was so mad that she might go down in history as one of the nameless, faceless ramifications of this disease. I was seeing how it was disproportionately affecting Black Americans, older Americans and people who lived in assisted living," Clack says in a written statement. "My mom was all of those. But she was also a teacher who has influenced many successful lives and she has an infectious laugh. That was the story I wanted people to remember, not that she was a victim of a pandemic. Fortunately after a long and hard fought 7-week battle, she is now a COVID survivor. So she doesn't have to be one among many."
"But there are so many who are among the many and who deserve to be more than numbers or statistics," she continues. "The mom of another one of our writers, Barbara Driscoll, was 97 and had fought off numerous other infections and illnesses before she succumbed to COVID within one weekend. I'd be remiss to overlook the death of Brittany Bruno-Ringer, the 32-year-old nurse who took care of patient zero at my mom's memory care facility, who worked tirelessly without adequate PPE taking care of my mom and the other dementia residents. I watched helplessly as two parents from my 'Caring for Parents With Alzheimer's' support group died within days of contracting the virus."
"'Jacob Lappin' from the voiceover is a mix of Jack Lappin (the great grandfather) and Mitchell Lubitsch (the lover of Broadway). 'Wade Klein" is Warren Klein, the brother of one of the on-set medical producers on the show, who also happens to be a nurse. And 'Dane Wilson' is Diane Wilson, an ICU nurse in Paris that passed during the first surge in Europe. I actually added her name onto another list that is constantly updated (and served as one of the inspirations for the end of the episode) which is on one of my medical websites called Medscape, titled 'In Memoriam, Health Care Workers Who Have Died of COVID-19," Clack says.
"People from all over the world can submit names of colleagues, friends, and family members. As of July 1, the list included more than 1800 names from 64 countries ranging in age from 20 to 99. The last update was Dec. 3 so no telling how many names are on it now. The final inspirations came from (1) the powerful article in The New York Times that named the 100,000 lives we had lost to COVID at that point ('An Incalculable Loss,' published at the end of May) and (2) the BLM movement where protestors held up the names of black lives that are now resting in power. 'Silence is compliance' became a battle call for me, and the framing of this episode was my reaction. It is my small contribution to lived lives full of substance not being forgotten," her message concludes.
Here is the official logline for next week's winter finale crossover event with Station 19: "Grey Sloan Memorial faces new pressures as Seattle Pres is overloaded, and Grey Sloan Memorial is now on surge capacity protocol. Meanwhile, Owen and Amelia are faced with one of the most controversial surgeries of their careers."
Watch the promo, which sees Meredith Grey waking up, below.
The Grey's Anatomy winter finale airs Thursday, Dec. 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. For more on season 17, watch the video below.
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