Last week we said goodbye to yet another Grey’s OG, Alex Karev. Fans were eagerly awaiting to see how his character would say goodbye, since Justin Chambers made his abrupt departure from the series.
So, with the dust settled, and the tears dried, let’s discuss how it went.
It’s worth reminding you that Shonda Rhimes and the writers were put in a really difficult spot. They had to say goodbye to a fan-favorite character for the last 15 years, with absolutely no new footage. They were however able to get Chambers to provide voiceover which provided the narrative throughout the hour.
In it we saw each of the key players in Alex’s life receive a letter from him that tried to explain his sudden absence. The TLDR: when Meredith was on trial and Alex showed up with all her former patients, he had reached out to Izzie for support as well. They caught up, and he learned Izzie was raising twins….and that they were his.
The reveal that Karev and Izzie reunited provided a nice walk down memory lane for fans, and in turn gave closure to another beloved character. We were treated to iconic moments like that kiss at the bar (#swoon), and him lifting Izzie off the bed after Denny died (#woof). We were reminded of the beautiful love story these two once had and it definitely gave you #AllTheFeels, but it also gave you #AllTheQuestions. The main one: What about Jo?
Basically her letter explained that he did love her, but he also never stopped loving and wondering about Izzie. Cut to the flashback of him telling Jo the life he created for Izzie in his mind. IRL or THL (through his letter), he tells Jo that if it came down to just love, he would have went back to Jo in a heartbeat. But it wasn’t just love, it was a chance at family. He hoped that if anyone could understand the importance of being there for your kids, it would be her. He wanted to be present. He wanted to a real father. He wanted to give them something neither of them ever had.
The other letters were equally emotional. To Mer, he spoke about all they’ve been through— and lord knows it’s been A LOT. He applauded what a great mother she’s become. He gave her his version of Cristina’s “He’s not the sun, you are” speech by reminding her that even though she’s tried to find it in other people, she’s “always been her own damn person.” Facts.
To Bailey, he thanked her for turning him not just into a great surgeon, but an even better man. Bailey’s face when she got to the line about Izzie needs to be GIF-ed and sent to Grey’s fans across the internet. Ultimately, his letter served as a way for Bailey and Ben to agree on taking Joey in. Kids like Joey, and by example, Karev, deserve a chance. They also agreed to like, ya know maybe start talking to each other before making huge life decisions like changing jobs and adopting kids. Sounds fair.
The final letter went out to the Chief who recounted his feelings at his AA meeting…with a still trembling hand. He went on a monologue that started from a place of anger, and ended in a place of understanding. After all, if anyone knows what it’s like to miss out on your kid’s childhood and regret it, it’s him. Sup, Maggie!
All in all, IMHO, Karev’s send-off wasn’t handled terribly. The writers had to figure out what could possibly make Karev walk away from the woman and life he worked so hard for. They couldn’t kill him off. Nobody can handle another O’Malley/007 situation. They could’ve had him go and work with Cristina, but how does that advance the story?
When it comes down to it, the theme that’s guided Karev in all his Evil Spawn-ness and glory, was family. It’s why he fell hard for crazy women like Rebecca, and why he became Mer’s replacement Person. Family was always Karev’s biggest motivator, whether he realized it or not. So when faced with the chance to finally have one, he took it. Do I think he could’ve found a way to make both work? Absolutely. Not only is it 2020, but this is Grey’s Anatomy. We’ve seen every family structure and dynamic possible on this show. But given what the writers were faced with, they chose to provide closure to two storylines, and set Jo’s next arc in motion. And I for one, am curious to see where it goes.