Grey's Anatomy's Alternate Reality Check: What Were Your Favorite Moments?

ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy uncorked its “alternate reality” episode this Thursday, and while some of the broader strokes had been revealed, promo’d and spoiled beforehand, the hour still offered some interesting, hilarious and/or crowd-pleasing surprises.

In lieu of a traditional recap – because really, the medicine was immaterial here – let’s take stock of who was up to what in this “other” reality.

ELLIS & RICHARD WEBBER | Ellis had never gotten Alzheimer’s, so she was still at the top of her game and had held onto Richard. She’s the chief of surgery at Seattle Grace, which apparently never endured any hardships and had absorbed not just Mercy West but soon another hospital. Alas, she cracks the whip (or Whipple) pretty hard at work, sometimes pushing her daughter into the deep end too soon.

MEREDITH | Meredith Webber lives with Ellis and Richard (aka “Dad”), wears a whole lotta pink and is blissfully engaged to Alex. This episode, however, serves up a bad day for Mer, as she discovers that Alex is cheating on her with no less than her “person,” the “virgin” April Kepner, and she has a less-than-great surgical experience with Yang. At the end of it all, she bonds with Cristina at the bar, then manages to warm up the icy-cold one known as “McDreary.” Just like old times.

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CRISTINA | She’s rocking fierce(ly bad) hair, struts around with her own hard-rock soundtrack and doesn’t sit at the cool kids’ table. And yet she still hooked up with the esteemed Dr. Preston Burke (name check alert!) – though things went so badly south between them that he skedaddled out of Seattle. She deems Mer a nimrod after their joint operation, but later the two find common ground at the bar.

OWEN | He’s married to Callie, with whom he has two tow-headed sons and a brunette daughter, but his PTSD issues apparently didn’t get dealt with as deftly as in this reality. In fact, he punches a window at one point, then begs Cristina to help him conceal it, lest he lose his family.

ALEX | Apparently he was the jerk we first met in this reality, but Mer changed him into a polo-wearing go-getter. OK, it turns out he still is a jerk, as evidenced when Yang catches him cavorting with Kepner. But that is his pattern, he sighs, always screwing a good thing up. One saving grace: This lout is mild-mannered Mandy’s — sorry, Miranda‘s – champion.

BAILEY | Having never been properly mentored by Richard Webber, “Mandy” is terribly soft-spoken, to an extent that her acquiescence completely torpedoes a critical surgery of Ellis, where she was to show off a new technique to the press. Ellis gets her fired for the misstep, an event that seems to put a much-needed fire in Bailey’s belly.

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APRIL | Yeah, she’s apparently not the virgin everyone paints her to be. Dr. Charles Percy (he’s alive!) chases after her when he’s not making us LOL by saying, “Just shoot me now.”

LEXIE | Her mom’s dead, dad Thatcher killed himself, so she turned into a cokehead thief replete with dreadlocks, piercing and tattoos. She reveals to Avery that she has a half-sister working at SGH, but never divulges details. (And yes, she’s still an adorkable Lexipedia.)

DEREK & ADDISON | Everyone deems the “bad” and “good” Drs. Shepherd to form the “perfect” couple, though secretly they are not. And then… not-so-secretly they are not. “McDreary” has failed to meet his potential, something that Ellis makes clear will jeopardize his future at SGH. Ad, meanwhile, remains far from perfect, seeing as the baby’s she’s carrying is Mark’s. (Twist!)

MARK | One of the crowd-pleasing moments was unconscious Lexie being carried back into the ER by this familiar face, looking a bit more “old-school McSteamy.” He still doffs a shirt well.

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CALLIE & ARIZONA | Callie is the head of cardio, having been steered into that specialty by Ellis — though she privately laments not choosing ortho. At work she locks horns with Arizona, until a case brings them… closer. To the point that Dr. Robbins and her million-watt smile declares her to be “amazing,” and they ponder having drinks “sometime.” Fun fact: Callie thinks her husband’s war buddy Teddy is a guy. Har!

GEORGE! | The one known as “007” failed his intern exam, and was never seen again.

IZZIE! | Alex and Mer use her name as a synonym for “crazy,” seeing as she slept with a patient (though hopefully not his ghost, too) and even stole a heart transplant for the guy. Mer got her fired for the ethical errors.

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In the end, though Meredith set out to envision a reality where one thing – her mother’s health – could make so much else different, she notes, “Some things are going to work out as if they were destined to happen.”

Like that drink between that “just a girl” and “just a guy” at the bar.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Kiki says:

    I realize now how much I miss hot-mess Owen. So hot. Just the way he looks at Yang. Nice throwback to Season 5.

  2. Sarah says:

    LOVED this episode.
    My favourite part was all the throwbacks including the music and quotes and similar scenes!

    • Rax says:

      Totally agree! when i realized the songs playing are the signature Grey’s songs like “Into the Fire” by Thirteen Senses, it kinda took me back to the first episode of the first season!
      I loved the fact this episode told that no matter how different these people might have been in another life, they were destined to be the way they actually are, even if they are totally different persons! the last moments of the episode were like recoiling back to old school grey’s! Meredith meeting Derek as a guy and a girl in a bar, Cristina and Mer taking tequila shots…
      if only TR and Katherine Heigl had a cameo too, this episode wud have been PERFECT!

      • Danielle H says:

        This. I really, really enjoyed this episode. It went by way too fast for me. It honestly made me think: what if this had been our show? What if it had all gone this way? Some things were destined to be the same, but some were different. The writers crammed in like 10 episodes worth of material into 42 minutes, and I applaude them for that.
        I know it won’t happen, but I’d love to visit this universe again someday.

  3. Tracey says:

    I loved the episode. It was a great change of pace and really shook things up even if it was just for the single episode. Alternate Meredith was pretty annoying as non-alternate Meredith is but the rest were fun to watch.

  4. Kayla says:

    Loved the last part, at the bar, with Christina and Meredith.
    I understand most of the reality, but still don’t get how Owen and Callie got together, got married and had children. Wasn’t the oldest looking like.. 4? Has Own even been on the show that long?

    • English says:

      They must have met somehow before he was in Iraq. They had the little girl. He went to Iraq and when he got back they had the twins and then the problems started.

  5. English says:

    Even though I was not happy with the alternate reality I loved the episode. I am curious to see what happens next in the alternate. I wish we could find out.

  6. anon says:

    I loved it all, and even though it’s obvious what’s going to happen with everyone next in the AU – I still felt like I wanted to see more. Would’ve been awesome to get more information about all the AU characters. It was a nice break from the Grey’s reality. :)

  7. jess says:

    It was so good!

  8. Rolfe says:

    Overall I thought the episode was pointless. Loved the Lexie part though. The ending was also great.

    • susela says:

      But Chyler Leigh was so comically bad at playing a drug-addicted punk! She just couldn’t pull it off. I agree, though, that the last scene in the bar—both the Mer/Christina part and the Mer/Der part—was fabulous.

  9. Kate says:

    it wasnt as good as i was hoping, but not bad overall. Loved the Mark entrance of carrying Lexie. miss them :)

  10. Kelly says:

    It had its moments. Some of the throwbacks were nice but….the ending was something I foresaw based on the previews. It was beyond predictable. I’m not sure how else you end an episode like this but for me it was just so cliche.

  11. Charlotte says:

    It’s the intern exam that George failed, not the “midterm” exam.
    I loved this ep though. So much that I don’t want to go back to the normal boring reality!

  12. Gladys says:

    I definitely liked the throw back to the first season with quotes and music, and I must said that second half, when all the cheerful and bright and shiny universe wasn’t that shiny was pretty good, bulding up some intensity toward the end when they’re working on Lexie that I really enjoyed. Of course, being the hardcore fan of MerDer that I am, I truly enjoyed the ending. So it wasn’t my most favorite episode but it was definitely entertaining.

  13. Amy says:

    Thank you Matt :) It was reallly pretty good. Alex creeped me out with his over the top enthusiasm and his hook up with Mer (in the GA world, they are bro/sis almost), so it was cringe-worthy. LOOOOVED when Mark showed up and Addison dropped the “Mark baby bomb” on Derek even though many figured that would be the case weeks ago. My favorite part was the end with Meredith and Cris and MerDer at the bar. It shows us, some couples and some best friend’s “person” are just meant to be no matter what universe the show takes place in :)

  14. Dayna says:

    Mark is McSteamy, not McDreamy ;)

  15. Kelly says:

    I thought it was lame and pointless. I wanted to like it but just couldn’t.

  16. Dennis says:

    I feel like I’m the only Greys fan who could care less about this pointless episode lol…

    • josie says:

      you truely are not the only one, I agree completly, especially since I had already when I saw the photos from the episodes, called a lot of the events, like the Alex/april part, and Christina telling Mer. Just as I had said how it would most likely end. and what happened my preditions came true. Pointless episode…
      sure it was funny, but still just pointless.

      • joseph says:

        Pointless, okay. But EVERY episode of NCIS/CSI/NCISLA/CSI Miami/CSI NY/ETC is pointless. It’s okay for a show to take a risk and do something different. TV shows have been doing “special” episodes for years. Grey’s does one every season. Did it move the story forward? No. Does that make it pointless? Nope.

        • Svenja says:

          Excuse me, as a Grey’s Anatomy and NCIS fan I have to disagree. NCIS is not a usual procedual. It has character story arcs, character developement and a lot of twists and turns. BTW, NCIS does a “what if”-thing in its 200th episode as well. In a different fashion, but they are also willing to take risks.
          Don’t talk about shows you don’t watch in such a manner.
          I really enjoyed the AR episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Loved the experiment, the hidden messages, the set up and all of it. Does it push forward the general story of the show? No, but it was fun to watch and an interestng thing.

      • Joan says:

        Just watched last night and I wasn’t a fan. I also thought it to be a pointless episode.

  17. Gaby says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I love you, Matt!
    I came on to comment about how Percy saying ” just shoot me now” made me lol :)

  18. Maria says:

    It was kinda’ pointless that it doesn’t really serve the plot but it really was a nice break from the real GA universe and it was fun seeing these characters.

  19. Marie says:

    I love how Derek and Meredith managed to find their way back to each other at the end. And how just before that Christina and Meredith bonded. I loved the episode and it was fun to see bright and shiny Meredith but I have to admit that I prefer dark and twisty Mer :) Of course It was gonna be Mark’s baby !!!
    I really wonder how Lexie did become a junkie. In “reality” she went to Med School before her mother died..

    • Mia says:

      Maybe Thatcher committed suicide when Lexie was still a kid in this reality, cause of differences in how he broke things off with Ellis? Cause also they didn’t mention Lexie’s younger sister, the one who had a baby and was at Seattle Grace years ago, so maybe she was never born in this reality? (Or the GA writers could have just forgotten about her.)

  20. anna says:

    really didn’t think I’d enjoy it but the second mark walked in holding lexie, and then cristina and meredith teamed up over trama & tequila I was near tears it was so good! But my favourite part, although once they were in the bar you could see it coming, was derek and meredith in the bar together, beginning again. I love the idea that who you’re meant to be is it – somethings are just meant to happen and you can’t change who you are even if you mask it or hide it.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    I thought this episode was a huge waste of time. What was the point?! They producers have clearly run out of ideas. It even made me nostalgic for the horrible musical episode.

  22. Auds says:

    I tuned in tonight for the first time since I stopped watching it in season 4. I was actually very impressed, as the episode felt more like the first couple seasons & there were some interesting twists. I definitely miss the “originals,” like George & Addison & it was nice to get back to basics. Too bad it couldn’t stay like this!

  23. madhatter360 says:

    I liked it a lot. I was a little confused about certain aspects of the Lexie plot though. She graduated/was finishing med school when her mom died, so I don’t get quite how the transformation came about. Ignoring that though, I though it was weird how she mentioned her half sister she’d never met as a relative, before mentioning her full sister, Molly.

    • Mandy says:

      This was an alternate reality, so in this world, Lexie’s dad would have been more screwed up because Ellis married Richard and maybe her mom died earlier and her dad was a drunk earlier and it totally screwed up her life. Or maybe she dropped out of school when her mom died. Or maybe she never had a sister because her dad and mom didn’t get together until later. Who knows?
      The timelines don’t quite follow, as Addison was pregnant with Mark’s baby long before Owen showed up and he and Callie have three older kids together, so it is all a little off.

      • Meg says:

        It’s a suspended-reality show. The timelines don’t have to be accurate. In Alternate World, McDreamy didn’t sleep with Meredith before they started working at the hospital, thus he was still married to Addison in AW.
        Everything doesn’t have to be so logical and linear in a “what-if” fantasy episode.

  24. JulieB says:

    Did anyone else notice that the scrubs were different in this AU? They were a different shade of blue from the norm — softer, perhaps more faded — and the women’s scrubs had an odd neckline and gathering/darts at the front. (The guys’ v-neck scrubs were the same cut, just a different color.)

    • BilleaB says:

      And no customized scrub caps! It’s little things like that showing that Ellis was a tyrant chief and that these AU characters aren’t as solid in their personality as others

  25. Greer says:

    I was disappointed they didn’t change the title card to “Webber’s Anatomy” just for tonight!
    I loved the random name-checks and pop-ups (Teddy’s a guy! 007! You totally knew Addy was knocked up with Mark’s baby…), but one thing…
    Why did no one mention Reed? I never liked her, but after all, they brought Charles back from the dead– the very least they could do is mention Meredith’s usurping Reed as April’s “person…”

    • GI Jane says:

      I didn’t take it that Teddy is a guy. I think Callie said he’s talking to some of the “guys” and she assumed that Teddy is a guy.

  26. Daniel says:

    i loved it! haha Charles: “shoot me now”.. if you only knew, loved the ending, didn’t expect it the way it ended, the alt Lexie was awsome, poor girl, what about the other sister? , i loved seeing Addie again.. amazing episode! much better than the Musical one though!

  27. Emma says:

    Yes! I noticed them in the first pictures they released from the ep a few weeks back… I hate them! Ellis must have chosen them for some reason…

  28. jessicalulu says:

    is ellen Pompeo pregnant? her face looks rounder and her body definitely looks bigger. they put her in a lab coat for a lot of the episode to seemingly try and hide it. anyone else wonder about this?

    • Chris says:

      I was wondering the same thing! And 2nite, it looked like they had a double cover her face with the log book and walk out the door for Mer–which led me also to think she might be preggo again! can’t find any info on the web.

  29. lisa says:

    1) Mark trying to save his soulmate. Meh others Disppointed @ Merder’s sl.

  30. lisa says:

    All the sl’s for the people/couple I like were horrible. 10 seconds is about the only thing I enjoyed. Grey’s should end there is no juice or creativity.

  31. Barbara says:

    My favorite moment: Mer and Der at the bar and HE IS WEARING HIS NICE RED SHIRT just like when they really met!!!

    • BilleaB says:

      I know! but wasn’t his shirt a brighter red? I felt they choose a darker version of his shirt to compliment his McDrearyness

  32. Babygate says:

    I love Shonda Rhimes. That’s how much I loved this episode. At the end we could see a glimpse of the future while also understanding better the past. My two OMG moments were when Lexie coded and when Mark carried her in his arms. This first one made me tear up and the second one squeeling like a schoolgirl.

  33. Mandy says:

    This was more comical than anything. Seeing Alex with his polo shirt and glasses was too funny. It was nice seeing shout outs to Izzie, George and Burke. The weirdest was probably Owen and Callie. Especially since they never had a thing.
    All in all, an entertaining episode, but I can’t wait to to get back to the real thing and see how things are going with Owen and Christina.

  34. Rachel says:

    Loved the episode but the best was the end with Mer and McDreary and the whole just a guy and a girl in a bar bit. Nice play on the first episode. Also loved hearing them mention the old characters like Burke, OMalley and Stevens. Gone but never forgotten!

  35. Diane says:

    I almost can’t stand how much I loved this episode! Forget all the other goodness, for me it was Richard & Ellis. I love them together. OK, just typing that made me feel like I cheated on Adele. lol

  36. hello says:

    This was kinda depressing

  37. greysfan says:

    Loved the episode completely. There were a few things that you could tell just wasn’t right but it sort of took you back a bit to the good old days of Greys. Best part though had to be the end of the episode with Cristina and Meredith at the bar and then Derek or should i say McDreary! lol

  38. Inforthelonghaul says:

    I thought the episode was mostly terrible. So many plot holes, like why does Christina suddenly have straight hair? George only failed his intern exam because he was pre-occupied with Meredith not taking hers- why did he fail here? And Lexi is older than Molly, so why isn’t Molly in existence?
    Oh well. At least we’re back to normal next week.

  39. Annie says:

    Wow, this site really is written by … OK, no, I’m not gonna get mean. DENNY WAS NEVER A GHOST.

    • grate says:

      THANK YOU. I was just about to post saying so. Please get your facts straight, TV Line. Izzie was not involved with “ghost” Denny. A hallucination is a very different thing than a ghost. If you don’t watch the show closely enough to know this, please find someone who does to check over your articles and ensure their accuracy.

  40. Dean says:

    Loved it. Meredith was awesome. alternate Meredith was pressured by her mom a lot. I love how she stood up to her at the end. Ellen Pompeo did amazing acting. Alex cheating on her with April. ewwwwwww . I enjoyed this episode a lot.

  41. cathy says:

    they were all amazing all the actors an this ep showed just how well they act

  42. Anita says:

    Great epi
    good stuff
    amazing acting . Meredith Grey was brilliant.
    love her so much . brilliant acting by pompeo. and all.
    they all showed how amazing they all act.

  43. rm says:

    Meredith Grey rocks She is super in all situations amazing acting.
    ellen pompeo patrick dempsey acting is perfect

  44. marissa says:

    Ellen pompeo is awesome as meredith grey. I hope she continues on for season nine

  45. Trista says:

    I know a lot of people thing this episode was pointless, but I don’t agree. Don’t we all wonder “what if…” from time to time. It makes sense that Meredith, being in a very happy place rigth now, would ponder how she ended up there. It also makes sense that the one event her life that causes her to question that the most is Ellis being diagnosed with Alsheimers. The episode may not further the story, but if you look at it from Meredith’s perspective – maybe now she can move on from her mother’s illness and death and not think about what might have been.

    • Babygate says:

      Thank you for stating what I was thinking. This was far from pointless. It gave us a different insight. No, it didn’t move the ongoing storylines forward, but that was never the intention. The idea was to temporarily suspend current Greys reality to reflect on how we for to this place and how everything could have been different. At the end we get the satisfaction of knowing that things happened the way they should have. Ellis’ death, while tragic, served as a catalyst for Mer and at the same time allowed other characters to come into their own without the outside interference. Like Callie who turned to cardio instead of ortho and made the horrible mistake of marrying

  46. Kelly says:

    An ok episode. My favorite part was Lexie. My heart broke for her. I did like the nod to Mark and Lexie. Chyler Leigh did a great job. I wish they’d use her for more than side storylines.

  47. Nate says:

    I loved this episode! I am only sorry that it wasn’t a two-parter! My only regret was no Loretta Devine and I sincerely hope that Kate Burton gets another Emmy nod (alongisde Devine) for this chance to show Ellis Grey in all her glory!

  48. Ari says:

    I think we should all retire the made up word, “Adorkable” it is not cute and not adorable.

  49. Sam says:

    Meredith Grey was amazing. Ellen Pompeo is brilliant. It really showed how much everything is all her.
    MerDer are meant to be together in every universe. Great ending!

  50. jaime says:

    i didn’t read through all the comments, so maybe this has been mentioned, but how come ellis’ last name was still grey but meredith’s was webber? i would assume if richard adopted Mer that him and ellis would have been married? maybe she didn’t change her name, like the celebs, because she was already too famous? :)

    • Greer says:

      A lot of doctors and other professionals keep there maiden name after they get married, at least professionally. I sure did :-) You earn your recognition under one name, and suddenly, you have no desire to change it!