It was back to Meredith's mysterious beach for more heartbreaking interactions with the latest shocking goodbye for the long-running ABC drama in a most permanent way.
If this is how "Grey's Anatomy" is going to return from a mid-season hiatus, some fans might be happier if it stayed away. At least then they know that all their favorite characters are still alive!
New episodes mean new changes for someone to die, and that's exactly what the long-running ABC drama did to fans yet again on Thursday, coming back from its holiday break with an epic crossover event with "Station 19," and yet another surprise loss for Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.
At this point, if you haven't watched the episode and you don't want to know who made an unexpected visit to Meredith's (Ellen Pompeo) Covid-induced beautiful beach of the dead, we'd have to ask why you're still reading. Seriously, this is spoiler territory!
The writers and producers made this loss even more shocking and heartbreaking by first creating an extremely close call for Dr. Andrew DeLuca (Giacoma Gianniotti). After getting stabbed in the gut trying to capture a sex trafficker, he underwent a touch-and-go surgery ... and it was a success!
Unfortunately, things then took a turn for the worse in recovery -- a tragic but real possibility -- and he was rushed back to the operating room, where he apparently bled out and died.
"Grey's Anatomy" showrunner Krista Vernoff told Variety that DeLuca's death actually came to her "like a vision" while she was strolling along a real beach in the real world.
"I think he went out a hero," she said. "I think that he went out fighting for what he believed in. And he was through his mental health crisis. He'd become a very productive member of the hospital staff."
DeLuca dealt with bipolar disorder through his years with the show, and Vernoff said Gianniotti was appreciative that his character's condition had nothing to do with the manner of his death. "He was so relieved that I was not having him kill himself, or go out in a mania frenzy," she said.
She also promised that while DeLuca is dead, fans aren't quite done with him. "He actually does appear in a couple more episodes this season," she said. "And he's directing an episode."
With Meredith still in a coma due to COVID-19, and now on a ventilator, it's likely Vernoff is referring to return visits via her beach. Next week's promo teases the return of Derek (Patrick Dempsey) to that beach to help Meredith process this latest tragedy.
You can check out that teaser, and fan reactions to DeLuca's tragic death, below: