As the news of Derek's death began to filter through the surgical service, we saw everyone's wide-ranging reactions. Owen tried to support his team even as he was clearly impacted at yet another loss of a friend. He tended Meredith when she fainted after sharing the news and then regretfully took the news to Amelia who was in surgery. Owen stood by gravely and expressed his condolences to her as Amelia shunted aside her feelings and assured him she was fine before shutting down any visible reaction to his news.
While Derek got the funeral service several previous Grey's characters did not receive, i.e. Mark and Lexie, it was a curious event. Meredith's best friend Cristina's presence was hinted at in a close-up shot of Meredith holding a woman's hand during the service as well as a glimpse of dark curly hair so similar to Cristina's. However, this approach made the scenes feel a bit cheapened instead of the real farewell a character like Derek would have deserved. Also, as an admitted fan of both Cristina and her relationship with Owen, such a frustrating hint of her appearance seemed like a punch to the gut.
Adding to the frustrating nature of the episode were the repeated time jumps that occurred, leaving viewers to realize nearly a year had passed by the time the two hours were up. Weeks after the funeral we saw Owen and the rest of their team gathered stunned at the Shepherd home after having discovered Meredith had left town with her children. They expressed their shock to each other as well as their concern for Meredith and her family. Richard was the voice of reason who both asked Amelia if she'd like to attend an AA meeting with him and also assured his friends and fellow surgeons that Meredith needed time to process her experience and they should give her their support by letting her go for a while.
In a surprising twist, we saw Owen decide to serve overseas again as a trauma surgeon. Seemingly not concerned about the PTSD which had haunted him since being discharged from the military, Owen again saw the allure of the field work he had been so drawn to previously. This bold decision seemed, perhaps, a chance for him to start over again, something he'd been trying to figure out how to do since his love Cristina had moved to Zurich to pursue her cardiac research. April agreed with her boss' need to feel, as she called it 'useful and good,' and asked to serve overseas with him.
Even as Owen had several especially emotional scenes which showed us a bit more of the voice he's been slowly finding this season, the time jumps did not serve his character well overall. Rather than showing us his perspective on being back in a place where he'd been both energized by saving lives and also faced great losses, he was simply gone from the hospital through several time jumps. He arrived home from overseas unexpectedly and at precisely the moment Amelia was finally emotionally unwinding and considered using drugs again. While Owen's return seemed to allow Amelia someone to trust with her harrowing emotional response to the loss of her brother, it also seemed a disjointed attempt to connect these two characters when we'd most recently seen their friendship and maybe more end at Owen's request for her to respect his own experiences and needs rather than focusing solely on her own.
As Owen encouraged Amelia to feel her feelings at Derek's death rather than run from them, he stopped short and realized that he did the same thing in signing up for another tour of active duty rather than dealing with his own feelings of loss at Cristina's absence and the need to figure out where to take his life next. We were left to assume that he was healed in some way by his recent war zone experiences rather than seeing what lead up to his sudden self-awareness. It also seemed to put Owen again into the role of knight in slightly tarnished armor, though we gained little insight into what's next for his character.
Elsewhere in the hospital: the time lapse element of this episode put April and Jackson apart over her decision to serve in Iraq; Jackson's mother Catherine proposed to Richard after having thwarted his attempt to propose previously; Alex and Maggie's friendship continued as did his support of Meredith; Miranda and Ben argued about their feelings about how to handle death if they themselves were fatally injured; Callie treated someone she'd had a date with and faced her feelings about Derek's death as she fitted this patient with the artificial leg they'd developed together; Arizona was vocal about her feelings in the wake of Derek's death and supported Jackson while April served overseas; Jo treated burn patients with Jackson and also made a poor excuse of a Thanksgiving dinner; Maggie showed Alex, Arizona, Richard, and Jackson the real way to make eggnog; and Meredith returned home with the baby she delivered and had named Ellis.