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In some residency programs, graduating surgeons get a wooden chair emblazoned with the emblem of their program. When those residents become attendings, the chair usually goes in their office, where it collects dust for the rest of their careers. You give your program years of your life. Your sweat, your tears, and in my case at least, your blood, and your program gives you a chair. I suppose it's a nice tradition, if you're into that sort of thing. And if you want a constant reminder of the hell you went through to get here. Traditions have never really been my thing. But at their best, they help us remember who we are, where we're from, and those who came before us. They give us something to pass on to future generations. 'Cause if you don't know where you're from, it's kind of hard to know where you're going. Unless, of course, where you're going is home.

Tradition is the fifteenth episode of the seventeenth season and the 378th overall episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Short Summary[]

Jackson shares his big news with his colleagues while Koracick and Levi fight to save a pregnant woman's grandfather as she goes into labor. Maggie keeps a watchful eye on Meredith as Bailey and Richard put off telling her about DeLuca.

Full Summary[]

As Jackson gets on the elevator on his last day at Grey Sloan, he remembers getting on that same elevator years ago on his first day at the hospital.

Meredith completes a spirometry. Maggie shows Teddy and Owen the results. The results are 50% better than expected and her sats are stable in the high nineties. As long as her labs check out, they are discharging her.

Bailey joins Richard outside the procedure room. He confirms that it is finally happening. Richard asks Zander to organize a clap-out. Bailey and Richard dread telling Meredith about DeLuca. She wishes he could see this. Richard says maybe he can. Meredith raises her thumb at them.

Teddy and Owen enter an on-call room. She is over the moon that Meredith is going home. She actually feels hope for the first time in months. She bumps into him as they go to leave the room. They start making out.

Link informs Amelia that Scout is dressed. She's making breakfast for the kids. He is leaving for work. Amelia receives a text about Meredith's pulmonary function tests. They are relieved that she may be coming home but Amelia starts panicking about the house being a dump. Link suggests he'll send her an update from the hospital on whether she is actually coming home before she starts tidying. Amelia agrees and starts crying, which she'll keep doing for the rest of the day. Link heads out.

Levi thinks Taryn didn't get his text about Meredith. She did. She comments it's just one less person to wheel to the freezer truck and then runs off for an incoming patient. Levi is in disbelief at her disinterested reaction.

It's Jo's first day as an OB/GYN resident. Dressed in pink scrubs, she asks Carina to teach her everything she can before she moves to Italy. Carina says her plans changed. She begged Bailey for her job back because she's getting married instead. She's only going back for a month to help out and scatter Andrew's ashes. She asks Jo to update her patient roster while she gets coffee. Since she's not an attending anymore, Jo will get her her coffee.

James gets out of the ambulance and meets Tom and Taryn in the ambulance bay. The patient is William Lawrence, an 68-year-old Suquamish and Duwamish man who's having a stroke. Tom tells Taryn to call stroke alert. James treated the man for COVID at the urban Indian health clinic in his time off. His granddaughter brought him in at the clinic half an hour ago. Mary Ann, the heavily pregnant granddaughter, comes up and informs Tom that William is an Elder in the tribe. Tom has James show her to the waiting area.

Jackson has gathered Bailey and Richard outside in the tent to tell them about his move to Boston. Jackson hands her his official resignation. He's taking off first thing tomorrow morning. He apologizes for how sudden it is but he is excited about the work. He included a list of recommendations for his replacements. Bailey finds out Richard already knew. Jackson shares that he went to see his dad, who has shown him the kind of man he never wants to be, checked out and unwilling to fight for anything. Richard and Bailey showed him the exact opposite. They taught him by example to never give in to hopelessness or despair and resist complacency. They showed him the kind of surgeon, father, and person he wanted to become. They are proud of him. When he's gone, Bailey and Richard realize he is now their boss.

Teddy and Winston are going over recent discharges from the COVID ward. They are seeing more and more patients breeze in and out. Teddy says they'll need more doctors to keep up with the turnover. Winston called Link and Owen as reinforcements. She didn't expect department heads to show up but their services were slow today. Link and Winston pick up on the awkwardness between Teddy and Owen, who says he's glad to help out. When they're gone, Link advises Winston not to ask.

Maggie reminds Meredith she has more laps to do but Meredith wants to talk about something else since all the hovering makes her feel like she's going to drop dead. Richard inquires about Maggie's wedding. Maggie says they are still considering multiple dates since they don't want to do anything without her father and Winston's grandmother. Meredith hasn't met him while awake but Zola can't shut up his dance moves. Meredith asks for other updates. Richard tells her Jackson's news. They refrain from telling her about Andrew and urge her to finish her laps so she can go home. As they walk, Meredith tells Maggie her days of wearing ugly bridesmaids dresses are over.

Tom tries to quiz Taryn as William's scans come up but she's once again disinterested. He asks her to book an IR suite if she can spare the time.

Jo arrives in the NICU with Vanelle Kirby, whom she introduces to Luna as her new roommate. Cormac mocks her handwriting on the name tag. Jo receives a text from Jackson asking to talk. Cormac starts his exam as she takes off.

Jackson has told Jo in the gallery. She's glad OB is giving her so much joy that she can take a little extra sadness today. He thinks she's proof you can change careers in the middle of a pandemic. Jackson thanks Jo for being a good friend these last couple of months. She thanks him for saying goodbye in person and for being a friend when she feels like she has fewer and fewer of those. Carina pages Jo for a fully-dilated mother. Jackson mocks her for being a resident again as she runs off. Jackson leans on the railing as he overlooks the lobby, much like at the end of his first day.

Bailey hates that Jackson gave her one day's notice. She receives word that physical therapy has gave clearance for Meredith to go home, which means they have no medical reason to keep her here. Bailey realizes she has to tell her about Andrew.

Tom is in the visitors' tent to explain the thrombectomy procedure to Mary Ann, who says his teachings have been passed down for hundreds of years at Lushoothseed, the ancestral language of their people and this land. She has tried to learn them as much as she can but that is a full-time job and she already has one. She freaks out at the thought of losing him while Indigenous people have lost so many Elders to COVID already. James seconds that the clinic has been packed. The government was supposed to send a shipment of PPE but they only sent body bags. Mary Ann says other tribes have it worse with even no access to water, but they believe they are all connected, like she feels connected to James, her Diné friend. Tom assures Mary Ann he'll do everything he can to make sure William can pass down his teaching. Moments later, Mary Ann starts having contractions.

James is holding Mary Ann's hand as Jo and Carina examine her. Carina finds that she is 8 centimeters dilated. Mary Ann says she was supposed to have this baby with Dr. Mills at the clinic. Carina instructs Jo to reach out and see if she can join them. Jo will also call her family. James leaves for William's procedure.

Tom tries to quiz Taryn during the thrombectomy but she claims she doesn't remember the attention. Levi then enters the suite. Tom says he's replacing Taryn since she can't even muster the strength to at least pretend to want to be there. Taryn leaves the suite.

Link asks Owen if he has any updates on Meredith. Owen will check in with Teddy. Owen picks up on their reaction. Winston says he's trying to get the lay of the land as the new guy and he picked up that Owen was friendlier with Teddy today. Owen says he couldn't even explain it if he tried. Link says privacy in short supply these days. He can't wait to get his back. As soon as Meredith's got her house under control, he and Amelia are out of there. Winston and Owen wish him good luck with that.

Mary Ann's contractions are three minutes apart. It's almost time for the delivery. Jo returns with the news that her family is on the way but Dr. Mills is stuck doing a premature twin delivery at the clinic. Mary Ann hates that she can't be with the same OB that delivered her. Carina promises they'll take good care of her. Jo leaves to get an update on William while Carina agrees to save the placenta for Mary Ann. They are taught to bury it on Suquamish land so the babies always knows where their home is.

As Tom deploys the stent, he informs Levi that Taryn is not coming back and asks James about his time at the Indian Health Clinic. James says it's mostly primary care visits but he also makes salves using local plant medicine and resorts to traditional practices like prayer and song from time to time. He also does a lot of smudging. They use cedar here but as a Navajo, he uses tobacco. A lot of tribes have that tradition in common. Jo comes in for the update. Tom says they are nearly done safe for a final angiogram. When she's gone, Tom inquires about the pink scrubs and Levi tells him she switched because she was sick of general surgery. Tom freezes for a moment.

Jackson is with Meredith as she cleans out her room. The first thing on the agenda is making sure April and Harriet get settled in. Meredith points out his departure makes her the last man standing of their residency class. It sucks that the rest left or abandoned her. Meredith says that when she first saw him, she thought he had a big name to live up to. He can't imagine a time when the name wasn't ruined. Meredith says the name took some hits, but he is making it his own and re-inventing it. She's impressed. He guesses this is their final goodbye. She asks if he's not coming to the clap-out. No one can keep a secret here. She knows it's a tradition but it feels too much. She survived because she's lucky to have the privilege of great health care. Jackson says the place almost broke when she was sick so she let people celebrate this win. He understands her, though. He'll be at the clap-out but he didn't want that to be their final goodbye. As they get emotional, she says she doesn't want this to be their big goodbye. She tells him to go give 'em hell. He thanks her for showing him how. As he walks out, they remember their early years together.

Carina and Jo deliver Mary Ann's baby. Mary Ann holds her little girl, whom she names Rosie. Carina has Jo do fundal massage so they can start delivering the placenta soon.

James performs a smudging ritual in William's room. Tom and Levi watch from outside the room. They enter the room when he's done. James grew up in a family of healers that perform rituals like that. William wakes up. He's felt better but he's doing okay. He asks them to let Mary Ann know. As he does a quick neuro exam, Tom informs him his great-granddaughter was born. After he's gotten some rest, they will set up a video chat.

Link tells Owen and Winston that Amelia talks about moving out all the time. Owen says talking and doing are two very different things. Owen says Meredith's house has this magnetic pool. Alex used to call it the Sister House. No matter who else lives there, you're always in their orbit. Winston says he likes the house. Link does, too, but he misses his own house and quiet. Winston says there's a reason he got a place before he moved out. Link fears he'll be trapped at the house forever.

Richard and Bailey gather the courage to tell Meredith about Andrew. They enter the room and Meredith fears they come bearing bad news about her discharge. Bailey and Richard bring up Andrew. As the sounds of the beach echo in her mind, Meredith says Andrew is okay. He is with his mother.

Jo returns to Mary Ann's room. She tells Mary Ann and her husband that her grandfather is okay. Shawn knew he would make it. Shawn thanks Carina and Jo for honoring their wishes. James bring in Rosie. Shawn admires his baby girl. Jo hands the baby to Mary Ann and then follows Carina out. At the desk, she tells Carina that Andrew was incredibly kind to her. He was a good man. She's so grateful to have known him. Carina thanks her for her words and compliments her on her work today.

As promised, William is meeting Rosie over video chat. He tells Rosie he is her scapa. He introduces Rosie to her family and tells her she comes from the Coast Salish people. She is Suquamish. She comes from this land. One day, she'll be able to tell the story of how she was born when the world was facing a time of great difficulty and devastation, which was also a time of change and resilience. Her birth brings an abundance of joy to her syaye, just at the time when they needed it most. His words strike a chord with Tom, who leaves the room with Levi. Levi tells him Taryn is having a tough time. He thinks allowing her to help out on the case might make her feel better. Tom doesn't know. He thinks he doesn't know anything anymore. He tells Levi to do what he wants.

Cormac joins the large crowd gathered in the ambulance bay for the clap-out. Bailey urges everyone to stay quiet until Zander wheels Meredith out so they don't spoil the surprise. She peeks inside and sees Perez approaching. The crowd starts cheering and clapping but Perez wheels out an empty chair. Meredith wasn't in her room and her stuff was gone. Cormac laughs.

Having snuck out the back, Jackson runs to his car while pushing Meredith's wheelchair. She gets in the car. Jackson gets behind the wheel and drives off to take her home.

Levi texts Taryn that he is worried about her. She has ignored his previous texts. As the crowd disperses, Richard privately tells Maggie and Winston that his question about the wedding wasn't meant as him inviting himself or taking away from her father. He knows the lines of their relationships have been blurry. Maggie says they didn't want to do it this way. Her father is going to walk her down the aisle but he had a great idea. They would like for Richard to officiate the wedding. Richard is moved and says it would be the honor of his life. He watches with a smile on his face as the couple walks off.

Levi finds Taryn on a bench. She used to pretend her stuffed animals were sick. She has always wanted to be a doctor. But now all she thinks about is leaving and never coming back. She doesn't know what happened to her. Levi says there is more death than they anticipated. For so long, all he wanted from Nico was more and then he froze when Nico asked him to move in. Taryn snaps that's a nice story about him having a boyfriend. Levi meant that this pandemic is not only affecting the sick people. The isolation is making everybody less themselves. He asks her to move in with him, which makes Taryn cry. Jo is an OB resident now so she will be home even less than they will. Levi makes her get off the bench.

Amelia chases Bailey as she tries to get him to change his shirt. Zola is crafting a "welcome home" sign. No one hears Meredith entering the house. Ellis is the first to see her as she comes out of the playroom. The kids run up to their mother and hug her. Amelia is delighted to see her.

Jackson is back at the hospital. Tom is waiting for him. He didn't expect Jackson to show up. When he heard that Jackson was taking over the Foundation, he called Catherine to get the details and he is impressed. He lost six roommates while he was hospitalized with COVID. He was the only white guy. While he's not out of the woods, he feels like he owes it those six guys to be better. The world is only filled with chaos, injustice and pain because they let it be that way or because white people made it that way. Tom wants to become worthy of being spared. He wants to become an ally. He wants to spend whatever time he has left making this world better. Jackson can use him however he wants. He doesn't need money or a big title. Jackson doesn't even have to stop hating him. Jackson says he'll e-mail him the Boston address where he needs to be Monday, 6 AM. Tom thanks him and Jackson gets back in his car.

Teddy and Owen had sex again in the on-call room. After a rough day in Iraq, they would stare at the sky and talk about how much they missed burgers. She's craving junkfood now. Owen says he's buying.

Jo talks to Luna about her mother. She thinks about Val and Luna every time she steps into the OR.

Meredith sits with her kids as they finish the sign. While tidying, Amelia says Link was supposed to call when Meredith was on her way home. She swears they weren't living like this. Meredith tells her to sit down. It's just the way she likes it. Amelia did a great job and Meredith can't ever thank her enough. Link comes rushing in, yelling to get the signs and donuts ready. He then sees Meredith on the couch and goes to grab the donuts. Zola shows Meredith the finished sign. Meredith gathers her kids around her and asks them to tell her everything that happened while they eat the donuts.

Jackson drives past the ER entrance and sees the next generation of doctors working inside. He thinks back to his education and life in Seattle. He then drives off with a smile, eager to start the next chapter of his life in Boston.

Cast[]

Main Cast[]

Guest Stars[]

Co-Starring[]

Uncredited[]

Medical Notes[]

Meredith Grey[]

  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:

Meredith had pulmonary studies done which showed that her lung capacity was greater than they expected. She was told she could go home if her labs checked out. Shortly afterward, she was cleared for discharge.

William Lawrence[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Ischemic stroke
  • Treatment:
    • Thrombectomy

William, 68, was brought to the ER with aphasia and right-sided paralysis. They called a stroke alert and rushed him to a CT. He had had COVID, but recovered. The CT showed a large clot in his internal carotid artery, which had caused a stroke on his left side. Tom took him in to remove the clot with the hopes his symptoms would quickly resolve. After his thrombectomy, he immediately started doing better. Tom ordered neuro checks every two hours.

COVID Patients[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • COVID-19
  • Treatment:

Ms. Mora and Evan Pearson were COVID patients who were discharged. Evan Pearson was only hospitalized for three days.

Luna Ashton[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Prematurity
  • Treatment:
    • Supportive care

Luna was still in the NICU.

Vanelle Kirby[]

  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:
    • Supportive care

Vanelle was a newborn who was sent to the NICU after birth for an unknown reason.

Mary Ann[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Pregnancy
  • Treatment:
    • Vaginal delivery

Mary Ann went into labor in the parking lot while waiting for her grandfather. Her labor progressed quickly, so her OB was unable to come to the hospital. Carina delivered her baby, whom she named Rosie.

Music[]

Song Performer Scene
"Van Horn" Saint Motel
  • Jackson arrives at the hospital.
  • Meredith gets her lungs tested and passes.
  • Richard tells Perez to get a clap-out ready.
  • Bailey and Richard talk about Andrew.
"Home" Christian Reindl, Lloren, Lucie Paradis
  • Carina and Jo help Mary Ann give birth.
  • James performs a ritual for William.
  • Mary Ann's baby is born.
  • William wakes up and Tom tells him about Mary Ann.
"Skellig" David Gray
  • Jo tells Carina Andrew was good.
  • Mary Ann introduces her grandfather to her daughter.
  • William tells his great-granddaughter some of her history.
"Whole" Jordan Hart
  • Maggie asks Richard to officiate her wedding.
  • Levi finds Taryn on a bench, who is doubting her calling as a doctor.
  • Levi talks to her about his relationship.
  • Levi invites Taryn to move in with him so they can be alone together.
  • Amelia chases Bailey and gets him to change his shirt.
  • Meredith comes in and her kids run to greet her.
"Missing Piece" Vance Joy
  • Owen and Teddy start kissing.
  • Jo tells Luna her story.
  • Meredith spends time with her kids.
  • Link comes in and doesn't realize Meredith is already there.
  • Jackson drives by the hospital one last time.

Notes and Trivia[]

  • This episode's title originated from the song Tradition from the musical Fiddler on the Roof.
  • This episode scored 4.58 million viewers.
  • At the time of airing, this was announced as the last episode to feature Jesse Williams as Jackson Avery and Greg Germann as Tom Koracick as part of the main cast, yet they both appeared again in surprise cameos in the finale.
  • This is the first episode of the show to feature Native American patients.
  • This episode takes place on June 21, 2020, as seen on Vanelle Kirby's incubator.
  • Goof: Taryn points out a clot in what Tom says is the internal carotid artery, while the images on the screen at the time show a level higher up in the brain that said artery does not reach.

Gallery[]

Episode Stills[]

Behind the Scenes[]

Quotes[]

Meredith: So, I win.
Jackson: How's that?
Meredith: I'm the last man standing. It was you and me, from our residency class. Everyone else has either abandoned me or died. We were the only two left.
Jackson: You think they're giving out a medal for that? I could stick around.
Meredith: They probably should, because it sucks.

Meredith: You go give 'em hell, Avery.
Jackson: Well, thanks for showing me how.

See Also[]

A complete overview of this episode's crew can be found here.

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