Grey's Anatomy recap: Memories of O'Malley

George O'Malley's sweet mother, Louise, returned to Seattle Grace for the first time in two years and stirred up some old feelings
Ep. 08 | Aired Nov 3, 2011

HOW TOUCHING Callie (Sara Ramirez) reached out to her ex-mother-in-law Louise (Debra Monk), who reappeared at Seattle Grace after more than two years

Randy Holmes/ABC

Oh, what a big dose of sweet nostalgia on last night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy that made it feel oh-so-2009 up in Seattle Grace last night. Namely, the ever-lovely Debra Monk returned as George O’Malley’s sweet mother, Louise, a character that hasn’t that appeared on the ABC soap since the season 6 premiere back in September 2009. That was, of course, just a few short months after her son, played by T.R. Knight, tragically died in the season 5 finale the May before, after throwing himself -- and then, by proxy, the rest of the Seattle Grace doctors and us viewers, too -- in front of a bus to save someone else.

I thought maybe it would feel strange for Mama O’Malley to show back up at the place where her son died and, honestly, where so many of Georgie’s memories lingered. (The biggest landmine? Callie, of course. But we’ll get there.) Alas, somehow, the whole storyline with Louise came off as feeling good and cathartic, exactly what the doctor had ordered.

Louise, for her part, was back at Seattle Grace to fix a surgery that had gone wrong at a hospital across town, which she only went to…to avoid going back to Seattle Grace…where she ultimately wound up. “You know how proud it makes me,” she told Meredith Grey, who was helping her, “to have you as my doctor.” To which she added this exclamatory statement: “Doctor! You’re all grown up.” True, she in indeed. I just kept thinking: Have two full seasons really passed since George died? Goodness, I’m old. And so are you, probably.

I promised we’d circle back to Callie, where the real ghosts of George started cropping up. Of course, a wheelchair-bound Mrs. O’Malley ran into Callie…and Arizona, who Callie introduced simply as Dr. Robbins with no further explanation. Awkward! But surprisingly, Arizona wasn’t even mad at Callie for not introducing her as who she is, her wife. I loved Arizona’s reasoning for why she wasn’t upset, it was just so Arizona and so spot-on: “Coming out is important, it’s everything, with your family and your friends,” she told Callie. “I’d kick your ass if you tried to hide me from them. But coming out to your dead ex-husband’s super Catholic mom? Not necessary. I mean, for you, and certainly not for me.”

The interaction between Callie and Louise, however, did spur Meredith to encourage Callie to be at Louise’s side when she came out of her gall bladder surgery. The leery Callie -- she apparently hadn’t really talked to Louise much since George’s death -- obliged. And that was where my first tingly moment of the Grey’s Anatomy season happened: When Louise emerged from her surgery slumber, Callie was there and confessed everything to her ex-mother-in-law -- she’s a lesbian now, with a wife, and a baby. “You have a baby?!” was Louise’s total response. No reprimand or judgment. “Do you have pictures?” So much for her just being her “dead ex-husband’s super Catholic mom.” Louise was simply a woman -- grandmotherly, at that -- who was completely happy for Callie, another woman who used to be a part of her family. The interaction made me warm and gooey inside.

NEXT: More from Louise (sorry!), a great Grey's monologue, and Avery's big decision

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