[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Grey's Anatomy's 300th episode, titled "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story."]
ABC's Grey's Anatomy celebrated its rich history Thursday with its 300th episode that doubled as an Easter egg hunt for viewers who have come along for the Shondaland drama's 13-plus-season emotional roller coaster.
The episode was written by Krista Vernoff, who helped launch the Shondaland drama as part of the writing staff for its first seven seasons. Vernoff returned as co-showrunner this year, and the current 14th season has featured multiple nods to the show's vast history. The 300th was no exception, as it leaned hard into Grey's Anatomy's past.
The opening credits from the pilot returned — complete with the theme song, Psapp's "Cosy in the Rocket" (one of multiple familiar songs featured in the episode) — as the hour revolved around a group of second-year residents at a rival hospital (Seattle Presbyterian) who were injured when a roller coaster ride fell off the track. Those residents were "baby" versions of Izzie (originally played by Katherine Heigl), George (T.R. Knight) and Cristina (Sandra Oh) and their uncanny resemblance kept Meredith from getting on a plane to Boston to attend the Harper Avery ceremony, where she was nominated for the show's prestigious award.
The nods to the past ranged from everything from the show's new group of interns hiding in the tunnels (like Meredith, George, Cristina, Izzie and Alex did in the pilot) and racing across the hospital's famed bridge, with Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) now standing in as the hospital's veteran to tell them to slow down.
After the "faux" George gets emotional about putting his friends in danger, the original 007 earned a nice moment when a tearful Bailey (Chandra Wilson) tells Richard (James Pickens Jr.) that she cried for a year after George passed. (Remember, Bailey named her son — William George Bailey Jones — after her former intern, who died a hero when he was hit by a bus after saving a woman's life.)
Derek (Patrick Dempsey) also got some acknowledgement in the episode as his sister, Amelia (Caterina Scorsone), pushed for a head CT on a patient. Derek died in season 12 after injuries sustained in a car crash when his doctors — at a different hospital — failed to perform a head CT and properly diagnose him. In one of the many emotional moments from the episode — and perhaps a nod to the show's future — Derek and Meredith's daughter, Zola, also says she's going to be a brain surgeon — like her father — as she is already displaying a proficiency for medicine at her incredibly young age.
Izzie also had her moment in the sun when her ex, Alex (Justin Chambers), tells Jo (Camilla Luddington) that he imagines Izzie married with kids and living a wholesome life in the woodsy country. What's more, Alex tells Jo that he doesn't feel the need to call her as he prefers to keep his vision of her life as is. (And yes, the Izzie look-alike also was keen on using the phrase "seriously?!" in what was perhaps the easiest of the many callbacks to spot.)
The 300th also featured one of the show's happiest moments in its extensive history, as Meredith wins the Harper Avery award. Ditching the flight to Boston to help at the hospital, the Grey Sloan staff live-streams the ceremony so she can watch her win from the OR. Jackson, accepting the award in her behalf, goes through all the people Meredith has lost in her life — her sister, Lexie (Chyler Leigh), husband Derek and mother Ellis, herself a two-time Harper Avery winner. "She turns all that loss into drive to save lives," Jackson says of his esteemed colleague. As everyone in the observation room applauds her win, Meredith sees a vision of her late mother (Kate Burton, who returned for the episode) among her friends and family.
And because nobody is truly gone from Grey's, there also was a nice moment for Mark Sloan (Eric Dane) and Callie (Sara Ramirez), as the camera pans in on a family photo after Sofia returns home to Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) in Seattle.
Original castmember Isaiah Washington's Burke also had a brief mention when Meredith suggests to Owen — who denies that "baby" Cristina looks like his ex-wife — that she text Burke about the resemblance.
The episode also ends with Meredith and Alex booting the interns from their spot in the tunnel — from the pilot — as they pop a bottle of champagne, just as Cristina calls to congratulate Meredith on her Harper Avery.
What did you think of the 300th episode? Leave your favorite callbacks in the comments section, below. Check out what creators Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers had to say about the road to 300 in our exclusive interview here.