‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 17 Episode 15: Jackson Exits and Takes Another Doc With Him (RECAP)

Grey's Anatomy Jackson Avery
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After more than a decade on the ABC show, Jesse Williams exited Grey’s Anatomy in Season 17, Episode 15—May 20’s “Tradition”—with Jackson Avery leaving Seattle to lead the Fox Foundation in Boston. And another Grey Sloan surgeon went with him!

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Grey’s Anatomy Season 17, Episode 15, “Tradition.”]

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Of course, Jackson didn’t leave without saying goodbye to some of the doctors who mean the most to him. He submitted his immediate resignation to Bailey (Chandra Wilson)—much to her surprise—and thanked her and Richard (James Pickens Jr.) for being everything his father isn’t and proving “example after example of not giving into despair or complacency.”

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Jackson also thanked Jo (Camilla Luddington) for friendship—and the friendship with benefits, of course—and gave her some good-natured ribbing about her new OB/GYN specialty. And he thanked Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) for the camaraderie, with Mer realizing that she’s now the last man standing from their residency class.

Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 15 Richard

Richard Cartwright/ABC

Speaking of Meredith, she passes her COVID-19 recovery tests with flying colors, and the doctors get ready to discharge her from the hospital. They also fill her in on everything she missed during her unconsciousness, including Maggie’s (Kelly McCreary) engagement to Winston (Anthony Hill), but Richard and Bailey procrastinate on breaking the news about Andrew’s death. When they finally broach the topic, Mer looks stricken, momentarily, before she remembers her dream beach vision and tells Richard and Bailey that it’s OK because Andrew is with his late mother now.

When it’s time for Mer to leave the hospital, the Grey Sloan staff gather in the ambulance bay to clap her out, but their jubilation and applause fades when Perez (Zaiver Sinnett) emerges with an empty wheelchair. (“Fair, fair,” he says, noticing their disappointment.) Turns out, Meredith checked herself out, with Jackson as her getaway driver.

Jackson drops off Meredith at pig-sty version of her home, much to Amelia’s (Caterina Scorsone) embarrassment. But Mer doesn’t care how clean her home is; she’s just happy to be home with her family.

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And there’s more good news to report: Owen (Kevin McKidd) and Teddy (Kim Raver) are finally back together! After they literally run into each other in the on-call room, they share a tender kiss, and over the course of the workday, they make many return trips to that on-call room, if you catch our drift.

Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 15 Owen Teddy

Richard Cartwright/ABC

And speaking of romance, Maggie and Winston are preparing for their wedding, and they ask Richard to officiate the nuptials. “It would be the honor of my life,” he responds.

The patient of the week is William Lawrence, a Suquamish and Duwamish elder whom newbie doctor Chee (Robert E. Mesa) recognizes from his other workplace, an Urban Indian health clinic. William presents with stroke symptoms, and his very pregnant granddaughter, Mary Ann, is terrified of losing him, especially because he’s a language-keeper for his community. Koracick (Greg Germann) diagnoses William with an ischemic stroke, and performs brain surgery with not a lot of help from Helm (Jaicy Elliot), who seems totally checked out.

Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 15 Chee Koracick

Richard Cartwright/ABC

Koracick eventually kicks Helm out of the O.R. and has Schmitt (Jake Borelli) scrub in instead. Later, Schmitt finds Helm sleeping on a bench outside the hospital, and she tells him that she used to dream of nothing else but becoming a doctor, but now, all she thinks about is leaving and never coming back.

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Schmitt tells her that the isolation of the pandemic is making them all less like themselves. After all, he refused Nico’s offer of cohabitation. And it certainly seems like Schmitt and Nico aren’t moving in together any time soon: Schmitt asks Helm to move in with him so that they can be “alone together.” And he says Jo is home too rarely to care about having a second roommate. (One reason Jo is seldom at home? She’s logging many hours in the NICU, spending time with orphaned newborn Luna.)

Meanwhile, Mary Ann goes into early labor, and Carina and Jo help her deliver her baby early. After the operation, Jo tells Carina she knows that Carina is heading to Italy to scatter Andrew’s ashes, and Jo takes a moment to express how much Andrew meant to her, that he was noble and gentle and “incredibly kind.”

And great-grandfather meets great-granddaughter as William, who pulled through the brain surgery, has a video chat with little Rosie. He tells the newborn that she’ll get to tell her descendants that she brought “an abundance of joy” to their family at a time when they needed it the most. Koracick watches all this happen, and William’s speech appears to send him into an existential crisis.

Later, Koracick meets Jackson in the parking lot and tells him that as he fought his COVID-19 battle in the hospital, six of his roommates died, and all were patients of color. Now, Koracick has has realized about all the racial health disparities at play. “The world is only that way because we let it be… or because people who look like me made it be,” he says.

Wanting to be an ally in the fight for equality, Koracick asks Jackson for a job at the foundation. And Jackson, despite his personal distaste for Koracick, tells his cohort to report to Boston at 6 a.m. on Monday.

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So yes, we’re down two series regulars in this episode: In a surprise twist, Grey’s Anatomy bid farewell to Greg Germann as a full-time cast member during Jesse Williams’ farewell episode.

“Greg Germann is a comic genius and we are so lucky that he brought his talents to our show these last few years,” Grey’s Anatomy executive producer and showrunner Krista Vernoff said in a statement to Deadline. “We will miss Greg terribly in the day to day—but we plan to see Tom Koracick again!”

And with that, we only have two more Season 17 installments left!

Grey’s Anatomy, Thursdays, 9/8c, ABC