By Veronica Polivanaya

Die-hard fans of “Grey’s Anatomy” might find Season 11 the medical drama’s most depressing yet.

READ MORE: Towering Rocklin Officer Didn’t Need Ladder To Save Senior Inside 2-Story Home

Gone are the days of playful moments between Meredith and Derek, bonding between sleep-deprived interns, and in-depth focus on patient care. Every relationship is put through the ringer, with few making it out to the other side. The few original cast members that remain are almost too bogged down by their baggage to propel the show in a positive direction.

The season begins with Meredith and Derek at odds. He wants to relocate to Washington, D.C., to work for the President, while Meredith feels that it’s her time to shine in Seattle. McDreamy eventually leaves on a sour note, being absent for the majority of the season. Just when viewers start to question his dedication to his family, he resurfaces, but not without igniting rumors of infidelity. Derek’s eventual demise sparked a firestorm on social media. His exit felt sudden and rushed, and did not pay proper respects to the vital character many have loved since day one. While Cristina Yang’s departure at the end of Season 10 was equally poignant, her smooth transition out of the show allowed viewers to come to terms with her decision.

This is the first season in which Cristina, portrayed by Sandra Oh, isn’t included in the main cast. Her absence is painfully noticeable, as Meredith tries to turn fellow original cast member Alex Karev into her new ‘person’, and Cristina’s longtime lover Owen Hunt nearly ceases to have a storyline.

READ MORE: Sacramento Parents Questioning Homecoming Vaccine Requirements

Yang’s replacement, Dr. Maggie Pierce (Kelly McCreary), struggles to captivate an audience used to Cristina’s charm and brashness. She spends most of the season somewhat awkwardly trying to win over the other doctors. When we learn that she’s also Meredith’s half-sister, it feels almost too forced and ‘been there, done that’ to resonate. Meredith doesn’t click with Maggie quite like she did with her other half-sister, Lexie.

Caterina Scorsone, on the other hand, shines as Amelia Shepherd, Derek’s troubled sister who’s trying to overcome her battle with addiction and prove herself in a new arena. The DVD’s extended feature on Scorsone humanizes her often harsh character, and showcases her growth since her turbulent time on the “Grey’s Anatomy” spinoff, “Private Practice.” Scorsone is much more relatable in the feature, as she reveals she was once just a college student, obsessed with the medical drama she now stars in.

A key plot line throughout the season revolves around Dr. Arizona Robbins’ fetal surgery fellowship. The fellowship is with Dr. Nicole Herman, one of the only female fetal surgeons in the world. Viewers soon learn Dr. Herman wanted to impart her wisdom upon Arizona because she has an inoperable tumor, and doesn’t have much time left to treat her patients. Arizona’s dedication to the fellowship soon proves too taxing, causing a rift between her and Callie. Dr. Herman’s tumor, however, inspires Amelia to tackle her inner demons so she can try to save Dr. Herman’s life.

While Derek’s death is undoubtedly this season’s most memorable moment, it’s interesting to note that it happened several episodes before the finale. The following episodes fast-forwarded through more than a year of time, giving the characters ample time to grieve his loss. Since it was handled in that fashion, the finale was surprisingly uplifting in comparison to most devastating Grey’s finales.

MORE NEWS: Multiple Big Rig Crash Closes I-80 Near Nevada State Line

While the show hastily got rid of Derek, the DVD’s extended features may help soothe the pain. In ‘How to Say Goodbye’, Rhimes reflects on his heartbreaking exit, and better explains her decision to eliminate the character. The season’s gag reel also brings back Patrick Dempsey for a last laugh, showing him having more fun than his character on screen.