Callie's sitting on Derek's couch, slugging wine. She exclaims, "Why is everything so horrible?!"
Touche, Callie. Shonda Rhimes has no mercy for you, or your little friends. But in the midst of a tragic plotline, in which Richard and intern Heather Brooks hang to their lives, this season's premiere holds a lot of hope. And like always, the gang gets by with a little help from their friends.
The storm happened. Meredith has her baby, Arizona is outed as a cheater, and Alex has a love interest again. April is rethinking Jackson. Owen and Christina are back on good terms. Richard is missing for the better half of the first episode of the premiere. It's Bailey who puts out the call and sends Shane to find him. But he's too busy being a champ. He sends Brooks instead, and she ends up sizzled on the floor next to Weber.
Owen calls the board -- our guys -- into Meredith's room because he wants to close the ER due to lack of supplies, but a mudslide hits. So they rally. Like all the best episodes, the mini stories of our characters mirror that of the patients, in this case the first responders and a badass old lady who conducted triage on the side of a mountain. And so begins the theme of friendship, family, and sexual innuendo that make this show so delectable.
First, some plot points:
Callie is heartbroken and gives Arizona hell at work. She moves her clothes out of their apartment and Meredith lets her stay at The House. Arizona is not so happy about this. I don't like Arizona, but I do wish Callie didn't have to be so old fashioned. I would love to have them work out some monogamish situation, but this is ABC. As it stands, Arizona is going to have to pay for her transgression with the hot visiting doctor.
Richard, who narrates the episode, is dying. Yang works with Bailey, who is finally back in the OR and does some procedure to buy him time. But Bailey is convinced, even after making Yang hug her, that there's something festering inside him that needs to come out. They fight over whether or not to operate until Owen steps in and makes them look at his healthcare directive. He's named Meredith as his next of kin. Grey lets them operate until Jackson's mother comes in screaming. They close him up. Dr. Avery accuses Bailey of operating out of guilt, because she called Weber an alcoholic last time we saw them. She's right, but Bailey manages to sway Meredith. They operate. They save him.
April is swooning over Jackson ever since he came out of that burning bus. She declares her love, while he consoles his new beau Stephanie over Heather's death. Matt sees it all, finally apologizes for his flashmob proposal (thank goodness!) and she comes around after Jackson calls her out on her flakiness. April ends up proposing to him, so they'll live happily ever after.
Alex and Jo are an item! Except they can't find a room to get up close in because they're all haunted by the ghosts of interns past.
Owen and Christina bond. They do it not just once, but twice before Yang makes him realize that they have to be all or nothing. It's steamy, but it's over.
The interns. Their subplot was the heart of this episode, but Shane, who feels guilty for sending Heather down there, runs out to help the firefighters. He's going to be a mess. The Alex of the group, if you will.
But what really happened in this episode was an homage to the "Grey's Anatomy" of yore. With Richard down, Meredith becomes head honcho from her maternity bed, doling out medical and personal advice, as well as witty banter. Under Derek's order to bond and come up with some good Heather stories for her mother, the interns grapple with each other. Meredith tells them a story about George. Alex makes them drink. They do end up bonding, and even though they don't have their own stories, lie to Brooks' mother, using the jello cup story. They start to learn what it means to be family. Except for Leah. She tells them that Mark Sloan was a family friend (another invocation of the early days), and used him to get into the program. Apart from that, Leah is pretty mean. And not Christina Yang mean, just very cruel. I'm watching this one.
Bailey was operating on Richard out of guilt, but also out of professionalism. Meredith tells her that she taught them, 'when you know, you know." It's like they've come full circle. When Richard finally wakes up in the last minutes, he narrates that he knew he was right about choosing Meredith as his next of kin. When you know, you know. The conversations between Alex, Yang and Meredith were spot on. They're still friends, and there's still a story here. They take Callie in, and compromise on Arizona. The old woman caught in the mudslide, Stephanie's patient, tells her "it's not our first storm, who else would have me?" You don't just find new people. And this show has always been about that struggle. Alex casually mentions that Yang can be his executor -- even while stressed, and joking about Izzy -- and she can use her judgement. Christina's "humph!" as response was so very 2002. It made me nostalgic for the good old days.
It looks like we're going to get a lot of that season and I am looking forward to it. They're back in the on-call rooms, back to shacking up together at Meredith's, and finally secure enough to reference their own intern days without it feeling forced. It all seems like one inside joke now, and now some story best forgotten. Tell your friends who stopped watching after the merger to tune back in. I think it's going to be fun. At least until the next natural disaster.
"Grey's Anatomy" airs on Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.