It hasn't been an easy year so far at Seattle Grace Hospital. The doctors of "Grey's Anatomy" have been in turmoil ever since the season two finale, when Izzie crossed ethical lines in an attempt to save a patient she loved, leading to Burke's shooting. This season has focused on how the consequences of Izzie's actions continue to change lives at Seattle Grace. It's a far cry from the "Grey's" of season one, when all the drama came from doctors sleeping with each other — though of course, there's still plenty of that too.
The show's central storyline has been the plight of Burke, who was once one of the finest heart surgeons in the country and now wonders if he can ever wield a scalpel again. The operation Derek performed to fix nerve damage in Burke's arm left him with a hand tremor, but Derek — who's distracted by other things, namely the demise of his marriage and his lust for a certain intern named Meredith — clears Burke for surgery. Burke knows he shouldn't be operating, but Cristina offers to help him. They become a team, "a well-oiled machine," as Cristina says.
But soon their illusion starts to fall apart. You'll see what I mean if you
Bailey gets suspicious after she's taken off one of Burke's surgeries, and George — whose friendship with Burke was one of the sweetest parts of season two — notices Burke's hand shaking on a fishing trip and realizes he and Cristina are hiding something. Everything comes to a head when George's father needs heart surgery. George knows too much now to trust Burke's unsteady hands and confronts Cristina. Meanwhile, the Chief decides to retire and asks Burke to take over the top job. Overcome with guilt, Cristina spills to the Chief about Burke's tremor, sending the entire hospital into a frenzy. Whether Burke can forgive Cristina, and whether he can operate again, will be two of the hot storylines to watch in the coming episodes.
Meanwhile, Izzie is dealing with the loss of both her fiance and her identity as a surgeon. Her memories of Denny make it hard to walk through the hospital doors, but Burke ultimately tells her something that helps her recommit to medicine: "You've got two good hands, and you're not using them." Now she's not allowed to treat, touch or talk to any patients while she earns back everyone's trust. She's also debating what to do with the millions she inherited when Denny died; for now, the check remains stuck to her fridge with a magnet.
And oh, Meredith. Torn between Derek and Finn, Meredith comes up with a novel idea: dating! Both men shower her with ice cream and buy her dinner, leading to Meredith's best line of the season so far: "I'm dating, and it comes with snacks." But Derek decides to step out of the race, telling Meredith that Finn is the better man. That's all it takes for Meredith to realize she wants to be with Derek after all, and despite a slow start, their romance is now back in full swing.
- Addison continues to be totally awesome. After discovering Meredith's panties in Derek's pocket, she pins them to a bulletin board for all to see, then gets drunk and sleeps with Mark "McSteamy" Sloane, whom she'd apparently called in from New York for the occasion. She and Derek finalize their divorce, and McSteamy takes a job at Seattle Grace to try and woo Addison back to him for good. So far she's fended off Mark's advances, but she and Alex did lock eyes for one looong moment — will that be the next intern/doctor romance?
- Bailey's confidence takes hit when first Izzie, then Cristina, veer into unethical medicine. Other doctors suggest that maybe having a baby made her go soft, but in the last episode before the break, the Chief reassures Bailey that the interns are like children: Some might disappoint her, but she's also responsible for all the good things they do.
- The Chief chose work over his wife, but now he wants to retire and go back to her. With Burke unable to operate, it's unclear whether the chief will be able to return to his home life after all. He has also stopped visiting Meredith's mother, with whom he had an affair years ago.
- George and Callie continue their own special brand of romance, which basically boils down to one rejecting the other, then trying to apologize.
- Alex attempts to suck up to Mark because he realizes that getting in good with one of the country's best plastic surgeons could bode well for his own career. But when his work boils down to getting coffee and fetching dry cleaning, Alex decides to move on. He's been a sweetheart to Izzie so far this season, and whatever's happening with Addison could prove interesting.