Knowing that Eric Dane was leaving Grey's Anatomy does little to soften the blow of literally watching him die in the show's season nine premiere. We pick up 30 days after the surgeons return from the plane crash, the date in which Sloan is set to be taken off life support. The episode is littered with hints about what happened in the time in between, but we'll have to wait until next week for all the details (but really, haven't we suffered enough?).
A new crop of interns is ready to take Seattle Grace by storm, but their attendings and residents are still wrecked from the tragedy du jour, making the hospital an emotionally charged (and generally uncomfortable) place to be. As narrator, Meredith's opening line is "dying changes everything," but we'll have to admit that despite all that's happened, surprisingly little has changed: Karev is still sleeping around, Meredith and Cristina are still in constant communication (with a long-distance relationship sponsored by Facetime), and it doesn't seem as though anyone's really leaving Seattle Grace after all — those who are living, anyway. There's a lot to break down, so let's get into it when you read more.
- Meredith's dark and twisty days may be behind her now, but not according to the interns. She's earned herself the nickname Medusa for being so harsh on the new kids. Bailey assures Mer that it's good to be feared, though her days as the Seattle Grace Nazi are officially over; now she's just known as the doctor who gets busy in the on-call room, AKA Booty Call Bailey. I love it; someone in that hospital needs to be happy.
- When Meredith isn't terrorizing the newbs, she's Skyping with Cristina everywhere she can. Literally. That includes the observation deck outside the OR, in the hospital, and at the bar, but it's for a good reason: Cristina can't seem to put herself on her plane. Even her dorky, uptight, buttoned-up colleagues aren't enough to chase her away, even though she clearly doesn't fit in at her new hospital in Minnesota. Though Yang wears the scrubs-and-parka combo well, I bet she'll be back to hotdogging in Seattle in a few episodes.
- Remember six seasons ago when Dr. Burke's shaky hand prevented him from performing surgery? Well, it's happening again, only this time to Derek. He hasn't operated since the accident, and chooses Mark's last day for his return to form. Unfortunately, it takes all of five minutes in the OR before his hand gets numb, and Derek takes out his anger on Callie (and a table).
- Lexie's death was quick and mostly unceremonious, but the exact opposite can be said for Mark. His spirit lives on throughout the episode with various video snippets from the past: Derek's wedding, a surgery taped by Jackson, and a few others. The real kicker is hearing Mark talk at Arizona and Callie's wedding about growing old with Lexie. I have to admit that even when Derek pulls the plug, I was still secretly hoping that he'd somehow snap out of it, but, of course, that doesn't happen. The only silver lining for me here is that we don't have to watch Mark grieve for Lexie, but let's face it: with two deaths and one amputee, there's not much consolation on Grey's Anatomy lately.
- Just hours before departing Seattle for Johns Hopkins, Karev is fitting in as many sexual adventures with the new interns as he possibly can. I was a little put off by how unaffected he is by Lexie's death, but he redeems himself by being there for Callie and by agreeing to stick around to stand up to the creepy new attending, who is more interested in closing a house than saving the orphans. With Cristina in Minnesota for a while, Meredith is in desperate need of a drinking buddy.
- Karev's not the only one who's staying put: it looks like Jackson has changed his plans and is now keeping the "plastics posse" going in Mark's absence. How sad is it when he's still telling Mark about all his plastic surgeries? Meanwhile, Owen personally flies out to see April to beg her to come back. It doesn't make much sense, but he's desperate to keep the old gang together as best he can.
- So what's going on with Arizona? Her fate is teased for most of the episode, as we're led to believe that she didn't make it out of the plane crash. Her position has been filled (much to Karev's chagrin), and Callie is constantly breaking down in tears. I refused to believe that Sofia would lose two of three parents, though, and I was right — but Arizona is far from fine. In the episode's final moments, we learn (when she throws back the covers in a very dramatic fashion), that Callie had to amputate one of her wife's legs. And let's just say she's pissed off.
Am I the only one who is starting to feel masochistic for watching this show? I don't know how many more gut-wrenching episodes I can take at this point. What are your thoughts on the premiere? Were you shocked by Arizona's big reveal? Are you glad Karev and April are sticking around?