September 23rd, 2011
12:21 PM ET
Last night was the two-hour season 8 premiere of "Grey's Anatomy."
There's a lot to cover, so let's get started... Derek is still furious with Meredith for tampering with their Alzheimer's trial - even though she did it to help Richard's ailing wife, Adele. Derek and Meredith, who were granted temporary custody of baby Zola, are sharing custody, living apart. Derek is living in the frame of the house he and Meredith have been trying to build for years, and slowly but surely making progress on - with the help of Owen. Cristina, whom Owen kicked out of the couple's (fire)house because she doesn't want to have a baby, is living with Meredith. She can't bring herself to terminate her pregnancy because she loves Owen.
Alex, whom Meredith kicked out of her house for reporting that she tampered with the Alzheimer's trial, is bunking at the hospital. There’s tension in the hospital halls - Derek and Owen won't even look at Meredith and Cristina, a crop of new interns is starting (the requisite "A month ago, you were in med school being taught by doctors, today you are the doctors" was uttered - this time by Lexie) and it is the residents' last year of residency.
[This gave me flashbacks to the very first episode, when Richard told Meredith, Cristina, Alex, Izzie, George & Co.: "The seven years you spend here as a surgical resident will be the best and worst of your life. You will be pushed to the breaking point."]
Meredith, meanwhile, has a meeting with Richard, who regretfully informs her that the Board of Directors of Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital has decided that Meredith disgraced the hospital and that she is being fired.
Early in the episode, we are also introduced to a bickering married couple fighting over money. At first, it seems as if one or both of them is perhaps a new cast member. They are in a car, essentially arguing over the fact that the wife, Susannah, has a job and the husband, Danny, does not. Susannah gets out of the car at a red light and is immediately swallowed by a giant sinkhole that forms in the street. Danny jumps out of the car to save her, and he and the car go crashing down the hole.
Meredith's voice over line - a reference to the sinkhole and her firing, is quite fitting:
"It always comes as a shock, the minute you realize its over. One minute you're standing on solid ground, and the next minute, you're not."
Back at Seattle Grace Mercy West, Meredith collects herself, finds Derek and tells him about her firing. Although you can see that Derek SO WANTS to be sympathetic, he gives a sterile, "What'd you think was gonna happen?" reply. Ouch.
Several residents (sans the newly-fired Meredith) and attending physicians rush to the sinkhole, but cannot enter for fear of further cave-ins. Danny may have to amputate Susannah's leg, with Callie instructing him via an earpiece; and Alex notices that an injured man on a stretcher has Silly Bandz wrapped around his fingers and deduces that the man likely has a missing child in the rubble somewhere. He frantically searches and finds the boy buried in dirt, but alive.
Meredith, meanwhile, is roaming around the hospital, unable to practice medicine but unable to leave. It takes great willpower for her to not help an intern whose patient may be coding. She contemplates doing the Mommy thing, telling Cristina, "I can make jam and drive carpool and have playgroups and maybe that's enough," to which the Cristina replies, "I'm gonna vomit. Call me when Meredith comes back."
Owen, meanwhile, is able to enter the sinkhole and takes over for Danny, whose wife will need major surgery on top of the leg amputation.
Later, Meredith confronts Owen, telling him that Cristina can't bring herself to have the abortion because she loves Owen, but that if Cristina were to have the baby, "trying to pretend that she loves the kid as much as she loves surgery will almost kill her." Meredith, whose mother loved surgery more than her own daughter, asks Owen, “Do you know what it's like to be raised by someone who didn't want you?"
Meredith visits Zola in the hospital day care center, and is basically in denial about no longer being affiliated with the hospital when one of the care takers remarks that she thought Meredith would have been busy with the sinkhole. She says something about being on a break when in walks Janet, the social worker in charge of Zola's case. Janet becomes suspicious when one of the day care nurses tells Meredith that she thought Derek was picking up Zola.
Meanwhile, none of the residents can take April seriously as chief resident and as a result, things are more chaotic than normal. Miranda thinks that "a Gunther" would help things. What's a Gunther? We don't know yet!
Teddy, concerned that Cristina's arrogance throughout her residency robbed her of the humility of a lot of the intern work she skipped, tries to get Cristina to do some basic things - like inserting chest tubes. Teddy is also worried about her husband Henry, whose long-awaited eyelet cell device-insertion surgery has unexpectedly been bumped-up to that day.
Miranda and Callie decide that Susannah's case is going to be their "Gunther." A Gunther, as it turns out, is a team-building exercise to help the residents (no attendings allowed!) work better together. It was named after a seemingly unpromising resident, named Gunther, who'd stepped up to the plate during a difficult surgery and rallied the residents together. Callie sits next to the patient and does a Sudoku while the residents argue over dopamine levels and incisions. The other attendings watch from the gallery, eating chips and placing bets on who's going to emerge as the Gunther.
Cristina is the Gunther... but, being Cristina, she moves too fast and accidentally injects Alex with a cc of epinephrine meant for Susannah, who's crashing.
Avery rounds the proverbial corner and emerges as the Gunther!
In the meantime, Meredith, whom Derek and Janet have been frantically searching for, has been hiding out in the hospital all along, blatantly ignoring her pager and cell phone. She's terrified because there's a possibility that Zola will be sent back to Malawi.
Arizona tells Alex to make up with his friends because no one's looking out for him, he's a pariah, and that makes him a bad hire. She wants him to join her in pediatrics one day, and part of the reason he got hurt was because no one had his back.
Richard lies to the board, telling them that he was the one who destroyed the Alzheimer's trial and that Meredith was merely covering for him.
Alex saves the day by covering for Meredith's absence, saying that Zola had needed medical attention (he lied), thus warding off Janet's suspicions that Meredith was trying to kidnap the baby; and accounting for any reason why Meredith wasn't answering her pages (she had to turn it in when she got fired) or phone calls (she left her cell in the daycare center).
Derek tells Meredith that Richard has taken the fall for her, and that if she wants to keep Zola, she has to let him do so.
Richard sees to it that all his FDA trials no longer carry his name, and anoints Miranda as his successor.
Owen and Cristina finally talk at the moment she's supposed to have her (re-scheduled) abortion. Owen, as much as he wants a child, agrees to go with Cristina and be with her during the procedure.
When Meredith and Derek finally get in the same room with Janet, and the social worker calls Meredith out on going MIA, her firing, and her separate residence from Derek, Derek chimes in, stating that Meredith is the best possible mother for Zola, and that Meredith "loves people so much that she'll do anything for them."
Janet invokes protocol, telling the couple that social services must further investigate, and that Zola will be placed with another family for the duration of the investigation.
The episode ends with Meredith stating, in voice over, "You think that true love is the only thing that can crush your heart; the thing that will take your life and light it up, or destroy it. Then... you become a mother."
What did you think of the season premiere? And what are your predictions for the coming season? Let's talk about it in the comments section below.
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