Thursday, October 4, 2012

Grey's returns with a big gap

The events of the latest Grey's Anatomy season premiere, "Going Going Gone," pick up months after the plane crash. This does a couple of things. One, it allows them to jump ahead in the story without having to be bogged down in months of suffering. Two, it lets the writers dole out one character at a time, keeping fans guessing about the fates of some of their favorites until late in the hour. But rest assured, next week will return the action to last spring for at least one episode, so some of the missing pieces will be filled in.

Last year, many of the doctors were considering leaving Seattle Grace Mercy Death West. As they became attendings, they looked for other hospitals around the country from which to ply their trade. In "Going Going Gone," Cristina (Sandra Oh) is miserable in Minnesota, but she's the only one who transferred. And her inability to get on a plane after the trauma she suffered prevents visits back to Seattle. She isn't fitting in too well at her new digs, clashing with the doctors on staff (William Daniels, Boy Meets World, and Steven Culp, Desperate Housewives), so it's likely only a matter of time before she comes back.

The fact that Cristina's home hospital seemingly hasn't hired a new cardiac god yet should smooth the process. Is Owen (Kevin McKidd) reluctant to bring in a replacement because he misses Cristina and Teddy (Kim Raver, who left the series)? Or has he just not found the right person? Either way, this opens the door for Cristina's return, and that would be most welcome, as dividing the action between cities will grow awkward real quick.

Alex (Justin Chambers) has been trying to leave, but finds himself unable to do so, feeling guilty for not getting on the plane that crashed, and not wanting to abandon his friends. It's not a sign that he's stuck so much. He just feels a responsibility because he's a good guy. And no one really wants to see Alex leave, either, so when he decides to stay at the end of "Going Going Gone," it's a relief to viewers and the characters alike.

Tragedy affects different people in different ways. Last spring, the doctors consider moving on because of the bad things that have happened to them at Seattle Grace. But having one more event occur makes them remember just how much they care about each other. How can they look out for one another when they are spread across the country? They simply have to stay.

April (Sarah Drew) does something far more drastic than transfer: she goes back to work on a farm. Owen isn't going to let that be his protege's fate, so he goes and gets her. Is there a little bit or romance brewing between the pair? How might that affect Cristina's decision to come back, or the chemistry between them once she does? I learned to like April, but there is trouble here.

Others have suffered even worse fates. Derek (Patrick Dempsey) can't fully use his hand (haven't we seen this story before, back in season two-ish?), and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) is left with an amputated leg. This makes things difficult for their loved ones, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Callie (Sara Ramirez). But it also means there are lingering wounds that cannot heal just yet.

Derek and Callie have the added pain of watching Mark (Eric Dane) die. A fan favorite, Grey's regrettably decided that Mark should pass away, and "Going Going Gone" does it slowly and fittingly, with video tributes to him from throughout his life. Other characters may be killed off more quickly, but Mark gets perhaps the most touching, drawn out ending. I just wish we could take it back and keep him around, even if he is finally with Lexie (Chyler Leigh) in the afterlife.

Who I really feel sorry for, though, is Callie's daughter. Her father is dead, her second mother just lies angrily in bed, and Callie has to deal with grief and a young child. It's not fair to the kid. How can she avoid being scarred by everything that is going on around her?

Things aren't all mired down in hopelessness. There is a bit of lightness in "Going Going Gone," too. Bailey (Chandra Wilson) is happy to get a visit from Ben (Jason George, why is he not a series regular yet?), but romantic playtime with him has turned her from The Nazi into Booty-Call Bailey. It's funny that the character who began so grumpy and judgmental about sex in the workplace is now getting it on more often than anyone! I don't see the nickname standing, though, even with the warmer, fuzzier Bailey. Look for her to lay the smack down on the newbies (which include Gaius Charles, Friday Night Lights, Camilla Luddington, True Blood, Californication, and Tina Majorino, Veronica Mars, Napoleon Dynamite) soon.

Despite all of the dark drama going on, it's nice that the new interns are introduced in this episode, and we even get to see one do their first surgery. It provides a circle of life theme, that things move on, and new faces will soon fill the holes left by old ones. Having Meredith be the mean boss is also cool, a kind of "student has become the master" moment.

An interesting, sad, hopeful start for the new season. Watch new episodes of Grey's Anatomy Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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