Grey's Anatomy Review: Season Premiere
When we last left our band of merry doctors of Grey’s Anatomy, there was much trouble afoot. Cristina and Owen were dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. She wants to have an abortion; he doesn’t. Meredith and Derek’s child-rearing hopes are in jeopardy after their adoption of baby Zola is compromised by Meredith’s professional misconduct. They have been living separate lives, while maintaining a façade with the social worker handling the adoption.
When we pick up the action it’s clear that Derek and Meredith are in trouble. She’s still in the doghouse with Derek, and Alex is still in the doghouse with Meredith. He’s been ostracized because his peers think that he betrayed one of their own. Things go from bad to worse when Meredith is fired and Alex realizes once and for all that he can’t undo what’s been done. He’s depressed and has turned into a mope. He will have to find a way to regain everyone’s trust, and it won’t be easy.
A familiar plot device with Grey’s is the disaster or big emergency that will unite everyone in a singular task. For the season premiere, a huge sinkhole has swallowed up some citizens, injuring them severely. A couple in crisis is among the injured, and the wife will have her leg amputated at the scene. At first Owen (Kevin McKidd) and Callie (Sara Ramirez) attempt to walk her husband through the procedure, as it is too dangerous for any of them to travel down in the sinkhole. It was gut-wrenching to watch the husband attempt the impossible task of amputating his wife’s leg. He tried but could not complete the procedure. Owen risked his life, repelling down into the sinkhole to save the couple. After seeing the man suffering greatly, he knew that he could not perform the amputation, and it was unfair of them to ask him. I think subconsciously Owen didn’t mind risking his life, because he feels that his own family structure is in jeopardy and he doesn’t have the same incentive not to risk his life that others may have. He tells Callie that she can’t go in the sinkhole with him, because she has a wife and baby to live for.
Owen may not have the same family structure as Callie, but he has a wife that needs him. Cristina is unwavering in her choice to terminate her pregnancy, and if she keeps the baby to appease Owen she will end up miserable for the rest of her life. Meredith explains to Owen that she knows what it’s like to have a surgeon-mother who seems to value her career over her child. It’s not a fun feeling and Cristina doesn’t want to subject a child to that. It’s a difficult decision, and she could use the support of the man that pledged to love her for life. Owen softens and it looks like he finally accepts Cristina’s decision.
Alex gets his chance to atone for his mistake with Meredith when she makes a rash decision. Fearing that Zola would be removed from her custody by the social worker, Meredith takes the child and flees. She ignores all phone calls and pages. Finally she comes to her senses after the temporary split with reality. Alex makes up a story about needing to run some tests on Zola and how that’s the reason Meredith was distracted. She says that she didn’t get the pages because she’d been fired so she turned the pager in. It’s a flimsy story and unfortunately the social worker recognizes Meredith’s dishonesty and removes Zola from their home because their circumstances have changed.
Last but not least, April is the new Chief Resident! She has the logistical part figured out but doesn’t have command or authority over the other doctors. She isn’t assertive, and the sinkhole disaster is exposing flaws in her leadership. Bailey decides to conduct a “Gunther,” a team-building exercise used to eliminate interpersonal differences among doctors. They all work together on a real patient, and one of them will emerge as a natural leader while others are more suited to taking direction. Of course it initially appears that Cristina is the natural leader, but when her competitive nature nearly kills Alex in the OR, a new leader emerges and Avery is the Gunther. Just when Sloan had underestimated him. This doesn’t bode well for April as Chief Resident, but she managed to survive her first day.
This was a good two hour episode; jam packed with more than enough drama to start the new season. There were some really sappy, cheesy moments but I’m willing to overlook them, for now. Good start.
Grey’s Anatomy Season 8 Episode 1 and 2: “Free Falling/She’s Gone” (original air date September 22, 2011).
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9/8c on ABC.
Images courtesy of Ron Tom and ABC.