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Grey’s Anatomy: Hair Today ...

Though Meredith has been holed up for the past few weeks owing to her liver surgery (i.e., Ellen Pompeo's maternity leave), we realize we haven't missed her all that much — and neither, apparently, has anyone else. Nevertheless, she's back this week, hanging out in the Seattle Grace-Mercy West hallway, pontificating on the "past coming back to bite her in the ass." Appropriately enough, Izzy walks in, as if it were totally normal to abandon your husband, friends, cancer treatments, and unpaid hospital bills without explanation, then suddenly pop back into existence with your dementia-ridden high-school science teacher (Joel Grey!) in tow. She kidnapped him from his nursing home early that morning to bring him into the hospital for treatment, and he still thinks she's the knocked-up 15-year-old from his biology class.

Meredith convinces Izzy to at least stay in the hospital for longer than four minutes, she runs into Alex, he turns away, and she doesn't say anything. Very mature. Meanwhile, cute Dr. Avery asks Cristina about their drunken kiss at Arizona's disaster of a surprise party, and she denies that it happened ("What kiss? There was no kiss") and asserts that what didn't happen will never happen again.

Dr. Hunt, on the other hand, tells Cristina he got her a present: It's former army doctor and "cardio goddess" Teddy Altman, otherwise known as Lipstick Jungle's Kim Raver, who looks about as much like a serious surgeon as Katherine Heigl does. Yang greets her with a friendly, "I've never heard of you," while Altman teases Hunt flirtatiously, slapping him and telling him he's put on weight. It starts to rain, and Altman, who's been stuck in Bahgdad, frolics into it; we almost expect her to throw on some tap shoes and do a Gene Kelly routine. Yang, seething, calls her "Desert Storm Barbie."

Back inside the hospital, the chief's wife, Adele, arrives in a tizzy because the chief hasn't been coming home at night, and she's convinced he's having an affair with Dr. Bailey. Callie explains that Bailey and the Chief are merely "work husband and work wife," whereas her "work husband" is McSteamy, which doesn’t really help Bailey's defense since Callie and McSteamy used to sleep together. But to calm Adele's nerves (and find out where the Chief's been at night), Bailey decides to talk to him, which he mistakes as her hitting on him. (See the video below!) No, he hasn't been having an affair (though that would spice up the show's recently lackluster plot lines), but he's been stressed and distracted and drinking, so much so that he accidentally clipped a patient's "common bile duct" during surgery, which resulted in the poor guy turning canary yellow and looking like a hospitalized Oompa-Loompa. He decides to take a break from surgeries and puts Bailey in charge.

Back to Izzy's old science teacher: He’s got something called NPH, which, as much as we'd like to believe it's a shout-out to Neil Patrick Harris, is actually a condition requiring surgery that the teacher can't afford. But Izzy pulls out the old "I gave you $8 million for a new clinic" card and convinces the chief to allow the pro bono surgery, which Derek graciously performs, saving the day once again. The teacher emerges good as new, thanks Izzy, and tell her she was "always his best student." Which doesn't say much about the caliber of his students. Derek and Meredith also have a gratuitous kiss in their scrubs, which serves no other purpose than to remind us why we started watching the show in the first place. (Remember those great season-one hospital-room make-out scenes? Let's bring those back!)

Dr. Altman finally wins Yang's approval by letting her hold and fix the heart of a young boy with cardiac asthma. But then Altman basically tells Hunt that she's always had a thing for him, and she was surprised he didn't call her when he left his wife. She even made up a whole little story about their life together, confessing in a throaty voice, "It was a good story. It was all tortured and Bridges of Madison County." Not surprisingly, she’s less than thrilled to find she was actually brought to Seattle as a gift for his new girlfriend.

Izzy finally talks to Alex, but only to tell him she thinks he got her fired and can never forgive him. But, understandably, he can never forgive her either, which is convenient, since Katherine Heigl's also heading out on maternity leave. And speaking of having babies — next week, McSteamy finds out he has a teenage daughter! And she visits him! We can't wait for him to test out his non-existent parenting skills.

More Recaps:
Amanda Krill at Cinema Blend vents about Izzy's ridiculous behavior and gives Alex props for not forgiving her.
Jennifer Armstrong at EW.com agrees that though Izzy's hair and cardigan sweater were a nice addition to the show, her overall presence was unwelcome.

Photo: Courtesy of ABC