If you’ve been following our exhaustive coverage of Katherine Heigl, you’ll know that she’s signed on for this season, and incidentally you might’ve learned that T.R. Knight was released from his contract in order to pursue his film career. Good luck with that, T.R.! So it’s no surprise when in the opening of this episode Izzie wakes up and George flies away to B-list-actor heaven. There’s a moment after his death in which Lexie questions his identity (“He’s too tall! Look at his feet!”) but that’s all put to rest when Callie I.D.’s the Texas-shaped freckle on his hand. Since the staff is crying and raging over O’Malley’s untimely demise, there are only two patients to speak of. But true to Grey’s Anatomy form, both of them handily reflect back on the lives of the weepy doctors who treat them. [Updated.]
Arizona gets: A teenager, whose mother is played by Martha Plimpton, with leg and back pain. A different doctor had sent him home with “growing pains,” but his symptoms have gotten worse, and Mom’s worried.
What it means: This kid represents the fact that even though these people have suffered a loss, they’re still doctors, and have to keep treating others in need. Everyone at the hospital’s distracted by George’s pulpy, lifeless body, and Plimpton’s character starts to worry that her son won’t get the best care. Arizona assures she’ll make him “her person” and figure out what’s wrong; she forces a grieving Bailey to talk through his case with her (“This kid is still alive! I need you to work!”). She still can’t diagnose him, though, and sends him home prematurely.
The outcome: After the patient gets worse, the Chief negs his extra tests because of money issues (and a looming power struggle with the board) and there’s more nothing Arizona can do. She experiences the same helplessness she does trying to comfort Callie, who’s freaking out about George. We’ll have to wait till next week to see if this teen pulls through.
Lexie gets: A young backpacker from London who was in a speedboat accident, lost one leg, and had two arms re-attached. She was traveling with two semi-friends who bailed the first moment they could, leaving Lexie as her only bedside companion.
What it means: Lexie sees the woman’s friends’ actions and is reminded of her own relationship with George — she moved out of their apartment after George rejected her romantic advances. We’re not quite clear how this makes her a “bad friend,” but whatever.
The outcome: Thank God for McSteamy, who provides some comic relief. After comforting Lexie, who’s crying about neglecting George, he says, “What did that guy have? Was he hung?” No, McSteamy, we doubt it. The patient, meanwhile, becomes more despondent about her situation, eventually calling Lexie “a little bitch.” Ouch. At the end of the show, she’s suicidal. Perhaps next week we’ll get a slightly sunnier doctor-patient situation.
Everyone else gets … George! We must touch on the funeral scene, in which Meredith, Izzie, Cristina, and Alex laugh and laugh about the absurdity of their respective situations. We get the writers’ nod to the increasing ridiculousness of the plotlines, but you know what, writers? Start crafting better stories for these people, and you won’t have to incorporate clever references to the excessive drama! Yeesh.
Editor’s note: The recap above only covered the first hour of last night’s two-hour premiere. Here’s a quick wrap-up of the second half.
The outcome, Patient No. 1: After trying to refuse more surgery (she doesn’t want a “poo bag” — gross), and sinking deeper into depression, the patient, a.k.a. Ceviche, turns a corner after Owen sympathizes with her plight and tells her to “work the muscles now!” He’s referring, of course, to his therapy sessions for his PTSD. And guess what? After the patient listens, Owen has a breakthrough, and he and Cristina finally get to have sex. Good for them.
The outcome, Patient No. 2: After bouncing between Seattle Grace and Mercy West (where Callie is now chief resident), the patient finally gets the tests he needs after Derek intervenes on Arizona’s behalf. It turns out he has a tethered spinal cord, whatever that means, and after a few snips, he’s cured. Yay for doctors treating patients instead of crying over O’Malley!
And oh, yeah, Izzie’s cancer is miraculously cured. And the kicker is that Mercy West and Seattle Grace are merging, with layoffs to come.