Grey's Recap: Tidings of Discomfort and Joy

Grey’s Anatomy this Thursday resumed its eighth season by having one of its fall cliffhangers — Mer and Alex’s situation there on the roadside — spiral into a multi-pronged assault of medical drama, while the other — Teddy not knowing that Henry died — simmered long and slow for much of the hour, until ultimately it had to reach an emotional, heart-wrenching boil.

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As seen in the preview clips TVLine gave you earlier this week, oblivious Teddy needed an extra pair of hands with the tricky surgery that kept Owen from alerting her to her husband’s passing — and the doc she wanted at her side was Cristina, on whose table Henry died. Cristina begrudgingly agreed, and as if fielding a “thank you” from her mentor for operating on Henry wasn’t hard enough, she had to spend hours with her, at times being happy and even ridiculously peppy.

But the instant that Teddy’s patient was ready to be closed, Cristina was ready to open up — and in true Yang fashion, she opted for the “detached,” rote way of notifying next of kin. But no amount of boilerplate could hide Cristina’s distress as she unloaded this bombshell on her peer. And after Sandra Oh teed things up carefully with her trembling visage, Kim Raver took the reins and started into what undoubtedly will be a long road of agony for Dr. Altman, who paid her onetime husband “of convenience” a last visit where he lay cold. Bravo to both performances, and I sense Raver has barely scratched the surface of where she’ll be going.

While that storyline and the one involving the family of campers were gravely intense and sad (save for where Mer and Alex, who was super-duper-diligent about following up on their baby patient, got to bond a bit over their wee one’s status), the episode also featured a light segment and a final scene that was truly joyous.

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The former found Mark’s new girlfriend, Julia, coming in to assist on a delicate eye surgery, and despite having the Derek Shepherd working alongside her, the girl aced it like a stone-cold pro. (“Don’t screw this one up,” Derek warned Mark afterward, impressed by Julia’s skills.) But coming out of the surgery, Julia let slip to Lexie just how nervous she had been, prompting poor Dr. Grey to lament the fact that even she likes the new woman in Mark’s life.

And then….

The hour closed with an exhausted Meredith waiting at home — at breakfast time — for the pizza guy, but what she and Derek had delivered to them was something much greater: Zola is theirs, said the tot-toting adoption lady, and the way Ellen Pompeo let a warm radiance wash over Mer’s beaming face… wow.

It’s late here in L.A. and I’ve been traveling all day, so that’s all I’ve got for now. Plus Ausiello served up that scoopy Q&A with Shonda Rhimes earlier for you to gnosh on, previewing what’s ahead. What did you think of this week’s Grey’s?