After 17 weeks of rumors, innuendo and partial spoilers, Grey’s Anatomy kicked off its ninth season with an episode that picked up several months after last May’s deadly plane crash disaster with this ominous voiceover from Meredith: “Dying changes everything.”
At first, you think she’s referring to her sister Lexie’s tragic passing. But it’s soon revealed that Mark — who suffered a cardiac tamponade following the air disaster — was in a coma and just hours away from his DNR order kicking in.
Additionally, the fate of Arizona — who was critically wounded in the accident — remained a question mark for much of the episode, but Callie’s tears confirmed that something horrible had indeed happened (more on that later).
Here’s a character-by-character chronicle of what went down:
MEREDITH | Mer is mean — so mean the the new crop of interns (Smash!) are scared to approach her. So mean she’s earned the nickname Medusa. “Take it from ‘The Nazi,'” says Bailey. “It’s good to be feared.” On the flipside…
BAILEY | … The tyrant formerly known as “The Nazi” is nice, a direct result of her very active sex life with fiance Ben. (Alex informs her that her new nickname is “BCB” for “Booty Call Bailey.”)
ALEX | Alex was busy having promiscuous sex with the new interns, most notably (but not limited to!) Veronica Mars‘ Tina Majorino, prior to departing for his new gig at John’s Hopkins. (In the final minutes, Karev decided to stay at Seattle Grace because, basically, he doesn’t trust anyone else to do his job.)
DEREK | Derek’s attempt to perform his first surgery since injuring his hand in the crash pretty much ended before it began. “My hand went numb in there,” he cried out to Callie.
CRISTINA | Yang’s ego is taking a major beating at her new job at the Mayo Clinic in the “frozen tundra” of Minnesota, her daily Skype sessions with Mer providing the only relief. “The fact is, we work as a team here,” her new boss informs her. “No one here is the superstar. Our hospital is the superstar. And our patients — they’re superstars. No ego. No competition.” He then assigned her to mandatory R&R.
MARK | Series creator Shonda Rhimes said she wanted to give Eric Dane’s doc a fitting send-off, and she kept her promise. The episode flashed back to various moments in Mark’s life, including Derek and Addison’s 1994 wedding and Callie and Arizona’s 2009 nuptials (in the latter sequence, he toasted the newlyweds before confessing that Lexie was the love of his life). Webber eventually took him off the ventilator, and nearly everyone kept vigil as his heart monitor ticked down to zero.
APRIL | Dr. Hunt tracked April down at her family’s farm to give her her old job back. “Nothing’s the same over there,” he tells her. “I should have never taken your job from you. You don’t belong out here. You belong in Seattle. Now come home.”
ARIZONA | Confirming the worst kept secret in TV land, the final moments of the episode revealed that Arizona had her leg amputated — and she blames Callie for her missing limb! “How the hell am I supposed to snap out of this,” she barks at her wife, “when you cut off my leg!”