The shooting spree in the ‘Grey’s Anatomy‘ season finale was supposed to change everything, even though only a few tertiary characters died. Last night’s premiere succeeded at using the aftermath to spin all of the characters in new directions. The hype was not hyperbole.
It’s about a month after the shooting spree. The hospital has hired a therapist, Andrew Perkins (‘Men In Trees’ James Tupper), to decide when each of the characters is ready to return to the operating room. Through a combination of flashbacks and their counseling sessions, we learn how badly everyone has been coping.
After the shooting, Bailey (Chandra Wilson) left town with her son and stayed with her mother for a month. When she returns to the hospital, she puts on her tough Bailey facade but she’s on the verge of a meltdown. She gets cleared to return to surgery, but breaks up with hot anesthesiologist Ben (Jason George) because she cannot deal with the fact that he was playing golf during the shooting spree and is not a complete mess like she is.
Lexie (Chyler Leigh) goes psycho, accuses a patient of wanting to die, and searches the room for a gun. She ends up in the psych ward. After receiving medication and treatment, she makes a complete recovery, returns her hair to its original dark brown, and gets cleared to perform surgery.
Getting shot has sent Alex (Justin Chambers) back to season one. He is now a crass womanizer who decides not to have his bullet removed because it is a chick magnet. He dumped Lexie. He gets cleared to perform surgery. Lexie tells him that after he got shot he cried for Izzie, making him the opposite of the Bad he is pretending to be.
Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) is afraid that the shooting has heightened Callie’s (Sara Ramirez) desire to have a baby. Actually, she just asks Arizona to move in with her.
After getting shot, Derek (Patrick Dempsey) has become an adrenalin junkie. He keeps getting picked up by the police for driving 100MPH, though he is never charged because he has saved so many cops’ lives. On his first day back to work, he quits the Chief of Surgery position, giving the job back to a delighted Weber. He manages to get himself cleared for surgery and takes on the case of a teen with a brain tumor so large that he will have to cut the boy’s face in half to operate. He persuades everyone to go along with the high risk operation. The patient lives, but is in agony. Derek tells him it’s the pain of healing and survival.
The two doctors who are not cleared for surgery are Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Christina (Sandra Oh). Perkins is convinced that Meredith is holding back something. In fact, she still has not told Derek that she had a miscarriage during the shooting. Christina, who was forced to perform surgery at gunpoint, has turned into a bridezilla. Post-shooting spree, she was terrified of being alone and accepted Owen’s marriage proposal. (Teddy’s no longer an issue; she’s dating Perkins.) She tells the therapist that she longs to be a simple person who gets happiness from planning the perfect wedding. The marriage seems doomed because, well, it’s ‘Grey’s. Meredith leaves Derek, who agreed to be Best Man, in lock up when he gets picked up for speeding yet again. Christina wears a red dress. Yet, the wedding goes off without a hitch. Maybe the couple that has PTSD together stays together.
This premiere delivered everything one expects from an episode of ‘Grey’s: soliloquies with repeated dialogue, heavyhanded metaphors, and a wedding that happened largely off-camera (the show does not know how to do a romantic wedding, seriously.) Here’s the thing: it all worked.
Grade: A -