In the beginning Grey's Anatomy was about five surgical interns (Meredith, Cristina, Izzie, George & Alex); their resident, Miranda "The Nazi" Bailey; and a few key attending physicians: neurosurgeon Derek Shepherd, cardiothoracic surgeon Preston Burke, and Chief of Surgery, Richard Webber. That's it...just nine people. In retrospect, it seems so straightforward and simple, doesn't it? Ah, yes, good times.
It's not surprising that the cast has expanded and evolved over the years. People come (Addison, Callie, Mark, Lexie). People go (Addison, Burke, George, and now, presumably, Izzie). Some characters are well-received pretty much from the start (Owen Hunt, Arizona Robbins). Some never really take off and must be hastily written-out (Sadie Harris, Dr. Virginia Dixon). Still others seem to have taken hold but then wander off into a parking lot, never to be seen again (Erica Hahn). Then there are those whose fates remain unknown. The "Mercy Westers" are still a question mark with only Jackson Avery a safe bet to return next season. This brings me to another wild card and the subject of this piece: Teddy Altman.
From the moment this character was announced there has been a lot of conversation and controversy amongst Grey's Anatomy fans. People generally agreed that there was a definite need for a new "cardio god", a position that's been like a revolving door since the departure of Preston Burke at the end of season three. The casting of TV veteran, Kim Raver (Lipstick Jungle, The Nine, 24, Third Watch) was telling as well. Clearly this character was intended to be around for awhile and, indeed, Raver was announced as a permanent addition to the cast just a few weeks after her guest shots started airing.
The "buzzing" began as it was revealed that Teddy was a woman from Owen's past. They were in the Army together. Big questions loomed: Did Owen and Teddy have a romantic history? Would her arrival undermine the Owen/Cristina relationship? Would Cristina finally have a cardio mentor again? Show-runner Shonda Rhimes insisted that this "triangle" would be completely different and not what viewers would typically expect. So far, in fairness, the storyline has been more about Cristina choosing between Love (Owen) and Career (Cardio/Teddy) ...or learning to juggle them both....than potential romance for Owen and Teddy. Despite past "feelings" for Teddy, in the present Owen has been completely committed to Cristina, while trying to not lose his friend.
Having said that, a big reason Teddy came to Seattle was because she's still in love with Owen and she told him so...only to be told in return that Owen's in love with Cristina. We know that Teddy's trying to "unring the bell" in an attempt to salvage her friendship with Owen. We know that she's trying to be a good teacher to Cristina, whom she admires and respects (and even likes, I think) despite the awkwardness of this whole situation. We know that she's making new friends (Arizona and Callie) and we know that she's trying to move on romantically (she's been pining for Owen) having agreed to go a date with Mark. By all indications, the next episode (618 "Suicide is Painless") will explore this new relationship with Mark while shedding light on the old relationship with Owen as we get flashbacks to their time together in Iraq. Of course, this means that two fan-bases are now concerned about Teddy Altman (Owen/Cristina and Mark/Lexie). I'll be interested to see how this plays out and if Teddy can be integrated into the fabric of the show as a whole now that she's moving beyond only having scenes with Owen and/or Cristina.
So what do you think Grey's fans? Do you like this new character? Should she stay for the long haul or follow Erica Hahn into the Parking Lot of No Return? Does your answer depend on who her love interest is or does your viewpoint stand firm regardless? Voice your opinion in the poll and the comments!