Welcome back, Grey’s Anatomy fans! Where to begin? Given that last season ended with a plane crash, I wasn’t expecting fun and frolic in the season premiere. Having said that, “Going Going Gone” was even more depressing than I anticipated. Yikes! In addition it was the dawn of a new era. Some things were the same except … not. Other things were very, very different. The episode flashed forward three months after the crash (apparently we’ll fill in the gaps next week) and it soon became apparent that this was not business as usual.

A Tale of Two Baileys

One of the things I liked very much about the episode was the homage paid to the show’s past. From the opening music (the same song opened the series’ premiere episode, 101: “A Hard Day’s Night”) to an intern being chosen to fail performing their first surgery (RIP George O’Malley), long-time fans took a stroll down Memory Lane. Remember when Miranda Bailey was The Nazi? She abandoned that nickname after operating on a white supremacist, but that’s not the point. Miranda Bailey used to invoke fear in her interns. She made them quake. She commanded respect. Now, apparently, she makes them laugh. Happy at last with fiancee, Ben, Miranda’s new nickname is BCB: Booty Call Bailey. Oh, the indignity of it all.  That needs to change. Pronto.

Meanwhile, Bailey 2.0 is none other than Meredith Grey! Lexie’s dead, Cristina’s in Minnesota, and Derek may never operate again.  One can only assume that the cumulative affect of all this has hardened Meredith and turned her into Medusa, the attending striking fear in the hearts of the new crop of interns. I felt for Meredith, especially when she tried to get on an airplane and, understandably, freaked out. Not so understandable? She was on that plane to go and see Cristina. While Mark was dying. Literally as Derek and Callie sat by their friend’s bedside while Richard removed the life support.

This brings me to one of my biggest beefs with the show. For Meredith, Cristina always seems to come first. Even when her husband’s best friend was fading away. Really? Come on! I get it. They’re twisted sisters. Whatever. That doesn’t make it right. In the real world if I put my best friend ahead of my husband constantly, I wouldn’t have a husband. End of story.

RIP Mark Sloan 1968-2012

Over the summer word leaked out that Eric Dane would be leaving Grey’s, returning for only two episodes. While I find myself really sad that Mark’s dead, it really was the only way to write him out at this point. He would never have left his daughter, Sofia, or his best friend and baby mama, Callie. No way. The video tributes throughout the episode along with Jackson’s one-sided conversations with the mentor he’d come to both respect and appreciate paid tribute to McSteamy, which was only fitting.  I’m glad he got a good sendoff, although it’s going to be disconcerting to see him alive again in next week’s flashback episode.

I like to think he and Lexie are together again. Don’t get me started on wondering why they couldn’t have just been written off happily into the sunset (and I didn’t even particularly like them together!) instead of dying grisly deaths. Just remember Mark’s cleverness and wit (man, I’m going to miss Dane’s comic timing…perfection) and think of Callie and Derek at his bedside or Jackson’s despondent grief (no more Plastics Posse, no more Bromance) and you will be reminded of why Mark’s departure is a great loss to the series.

Bait and Switch: Times Four and a Half

Trickery was the name of the game in this episode. Alex was still at Seattle Grace. He must have chosen to stay. Wrong. He just postponed his move to Johns Hopkins. Wrong again! In the end he couldn’t leave. Not his hospital, not his program to help African children, and not his friends.

Cristina did, indeed, go to the Mayo Clinic for her fellowship. But instead of becoming the Cardio Goddess she’s been telling us for eight seasons she is destined to be, she’s floundering in Minnesota.  Her proctor from the boards (the wonderful William Daniels) is now her attending and her supervisor (the ubiquitous Steven Culp) sternly told her that in this hospital there was no competition, only teamwork, as he commanded her to take some time off and see the Mall of America. She’s adrift in this new place, clearly still traumatized by the crash and missing the two people who mean the most to her: husband, Owen, and aforementioned twisted sister, Meredith. For the woman who has always put surgery before all else, things aren’t working out how she planned at all. Not by a long shot.

Arizona was MIA the whole episode and we were meant to infer that she, too, had died. Callie was an emotional wreck. Alex was wracked with guilt. There was a new pediatrics attending and he was walking on eggshells, particularly around Callie. But, surprise! Well, not to me, because the likelihood of killing both Mark and Arizona on the heels of Lexie dying and Teddy leaving seemed remote at best plus Calzona has a passionate fan base. Anyway, surprise! Arizona was alive but not at all well, having lost her leg! Uh, oh.

Finally, Owen was left trying to pick up the pieces of his gutted staff and his shattered marriage. Not going so well on either front. He gave the new interns a good talking to (twice, actually) and gave the new attending a tour. But most of all he missed Cristina. He caught a glimpse of her video chatting with Meredith and my heart broke for him. He looked so broken. We were led to believe that he was flying to Minnesota to see Cristina, but, no, instead he went to Ohio to retrieve April and try to fix the one thing he could do over. At least Cristina looked disappointed when Karev assumed that Hunt was going to see her and she knew that wasn’t true. I’m grasping here. Work with me. Four months of summer hiatus only to have zero Owen/Cristina minutes in this episode has left me broken and discouraged. Kind of like our surgeons. I’ll get over it. Will they?

Interview: Kevin McKidd says things aren’t over for Cristina and Owen in season 9>>

The next all-new episode of Grey’s Anatomy, “Remember The Time”, airs next Thursday, October 4 on ABC.

Janalen Samson

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV