[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Thursday's ninth season premiere of Grey's Anatomy.]
After losing Lexie (and Teddy) last year, Grey's Anatomy opened its ninth season with a look to its future as Seattle Grace welcomed a new batch of interns as the deadly plane crash claimed its second victim during Thursday's season premiere.
Opening with a familiar scene -- a new intern walking Seattle Grace's halls on her way to meet a feared doctor to the same Rilo Kiley song from its premiere -- the residents-turned-attendings experienced some major role reversals as everyone is dealing with the after-effects of the crash in a different way.
"Going, Going, Gone" was (in a way) a tribute to Mark Sloan (the departing Eric Dane), who became the second fatality from the crash. The episode, which interweaved flashbacks -- complete with brand-new footage -- to Derek's wedding to Addison as well as Callie and Arizona's nuptials, flashed forward to 30 days after the crash that claimed the life of Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh) and found most everyone back in Seattle but with a new set of hurdles to overcome: Arizona had to have her leg amputated, Cristina has moved on to Minnesota, April left the medical industry and Derek's medical future remains up in the air.
Meet the New Interns: Gaius Charles' Shane, Camilla Luddington's Jo Wilson and Tina Majorino's Heather are among the new batch of interns who must contend with a "Nazi" of their own -- Meredith. While some are ahead of the curve (Jo), others have found new friends (Heather) to spend time with. Early on, Jo is bearing the brunt of Meredith's wrath, but at the same time excelling to the point where she earns her first solo surgery (which doesn't exactly go her way).
Meredith (Ellen Pompeo): Dealing with the aftermath of the crash, Meredith has gone one beyond her former dark and twisty persona into "Medusa," an attending who instills fear in her interns. She's yet to process Lexie's death and high-tails it from Mark's bedside as a way to avoid addressing the epic losses in her life. At the airport, she runs into Alex and lets him have it for leaving without saying goodbye. "Nothing is the same, everything is different, everyone is leaving and everyone is dying," she tells him. After boarding the plane for Minnesota, she's unable to fly and instead hits the bar where she has a Facetime conversation with Cristina.
Derek (Patrick Dempsey): His surgically repaired hand (thanks to Callie) doesn't quite make it through his first surgery back it goes numb in the middle of the procedure, prompting a rare emotional outburst.
Cristina (Sandra Oh): She made good on her vow to leave Seattle and has set up shop at Henry Mayo in Minnesota, the land of snow and rambling doctors who are just not a match with her style -- and skills. While she's tried to fly back to Seattle multiple times, her PTSD has prevented her, too, from making the flight home. "We're working on it," Meredith tells Owen of her attempts to get on the plane. After voicing her disdain for the Mayo regime, she's told to take mandatory R&R for an attitude adjustment (although there's clearly nothing wrong with her performance). Her Facetime conversations with Meredith, meanwhile, are a fun way to keep the BFFs in constant communication and -- and still keep the heart and soul of the series in tact.
Owen (Kevin McKidd): Owen, who as chief was responsible for sending the team out to Boise, is processing things in a stoic way, barely expressing any emotion at all despite being in email contact with Cristina (at the very least). His biggest faceoff comes with intern Jo, who asks why Meredith is so mean. He defends Meredith, saying she's not mean, but strong and is going hard on Jo to bring out the best in her. "If you can't handle that, leave now. If not, don't stand around in hallways and cry. Cry somewhere else, where I can't see you," he tells her. Amen.
Mark (Eric Dane): After 30 days in a coma, Mark was taken off life support per his medical directive. In a touching sendoff via a flashback to Callie and Arizona's wedding, Mark reveals that if he were to have a partner, it'd be Lexie (awww). After Richard takes Mark off life support, Callie and Derek stay with him until his very last breath. "We thought if we could just get him back here alive…" an emotional Meredith says as she looks on. Ultimately, she can't stay to watch and decides to head to the airport to see Cristina. Mark's death will be further explored in next week's second episode of the season, which will feature a flashback to the crash site in the woods, their attempts to save him and their ultimate rescue.
Arizona (Jessica Capshaw): Last seen coughing up blood and with exposed bone at the site of the plane crash, Arizona survives the crash but her fate isn't all good news as her leg couldn't be spared. Worse: Arizona's wife, Callie -- an orthopedic surgeon -- was the one who had to amputate her left leg. The pediatrics surgeon, who made her Grey's debut in a pair of light-up wheelie sneakers, has lost her formerly preppy persona as she sinks into a deep depression to cope with her loss, leaving Callie to care for Sofia -- and herself. Her depression, meanwhile, is creating a rift in their marriage as Callie attempts to use tough love to get her wife back. "Get up! Get the hell out of bed and snap out of this because Sofia lost a parent and I lost my best friend," she tells Arizona, only to have her bite back: "Snap out of this?! How the hell am I supposed to snap out of this when you cut off my leg?" It sets up a grueling story line for the duo, as Callie processes Mark's loss and a new, angry Arizona.
Callie (Sara Ramirez): She and Derek have bonded in the 30 days since the crash as they've cared for Mark -- and as she's helped repair Derek's hand. While she puts on a brave face -- yelling at staffers who feel sorry for her and stare -- she's crying alone in a closet as she attempts to process everything that's happening to her family.
April (Sarah Drew): In a bid to help restore some of the heart that has been taken from the hospital, Owen flies not to Minnesota to see Cristina but instead to visit April, where he offers the farmhand her old job back. "I should have helped you be strong instead of kicking you when you were down," he tells her. "You don't belong here, on a farm. You belong in Seattle, saving lives." How her return will impact Jackson, meanwhile, is anyone's guess.
Jackson (Jesse Williams): Speaking of Jackson, he continues to seek Mark's guidance, even from his comatose state. "I really think I know what I'm doing. Plastics Posse is going to live on, I can take it from here," an emotional Jackson tells Mark just before the clock strikes 5 p.m.
Bailey (Chandra Wilson): Her "Nazi" nickname has been retired, in favor of something more fitting to her romps with Ben (Jason George): BCB -- "Booty Call Bailey." The mortified look on her face when she finds out? Priceless. It's a personality switch to the nth degree that offsets the gloom and doom that's taken over Seattle Grace.
Alex (Justin Chambers): He's coping with survivor's guilt by bedding multiple interns, including Heather. Bragging about his exchange program, he learns that the new pediatrics attending plans to ship it off to UCLA. Ultimately, Alex opts against going to Hopkins to stay at Seattle Grace. "I'm not going to stay in Seattle just because you don't want to be alone," he tells Meredith at the airport. More likely, he'll fight for the peds program, setting the stage for a battle to come with Arizona's replacement.
What did you think of the Grey's premiere? Are you sad to see Mark go? What do you think of Arizona's story line this season? Hit the comments with your thoughts. Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on ABC. In the meantime, watch a promo for next week's flashback episode, below.