Grey’s Anatomy Premiere: Back to Reality

Grey’s Anatomy Premiere: Back to Reality
Bob D'Amico/ABC

09/26/2008 AT 12:00 AM EDT

McDreamy is dead.

Now those of you who missed the two-hour season five opener of Grey’s Anatomy know how the rest of us felt watching the first five minutes, in which Meredith gave some cryptic spiel about nightmares being more realistic than fairy tales as she went running from the romantic house of candles she built Derek in the finale into the ER where she was informed that he had crashed on his way to break it off with Rose. Mer watched as Bailey called time of death over the bloody brain surgeon. Alas, it was a cheap shot dream sequence and Seattle Grace’s hair apparent lived to operate another day.

Unfortunately for him and the rest of the staff, that day started with some very bad news. Seattle Grace dropped from No. 1 to No. 12 in the rankings of best teaching hospitals and their trauma center status was downgraded below that of the competition across town, making for a very empty board. That gave Mer plenty of time to worry out loud to Yang about what her recurring nightmares mean, whether she and Der should move in together, whether they could make it work this time. She concluded, “I’m afraid of having a happy ending.” Thanks to her new therapist-encouraged policy of “leaning into the fear” she asked Der to move in and he accepted.

She started questioning her offer when the only case of the night arrived. A limo with three socialites (excellent guest stints by Bernadette Peters and Kathy Baker) on their way to a ball slid on black ice and the driver was sent through the window. They managed to drive the car to Seattle Grace and are joined eventually by their husbands, whose limo also crashed. Mer realized quickly that Baker was having an affair with Peters’s spouse and Baker told her as an explanation, “Little pieces of you get chipped away by another person and you shave pieces of yourself away so you’ll fit together and one day you look up and you don’t know who you are.” Mer starts projecting the infidelity on her own relationship and again uses Yang as a sounding board. She lamented, “Married 40 years and then you become a big fat lying cheater? If 40 years doesn’t make you committed, what does?”

Yang was more worried about what the hospital’s downgrade said about a doctor like herself. She mumbled about transferring but the introduction of a possible love interest may convince her otherwise. Enter Dr. Hunt, an army trauma surgeon home on leave who was behind the husbands’ limo when it crashed and who stuck a pen in one guy’s trachea at the scene. If we can’t have Journeyman back, at least its lead Kevin McKidd has found another job. (Wonder if staring opposite Patrick Dempsey in Made Of Honor helped him land the part?) Yang’s attraction grew as she watched him staple his own leg wound without any numbing meds, as he suggested a new, risky freezing procedure for the paralyzed husband. Der thought it was too risky. It is obvious they are setting “Army Surgeon Badass” up to be the new Burke. (He likes Yang, butts heads with Der.)

When Mer approached Yang again about her love life (“I know I’ve gone all soft and gooey and if I had to listen to it, I’d puke too.”), Yang lost it and told her Der was a bad idea. She slipped on ice as she huffed off and an icicle fell from the roof and “karmicly impaled" her. Hunt rescued the damsel in distress after she passed out and dreamt of a future where she and Mer lived together as seniors. The Chief offered him a job, which he declined for now, but before leaving he shut the blinds and made out with Yang.

Rose was bitter that Der chose her, picked her, loves her (her being the headcase Mer) and she took every opportunity to make that known, which provided most of what little comedy was in this episode. She faked a pregnancy scare. She gave him lip in surgery and ignored him elsewhere. When he asked her to transfer to another department, she told him that she wasn’t going anywhere. McSteamy referred to it as “delayed rage.” But she realized she went too far when she handed him a scalpel blade first and cut him so she transferred to another rotation. We’re guessing we won’t see her very often from this point on.

The other couples weren’t as busy last night but there were some new developments. Lexie was puppy-dogging George all night and muttered sweet nothings under her breath. She also overheard Mer admit she slept with George and later confronted him about that. Bi-curious Callie and Hahn avoided each other for most of the show, but when Callie panicked while performing an experimental medical treatment, Hawn pulled her through. (Incidentally, the approach appeared to have cured paralysis by the program’s end.) Callie owed her a conversation and admitted she was scared because she has never liked a girl before. Hawn admitted she was a “virgin” in that department before Callie and that detail were enough to get Callie to agree to try it. After making progress in the finale, the emotionally stunted Alex reverted to his old ways, giving Izzie the cold shoulder for telling Mer that he had cried and then rubbing his one-night stand in her face.

The Chief took the new ranking the hardest and he first took it out on Mer when one of the husbands passed on her watch. “You don’t know how to do anything. You are in your second year of residency and you walk around here like it is your god-given right to be here. Well, it is not Dr. Grey. You are here because I allow it. You are here to do what I say.” Then he assembled the troops and warned, “We used to be the best surgical program in the West. But overnight we got old. We’ve been resting on our laurels… It stops and it stops now." Tightened reins could make this season more realistic and as Mer concluded the premiere, “Reality is so much more interesting than living happily ever after.” --Carrie Bell

Tell us: After months of anticipation, what did you think of the season opener? Was it worth the wait? Do Mer-Der have a shot at love?

Bob D'Amico/ABC

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