“We’re all fine,” explained Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) during an early scene in the Grey’s Anatomy Season 7 premiere. For anyone who saw the explosive, heart-wrenching Season 6 finale, it might be hard to believe that anyone at Seattle Grace could be anything near fine. “We may look the same, we probably do—the change isn’t visible, at least not in most of us. But we’re all changed, completely—forever.” If you need a refresher on the events that happened in the Season 6 finale, read my review of the episode.
The first indicator that everyone on Grey’s Anatomy isn’t fine is the scene with Meredith picking up Derek (Patrick Dempsey) from jail. “Again, Derek?” Meredith questioned her husband impatiently, indicating the period of TLC following Derek’s gunshot wound during the Season 6 finale had long expired. “Derek got arrested, again—reckless endangerment,” Meredith explained to Cristina (Sandra Oh) upon arriving at the hospital. She indicated that the only reason Derek hadn’t lost his license was due to the cops “worshiping him” due to him saving their lives; a healthy foreshadowing that Derek has slipped into a darker place since the end of Season 6.
Derek’s first order of business upon returning to work at Seattle Grace was to quit the role of Chief in front of a crowd of doctors and nurses, and bestow the position back upon former-Chief Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.), who had filled as interim Chief during Derek’s recovery. “The truth is, I hate being Chief—I hate it,” Derek shocked the crowd by saying. “I quit.”
Cristina’s latest drama is the planning of her wedding to Owen (Kevin McKidd), a plot twist which was confirmed over the summer by series creator Shonda Rhimes, according to Entertainment Weekly. “I’m not wearing white,” Cristina proclaimed to Meredith, “it’s sexist and vaguely racist; no white, no veil, no rice.” The writers of Grey’s Anatomy are notorious for intentionally leaking fake spoilers, but at the conclusion of the Season 7 premiere Cristina and Owen did marry in front of the entire cast of characters, with Meredith as the Maid of Honor and Derek sitting alone in jail. Cristina wore a stunning red dress, and after Meredith proclaimed Owen “perfect,” she seemed a happy and hopeful bride.
The Season 7 premiere featured the routine impossible surgery, this one requiring Derek’s expertise as a neurological surgeon. After consulting Dr. Sloan (Eric Dane) and Dr. Torres (Sara Ramirez), and the pair agreeing to the challenging prospect, Derek’s overconfident consult with the patient provoked a sharp reprimand from Meredith. “You’re driving awful fast, Dr. Shepherd; the least you could do is wear a seat belt.” The patient, whose condition required the team of surgeons to literally cut his face open in order to remove the brain tumor, survived the surgery by the end of the episode.
Lexie (Chyler Leigh) had the most obvious break-down among the doctors involved in the events of the Season 6 finale. Several scenes during the Grey’s Anatomy Season 7 premiere illustrated Lexie’s numerous emotional meltdowns, and revealed that Mark had her committed during the vague period between of time during the off season. Ironically, she was one of the first doctors cleared to return to surgery, supposedly having only needed a reprieve—and 50 hours of sleep—after the traumatic events. In contrast, Alex (Justin Chambers) became his usual, unemotional ice king self and even opted to keep the bullet lodged in his chest to further reap the chick-magnet benefits.
Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson), who had the misfortune of holding Dr. Percy (Robert Baker) as he died from a gunshot wound during the Season 6 finale, also showed signs of faltering in her recovery. She ended her fledgling relationship with Ben (Jason George), and displayed her usual determination to rise above her emotional obstacles.
Most of the Grey’s Anatomy characters are showing signs of stress under the lingering aftermath of the Season 6 finale, and it will be difficult for the writers to keep viewers hooked while maintaining a reasonable amount of recovery time for the doctors of Seattle Grace. However, a fantastic foundation for Season 7 has been laid, and it promises to be full of the drama, character development and overlapping storylines that Grey’s Anatomy viewers have enjoyed since episode 1.