When Season 8 of Grey's Anatomy premieres (Thursday, 9/8c on ABC), Meredith and Derek are on the outs, Alex has been shunned by his fellow Seattle Gracers and Cristina is grappling with whether or not to abort her and Owen's child. But there's oh so much more that will be happening at the hospital so you might need a quick refresher on where we left off — and a juicy tease about what comes next in the doctors' final year of residency.
Grey's Anatomy: Shonda Rhimes talks Mer-Der's struggle, Cristina's pregnancy
Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo)
Where Were We? She tampered with the Alzheimer's clinical trial in hopes of saving Adele's life, which caused her to be suspended from the hospital. She also adopted baby Zola, but ended up having a huge fight with Derek.
What's Next? As we've seen in the promos, Meredith will soon be out of a job, but don't expect that to be permanent. As for Mer and Der, "They'll struggle," executive producer Shonda Rhimes says. "It's not really about Meredith and Derek breaking up forever. I think people's marriages get screwed up. People have to work to fix them." Also look for trouble with baby Zola.
Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey)
Where Were We? After learning that Meredith tampered with the trial, he shunned her and moved out to the future McMansion.
What's Next? With no signs of forgiving Meredith in sight, Derek will begin to bond with Owen. "Derek and Owen are dealing with the twisted sisters — Meredith and Cristina — who are very connected and very similar in a way," Kevin McKidd tells us. "So, they try to get away from the women a bit more. Owen starts helping Derek build his house, so they bond over that and the manliness of being outdoors and carrying wheelbarrows full of rocks. It's a way for them to decompress from all the pressure."
Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh)
Where Were We? She found out she was pregnant with Owen's baby, and when she told him she planned to give it up, he kicked her out.
What's Next? Cristina will struggle with whether or not to abort their child. "Cristina has always had a certain stance in how she feels about having kids and that stance doesn't change just because she's married and in love with Owen," Rhimes says. Plus, Teddy will finally, happily (see below), take her under her wing in cardio.
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Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd)
Where Were We? He was tasked with choosing the new Chief Resident — April won — while dealing with Cristina's decision to possibly abort their child.
What's Next? Cristina and Owen may finally come to a détente. "I think he realizes that it really is her decision," McKidd teases. Still, Owen will be plenty busy once he's elected the new Chief of Seattle Grace. "Owen is as shocked as everybody else, so it changes the whole structure of the hospital," he says. "Owen, even though he's the Chief, [goes] to Richard a lot."
Alex Karev (Justin Chambers)
Where Were We? Worried that his hard work in pediatrics would be overlooked, Alex ousted Meredith for tampering with the trial in hopes of landing the Chief Resident spot. He was also dumped by Lucy (Rachael Taylor), who took his spot at Arizona's former hospital in Malawi.
What's Next? Everyone hates him, really. "We're going to watch Alex both grow up and backslide a little bit," Rhimes spills. "He starts off in a real bad place, like really behind and nobody likes him. He's not doing so well. We're going to watch him pull it together and work to get his friendships back and charge forward." He will make a move in the premiere that will actually put Meredith in his debt.
Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh)
Where Were We? After many ups and downs with Mark, Lexie decided to start a stable relationship with Jackson. Though she did admit she was still in love with Mark in the finale.
What's Next? Her relationship with Jackson is still going strong. Lest we forget, Lexie is a year younger than the other docs, so she won't be doing solo surgeries just yet. As for whether Lexie is being prepped to be the new Grey of Grey's Anatomy, Rhimes says, "I feel like Meredith Grey is the Grey of Grey's Anatomy and that's how it goes."
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Mark Sloan (Eric Dane)
Where Were We? After nearly losing his and Callie's unborn child in a car accident, he gave Jackson and Lexie his blessing to continue seeing each other, but admitted he will always love her.
What's Next? He'll cut back on his philandering ways and really focus on being a surgeon this year. "People have forgotten or lost sight of the fact that Mark Sloan is one of the most talented plastic surgeons in the country," Dane tells us. Still, things will get complicated when Mark mentors Jackson, as he once did Alex when he was dating Lexie. "It's the same set of circumstances, so we're going to find out if Sloan is a good teacher or not," he says.
Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams)
Where Were We? When tasked by Mark to look into how Lexie was coping, Jackson got in her good graces and secretly started a relationship with her. He was prepared to let Lexie go back to Mark. Luckily, she decided to stay with him.
What's Next? Working under Mark will be tough, but the real thing Jackson has to worry about is making sure he treats Lexie right. "Mark sees that Lexie really likes Jackson and that Jackson is a good guy, so it's more a situation that 'if you break her heart, I'll break your face,'" Dane says. Plus, Avery's mother is coming to town!
Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez)
Where Were We? After a tragic car accident nearly killed her and her unborn child, Callie healed and went on to marry Arizona.
What's Next? After the tumultuous year she and Arizona endured, Rhimes wants them to be happy this year. "I think they've earned the right for us to enjoy them as a couple and to enjoy them as mothers and to watch them juggle what motherhood means to their relationship, their sex life and their jobs," she says.
Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw)
Where Were We? Feeling insecure about her place in the newly formed multi-parenting situation with Mark and Callie, Arizona proposed to Callie. Following the nearly fatal car crash, the pair married.
What's Next? On top of being a happy mother and wife, she'll also push Alex to get his act together. "Arizona is like his only friend," Capshaw tells us. "She has a deep fondness for him, so she's definitely probably his only ally."
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April Kepner (Sarah Drew)
Where Were We? After being on the outs with Dr. Stark, who tried but failed to start a relationship with her, April received a glowing review in the race for Chief Resident from him that ultimately, along with her tried and true checklist system, won her the position.
What's Next? "It's an uphill battle for her," Drew says of her taking on Chief Resident. "She's trying her best, but nobody is paying attention and nobody is taking her seriously. She's actually covering everybody's a--es in the first couple episodes because nobody listens to her or steps up when she's trying to delegate." Also, we'll see a geeky crush. What we won't see: her virgin character knocked up quickly even though Drew is pregnant in real life.
Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.)
Where Were We? Reinstalled as The Chief after Derek briefly took over at the beginning of the season, Richard was faced with Adele (Loretta Devine) possibly having Alzheimer's and being admitted into the clinical trial. He was forced to suspend Meredith after Alex ratted her out for tampering with the trial.
What's Next? In order to save Meredith's career, Webber takes one for the team and steps down as The Chief. "At the end of the day, he's cool with this decision," Pickens says. "This allows him to spend more time, obviously, with Adele and her condition with the Alzheimer's. It'll get him back to what he loves to do, which is to be surgeon and mentor and teach young surgical students."
Teddy Altman (Kim Raver)
Where Were We? After feeling sorry for Henry (Scott Foley), a patient who was unable to pay for his intense and lengthy medical treatments, Teddy married him before reconnecting with Dr. Perkins (James Tupper), who asked her to move to Germany with him. Ultimately, Teddy chose Henry over Perkins.
What's Next? She's happily in love with Henry this year. "She's finally, for the first time, out of the relationships that she thought were something, but turned out to not be anything and she's really glad to be out of the triangle with Owen and Christina," Raver tells us. "Henry and her are really in love. So, it's a good time for her." Teddy will focus her happiness into making Cristina a great doctor. "Teddy is trying to impart humility to her because Cristina sees that she's a genius, but she's lacking the really big, and basic parts of being a great doctor."
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Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson)
Where Were We? Bailey took the shooting at Seattle Grace the hardest, but bounced back this season after she began dating Nurse Eli (Daniel Sunjata).
What's Next? She's still happily dating Eli, but the return of a certain former lover may shake things up a bit. Plus, she's very unhappy about The Chief stepping down, but even angrier that Owen is Webber's replacement. "Her anger with the Chief for resigning is all dumped on Owen, because she has to respect [Webber's] decision that he feels it's time to retire and to hand over that power to somebody else," McKidd says.
All caught up? Now tell us: What are you looking forward to in the new season?