Greetings, TVGuide.com Grey's Anatomy fans! I'll be your new recapper for Season 11. Some of you may recall that I vowed to give up on Grey's halfway through last season, but unlike Katherine Heigl, I just can't seem to quit this show. Let's get right to it.
The premiere's opening flashback is Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) remembering how her mom once lost her in a park when she was 5. In addition to the carousel looking like the most terrifying merry-go-round ever (seriously, how fast are those horses going?), we also learn that Meredith basically saved Ellis' life by getting help that day when her mom started to feel sick.
Turns out the sickness is actually Ellis going into labor. With Mini Meredith peeking around a corner, Ellis asks that the baby be taken away immediately. And that's how Dr. Maggie Pierce (Kelly McCreary) came into this world!
So, the question I had heading into this episode was just how much Cristina's (Sandra Oh) absence would be felt. And at the end, I have to say — while the lack of Yang was definitely noticeable, I think the show will be just fine without her. Also, I really like Maggie's character. She's going to be a nice new foil for Meredith.
Also stepping in to fill Cristina's shoes is Alex (Justin Chambers), who's now Meredith's new person by default. Duties of this job include being woken up by Meredith, who then kicks Jo (Camilla Luddington) out of bed and sends her to make coffee so she can vent to Alex. (Who wants to bet Jo also browsed rental listings while she was at it?)
Cut to an AA meeting, where Richard (James Pickens Jr.) is telling the fellow attendees that he's just learned he has a daughter. Guess who else is at the AA meeting? Amy Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone). This just became Alcoholics Awkward. Later, Webber begs Amelia not to tell anyone in the hospital about their AA encounter. It's clear that she's happy to have someone to share her secret with, but he's not in a talking mood.
Back at Grey Sloan, Meredith tries to say hi to Maggie, but their convo is interrupted when they and Owen (Kevin McKidd, who directed this episode) are nearly smashed by a helicopter that makes a very wobbly landing on the hospital roof (these effects, lol). Whoops, there goes the gurney! Right over the ledge and through the roof of a parked van below ... and in between a teenage couple who, we later learn, are having sex in the vehicle. Maggie, Meredith and Owen are all like:
In the hospital, Owen can barely get a sentence out and is "dying inside," according to April (Sarah Drew), now that Cristina's gone. With a little nudging from April, Richard, Derek (Patrick Dempsey) and Jackson (Jesse Williams) try to cheer Owen up by doing things like inviting him over for Jenga (or checkers) and snacks, and asking him how "the game" was. I sincerely hope one of these pairings turns into a Derek/Mark Sloan-style bromance, preferably between Owen and Richard.
Elsewhere, Callie (Sara Ramirez) is flipping out that something will happen to her and Arizona's (Jessica Capshaw) hypothetical unborn baby and Bailey (Chandra Wilson) is stunned to learn that Cristina left her board seat to Alex. The other board members eventually learn they're going to have to vote to decide who will get Cristina's board seat. Fingers crossed for a full-on Election-style campaign from the two of them.
GEENA DAVIS ALERT. She's playing an intimidating doctor who likes to tease (flirt with?) Arizona, as a less-than-thrilled Callie looks on. She also tries to lure Arizona away from peds by casually mentioning a fellowship.
As they're treating a guy who was found wandering in the desert, Maggie keeps trying to make small talk with Meredith (whom she's figured out is her half-sister). But this eventually devolves into a Maggie/Meredith showdown in the OR, with Stephanie (Jerrika Hinton) caught in the middle. Amid all the yelling, they misplace a kidney. Meredith blames Maggie, even though it's clearly Stephanie's fault. (I seriously can't stand Stephanie.)
Later, Desert Guy reunites with his wife and daughter after thinking they were dead. FYI, the song playing in this scene is "I Will Be There" by Odessa.
Teen sexers update: The boy's mom comes to the hospital to yell at her son, who has cancer, for having sex. At one point, it looks like his girlfriend isn't going to make it, but she pulls through and the mom has a heart-to-heart with Callie that makes her realize that there are some things you just can't control. She tells Arizona she thinks they should go ahead and use a surrogate. Arizona tells her she's going to apply for the Geena Davis Fellowship (a.k.a. go back to school). Facepalm. Why can't these two just live happily ever after?!
Finally, Meredith and Maggie hash it out in the break room. It's pretty clear that these two aren't going to be getting each other "Chance made us sisters / Hearts made us friends" wall hangings any time soon.
After assaulting a vending machine, Maggie confesses to Webber, "I found my sister, and I think I hate her. She's terrible." She also tells him how great her adoptive parents are and adds, "I am just fine without adding any random unwanted blood relatives into my life." (THIS IS IRONIC AND SAD BECAUSE HE IS HER BIOLOGICAL FATHER.) He looks heartbroken. Good scene for James Pickens Jr.
Alex offers to take Meredith for a drink and ALL I'm hoping for is that they dance it out. If not tonight, then at some point this season. Derek crashes their friend-date to tell Meredith that he took his name out of contention for the D.C. job. "No job is worth it to me," he tells her. "I chose you and the kids." And Meredith, because she's Meredith, is mad at him anyway. She goes to the bar and she and Maggie both order tequila (ha).
Jackson tells Webber he's flying blind into this fatherhood thing, since his own father wasn't around that much. He also tells Webber it would have been nice to have him in the family, and gives him back the engagement ring. Webber: So close, yet so far away from a family twice tonight.
So, Grey's fans, what did you think of tonight's premiere? Are Meredith and Derek out of the woods? How and when is Meredith going to find out Maggie is her sister? Is Geena Davis bad news? And how much did you miss Cristina? Sound off in the comments!