A lot of catastrophes have gone down over the course of Grey's Anatomy's thirteen seasons, but the two-hour opener for Season 14 proves that the most gnarly wreckage happens when base emotions collide.
The premiere centers around Megan Hunt (Abigail Spencer), who has been a topic of many conversations over the years thanks to her status as Owen's (Kevin McKidd) missing sister and the love of Riggs' (Martin Henderson) life whose disappearance and presumed death in Iraq destroyed their whole family for several seasons. Last season, we learned that she'd been found alive and well, just as Nathan and Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) had taken their hook-up to another level.
It's fully expected that her return will bear the fruit of much of drama for everyone who cares, and it does so. But instead of delving into a several-episode-long arc in the realm of post-traumatic stress from her capture, which had been her brother's narrative hallmark for so long, her problems are much more physical in nature.
See, she's got a nasty shrapnel wound in her abdomen that simply cannot heal, and the one person who feels confident about trying to treat it is her (former?) fiance's new gal, Meredith. This of course foists a heap of problems on everyone's lap: Riggs is reluctant to tell Megan he'd moved on, and especially with whom he'd moved on; Teddy (Kim Raver)'s back in town and thinks it's totally inappropriate for Dr. Grey to even think about scrubbing in on Megan's procedure; and Riggs has exactly zero idea what his heart wants right now.
Speaking of Teddy, her arrival, too, causes some moral conundrums. Owen and Amelia (Catarina Scorsone) have not been okay for a long, long time, and it's clear to everyone — especially Amelia — that Teddy's got more than just a platonic fascination with her husband. He wants so badly to give Amelia the time and space she needs, but there's pressure on the homefront to make a decision to terminate his "sham of a marriage," especially by Teddy. But Teddy doesn't want him while he's still damaged goods, either. She knows well enough that if they get together in the wake of his marriage's decline, they'll both regret it, and they owe it to themselves to do it right, if they're going to. Which ... yeah, they're probably going to.
Anyway, while Riggs and Owen quibble over who gets to be the bearer of bad news to Megan about her surgeon's sexual history with her would-be husband, Meredith has already stepped up and beats them to the punch. Neither of the women care; in fact, they both recognize there's a compliment to be found in the fact that they're both such awesome ladies. Riggs has good taste in women, it seems.
Mer's nothing if not a pro, and even if she is, as Karev (Justin Chambers) suggests, trying to be the doctor Derek never had when he needed it, she's still confident in her skills to tackle the case. But her geometry must be a bit rusty because once she gets in to repair Megan's innards, she's forgotten to take into full account the mass of tissue she'll need to close the wound. So, Megan's stuck in a wrap bag that's subbing as belly skin, and she has no shot of going to rescue the Syrian refugee she's taken in and desperately wants to adopt.
Instead of new surgical interns this year, we're getting "sub-interns," which is basically a gaggle of the nerdiest med students who have no idea what they're doing in or around an OR and basically just get in the way with the iPad addiction. But one in particular, called "Glasses" for his flub in dropping his specs into the cavity of a child whose procedure he's observing, manages to track down a dying trauma patient who's got an abdomen that can probably be transplanted onto Megan to make her good as new.
Now, we'd be remiss to overlook the fact that Meredith knows about Megan's adoptee and interest in returning overseas, so maybe there is some kind of ulterior motive to her hurried determination in getting her all patched up. She tells Megan she's only ever had one love in her life, Derek, but that's not completely convincing .... At least until she walks in to deliver the good news of the newfound donor and finds Riggs re-proposing to Megan.
It does nothing to shake her confidence in the operating room, of course, and Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) spends most of the episode in awe of how much Ellis Grey he's seeing in her lately, but it still throws a major wrench in her approach to this whole situation with Megan's return. At first, she seemed to tread lightly, letting things fall into place as they may, but when Riggs tells Meredith that Megan rejected his proposal and thinks he's still in love with her ... both of them are unsure of what to do with that information.
A similar conundrum is happening with Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams) and Maggie Pierce (Kelly McCreary), by the way. April (Sarah Drew) has expressed her suspicions that there's some kind of sexual tension brewing between them, and neither of them seem to overtly disagree with that. Their conversations are totally awkward, but there's still some stolen glances and bumbled jokes that betray an interest.
But Jackson's still got April in the wings. April didn't just take Montana as a random hook-up — he, of all people, should know that she doesn't do casual sex. These days it's not so much about her religious fidelity as it is her own respect for her emotional well-being, and she knows that if Jackson's just going to compartmentalize their intimate moments as minor details, she can't be there anymore. Baby or none, she needs to move out. The Japril era just might be coming to an end. Sob.
As exciting as their relationship was, can we ever fully jump aboard the Jaggie/Mackson 'ship? Maggie does deserve a romantic win, but this seems a little too soon, doesn't it?
The good(ish) news is that, after an ill-fated hook-up of desperation-slash-distraction with Glasses, Jo (Camille Luddington) comes to realize that Alex isn't a danger to her. Although Bailey (Chandra Wilson) won't tolerate Ben "The New Stephanie" Warren (Jason George) downplaying Jo's petrification over seeing Alex beat up on DeLuca (Giancomo Gianniotti), she does think that Alex is harmless, where Jo's concerned. Once Jo learns that Alex opted not to kill her ex-husband, even after tracking him down and having the chance, the two finally reunite for some sexy time.
Meanwhile, Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) finds herself in yet another intraoffice relationship. Gaw, this woman really needs to get away from fellow hospital types doesn't she? This time, it's not her fault, though. After being ghosted by Minnick — and thoroughly surprised by the prolificacy of that millennial term, by the way — she hits up the usual bar and meets a woman who turns out to be DeLuca's big sister who speaks Italian and just so happens to be an OB/GYN.
The new Dr. DeLuca, it turns out, is on a mission to meet Bailey, who's got the rare distinction of being a female Chief of Surgery. Just as Bailey is ready to throw away her high heels to defy the patriarchy, here comes a woman who's studying women's cranial reactions to orgasms. The goal is to create a Viagra-like drug for women, but it has the added benefit of letting ladies learn a little something about how their brains work. She's given the greenlight to use their MRI machines for this study right away because why the heck not?
And that study comes in handy very quickly, too. After Amelia defies some of Avery's mansplaining about the merits of her attempt to relieve a kid of the all-consuming pain of a jaw tumor — which, to be fair to him, does require some reluctant scrubbing in of his own — she decides to treat herself to some time in the MRI (which should now be an acronym for Masturbation Room Incognito). Only, instead of getting to see her brain light up like the Fourth of July at climax time, she comes out to discover the image of a "beautiful" frontal lobe tumor that belongs to — UH OH — none other than Amelia Shepherd herself, who is probably the only person alive who could or would ever try to operate on it.
Stephanie Edwards couldn't have left at a worse time, guys.
Grey's Anatomy airs Thursday nights at 8/7c on ABC.