If there is one thing we know about Grey's Anatomy, it's that they like to make their catastrophes BIG. And this season premiere is no exception, as a sinkhole the size of half a football field opens up in a Seattle street and swallows a married couple, Danny and Susannah (as well as a bunch of other folks), who had been bitterly fighting right before the ground swallowed them whole. Susannah winds up pinned under her car, unconscious, and the only way to get her out is to amputate her leg. Owen and Callie are called to the scene but it's too dangerous to send them down below, so they are to talk this poor dude through cutting off his wife's leg. Danny does an admirable job and makes it to the bone before melting down, so Owen goes in and finishes the job, and they all make it to the hospital.
Meredith and Cristina are living together and seem to have fallen into a pattern of taking care of Zola. Their men, meanwhile, are working together on Derek's house and telling each other they don't care about the women. I actually kind of believe Derek, but not Owen. Derek's still livid and it makes him even pettier than usual as he refuses to even speak to or look at his wife once they get to work and she hands over their daughter. Meredith's day doesn't get any better when Richard calls her in and tells her that the Board ordered him to fire her. When Cristina finds out, she wants Meredith to come up with plan; when Meredith finally decides her plan is to try just being a mom, Cristina thinks she is joking. Cristina, despite Teddy having finally taken her back on to her service, is having her own hard day as she hasn't yet terminated the pregnancy, but has it scheduled for that evening. She's still torn up inside and heartbroken about her crumbled relationship, but Owen won't even take her calls so he has no idea she hasn't gone through with it yet. At the end of her own crappy day, Meredith can't handle it anymore and orders Owen to at least talk to his wife: she tells him that the termination hasn't yet happened yet but implores him to try and understand Cristina. She has a unique perspective, as the child of a career-driven surgeon who never wanted a child.
Meredith's outburst also has to do with the stress of having run into Janet, who is finishing up the home study so Zola can become a permanent Grey-Shepherd. Because Meredith is a horrible liar, Janet can tell something is wrong. She also asks Derek some questions, and Derek blows his lid with Meredith for possibly screwing up the adoption. Meredith also neglected to mention her firing, so when Janet finds out she starts to make some very worried noises. Mere says she's going to get Derek so that they can all talk about it together, but instead she grabs Zola from the nursery and sneaks out of the hospital.
Finally, everybody except for Arizona hates Alex, a new batch of interns has arrived, and it's April's first day as Chief Resident. She's predictably ineffective since no one will listen to anything she says, but things reach a boiling point when there's a mix-up and Bailey and Lexie almost end up operating on the wrong patient. Bailey, tired of watching this parade of ineptitude, has been saying all day they need a "Gunther," what- or whoever that might be. She finally calls all of the residents together and storms around the ER, checking out different patients' charts looking for some unknown until she finds Callie working on Susannah and declares that she's finally got their Gunther.
Welcome to season 8, dear readers! I hope everyone had a good summer -- I spent mine moving from one coast to the other, so now I watch Grey's three hours earlier than I used to. I live in the FUTURE. Because of everything that went on with my summer, when this episode started with Mackenzie Astin eating a bowl of cereal I had a moment where I worried that I had completely forgotten some new character already. I mean, it seemed a little weird for the opening shot to be of some random new guy. His name is Danny, and his wife Susannah walks into the room and they bicker about his not buying groceries. It seems that Danny is out of work. Once I realized that I wasn't suffering memory loss and that these really were two random people I expected something horrible to befall one or both of them, but they just argue and Meredith starts her voiceover about good marriages that fail: one minute you're on solid ground, and the next you are not.
At the Broken Home for Wayward Doctors, Zola starts to cry and Mere jumps right out of bed, saying she'll get the bottle while her bedmate changes Zola's diaper. Her bedmate isn't her husband, though -- it's Cristina, and the two of them seem to have their system pretty down pat so it's unclear how long this has been going on. Mere voiceovers about how there are always two versions of the story of a breakup: yours and theirs.
Speaking of "theirs," Derek and Owen are doing some kind of stonework at Derek's house. I think maybe he's building a big backyard grill? Which might make more sense if he'd made any more headway on getting actual walls put up in the actual house first? Derek asks Owen how Meredith is doing but Owen hasn't actually spoken to his own wife and insists he doesn't care. Make a note of the moment when Derek asked that question, because it will be the only moment that he seems to genuinely be concerned even a tiny smidgen how Meredith is actually doing. Owen asks, too quickly, if Derek wants him to ask but Derek says he doesn't care, and while Owen is clearly trying to convince himself of his hardened feelings, Derek seems to mean it quite honestly.
With the sound of Zola's crying come from the next room, a sweaty and naked Lexie gives up on the sex she was trying to have, insisting she can't do it with a baby from a broken home in the next room. I like the idea that she could totally do it if Meredith and Derek were still getting along, though. She and her kicky new bangs fall back into bed beside Jackson. He's got no problems with crying children and manages to use his sexy voice and gorgeous eyes to convince Lexie it's just the two of them and they get back down to business.