It's April's wedding day, and she's in a tizzy trying to herd bridesmaids, none of whom have yet shown up for any fittings. She brings seamstresses to the hospital to get Cristina and Meredith ready, which also forces them to be in the same room with each other and they finally start to get to the meat of their problems with one another. Earlier, Cristina had a press conference regarding Nathan's successful surgery, but she seems tongue-tied and awkward. She admits to Mere that was because she doesn't know what she did that made the conduit start working -- it was the surgical equivalent to hitting the side of a TV to get the picture right. This riles Mere up that Cristina is so brilliant she can be amazing even when she has no idea what she's doing. Mere finally admits she's super jealous of Cristina and can't get over Cristina calling her a mediocre surgeon. Cristina yells back that Mere has basically called her a terrible human being. And on and on they fight. This continues right up until they arrive for the actual wedding, and Cristina admits that now she's alone and that's sad because she thought she'd have Mere at this point in her life. They might maybe be fighting their way to a breakthrough, but April finally loses it and points out that she is supposed to be the center of attention, and she needs them to make her feel special. To their credit, they drop what they are doing and do just that.
It's not going to help Mere's insecurity when she finds out that Derek is being pursued hard by a group wanting to do a brain mapping project, which has been funded by some sort of presidential initiative, and they want him to be a consultant. Derek tells them he doesn't have the time, much to Owen's disappointment, and actually sticks to his guns through a rather hard sell. He then tells Owen that they are just trying to get government funding by using his name to sweeten their proposal, and it has nothing to do with the President wanting the brain mapped. Later, Mere thanks him for supporting her and giving her time to do her research, saying she knows he's turning down an awful lot of things for her. What she doesn't know is that the President himself calls Derek during April's wedding to try and talk him into the project personally.
Princess is still trying to help James, and Alex goes to have a talk with him which goes well for a little while but then disintegrates and winds up with Alex yelling that he became the man he was only because James left them. However, Alex then has to treat a kid who got in a horrible accident, and whose father was so terrified that he drove him to the hospital himself and in doing so probably paralyzed his own son. The dad beats himself up for possibly ruining his child's life and it being all his fault, and Alex sees his own life reflected, and he goes back to James and says that he knows he did the best that he could. However, he also wants nothing to do with him and after forgiving him, wishes him luck with his other family. What he has no way of knowing is that might be the last time he ever has a chance to talk to him, as James has a heart attack or something similar. Since almost all of the doctors are at the wedding, Smash -- hyped up on energy drinks and his own ego from sleeping and working with Cristina -- yells at Leah that he can do the surgery himself. They get to the OR and things go horribly wrong, and Leah runs and gets Richard (on his first day back) to assist. Richard finds Smash in a full-on meltdown about Heather, convinces him to go rest, and then frantically takes over trying to save James. Alex, when he arrives at the wedding, finds Princess and desperately makes her promise that they are all of the family that they each will ever need.
Bailey is back at work but Ben notices that she's giving surgeries to interns (which she would never do before) and trying to figure out new research and suggests that she is trying to avoid actually doing surgery. She shoots back that he's a big old quitting quitter, and then points out that her OCD symptoms got worse once he came home. Nothing much happens for them from there other than that they look crazy uncomfortable sitting next to each other to celebrate April and Matthew's love. In other couple news, Callie is trying really hard to make things okay with Arizona but keeps talking about her research and how it's moving forward and possibly going to be able to make Arizona as good as she was before. Arizona's having a hard time with it because she finally likes who she is now and wants to be loved just for that -- which is basically why she had the affair in the first place.
Finally, Jackson and Stephanie are working together on a case involving a patient and his wife who are totally cute and in love. Things of course go tragically wrong for the patient but while it's all going on Jackson remembers Mark's advice to tell someone you love them, even if it destroys your life. Stephanie almost tells Jackson she loves him but chickens out, and it's all for the best, because, as we all sort of suspected might happen… Jackson stands up in the middle of Jackson and Matthew's wedding and declares that he loves April and thinks she loves him too.Want more? The full recap starts right below!
"Failure is an inevitability." Thanks, Meredith, for starting us off on such a high note for this Winter finale. Though really she's talking about medical research and breakthroughs like she has before, and it's true, and all the doctors we know who came up with nifty things like the polio vaccine are the ones who refused to take "no" for an answer. Currently, it looks like one of those doctors is Cristina -- she's doing a press conference with Owen and Smash about Baby Nathan's successful groundbreaking surgery. However, she's totally tentative and stuttering, and refuses to say anything other than that she's cautiously optimistic that the surgery will be a success. She sees Mere glaring at her from the back of the room, which surely isn't helping her insecurity. Owen is a little bit worried about her, while Smash looks annoyed and fidgets. Finally, he grabs the microphone away from Cristina to shout that she hit a home run and thanks to her, "Baby Nathan" is thriving this morning. Wait a minute, we know that's his name, but is the press supposed to know that given all of last week's privacy concerns. No one mentions it though, and the crowd all gathers in a big round of applause. Mere does clap but she then leaves, and Cristina totally sees and that distraction may be all that kept her from throttling Smash in front of the crowd.
Mere and Steph go and zip up their poor sheep carcass; while they do Mere forces them to stay positive and says that they will print another vein from new material, and do new research, and will learn from this setback. Fortunately this time, Steph isn't crying.
Ben and Bailey come upon Richard gazing at the surgery board and notice that he's down for a procedure; he's breaking himself in with a small easy one that he scheduled for the time that everyone else would be gone at April's wedding so there was no fuss. Ben sees that Bailey has a long surgery scheduled herself but she assures him she'll be on time for the nuptials, and they share a sweet kiss before he leaves. Bailey is still fiddling with her hands a little bit but it's nothing at all like the purposeful, orderly yanking of her fingers. Richard asks her if the medication is working and she grumbles a yes, but while she seems like she doesn't want to admit she's using it, she also seems happy and proud to be doing better. Richard tells her she's proud of her, and she glows a little from his praise, trying to brush it off.
After the conference call, Owen, Cristina and Smash walk out and Smash crows that he thought it went well. Cristina is super annoyed, though, and tells him he must be over his hours, and he should take the day off. She also points out that he doesn't know when to keep his mouth shut. Smash gets all defensive about his work, Cristina gets all funny about the case, and finally Owen breaks in and points out that Smash said what needed to be said while Cristina just sort of froze up there. Smash is almost manically punching his fingers into the screen of one of the tablets and then puts it in Cristina's face, proving that he's only worked 68 of his 80 hours. Owen then leaves them, and Cristina tells Smash she's worried that he's going too fast, and she's not the only one who noticed. He demands to know who was badmouthing him but Cristina keeps that to herself and over his protestations and questions she finally tells him he's going to burn himself out. He takes a different approach and puts his hand on her arm, saucily telling her he thinks that what she really needs is to work off some steam. Men, a little note: if anyone -- man, woman, partner, friend -- is saying this kind of thing, don't try to suppose you know what their "real" problem is. Especially if it's that they should have sex with you. Unsurprisingly, Cristina shoots him down and in fact tells him that they are over. Smash tries to claim that the only reason on earth he's been sticking it to her is to relax her, and then he begs her not to shut him out. Cristina is unmoved, and just orders him to go home.