So far, this season has not been bothering with much levity and this episode pretty much sticks to that trend. The lightest -- still not actually much fun, but the lightest -- storyline is Bailey's, who is crabby about the new attendings taking over the lounge. She gets busy trying to implement a lot of rules to try and get them to behave and not treat the lounge like a frat house and when that doesn't work, Richard finally gets her to admit that she's upset because she took Tuck to his first day of kindergarten and he totally happily let go of her hand and had none of the tears she had been expecting. She feels like Tuck, the new attendings and Ben all have new and exciting things in their lives while she's stuck doing the same old boring general surgeries. Richard points out to her that this actually gives her time to try out something new and great for herself -- like inventing a Bailey Method -- and presumably a foundation is laid for a more interesting storyline than Bailey losing her edge and angrily cleaning out microwaves.
April reappears and assumes her old job, which shocks all of her old coworkers since Hunt didn’t bother to mention to anyone (except Cristina) that he hired her back. She's equally surprised to see Jackson since she thought he'd gone to Tulane and the two of them hadn't spoken on account of all of their unresolved sexual tension. April is working on trying to "re-virginize" herself with a lot of prayer so she tells him that they have to just pretend that The Sex never happened since this is her chance to start over with a blank slate. He throws himself a pretty large pity party before deciding that this idea sucks and he's not going to go along with it; unsurprisingly they wind up jumping each other's bones when their love/lust/whatever it will ultimately be called can no longer be denied.
Alex is assigned Princess Catherine as an intern and when Callie warns him not to sleep with this one like he has all the others, he gets mean and doesn't let her scrub in on a cool foot-reattaching surgery. (Because of course he and Callie would get a case like that right now.) Duchess Cathy winds up once again breaking down in tears, but Alex actually softens and while he points out that she is getting crappy work because she's an intern and that is her job, he also offers to let her scrub in on a surgery the next day. I strongly suspect we are also supposed to think that love might blossom between them since she makes a point of telling him just how uninterested she is. But this is an instinct I have from watching this show for so many seasons and not from their chemistry, which is about as hot as the connection between me and my coffee table. We'll see.
The big event though, is that the airline comes and meets with the crash victims (with Owen representing Cristina and Callie representing Mark and Arizona) and offers them a settlement -- while the amount is never stated, it's agreed among all of the parties that it is "life-changing." But in order to take it, the decision has to be unanimous among all the victims. Cristina is back to work at Mayo, having promised to be a team player there and since all of her energy is focused there she tells Owen and Mere that she genuinely doesn't care and will go along with whatever they all decide. She spends a lot of the time on the phone with Owen and there seems to be a tiny cautious spark forming again between them but eventually she tells him that they have to stop talking and move on because her life is in Minnesota now. Dr. Parker doesn’t believe that she's really ready to drink the Mayo Kool-Aid so as a test he makes it her job to work solely with Mr. Feeny. She grits her teeth and agrees to it, but she has a really difficult time mustering up a convincing desire to become one of the gang. Eventually, though, she and Feeny start to bond over Feeny's special heart-stitching method and also over the fact that he was in a plane crash too, in Vietnam.
Back in Seattle, the others all ponder the pros and cons of the settlement. Mere and Derek discuss it in the new house, to which they have finally moved. Callie tries to discuss it with Arizona, but Arizona is still sullen and angry and pointedly tells Callie that she should go ahead and make the decision for her since that is what she does best. The next day Callie learns some important lessons from dealing with her almost-foot-amputation patient and her parents, so she comes home from work and announces that Arizona has to go along to the settlement meeting that night. But she finds an upset Arizona in the bathroom, having soiled herself after trying to make it to the toilet alone. They have a knock-down, screaming fight as Callie pulls Arizona into the shower and Callie finally pleads that Arizona has to stop treating her like this because Callie's life is pretty hellish now, too. Arizona does stop yelling for the moment, but later on we see that Callie is once again representing her at the meeting.
Everyone sounds like they are about to agree to the settlement when Derek speaks up -- he talked a worker into letting him in to the hanger where he could look at all of the pieces of their plane which have been laid out for the crash investigation and that gave him a lot of food for thought as well as some horrific flashbacks. He also spoke to Richard about an old lawsuit against the hospital and learns that it's pretty standard that, "The bigger the mistake, the bigger the payout." He convinces everyone that they can't let the airline off the hook like that and instead have to force the issue so that they figure out what went wrong and insure that it never happens to anyone else. They all are moved by his words and unanimously decide to reject the offer.
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Surgeons don't compromise; they do what it takes and defy death all they can. So begins Meredith's voiceover this week as she (presumably on Lexie's behalf as well as her own), Derek, Callie (on behalf of Mark and Arizona) and Owen (representing Cristina) are sitting at a conference table facing a man in a suit, while a woman walks behind them and lists the deaths and devastating injuries from the crash. The man they are facing is the lawyer for the aeronautics company, and I presume he's better at lawyering than enunciating because I finally had to take to Google to learn that the company he is representing is called Bayview Aeronautics and not BlahBlah Aeronautics as I had finally taken to calling it in my notes. He starts to deliver some canned condolences but Mere and Derek interrupt him to find out the status of the crash investigation. He tells them that the investigation could take years, and his client wants to help them put the crash behind them. Their attorney -- the woman who listed all of the tragic outcomes earlier -- rightly points out that his client is probably the one who most wants to put this behind them. He doesn't take the bait but just calmly tells everyone that he is there to offer a one-time settlement which, when the paper with the figure is passed around, raises everyone's eyebrows. The catch is that the decision to accept has to be unanimous.
We never learn the exact amount, but whatever it is, it's enough to make Cristina sit up in bed and gasp. She's on the phone with Owen, who is in his own bed in Seattle, and he tells her that they need an answer in three days. He then asks her how she has been and she's more thoughtful and gentle than we've heard in... well, in I don't know how long. She tells him she'll call when she decides. (Kevin McKidd is directing the next episode, so he's not actually doing much this hour since he was presumably preparing for his directorial turn. The director of THIS episode was Debbie Allen, reminding us that she can actually do anything. I love her so very much.)
When I first saw Meredith and Derek cuddling in an unfamiliar bed without the spine tumor drawing on the wall above them, I assumed they were inexplicably at a fancy hotel and it was only later in the episode that I realized they are now living in their new house. They discuss whether or not to take the settlement but then decide to just go to sleep. Derek asks Meredith if she wants the lights on or off and she replies that she wants to leave them on. As the camera pulls back we see that this room has a lot of lights; she's still suffering even if she doesn't have the physical scars that the others do.