Now that they are back in Seattle with results in hand, the gang parties at Meredith's house like it's Season 1 again. Cristina did so well that Mayo offers her the world, so they are now in the running with Columbia and Stanford. Mere is determined to stay in Seattle but Harvard is offering Derek the moon and stars so that he's equipped to go ahead and cure Alzheimer's, and between that and his having family on the East Coast he seriously wants to consider going. He's also mildly miffed because he knows that Mere is trying to tie her decision to Cristina's. In fact, Mere tries to make Cristina's decision for her and tells her she is going to Stanford but Cristina isn't so sure. They have a talk where Cristina finally tells her that she has to make the decision on her own, and informs Mere that Owen is her person now, not Meredith. She goes to Owen and the two actually have sex in an on-call room; for the first time in weeks Owen admits to being happy even though he knows it doesn't change anything. And boy, is he right... because she then tells him sadly that she's leaving.
Mark is freaking out after Lexie's big confession and doesn't know what to do because Julia wants to give him everything he has ever wanted, but he's still in love with Lexie, who doesn't want those things. He runs into her a couple of times and is weirdly polite and sweet, while she's still mortified, and we don't see him yet come to any decision.
Bailey and Ben are also having a weird day. It's a day off for both of them so he makes breakfast and mimosas and has the New York Times crossword puzzle for them to do together in bed. But as he goes to deliver the tray, he finds her dressed and ready to run to the hospital for a surgery. He's pissed, but winds up going in with her because what else would he do? The case turns out to be unusual and revolting -- the patient picked up some kind of parasitic worm in Thailand and Derek has to go in to remove it from the guy's spine where it is now nesting. The bickering B's are both in the OR with him and Meredith and when Ben won't stop bitching about them missing the crossword, Bailey goes and pulls it out of his bag and starts theatrically answering questions. There's some confusion about one of the clues and finally Ben shouts at her that the answer is, "Will you marry me?" and he knows this because he put the whole crossword together and intended to propose with it. That night at home, Bailey comes home in nothing but lingerie and a trench coat and asks him to propose again. But he's now sad and confused because he just got an offer from UCLA to be a surgical intern -- something he had applied for back when they broke up after the shooting -- and so their whole future is now up in the air.
Arizona's friend Nick is still in the hospital though she has avoided him for days. He finally decides that he's not going through with the surgery (to get a tumor out of his heart) because he doesn't think it's worth it to try and postpone his life just for an additional few months, especially if much of that time would be spent in pain. Callie finally forces Arizona to pull her head out and go talk to him, and she does, and he agrees to go through with it. Once Teddy and Cristina are inside, though, they discover it's progressed too far and there's nothing they can do. When he wakes up Arizona has to tell him that it's too late, and then he starts to beat himself up for being an idiot and not calling her sooner for help. Later, Arizona pleads with Callie to promise never to leave because after going through losing her brother and now imminently losing Nick, she can't go through anything like this ever again. Callie of course promises that she's not going anywhere.
And then, just when it looks like Arizona's day can't get any worse, she finds out that Alex might be leaving after all. It turns out that one of his examiners happened to be Chief of Surgery at Johns Hopkins, and he seemed to enjoy Alex's attitude and wants to create a position just for him. Richard coaches Alex on how to play Hopkins and Seattle against each other to get even better offers from both. He does, and sure enough they both throw insanely generous packages at him. (Though Owen is not happy about what it's going to do to his budget.) When Arizona hears this through the grapevine she hits the roof, and then when she realizes Alex actually is going to go to Hopkins she pulls him off of his next case -- he and a bunch of the other docs were going to Boise to go help separate conjoined twins, but now Arizona is going in his place.
As the team (Mark, Derek, Meredith, Cristina, Arizona, and, I believe, Lexie) gets ready to leave Meredith tells Cristina that she's going to Boston, and Cristina tells her that she's going to Mayo, and both of them seem content with their decisions though also sad to leave each other. While they are having that conversation, April is drowning her sorrows across the street at Joe's because every one of her offers was pulled -- including Seattle (I believe because Owen's tight budget got tighter after the Alex thing, though that's not explicitly stated). Jackson has been trying to talk to her about their hookup but she doesn't want to and so he's left trying to talk to Mark. Mark is too wrapped up in his own issues, so Jackson of course blows up when talking to a patient and we learn that he might have feelings for April and has no idea what to do about it. He goes to Joe's to find her and they almost kiss, but she then thinks he just feels guilty for sleeping with her and beginning the landslide that led to her failing. She runs out of the bar and yells at him to leave her alone.
But as it turns out, there might be an open position for April after all next year, because the last scene of the episode is the WRECKAGE OF THE PLANE CARRYING EVERYONE ELSE.
Here it is, my darlings -- the penultimate episode of this eighth season of Grey's Anatomy. Meredith's weekly VO talks about migrating swallows while Owen writes residents' names on a whiteboard and he and the other attendings discuss their migration. The only difference is that, presumably, the residents aren't then coming back to Seattle when the seasons change again. OR ARE THEY? Well, we'll have to see. The attendings are all giving Owen info on where the residents have received offers. Avery has offers from USC, Penn, Tulane and Emory and the last two are pushing hard. Oooh, yes, come to Atlanta, my friend. Fine, fine, yes, the show is imaginary and this wouldn't mean I'd actually see him. But STILL. Meredith is still deciding between Boston and Seattle and Owen warns Derek that he wants an answer soon since her choosing Boston would mean he's also losing his well-coiffed top neurosurgeon too. There's an awkward moment when Owen has to ask where his wife is considering going; after an uncomfortable pause Teddy tells him that Columbia and Stanford are both in it but she's confident Cristina will stay. Arizona has the only solid piece of good news and she proudly announces that Alex is going to stay.
Owen reminds them all that they need to know what everyone is doing soon, in case he needs to start hiring some new doctors. I just pray that if he does, they aren't featured characters because this cast has just gotten too huge. He then reminds them that they will be helping Boise Memorial with a conjoined twin surgery and everyone going should be in the lobby ready to leave the following night at 10 PM. After everyone files out Richard tells him that he should be proud that he trained the kids so well but Owen points out that Richard is the one who should be proud as he is the one who actually trained them. Richard beams and doesn't feign modesty -- he's bursting with pride.
As they are talking, the brilliant future doctors of tomorrow are partying like it's 2005 with tequila shots, loud music, and drunken jumpy dancing. (Let's not do anything silly like try to correct the timeline to adjust for how many seasons it took them all to get through their first two years of residency -- then we might all need tequila shots when our heads threaten to explode.) By the looks of Meredith's house, there were approximately a million other residents at Seattle Grace who all just took their boards -- the downstairs is packed. Mere and Cristina are gleefully screaming about how awesome they did while they dance to Sexy and I Know It. April is drunkenly chair dancing while Avery tries to get her to talk about what they did, but she's absolutely determined not to discuss it and just slurs to him that they are still friends and it's all good. She then jumps up and runs over to dance with Mere and Cristina but she's so manic and spastic that she scares them all a little.