Izzie has been lying on her bathroom floor in her prom dress all night, mourning Denny. When Meredith decides to start cooking food (okay, "making sandwiches") to help Izzie cope, Cristina decides that what they're actually doing is sitting shiva. This offers a fine opportunity for flashbacks, including the intern mixer where Izzie meets Alex and Cristina meets Burke, and the bar where McDreamy picks up Mere for the first time.
Addison has discovered Meredith's forgotten panties from her prom tryst with McDreamy. She doesn't have time to do anything with them yet, because two things happen in the E.R. First, there's an outbreak of the plague. No, really. Derek and George are quarantined in the locker room, while the infected woman they performed surgery on dies, and her husband -- Eugene (!), also sick, also quarantined -- is freaking out, more than a little bit. Bailey, feeling guilty and shaken by Denny's death, attempts to tend to Eugene through the sealed door. The second thing is a baby that's found in a high school trash can, and Addison and Alex have to figure out who the mother is from a line-up of four fourteen-year-old prep school girls and their "not my daughter" parents.
Adele shows up and tells Richard he has to retire or he'll lose her. Callie and Finn show up (separately) at Mere's house and have a lovely conversation about how doctors are just arrested adolescents, while Meredith proves Callie's point by hiding from Finn in Izzie's bathroom. Derek's time in quarantine convinces him that he wants Meredith, for real, and he tells her so. Now it's her turn to be feckless and indecisive! Addison eventually sniffs out the baby's mother, which gives her another opportunity to be completely fucking awesome, and then she takes Meredith's whore panties and pins them to a bulletin board at the hospital, under "Lost and Found." And, when she finally gets sick of all the flashbacks, Izzie decides to get up off the floor and into some clean clothes.
Welcome back! Let's get to it.
We open with shots of a generic OR. Meredith voice-overs, "In the OR, time loses all meaning. In the midst of sutures and saving lives, the clock ceases to matter. 15 minutes? 15 hours? Inside the OR, the best surgeons make time fly. Outside the OR, however, time takes pleasure in kicking our asses." Meredith, still in her dress from last season's finale, bangs on the front door of the hospital (she's...locked out?), then runs out into the rain. "For even the strongest of us, it seems to play tricks." Webber sits alone in the empty room where the prom was held. MereVO: "Slowing down. Hovering." Addison sits on the bed in the trailer. She's got McDreamy's coat on, and she's carefully inspecting the black pair of panties she's just pulled out of its pocket. Her face is contorted in pain. Oh, shit! MereVO: "Until it freezes. Leaving us stuck in a moment." We switch to an overhead shot of Izzie, lying on the cold bathroom floor of Meredith's house, still in her pink prom dress. Poor Izzie. Outside the door, the rest of the interns try to get her to come out. George says they have to do something, and they all look at Meredith. She's all, "Why are you looking at me?" Cristina says this is familiar territory for her. Mere: "There is nothing familiar about this. Unfamiliar!" She reminds them that Denny, the man Izzie loves, died. Cristina: "Yeah, but you're all dark and twisty inside." Heh. Meredith scrunches her face up in confusion, and they all start listing off reasons she's dark and twisty. "The Alzheimer's thing. The father you don't talk to." "The tequila thing. The inappropriate men." Hee. That last one was from Alex, which on my first viewing, I misheard as "inappropriate bed-wetting." Probably also true. She certainly always looks like she has to pee really bad. George says someone has to go in there. They all regard the bathroom door with trepidation. Aw, go on in, Mere. You can relieve yourself WHILE you comfort Izzie!
On the other side of the bathroom door, Izzie starts hearing voices. She's not going crazy(er), it's just a flashback. We hear ticking, like the stopwatch on 60 Minutes, to indicate that we're going back, back, back in time! Webber's disembodied voice tells the interns to look around and say hello to their competition. Izzie holds her hand out and introduces herself to someone off-screen. "Hi!" she says brightly. "Izzie Stevens, Washington!" She's wearing a sweet little headband and a dress that looks like it sprung fully-formed from the head of Laura Ashley. The person whose hand she's shaking is revealed to be Alex. He gives her a look like, "THIS is the competition? Score." Izzie blabs that it's so nice of the hospital to give them this chance to meet each other. We see Cristina off to the side, glaring at everyone from the depths of her leather jacket. George stands around looking miserable. Meredith is actually having a normal conversation with someone, and looks happier than we've seen her since. Alex tells Izzie the party's just an excuse to get the interns drunk before they're tortured. He asks Izzie what program she's in, and is astounded to find out she's in surgery. She's all, "You don't think I can be a surgeon? I can be a surgeon. I'm hard-core." Alex takes a swig of his beer. "You won't last the first year, babe."