S8E8: Grey's Anatomy really pulled out all the stops tonight and helped remind fans why we loved the show in the first place. Meredith and Derek finally get some answers regarding their guardianship of Zola, but oddly enough that's the least exciting part of the episode. The Teddy/Henry story turned out to be especially gripping, not simply because Henry's life is on the line, but also due to the rather unusual circumstances under which his surgery has to be performed - with Cristina unknowingly holding the reigns. Predictably, this transforms Teddy into a big ball of nerves, but a surgical slip up on Avery's part offers her a significant distraction through the majority of her husband's surgery, which turns out to be a lot more severe than everyone originally thought.
In other news, Meredith and Alex are involved in a life-threatening situation when they travel to a neighboring hospital to tend to a sick newborn. Everything seems to be going smoothly at first, but on the way back to Seattle Grace, the ambulance gets stranded in the middle of the road, with no lights and tons of explosive oxygen on board. It's not good for the incubated baby and not good for Alex and Meredith. Of course, neither is willing to leave the baby behind, which leaves them both in harm's way, which leads to some pretty serious consequences.
A tragic death, a shocking cliffhanger, and an ending that leaves more than one doctor's career in the balance? Sounds like the perfect way to end their mid-season finale. Grey's used to pride itself on pulling at fans' heartstrings and tonight was definitely one of those nights that had you continuously reaching for the tissues.
"I'm never going to see her again." - Meredith
Meredith receives a phone call from the adoption counselor who informs her that she and Derek would not be getting Zola back. The news hits her pretty hard and makes her tell Derek that she doesn't want to have another baby after all of this, which leaves Derek blaming himself for pushing the whole adoption thing on her in the first place. I really hope this isn't the end of the adoption story because there's been too much of a build-up regarding this plot to let it just end with a phone call. Something tells me this isn't the last we'll see of Zola in their lives.
Meanwhile, Callie and Avery are both potentially facing a malpractice suit after they discover one of the screws they placed inside their patient is tearing the poor woman's heart apart. It's still unknown if the screw just came loose on its own or if Avery didn't do the procedure properly, but either way it's bad news and Callie blames herself for not monitoring Avery better during the procedure. But depending upon the outcome, this could be the end to both Callie and Avery's careers, not just at Seattle Grace but at any hospital in general.
"She's a machine. She won't care he's my husband." - Teddy
Last week's episode ended with Henry spitting up blood, which meant this week he goes back under the knife. But since there was no way Teddy would be allowed to operate on her own husband, who's the right candidate for the job? Teddy insists on having emotionally-disconnected Cristina perform the surgery without letting her know who she is operating on. This left all the doctors on edge as they watched Cristina hold Henry's life in her unknowing hands, but the tumor has caused too much damage and he ends up dying on the table. The whole thing is absolutely heartbreaking, from Richard's refusal to end the chest compressions to Cristina's devastating realization of the patient's true identity. It was a complete emotional rollercoaster that Grey's pulled off to a fault. And on top of all that, Teddy still has no idea Henry died under her fellow doctor's watch, so there's no doubt that discovery is going to be another heart wrenching moment. I fear Cristina and Teddy's relationship may never be the same again after all this.
"I can't be responsible for you not having kids." - Alex
When the ambulance breaks down with an incubated baby on board, Meredith and Alex are faced with a tough decision: do they stay in the ambulance even though it's basically an oxygen powder keg waiting to explode or do they risk taking the baby out into the middle of a storm? But while they debate the situation and have a little heart-to-heart, something hits the ambulance and seriously knocks them around. Luckily, there was no explosion, but the trail of dead bodies they later find outside makes me deeply concerned that Alex and Meredith aren't out of the woods quite yet.
The pacing of the plot was very different in this episode, but in such a great way. There was a slow, gradual build-up to each of the climatic moments, which left all of us just waiting for that other shoe to drop. Grey's has seriously been lacking in suspense all season, so I'd almost forgotten what it was like to see the characters handle such dark and dire situations. But these exciting, new plot points should be enough to keep fans interested well into the second half of the season.