Michael Desmond/ABC
Jennifer Armstrong
September 25, 2009 AT 04:00 PM EDT

Well, Happy Fall TV Season, Grey‘sters! Yeah, that name for you all isn’t working so much, is it? Let me know if you think of some better moniker for the collective Grey’s Anatomy community. Why should Idoloonies and Losties have all the fun?

Speaking of fun, this sure was not a shiny, happy re-entry into a fresh new season of our favorite angsty hospital drama. Then again, we knew what we were getting into. And I have to say that for once, I was glad to have a major plot point — that is, George dying — spoiled and spoiled and spoiled some more over the summer hiatus. (No, I’m not just saying that because a good bit of the spoiling happened in a cover story in my own magazine.) This episode simply would’ve hit too hard, too fast, too early in a new season if we truly hadn’t known whether he and/or Izzie would die (he of complications from a disfiguring bus accident, she of cancer, if you need a refresher). We fans have already mourned the delightful (if largely absent, last season) George O’Malley and his arc from puppy-dog clueless intern to confident man heading off to the Army. (We’re even willing to forget, in his demise, that annoyingly false-feeling dalliance with hottie best friend Izzie.) All the better to simply take in his friends’ and colleagues’ well-acted grief, and watch how it’ll affect the remaining characters moving forward. The writers even played with our expectations briefly, spending a few minutes pretending we weren’t totally sure the accident victim was George — after all, the only evidence was that he’d traced ”007,” George’s nickname, in Meredith’s palm with his finger. How hilarious would it have been if George really weren’t dead, and all that press had been a big lie?

Are we just as happy to have Izzie back? Really, I’m asking you, Anatomists. (Hmm, I’m not sure that’s any better.) I’m torn about her: She had some nice scenes this week (like, as George’s former mistress/best friend, helping George’s ex-wife Callie decide whether to donate his organs). But I’m not sure we’d suffer much without her, either. Maybe we just need to see more of where she’s going this season, post-tumor, to truly tell.

I would, however, suffer for sure without Cristina and Owen. Their romance provided a nice counterbalance to all the surrounding death and sadness: Owen and Cristina quietly, briefly holding hands, waiting for an ambulance to pull up. Cristina trying to seduce Owen with the black lace bra she was wearing under her scrubs. She wasn’t thrilled when Owen said his shrink was against them having sex. ”I’m saying she’s a prude,” Cristina pouted. ”She’s prudy and misguided.” He explained that the shrink doesn’t want him to ”bury himself” in Cristina, which he surely would if they did it. And never did abstinence sound hotter.

But there were also patients to be saved: Namely, an Australian tourist named Clara who’d lost her arms in a speedboat accident. (One of her annoying airhead companions did manage to rescue the arms and bring them to be reattached.) And Martha Plimpton’s teenage son, who’d been diagnosed with ”growing pains” but was still suffering from constant discomfort and odd clumsiness. Clara’s arms did get reattached successfully, but she’d have a long road through physical therapy to get them (plus a prosthetic leg) working again; her traveling companions, meanwhile, left her without a support system, so Cristina ordered Lexie to be her friend. Lexie begged Clara to call her mother to tell her what had happened, but instead got roped into typing ”everything’s fine” emails to her mom for her.

NEXT: Laughter through the tears

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