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The ‘Grey’s’ we’ve known is over ... so over

The fourth season of "Grey's Anatomy" will probably begin with an ambiguously single, non-chief of surgery Derek Shepherd finding himself working in a hospital along with an attractive female intern named Grey who he met at a bar the previous evening.

Although the first season also began that way, this new Grey is not Meredith.

In one of the season finale's final scenes, George, having learned that he failed his medical exam, emptied his locker as five new interns walked in, ready to begin the first year on the job. One of them was the same woman who flirted with Derek the previous evening, and she revealed herself to be a character previously mentioned by name but never seen: Lexie Grey, Meredith's half sister.

While echoing the start of its first season, “Grey's Anatomy” will not be returning to where it began after covering a single calendar year in three television seasons. Instead, the show's third-season finale wrapped up existing stories — but in mostly unsatisfying, occasionally depressing, and sometimes illogical ways that will leave the show decidedly changed.

Its major developments all involved the characters rejecting one another, and will alter their lives, giving the interns — and viewers — little to look forward to for their next year.

The first string of rejections came as the result of an attempt to answer one major question: Which of the attending physicians would Chief of Surgery Richard Webber appoint to take his place?

First to be removed from consideration was Mark Sloan, who insisted he really wanted the job despite acting like an all-around jackass most of the time.

Next up was Addison, who had to be rejected not because that's what fit with her character, but so she could move to Los Angeles and star in ABC's new series "Private Practice." Richard conveniently set up her spin-off by telling her, "If you need a job to get your life, you either need a new job, or a new life."

Addison's new life airs Wednesdays at 9 this fall on ABC.

Burke was also turned down because, as Webber told him, "You let me down this year, Preston. ... I want to give you the job — I want to, but I can't." That left Derek, who was actually offered the job that brought him to Seattle in the first place. But he rejected himself. While that may show growth on his part, he didn't really offer an explanation as to why he suddenly no longer desired the job he's been desperately wanting.

Derek's decision also leaves Richard in an awkward position.

Having reconciled with his wife after she nearly died miscarrying their baby, he now is stuck with the job that essentially destroyed their marriage. "You take care of other people's families, and you sacrifice your own," he said at one point.

Seattle Grace without Richard Webber would not be the same, but he was quitting because he devoted too much of his life to work.

Now, he either needs to reject his wife and life again, or leave the hospital, which seems like an even unlikelier option.

In other rejection-related developments, some of them incomprehensible or out-of-character, Bailey lost the chief resident position to Callie, perhaps because Webber wanted to save Bailey, but still making little sense.

Alex rebuffed Ava, whose husband's appearance prompted her to realize she was ready for a new beginning. Alex had apparently moved on — or calloused himself as a result of her earlier rejection — as just a day or so before, he'd clearly fallen for her.

George failed his intern exam, maybe because he spent too much time hooking up with and pining for his roommates this year, at least when they weren't pining for him. Meanwhile, his wife, Callie, suddenly and bizarrely declared to George that she was hormonal and wanted to have a baby.

Because smart people know that babies fix bad marriages, George immediately did his part to help conceive a child. That left Callie to coldly but finally dismiss Izzie with 12 words: “I was named chief resident; plus, we decided to have a baby.” That will probably have little effect on Izzie, who earlier refused to give up and told George, “I'm in love with you, George, and I hope you're in love with me, too.”

He didn't acknowledge any reciprocal feelings, having apparently been convinced by one of “Grey's Anatomy”'s convenient, always amusing, and flawlessly constructed metaphors for a character's personal life masquerading as a medical problem.

A mountain climber with an axe in his skull “panicked,” George said, and tried to climb down despite being attached to his fellow climbers. “You have every right to turn back if you're scared,” George declared. Without thinking, Derek replied “No, you don't. You choose to climb a mountain, you can't change your mind in the middle of a climb.”

Preston Burke, however, did exactly that. In fact, he changed his mind in the middle of his wedding. After months of pressing Cristina to get married, he finally realized that he was asking her to do something she didn't want to do; while she insisted otherwise, the wedding was off. “I know you don't want to come (down the aisle) but you'll come anyway because you love me. And if I loved you ... if I did, I wouldn't be up there waiting for you. I would be letting you go,” he said, and then disappeared.

Calling off the wedding might have made sense, but leaving her entirely? Minutes earlier he was practicing his truly touching vows, leaving every person in the operating room in tears.

Apparently, he had time after that procedure to surgically remove his feelings for Cristina and deposit them in a biohazard waste container.

His departure and rejection of Cristina led her to have an ambiguous breakdown in front of Meredith. “He's gone,” Cristina said, fighting to get out of her wedding dress. “I'm free. Dammit.”

Derek, meanwhile, didn't want to be free of Meredith, but she seemed willing to reject him by not explicitly rejecting him. He told her, "I do love you, don't you see? ... You're the love of my life. I can't leave you. But you're constantly leaving me." He begged her, "If you're not in this, please, just end it. ... Put me out of my misery." Meredith responded in the moment by simply avoiding the topic, saying only that she had to go to the wedding.

Once there, after Burke changed his mind and called off the wedding, Meredith was left to deliver the news to the assembled guests. "It's over. You can all go home," she said. At once she was talking to the assembled guests and to Derek. "It's over. So over," she said.

So, she also seemed to be saying, is the "Grey's Anatomy" that we've known.

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