Bye, George: While a brief fake-out suggested that the brain-dead John Doe wasn't George after all, of course it was, and George was officially gone. Izzie, on the other hand, came back from her near-death experience. Everyone kept George's death from her until his mother placed responsibility for his organs with Callie, who knew it really belonged with Izzie, who — quite touchingly — affirmed that, of course, "George would give everything." A grieving Bailey demanded to know precisely where every organ would go, ready to reject any recipient she deemed unworthy.
Predictably, George's death had a devastating effect on Izzie, whose marriage to Alex started to fray, though they reconciled once Alex admitted that his hostility was really fear that she would die — again. And in the end, Meredith sobbed in front of George's empty locker.
Staff shuffle: Derek got an offer to take over as chief of staff. He stalled and went to the Chief to tell him to move fast if he wanted to save his job. Things didn't get better when an already distraught Callie, outraged over a delayed promotion, threw a fit at the Chief right in front of the board representative before departing for Mercy West. But in the end, the Chief announced that for budget reasons, Seattle Grace would merge with Mercy West, and that not everyone's job would be saved.
Not just growing pains: Martha Plimpton played a mother whose son suffered from pains no one could seem to diagnose. Bailey, stunned from George's death, was initially reluctant to help Arizona, and the nervous Chief resisted the tests she wanted because of the cost. Eventually, Arizona sent him over to Callie at her new job for the special MRI she wanted, but that didn't help either. She persevered, and it took Derek's intervention to discover a spinal problem that was resolved with surgery.
Now that's grisly: A young woman came into the hospital after being in a horrible boating accident in which she lost both arms and a leg (her arms were reattached). Lexie wound up as her confidante, encouraging her to call and tell her mother about her injuries. Eventually, the patient became so discouraged about her recovery that she refused necessary surgery for a infection after asking Cristina about the risks. Bailey blamed Cristina, and eventually refused to work with her. Lexie brought her around, though, and the surgery was a success. Bailey, on the other hand, continued to struggle with her feelings.
Where things are better: Owen and Cristina were among the only people whose lives seemed to be on an upswing. Their major problem was that his therapist was encouraging them to take their relationship slowly until Owen could talk to her about some of his trauma. Once he did, they stopped moving quite so slowly. Mark and Lexie were doing well too, until Lexie realized that Mark had moved in across the hall from Callie. Callie eventually had to assure Lexie that Mark had lost all interest in her since meeting Lexie and after she did, Lexie realized that she was no longer welcome in Meredith and Derek's newlywed home, and she moved in with Mark after all.
Linda Holmes is a writer in Washington.