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Grey's Anatomy - I Must Have Lost It On The Wind - Review

We are officially in mourning. Cristina didn't actually die but her departure from Grey Sloan Memorial leaves us with a huge hole in our hearts and a chasm in the cast. Season eleven of Grey's Anatomy kicked off Thursday night and we landed straight into the drama we left back in May. No time jump, no shootings and no Yang. "I must have lost it on the wind" was a good episode, worthy of early season promise. It flowed almost too well from season finale in a seamless movement from ten to eleven. In this way it succeeded as a premiere because it took us along the journey as if the last four months were but one week. Though without the drama it has potentially lost ratings. In a mostly strong episode the writers gave us good questions about existing, more established characters and left us wanting to know more about the newbies.

Rather than be worried about the negative impact of Oh's departure episode one has actually provided a lot of hope.

The absence of Yang, or perhaps more notably Sandra Oh, while sad, has allowed an unexpected blast of oxygen into the cast. As a powerful character played by a superb actress her absence runs the risk of destabilising not only this season but further seasons. She was at the heart of the show and deeply loved. What occurred through this episode however was a shot of hope to loyal fans that this oxygen has the potential to reinvigorate. Old characters appear renewed and new characters with existing, genuine depth of story have been introduced (even if one of them is a repeat - Half Sister 2.0). This is not to say that Cristina/Oh will not be missed. No doubt at all she will be, but the writers have taken the gap very seriously. They haven't loaded the premiere with childish residents we are told to love (pointing directly at Jo Wilson, a prime example) as they did with the last series of cast departures (Mark, Lexie, Teddy). The writers have provided a more rounded integrated series of plot development and character introductions. In the case of the latter we can already see their place in the show.

This season is about Meredith. If this was not already known before season premiere it's obvious in the first few minutes that Shondaland has gone back to basics. The humorously dark bedroom scene played homage to Grey's of old. With a large regular cast Grey's has always darted around multiple story lines, characters and relationships but this season it is back to Meredith, her uber dysfunctional family and MAGIC. This is wonderful in itself but the beauty continues because Alex and Richard are back in the fold, with pivotal roles to play. Both have been pushed to the periphery in the last few seasons almost to the point that their absence would not be missed. This is no longer the case.

Meredith has another sister. Well…it's not an original story is it? Though granted this sister has a bigger claim to the Ellis Grey 'legacy' than Lexie. Shondaland has written a rather heavy diversion for Meredith with the introduction of Maggie Pierce. She will not be able to mourn Cristina for too long as war wages in the Attending's lounge. This particular arc allows for a much bigger role for Richard. He is now slap bang in the middle of the Meredith action again with new raison d'ĂȘtre. Illustrating further weaving and integration the arrival of Amelia in the AA meeting closes the circle for Dr Webber - a nice touch very early on, an interesting relationship to follow.

In her third arc Meredith is questioning her life with Derek - a solution presented itself at the end of the episode but it seems the problems are a bit deeper than they first appear. It's gonna be a rough year for her and for them.

Justin Chambers has a new lease of life. He looks younger, tidier, less world weary, less…well…tired. Of course we don't see the actor we see Alex Karev, but there is something in his portrayal that implies it is Chambers who feels invigorated. He looks like he is enjoying himself again. It's almost criminal that it's taken Oh's departure for the writers to build Alex into someone we can believe in as we once did. Alex Karev shined through the episode as if he finally has the space to exist in the hospital for the first time in about five seasons. It wasn't explained how it appears he is now back on staff already, but such continuity issues rarely bother Grey's writers. The important thing is that MAGIC or more specifically MA is back and with Alex up front we will see a new, though reassuringly familiar, dynamic replacing Meredith/Yang.

In addition to his promotion to "her person" Alex is now embroiled in a fight with Bailey for a board seat. It cannot be that this board seat goes to anyone but Bailey (really..she was promised chief of surgery in the future back in season 4 or 5, give the woman a break) however it is possible that the writers will somehow find two seats available at some point. Regardless, this is a nice progression for Alex and a welcome boost to his character. Only the story arc with his father has provided depth for him in the last few seasons so it will be interesting to see how Season eleven develops for Evil Spawn.

Alex and Richard have emerged from the Yang shadow with expansive fully integrated stories. One can only hope that Bailey follows.

Callie and Arizona continued on their "oblivious to any problems" journey as cracks start to show in their new found togetherness. Perhaps that's a disservice. Callie did acknowledge last season that they are still fragile but neither of them have realised yet just how fragile they are. Awkward around each other their season eleven storyline kicked off with both of them walking down different roads to potential happiness. Callie is on Team Bailey, Arizona stands in the Team Alex corner. It's a metaphor for their entire marriage - backing different horses as solutions to their problems. Though each one woman focussing on 'self'. This was not an inspiring start for this couple though it does appear that answers may finally come this season. It wasn't particularly enjoyable to watch either, rather awkward and uncomfortable viewing. But then maybe that's the point, it was meant to be uncomfortable and is actually just very good writing?

The newbies presented themselves well. The introduction of Amelia as a Grey's regular seems so natural. Her character has a rich and often dark back story and perhaps fits in better with Grey's than Private Practice. The potential for story is huge. Gina Davis made a fleeting but notable appearance in her recurring role. Slightly wooden in delivery her few words provided a 'career' stake right down the middle of Arizona and Callie. The dilemma she provided fits in well with Arizona's previous work history. The jury is out on Maggie. Her introduction has initially shown her to be a rather insecure and annoying attending and the timeline of her birth versus her career so far is already confusing - another thing that rarely bothers the writers. Even Meredith getting lost at the fairground didn't help. Over the course of the season we will be given reasons to like Maggie but right now it's very hard, but that feels right. All three characters are welcome additions to this ensemble cast and it's reassuring to see more senior new characters over interns.

Unfortunately it wasn't all wonderful. Season Premiere was let down by the rather amateurish special affects which were stolen straight out of 1996. See for yourself by watching the movie Twister. Even the pretty view behind Richard at the AA meeting looked embarrassingly fake. Budgets may be tight now for Grey's as it runs into it's eleventh season but there is no excuse for jarring, painful viewing. In fact the entire helicopter scene wasn't needed, included only to provide some smash bang wallop drama for the premiere. Rather wasted archaic special effects in the end.

In other news:
'Dying inside' Owen is being romanced by the boys at the behest of April. Poor sod never made it to the bar in the end. And Jenga? Really Richard?
Ben is back. Yay.
The kids are still moaning. Though at least there are only two of them now.

In case you missed it: Jackson's line to April "what kind of buddy are you asking me to be?" Subtly and quietly funny.

This process of renewal and integration helped deliver an almost seamless transition from season ten to season eleven. While we didn't get 'hands on bombs' the new season opened with a solid, thoroughly enjoyable episode with invigorated old characters and interesting useful new ones. The flow of the episode was delightful and a credit to the seasoned writer Stacey McKee. It didn't feel like a premiere, which could be problematic in terms of ratings but for loyal fans it felt like a natural progression from the last season finale.

By the end I felt comfortable and already settled into the new.

Over to you...

Maxine (aka Brouhaha) is a Grey’s Anatomy devotee, from the very beginning and through the dark period of George and Izzie as a couple. Her other TV 'loves' include the British series Foyle's War, Criminal Minds and TBBT. In real life she's a new mum, self-employed and can often be found arguing about politics or current affairs, attempting to write fiction and buying hair products. Maxine reviews Grey's Anatomy. Got a question - go to Tumblr ask!
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