As the residents compete in a top-surgeon contest, Meredith discovers that a bear attack victim also has a brain tumor

”Grey’s Anatomy” recap: Bear attack!

If I were in this episode, Meredith would be forced to narrate something about how I’m like, I don’t know, some kind of woodland creature who has come out of hibernation only to find that the seed and berry crop is still kind of sparse but hopefully I can survive until next week. Which is to say: This heavy-handed episode full of animal metaphors and almost zero character development? As the comeback episode after our long, cold, strike-plagued winter? Not the least bit satisfying for me.

Instead of some juicy character developments, all we got was an eyeful of, as Cristina called it, ”intestines in the hands” when a bear-mauled patient arrived. And money shots of internal organs were not what I missed about Grey’s Anatomy. I did like the idea of the ”surgical contest” that our beloved residents were in the throes of — the cast usually wears comic energy well, and I appreciate when they get to focus on their jobs as well as sex in the supply closet. The conceit showed promise as Izzie buzzed around, melting down about being 26 points behind and trying to find more than a sprained ankle wrong with her patient. But I got worried the second the intestine guy’s brother — being treated for some scratches and a claw through his palm — was spilling to Meredith, apropos of nothing, that he’d married his ”rebound girl” after knowing her only a few weeks. And the wife then blubbered, just out of his earshot, about what a catch he was: ”You sit around waiting for the other shoe to drop, because nobody like that marries you.” This was, of course, a serious code-red ”life-lesson alert!” for Meredith — OMG, what a coincidence, her Derek has been dating Nurse Rose for mere weeks, and what if he married her? It also raised a major red flag: This dude was going down by the end of the episode, right? PS: Why all the fuss over the wife taking her hat off and revealing that her scalp was hanging off the side of her head? Turned out she just needed some stitches and then was good as new. Are we just killing time with extraneous medical procedures now? Are we, the audience, somehow part of this contest and getting points for merely watching sutures happen? Because I’ll tell you, it’s possible I blacked out for a few minutes in there just from all the random flesh and blood shots, between her skin flap and her brother-in-law’s guts-tastic surgery.

When I came to, Izzie’s ankle patient was freaking out about how he wished he could go back to being 30 so he could quit smoking and be nicer to his ex, so worried was he about the battery of tests he was now undergoing. Cristina was freaking out for a less metaphorical but about 6 percent more interesting reason: Hahn and Callie were spotted becoming giggly friends. And Meredith appeared to be freaking out (silently, though) when she spotted Derek and Rose flirting over some flowers a grateful patient had given the suddenly annoyingly saintly nurse (who’s making McDreamy wait for sex so it’s special — what hospital does she think she works at?). Then there was some conversation with Lexie about how she’s ”stealing stuff” from the hospital to furnish her new apartment with George, but I’m bored even typing this right now.

In fact, I almost started to doze until Merdith’s kinda shocking, kinda funny ”tumor!” revelation, when she figured out what the doomed newlywed guy was going to, as we already knew from foreshadowing, die from. And she celebrated, in front of the patient and his freshly stitched wife, as if she’d just spiked a football in the end zone. Ah, that’s our sensitive little Meredith. (At least she was funny insensitive and not wallowy insensitive. Is that the ”evolution” she was waxing on about in the ending voice-over?) Anyway, it turned out that the guy’s bad vision and impulsiveness — this is where the rebound wife figured in — were classic symptoms of a brain tumor. And the MRI proved Mer right, so at least her celebrating wasn’t for naught. Naturally, she showed up to give him the good — er, bad — news just as the Chief was dropping the bomb that his brother had died. The guy laughed hysterically, an ”inappropriate affect” that Meredith attributed to the tumor, though I can’t entirely blame him. He was having a spectacularly bad day — and, well, he was the only remotely interesting thing in this episode — so I say he could have any kind of affect he wanted. Even if he wanted to indulge in some of this night’s ludicrously on-the-nose dialogue, as apparently he did when Meredith told him the tumor was inoperable: ”Good. I deserve that. I killed my brother, so I don’t deserve to survive.” Wifey, any final totally obvious words you’d like to add? ”I’m a symptom,” she said to Meredith, ”right?” God, could we not at least save this schmaltz for the voice-over?

NEXT: Meredith the medical genius

Ankle Guy, meanwhile, was doing nothing for Izzie’s approval ratings. In the end, it seemed, he had nothing more than a touch of the flu, for which the good doctor prescribed fluids and rest. ”Fluids and freakin’ rest?” he fumed. Imagine what he’d have to say about her thinking she was in love with George.

In the end, Meredith won the contest, which garnered her a sparkle pager — which not only is super blingy but also gives her first dibs on any surgeries that come in for three months. Sloan got to finally tell Derek flat out that he doesn’t like Rose — or that maybe his resentment runs a little deeper: ”I thought it was just gonna be you and me…after Addison, after Meredith.” (Aww. Men totally talk like this, right?) And Cristina got nothing but shut out by the giggle sisters, Hahn and Callie, when they were hanging out at her (and now also Callie’s) apartment.

I was so totally ready for some big revelation, some twist to make me at least psyched to tune in next week and pretend this one never happened. But I was forced to settle for, um, the news that Meredith had suddenly turned into a neurosurgery genius and figured out a way to save people with inoperable brain tumors. Though, gosh darn it, she was going to need a brain surgeon’s help with this. Oh, look, there’s Derek. Isn’t he one of those? Then she was happily off to see her shrink and declare, ”I think I better start talking now.” Okay, really? As much as we all root for Meredith to grow beyond her angsty ways, I’m not sure the answer is to veer into some kind of absurdist wonderland where she’s a neurology prodigy who easily expresses herself. I couldn’t help feeling I was witnessing some kind of last-minute script note that the writers were given about seven minutes to develop. I mean, why not just have her cure cancer, too? And AIDS? While proposing to Derek, with a boom box, in the rain?

All that said, what did get me psyched for what’s to come was the upcoming-scenes bit: Hahn and Callie possibly a couple? Addison returning to Seattle Grace to knock some sense into Meredith? Ava the Amnesiac back and possibly pregnant? I wish I’d fast-forwarded through the whole show and just watched this. Here’s hoping next week marks the real post-hibernation thaw.

What do you think? Did any of these plotlines work for you? Are Rose’s days numbered? And who’s going to get to go on a date with Derek first: Meredith or Sloan?

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Grey's Anatomy

Meredith. Alex. Bailey. The doctors are definitely in on Shonda Rhimes' hospital melodrama.

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