Izzie comes back to fight for Alex, and Owen won't let Cristina toss him aside
Greys Anatomy
Credit: Michael Desmond/ABC

This looked like Grey’s Anatomy at its most solid, right from the moment Meredith ”called Post-It.” She didn’t want Derek to betray her confidence about the Chief’s alcoholism, and, in the end — at least for the moment — he agreed to honor their unusual form of marriage vow. And they were the cutest fighting couple ever, the exact kind of couple we all dream of being, the kind who can very seriously disagree but still maintain their love and passion and good kissing despite their conflict.

Out in the kitchen that morning, another conflict was brewing as Alex and Lexie woke up together, and Meredith was being judgy. Alex, however, dished it right back at her: ”You were a total dirty mistress like two weeks ago.” And Lexie had another rationale: ”Alex and I, we’ve done it before. That was, like, good for the environment.” Of course, that was right around the time Izzie decided to return (from Katherine Heigl’s maternity leave) — and, wow, did she look fantastic or what? Bonding with her new kid did her good. And that stunning purple sweater didn’t hurt, either.

As she blathered to Alex about possibly getting a new job in Tacoma to be near him, though, she made the theme of the night clear: How much do you sacrifice work for love, and/or vice versa? The main patient of the evening underscored that point. An opera singer, he soon faced possibly losing his lung to a cancer diagnosis. But his partner wanted him healthy more than he wanted him to save his career — and, when it came down to it, he wouldn’t have minded seeing him sing less and settle more into a normal job like teaching. ”I sing. It’s my entire life,” Opera Guy explained. His husband responded, ”Besides me. What you meant to say is singing is your entire life besides me.”

All hail the return of metaphorical resonance between medical cases and the doctors’ love lives. Because Cristina also faced this question after being the one to originally broach it at the end of last week’s episode when she, um, offered Teddy Owen in exchange for staying at Seattle Grace as her mentor. Meredith advised against further discussions of the matter. ”It’s like if you tell someone their baby is ugly. You know it, they know, everybody knows it. But you don’t talk about it.” Cristina countered with her own unanswerable query: ”But you would choose surgery over Derek, right?” The philosophical discussion continued straight through lunch. ”If you think you’re losing your love,” Izzie pontificated, ”suddenly nothing else matters.” But Opera Singer guy put it into even more perspective by saying to his partner, ”If all I have left is a life of making myself smaller, then I don’t want to live. And believe me, honey, you don’t want me to live.”

NEXT: My pain/secret is greater than yours

A subtler theme of when secrets should be kept and when they should be unleashed ran beneath all of the career talk. Lexie spilled to an itchy, chicken-poxy Callie that she’d had sex with Alex; then Mark told Callie, as he rubbed against her to thoughtfully relieve her itching, that he’d slept with Addison. The always-interesting dynamic between Callie and Mark once again caused some friction, of sorts, as well. ”I can’t stop looking at her,” Arizona said, explaining her fib that she hadn’t had chicken pox and so couldn’t go near Callie. ”And I was afraid with the ooze and the fevers and the scratching… I wanted to stay in the sexy part of things. So I lied to my girlfriend. And now he makes scratching look sexy.” Lexie took her own lesson from the whole thing: ”He makes everything look sexy.”

Teddy, kind-of predictably, got drunk and quickly spilled to Owen that Cristina had been ”willing to trade” him. But unpredictably, and wonderfully — these are the times I love Grey’s — this only drove Owen to run to Cristina’s and plant one of those great Owen kisses on her and tell her, ”People do matter, I matter, we matter. You don’t get to toss me aside. I won’t let you.” Also unpredictably and wonderfully, Alex told Izzie, ”I deserve someone who will stay.… I want you to go and be happy and not come back.” And Mark, finally evolving after all this time, didn’t accept that he and Lexie were even in their cheating choices. ”I can’t even look at you right now,” he said when she revealed she’d slept with Alex (only after he’d confessed about Addison). Not saying he’s even right, necessarily — but it does represent a maturing, of sorts, that he cared enough about her cheating to be disgusted by it. In its own twisted, Mark Sloan way.

Izzie, meanwhile, left us with this: ”I can’t be here anymore. … I have to start over, I need to start over.” Anyone as confused as I am at this point as to whether Katherine Heigl is staying on Grey’s Anatomy or not?

What else did you think, Grey’s Watchers? Work or love? Alex or Mark? Izzie or Lexie? Arizona or Mark? Callie or Lexie? Addison or Lexie?

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Grey's Anatomy

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

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