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Webber celebrated his landmark 10,000th surgery, while Owen and Cristina's relationship hit the skids...again

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January 20, 2012 at 05:04 AM EST

Despite the dramatic title of last night’s new episode of Grey’s Anatomy, “Hope for the Hopeless” — and the fact that the hour was book-ended by rather tragic circumstances — it wasn’t a totally depressing hour. Largely, yes. But the episode was more of a dichotomy, split between sadness and happiness, despair and celebration, surgeries and tears. In so many ways, it was a rather typical, manic, fast-moving installment of Grey’s Anatomy.

On the sad end of things, we watched as Derek and Lexie couldn’t fix a little boy with a brain tumor; as Adele’s memory problems worsened; and as Owen and Cristina’s union headed for the crapper. But there were happy moments, too: Meredith Grey chose a specialty in general surgery (finally!) and threw a festive birthday party for her daughter Zola; and ex-Chief Webber celebrated the insane milestone of his 10,000th surgery. Webber has clearly been working for decades now, but that number is — in a word — jaw-dropping.

Speaking of Webber’s big day, let’s start there, with his equal-parts happy and sad storyline. He launched the episode with the revelation of his 10,000th surgery, asking Bailey about whether the hospital would be commemorating the event in any way. “I mean, you’ll do something?” he asked, seeming jovial and grinning. “I mean, it is my 10,000th surgery. That’s a lot of surgery.” Thankfully, Bailey had planned a conference room party, complete with red velvet cake, speeches, a banner, and sparkling cider. (Even if it was eventually cancelled because of Webber’s issues with Adele.)

The sad part of the 10,000th celebration was that the surgery he was performing was — and there’s no other way to put this — kind of a total snooze. Webber got a pair of surly sisters, one of which was giving the other a part of her liver. There was some interesting casting. Roz — I mean, Marcy, the annoying character played by Frasier alum Peri Gilpin — wouldn’t give her sister, the equally-as-annoying Marcy (Nia Vardalos), a break about having to giver her a slice of her liver. That’s the most drama they could serve with such an important surgery? Was that the point? Was there some underlying subtext to that that I didn’t pick up on? Unfortunately, the minds behind Grey’s didn’t even make a Frasier or radio joke here — hello, they should have considering both shows were set in Seattle and Roz was lying in a Seattle Grace hospital bed!

I suppose the real drama with Webber’s storyline, however, was ground in the reappearance of his wife, Adele, who resurfaced for the first time since an episode last April during the whole Meredith-corrupting-the-clinical-trial madness. Once again, Adele was confused and disturbed, after being found wandering toward the hospital, nearly seven miles from the Webber home. Kepner tried to keep her at bay while Webber was in surgery, but she eventually made her way into the observation gallery above her husband’s surgery. “Ellis! You let him go” she yelled at Meredith, thinking that she was her mother. “What kind of a woman would break up a marriage?”

NEXT: Adele takes things from heartbreaking to haunting with her rendition of “My Funny Valentine”

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