As a new-crush epidemic sweeps Seattle Grace, the doctors plot (during super-secret surgery) to lure Cristina back to work
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Because I know I can’t start every recap proclaiming how amazingly awesome Grey’s Anatomy is this season, I’ll be more specific. This episode was hot. I know it was officially all about “pressure,” as Meredith’s voiceover told me, but, while we’ve had sexier episodes in the past, the suggestion of sex to come was whispering around every OR wall and nurses’ station. (The teaser for next week seemed to bear this out, too.) I’ve missed the sexy sex in my Grey’s, what with everyone being all couple-y, so I welcome this hint of the near future.

Helping to facilitate the prospect of future sex, of course, was the devastating breakup last week of Arizona and Callie — and while that’s great, I did miss her already. So sad to hear that there was a new peds attending named Stark skulking about. But the very public reveal of last week’s other bombshell — Cristina’s resignation — during Teddy’s patient presentation felt fitting. I wanted exactly that big, dramatic reaction Mark had in the middle of her speech: “She didn’t quit quit, right?” The Cristina-related questions went on for so long that it prompted Teddy to ask, “Is this a patient presentation or a post-mortem on Dr. Yang?” Afterwards, Owen and Teddy asked the Chief not to mail the letter that would officially end Cristina’s tenure as a surgeon and promised to try to talk her back.

But the Chief had other concerns anyway, like the mystery VIP patient who was on his or her way in. The State Department had accompanied the patient and demanded that word not get out that this person was being hospitalized, or even that he was in the country. “And from a global perspective,” the hulking, deadly serious agent told Teddy and Owen, “it would be great if he didn’t die.”

While preventing world wars is important, I was even more intrigued by the apparent sudden breakout of new crushes going on across the hospital. First, April slipped up and said she was on service for “Karev … I mean Stark.” Answered Jackson, “I know what you mean, and don’t go there.” He then eyeballed Lexie rather intensely as she walked away. “Oh, and it’s okay if you go there,” April teased. “I’m a guy,” he answered. “I live there.”

I would like to live where Cristina was when she was dancing it out at her and Owen’s still-unpacked new place. That looked fun, and her hair looked phenomenal — I forget how amazing her hair is when it’s tied up at the hospital all the time. Callie, still officially on vacation because she’d been planning to go to Africa with Arizona, raced over to talk some sense into Cristina when she heard the news of her resignation. Somehow this instead morphed into a major bonding session in which Callie revealed she was thinking of cutting her hair. Though, she added, “Maybe you shouldn’t do radical things right after a blond woman has ripped your heart out of your chest and stomped on it.” And then a rather manic Cristina took some scissors out of a box and took a hunk out of Callie’s hair anyway. “Let’s make lemonade,” Cristina said of their respectively lemony situations. Yes, please.

NEXT: Wait! Is that Bono who just got admitted to Seattle Grace?!

Having less fun were Alex and April , who were facing an infant liver transplant with the new Dr. Stark. Though he was, OMG, Peter MacNicol of TV’s Ally McBeal! The fact that he was John Cage made me like him, at first, a lot more than I should have. He seemed like he was going to be such a jovial, kid-loving peds guy when he told Karev to use “inside voices” when he caught him squabbling with a ping-pong-ball-gun-wielding kid patient. And I was on Stark’s side when he told Karev, who was trying to wriggle out of working after scrambling into the hospital late, “Since hangovers are not contagious, I’d say you’re working.” The Stark tide, however, started to turn when Alex met the liver transplant baby’s parents, who made sure to mention the baby’s name — Lisa — because their research had told them it helped to personalize their daughter to doctors. They also had concerns about how the adult liver being used for the transplant would be cut to fit into her tiny body. “Those folks have been spending a little too much time consulting Dr. Internet,” Stark snapped, and we knew something was amiss there.

Back at mystery patient central, we were learning more: He was from an Arabic-speaking nation. His car was hit by a truck when he was leaving a secret meeting in Seattle. Then Teddy explained to us: “His people are supposed to see their first elections, right? Unless he dies, in which case the doors open for Al Qaeda to move in, and then your secret meeting was for nothing.” Okay, enough said. Those not directly involved in the surgery, however, didn’t and couldn’t know a thing. “Is it the president?” Avery tried to ask one of the guards. “Or the vice president? Is it Bono?” The Chief waved off such questions and instead sent Avery and Bailey off to tend to Louise, who’d been readmitted for chronic pancreatitis because she had a fistula, which is apparently a super-huge, common problem. We learn so much hypochondria-feeding information on Grey’s.

Because things were getting a little too medical there, the Grey’s gods gave us Derek and Meredith making out in the on-call room, which struck me as so sweet and nostalgic that I almost wanted to cry. Loved when Derek sent Lexie away because his craniotomy was canceled and he wanted to get hot and heavy with his wife. Loved it even more when she got pulled out of the room anyway by the secret service and Derek asked, “What did you do?”

That would be an even better question for Cristina, who had now visibly butchered Callie’s hair. “I look … injured. Do you even cut hair?” Callie whined. Cristina answered, “Yeah, I sort-of can’t believe you let me do that.” This led them to plan a mall trip to get a haircut for Callie and furniture for the apartment, which somehow led them to conclude that Cristina should hold a housewarming party — that night! They sent out a mass text and the plan was in motion. I don’t know how I feel about the doctors at the hospital getting and checking said text in the middle of examining the man who held the fate of the Middle East in his hands, but … “That’s a good sign, right?” Teddy said of Cristina throwing a party. Meredith wisely concluded, “That’s a weird sign.”

NEXT: When big livers happen to tiny babies.

Also weird: Did you know that the “first rule of residency” is, “Eat when you can, sleep when you can, and don’t screw with the pancreas”? Me neither. But, seriously, it is. Thus Avery was charged with doing nothing all day but watching the pancreas patient’s fistula fluid stuff to make sure nothing was going awry. He felt dejected, like no one trusted him to do real doctor’s work anymore. We all knew where that was leading.

But for now, the more pressing problem was the transplant baby, Lisa, whose liver was a bit too big for her body. “The baby’s too small,” was how the increasingly insensitive-seeming Stark said it. This meant they would — eek — have to leave the baby cut open until the internal swelling went down and they could close her up. Still, Stark told Lisa’s worried parents that things went well and she’d be fine, so that they wouldn’t worry. “I think you’re not worried enough,” Alex snapped.

In lighter, happier places, like the mall, more girl bonding was going on in a furniture store. “I was a lot cooler when I was single,” Callie said. “You were hardly ever single,” Cristina rightly assessed, just before putting a whole room of furniture on her credit card. Then, as Callie finally got her hair properly cut, Cristina asked the question I have asked so many times while running a quick errand during the work day: “What do they do all day, the mall people? Look at them. They all move so slowly. … Do they just eat things and buy things and complain about their breakups?” I think they do, Cristina. I think they do.

Back behind Secret Service guards, it emerged that the emir had a tear in his coronary artery and would need open-heart surgery, a condition that may or may not have happened because of the accident. Worse, it turned out he also had a secret aneurysm in his left temporal lobe. All of this meant Derek and Teddy, who hadn’t been getting along great of late, would have to operate simultaneously. The emir should be happy he wasn’t awake for any of this, because I would not want to know that I was getting brain and heart surgery at the same time.

Now, everything was coming to a head: Stark stole Alex’s idea to use a ping-pong ball to fix the liver problem (I’m dumbfounded that it would be okay to have a ping-pong ball lodged in your abdomen, but I’ll go with it), but April made sure the Chief knew it was Alex’s. The pancreas patient started to crash, and Bailey was busy, so she told Avery to “open her up.” And Derek, Meredith, Owen, and Teddy were squabbling over whether to give Cristina a talking-to that night — while, yes, they were performing simultaneous brain and heart surgeries that could determine the fate of the Middle East. I hope Cristina appreciated that.

NEXT: Derek and Cristina have an HGTV-style bonding moment.

The ping-pong ball worked. Avery lost his pancreas patient and flipped out. The emir made it and was back on a plane before we knew it.

And we could get back to important things like the fact that, whoa, Alex was already kissing April seconds after she came to empathize with him over the Stark situation. The poor thing was ready to give up her virginity to him … until she asked him to slow down and he barked, “You wanna screw, let’s screw. You don’t, then get out. I’m not gonna hold your virgin hand and walk you through it. You’re not a child. I can’t take care of you. I can’t take care of everyone in this frickin’ place.” It turned out, of course, that he’d been late to work because he was in Iowa dealing with his schizophrenic brother, who’d tried to kill his sister — so we forgive. But, oh, April.

In happier relationship news, there was a total vibe between Teddy and the very serious Secret Service guy when they bid adieu. I like it. Also like: Callie’s new, blue-streaked bob. The fact that she wants to move in with Mark and is clearly going to start hooking up with him again. Jackson beating the crap out of Alex (I know it’s wrong, but it’s also hot) at Cristina’s party to defend April’s honor. (Anyone thinking she’ll end up giving it up to him, even though he was flirting with Lexie?)

Most of all, though, I liked Derek’s intervention on the planned intervention. He got to the party early enough to warn Cristina of the plan to talk her back to the hospital, and the two stole away to drink wine and chat on the roof. “If you’re asking my opinion, I think you should,” Derek told her. “I think you absolutely have to. You have to keep and refinish the original floors.” And as they contemplated going down to the party: “Anything else you want to talk about?” Her answer: “What are you doing for bathroom tile?” These two bonding when she’s on the outs with Meredith: Perfect. Him giving her exactly what she needs in an unspoken “thank you” for saving his life: Even better.

What did you think, Grey’s watchers? Who’s your favorite new maybe-couple: Alex and April, Jackson and April, Jackson and Lexie, or Callie and Mark? Will Cristina return to the hospital? Will she keep and refinish the original floors? Post your theories below!

EVER WISH EW.COM HAD A RADIO STATION? Quit living in the past, man or lady! In this week’s TV Insiders podcast, Annie Barrett, Dalton Ross, and Michael Slezak grade the first week of Conan, pick the funniest Modern Family character, and discuss the trouble with the Survivor: Nicaragua cast and Bristol Palin’s improbable run on Dancing With the Stars. Click here to download the TV Insiders podcast to your MP3 player, or listen to an embedded version below!

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Grey's Anatomy

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

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