The return of Preston Burke gives Cristina a new perspective, and a new job opportunity

By Samantha Highfill
Updated May 02, 2014 at 04:01 AM EDT
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Credit: Ron Tom/ABC

Seriously? Seriously. That just happened, and I have chills on my arms and tears in my eyes, and I refuse to stop watching that final scene between Cristina and Burke. I think it’s finally hitting me that she’s leaving, and also, nothing could’ve prepared me for reliving their chemistry. Preston Burke is one of the most powerful characters to every hit Grey’s, and his presence is something I have missed even more than I realized. Bringing Burke back was a brilliant, brilliant decision, and I’m way too emotional about it, so I have to stop talking and start recapping before this whole thing falls to pieces.

With a voiceover about finding a new perspective, Owen and Cristina were on their way to a board meeting when he told her that people all over the world were begging for a presentation on her conduits. The Cleveland Clinic wanted her, and more impressively, Zurich wanted her. But that matter would have to wait: Richard had called a board meeting to discuss the Harper Avery situation. You know, the one where no one from that hospital will ever win? Well, it was costing them funding and good doctors, like Dr. Russell, Cristina’s boss, who had just quit. Richard suggested that Cristina appeal the foundation’s decision. It was the only way the hospital stood a chance. Before giving an answer, Cristina fled to the elevator, where Meredith encouraged her to go to Zurich and get away for a bit. And after Cristina discharged the Heart family so that they could go home and heal, she realized that she also needed to get away to heal.

Elsewhere, April and Jackson met their “blueberry” of a child before abruptly being asked if they wanted to “terminate,” which put both of them in a funk. They said no, but they couldn’t focus on their marital problems for long, because Derek and Amelia were working together on a big surgery. More than 40 of the hospital’s doctors would be scrubbing in to help separate two 25-year-old twins who were conjoined at the head, and therefore shared a brain. Cooper girls, meet the Shepherd doctors. And yes, as Amelia pointed out, “Good-looking doctors run in the family.”

But with all of the surgeons in on the twin operation, Jo was left to run rounds for just about everyone else. And unlike her boyfriend, who was driving a fancy car and wearing a tie to a job that he loved, Jo was not having a good day. Juggling a million patients is never a good idea, and considering that the hour ended with Owen and Richard discussing firing a resident, I’d say it was pretty poor timing on Jo’s part. Although, let’s face it. Jo’s safe. (And hopefully Leah’s not!)

Speaking of safe, Braden was doing miraculously better this week. Nobody except Bailey knew why until Stephanie ran a few tests and figured out that Bailey had given him the enzyme against the parents’ wishes. Bailey claimed not to know what she was talking about, but sooner or later, that’s going to bite her, though hopefully not too hard considering how well little Braden is doing. Then again, knowing Grey’s, he could take a quick turn for the worse, and then this whole thing will blow wide open. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

Away from all the stress, Cristina was enjoying her ridiculous hotel room in Zurich, with its giant-sized bed full of weird-shaped pillows. She and Meredith couldn’t exactly figure out the time-zone changes, so they were forced to communicate solely through voicemail. But Cristina’s second voicemail would be much more interesting than her first after her presentation went so … well? In the middle of her talk, Cristina was taking questions when suddenly, he spoke. She immediately recognized his voice, and within seconds, Preston Burke had stepped out of the darkness to thank Dr. Yang for her presentation. Turned out, he was the one who brought her here, because this was his hospital. He hadn’t put his name on the invitation, because, well, he’s smart and figured she wouldn’t have responded given how their last interaction went. Ah yes, the one with Cristina in a white dress and Burke fleeing the state. As he put it, the follow-up to that is “delicate.” He offered to show her around, but she had to make a phone call. “Tell Meredith I say hello,” he said with a wink. Ugh, this gave me chills. He really did know her, didn’t he?

NEXT: It’s just coffee, Cristina

And back in Seattle, let’s just say Meredith didn’t tell Owen the details of that voicemail. Her return phone call, however, was great: “Remember that he cut away pieces of you. Remember that his mama took your eyebrows. And remember that you’ve worked seven years to get over …” The voicemail was interrupted when Burke offered Cristina a cup of coffee and my heart skipped a beat. It’s just coffee, Cristina. Remember?! She said she had a flight to catch, but he’d had another ticket put on hold for her. He had been following her work, and he knew she’d been following his. Now, he had a new surgery that he was about to publish, and he wanted to show her a little something. As if the scenery and the teal scrubs weren’t enough of a draw, the surgery had her hooked. The two went to scrub in. And I have to say, I kind of wanted to watch the “scrubbing in” banter. That was always fun.

In Seattle, Arizona was trying to come up with awful baby names — Agamemnon, Rainbow — so that Callie would finally accept some of the cute ones, and Jackson wasn’t too happy with Webber, who’d called the morning board meeting without him. Why had he done it? Because Webber built this place with certain ideals in mind, and they are not to be trifled with! Webber saw a fundamental difference in philosophy between the hospital and the Avery Foundation, and as he put it, it was a doomed marriage. Yeah, April probably shouldn’t have been listening to that conversation.

In surgery, Burke was still wearing the same lucky scrub caps from seven years ago, and again, my heart nearly burst. Being Burke, he immediately brought up Cristina losing the Harper Avery. He told her not to feel bad about it. After he’d won, he’d gone on the ultimate high until he crashed. The pressure he put on himself eventually drove him to move to Zurich and get away from it all. Once there, he found a rich man who was willing to back the hospital, and now, he was able to bring all these people in without any government funding. But one set of deep pockets wasn’t enough to impress Cristina. Well, it was, but not as much as the next thing. And that was when he showed her his latest project — a holographic heart that would allow surgeons to see the patient’s heart from all angles in real time. They could assess the ramifications without the risk of blind entry. Needless to say, Cristina was happy she’d decided to stick around.

But just in case Burke hadn’t sold Zurich enough, he showed Cristina the hospital’s 49 printers before he explained that he understood how valid her work is. He asked what’s next, and she finally admitted that she knew what it was but that, as he completed her sentence for her, she was afraid she would lose support after not winning the Harper Avery. She wanted to print a functional human heart. His response? Do it here. Start tomorrow. All you have to do is say yes. God, that man always was convincing, wasn’t he?

Back in America, things weren’t going so well for the twins. A clot in Twin A — Lizzie’s — brain forced them to separate them faster than planned. And up in the gallery, things were just as messy. After finding out Yang was in Zurich, Richard once again blamed Avery, but this time, Avery’s wife was there to stick up for him. April called Richard out on the fact that he felt guilty for bringing the foundation in to help the hospital, but she reminded him that Avery was not his mother. Geez, April’s barely pregnant, and she’s already turning into a fierce mama. I kinda like it.

After being bawled out, Richard had a chat with Meredith where he told her about the first time her mother won a Harper Avery. That award was their gold standard, he said. It was the measure of their success, everything they worked for. And now, Catherine had made it meaningless. She had cheapened it, cheapened their goals, and therefore cheapened Ellis’ memory. He couldn’t stand that.

Meanwhile, Jackson went and found his feisty wife at the hospital chapel. As he put it, “I know who you hang out with.” In a sweet moment, Jackson agreed to go to church every Sunday with his wife and family, but only if they could get waffles after. She agreed. In the long run, I’m not sure if this will help or hurt things, but it was a great first step. Yay marriage!

NEXT: “The way I loved you was consuming.”

OK, back to Zurich, where my chills had chills. In Burke’s office, he offered to order dinner, to which Cristina made some noise. As he said, “I no longer have the ability to interpret your noises.” She asked if this was all a ploy to get her back in his life. His response? Pictures of his wife and two kids. He’d found the love of his life, the woman who had given up surgery to stay at home and raise their children. When you do something as fiercely as they do, you need someone at home, he told her. But she reminded him that he doesn’t know her anymore. Her life has moved on too. That might be fair, he said, but he knows that she is a magnificent surgeon. “You’ve become everything I dreamed you’d be,” he told her. And that was why she should consider his job offer. And I’m crying again.

With that zinger, Cristina went back to the hotel, and instead of dancing it out, she called Meredith and left yet another voicemail. “Everything I ever wanted is here, except he’s here, so what the hell am I supposed to do? What would you tell me to do?” She asked. Well, we’ll never know, but Cristina marched right back to Burke — the Director of Cardiothoracic Surgery — to say that no, she hadn’t spoken to Meredith, and no, she didn’t want the job. She couldn’t work for him again. “I never wanted to work for you. I wanted to be you. The best thing that ever happened to me was you walking away from our wedding.” She said that his leaving had made her stand on her own two feet. She was better for it, and so was he. So why was he offering her a job he knew she couldn’t resist? Because he didn’t want her to work for him.

Burke knew that the two of them working together would destroy his marriage. “The way I loved you was consuming,” he told her as I sank into my couch. He told her that eventually, she’d hold the carrot and he’d be chasing her. But he had a family now, a life he wanted. So no, he didn’t want her to work for him. He wanted her to take over for him. His wife wanted to move to Milan, and he was ready to leave. He was just waiting to find someone he was willing to give his institute to. So what, “You’re Willy Wonka and you’re handing me a chocolate factory?” As he put it, “Cheer up, Charlie.”

Watching that scene, and watching Burke fall in love with her all over again, was absolutely mesmerizing. It was Shonda Rhimes at her best, and even thinking about it makes me cry. My only complaint was that when she said, “Are you serious?” neither one of them used the opportunity to say “Seriously.” He told her this place was hers if she wanted it. And as Meredith figured out the moment Cristina set foot on U.S. soil, she was leaving.

But in a tiny bit of good news, Amy might be staying, despite the fact that Twin A had died earlier in the day. Derek told her that he’d recommended his favorite sister for Callie’s project, and he wanted her to stick around. Personally? I’m on board.

So what did you all think of the episode? Did seeing Alex in a tie rub anyone else the wrong way? And are you able to function right now, because all I want to do is rewatch it and cry. And then rewatch all Burke scenes. I mean, seriously?!

Sound off in the comments below!

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ELLEN POMPEO

Grey's Anatomy

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

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