Grey's Anatomy , ABC
Thursday, 9 ET/PT
Premiere: Sept. 23
Where we left them:Seattle Grace and its doctors were recovering from a lethal rampage — turning "a hospital into a crime scene," creator Shonda Rhimes says — by a man who blamed Derek (Patrick Dempsey) for the death of his wife. Derek, Owen (Kevin McKidd) and Alex (Justin Chambers) were shot, but all survived; Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) had a miscarriage; Callie (Sara Ramirez) and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) opened the door to possibly starting a family; and Lexie (Chyler Leigh) learned Alex's heart remains with the long-gone Izzie.
"I really wanted to make what would feel like a small movie," Rhimes says. "I wanted it to be really self-contained. I did not want it to be a cliffhanger, because I felt like what we were doing was so violent that I truly didn't feel it was fair to people to end the season with Derek's life in the balance or any of those things. … We all know everyone will be forever altered by the event."
Where they're headed: "The theme of the new season," which opens about a month later, "is rebirth," Rhimes says. Flashbacks will help fill in the passed time. "We're going to be seeing our characters dealing with and struggling with what happened to them. They're trying to rebuild their lives and the reputation of the hospital," Rhimes says.
The characters have different responses to the tragedy, she says. Alex reverts "to the evil spawn he used to be"; Cristina (Sandra Oh) fears entering the operating room; Derek has taken to speeding — and getting arrested — as he feels invincible; and Meredith is taking care of everyone except herself. While others get cleared for surgery, she can't. And there's a marriage in the first episode, though Rhimes won't say who.
Who's new:James Tupper (Men in Trees) appears for three episodes as the therapist who clears doctors to return to surgery. In returning news, Jason George plays Bailey's love interest in the first episode, and Mandy Moore is back in a later episode. — Bill Keveney