The ninth season of Grey’s Anatomy‘s is a time of great transition. As it says on the cover of the Complete Ninth Season DVD, “Everything Changes.”
The entire season focuses on the effects of the plane crash in the season eight finale, as well as events that intercede to set the doctors’ lives on new paths, proving that a series can still maintain a freshness and extremely high quality almost a decade into its run.
The season premiere, “Going, Going, Gone,” picks up months after the plan crash. Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) is grieving the death of her sister, Lexie (Chyler Leigh), Derek (Patrick Demsey) has traded being a surgeon for teaching, Cristina (Sandra Oh) has not returned to the hospital because she can’t bring herself to board a plane, Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) is cold towards her wife, Callie (Sara Ramirez), because Callie has amputated Arizona’s leg, and Mark Sloan (Eric Dane) seems to be recovering, only to take a turn for the worse and dies.
This is the starting point for a roller coaster of a year. We see how the doctors try to cope with their losses and move forward while dealing with the guilt plaguing those who may be responsible or should have been flying that day, too.
The hospital pays out a huge settlement, which threatens its very existence, and the desperate plan to save the facility has great personal cost both to those keeping the mission a secret and those on the outside wishing they didn’t have to look in. And a marriage crumbles as an interloper (White Collar‘s Hilarie Burton) somewhat inadvertently takes advantage of the strain.
There is also turmoil that has nothing to do with those events. Webber (James Pickens Jr.) faces a crumbling marriage as his wife, Adele’s (Loretta Devine), mental health decays. Jackson (Jesse Williams) wants to confess his feelings for April (Sarah Drew), who is rehired at Seattle Grace Mercy West, but she is moving on with a paramedic named Matthew (Justin Bruening, All My Children).
But there are happy times, too. Bailey (Chandra Wilson) gets to marry Ben (Jason George). Meredith discovers the joys of motherhood. Cristina finds true wisdom in working with Dr. Thomas (William Daniels, Boy Meets World). New ownership looks good for the hospital. Owen (Kevin McKidd) finally stops fighting with his wife. Alex (Justin Chambers) falls for a kindred spirit. Life is a mixed bag, and there is always happiness sprinkled in the sadness.
Best of all, the halls are now ringing with a new class of interns (Camilla Luddington, Gaius Charles, Tina Majorino, Tessa Ferrer, and Jerrika Hinton). These five are built to last, unlike previous batches, with four of the quintet signed on as main characters for the upcoming tenth year. (In-demand Majorino has a previous series commitment that prevents her full-time return at this time). They remind us of the youth and foolhardiness that once belonged to Meredith, Cristina, Alex, and their friends. They are a reflector to show the growth of the central cast. They reinvigorate the story, and give the series promise of many more years. In short, they are a fresh injection of welcome blood.
The original characters are still our most beloved, but as Grey‘s approaches a milestone decade on the air, it cannot remain stagnant. The writers deftly balance plots of both new faces and the beloved veterans, keeping things going, even as they reinvent themselves, and tying both together in a pleasing patchwork. This is a stellar season, full of terrific installments which I cannot praise enough,
The bonus features are light, unfortunately, though how much more can be said this far along? “Happy Trails with Jim Pickens, Jr.” revels in the real-life passion of horses and charity that our Dr. Webber has. “The Long Road Home” is also about fifteen minutes, and covers how Arizona’s storyline this season was approached, and the special effects behind the now-one-legged doc. Plus, there are a LOT of deleted scenes, and a couple of minutes of outtakes. Plus, the finale is an extended episode. The only thing really lacking here is the absence of a single audio commentary.
Grey’s Anatomy Complete Ninth Season is one of the best ones yet, and is available to relive on DVD now.