Meredith is back at work, liver intact. She’s somewhere in the bowels of the hospital, pacing that little-used corridor where the gang used to gather to gossip, nap and hide from their Attendings. Back from who-knows-where, Izzie rounds the corner, pushing her favorite teacher from high school, Dr. Singer (Broadway veteran and Buffy demon Joel Grey) in a wheelchair. However, that’s not the time-warp part. The time-warp part is that Izzie suddenly has a full head of hair.
Human hair grows about one half inch per month. So, let’s see. Either that’s the best damn weave I’ve ever seen, we’ve inexplicably time-jumped 10 months, or the same person who decided Grey’s didn’t need to explain why the Chief has no Mercy West counterpart clearly thinks no one is paying attention.
Meredith wants to know where the hell Izzie’s been, but Izzie only wants to talk about her former mentor, who now has dementia. Out of frustration, Meredith hits Izzie but it’s going to take more than a couple of girly smacks to slap the self-involved crazy off of that one.
Meanwhile, Dr. Singer thinks Izzie is still a student and warns her to beware of teen pregnancy and cheerleaders because “those little bitches are poisonous.” Maybe he’s not so far gone after all.
Elsewhere, Cristina snubs her puppy Avery, who’s still riding a high after kissing her last week or 10 months ago, depending on how you suspend your disbelief. Her real boyfriend, Owen, proves he knows what a woman wants and presents Cristina with the best gift ever: An attractive woman. And not just any woman, but a cardio god to lead Cristina to the promise land. Ladies and ladies, please welcome, direct from the Iraq War, Owen’s Army buddy, Teddy.
Aw. And she didn’t get him anything.
The Chief’s wife, Adele, comes blowing in on a cloud of sass and snap, looking for him. He hasn’t been home and for reasons I’ll never understand, she cares where he is. Bailey covers his M.I.A. ass, even though she hasn’t seen him since last week. Or, January. Whichever. Lexie also comes looking for the King, because in addition to firing people using a blindfold and a dartboard, bellowing orders that no one heeds, and taking credit for the invention of the insulin, he’s still treating hapless patients. One of them has taken a turn for the worse.
While the Chief is in the wind, word of Izzie’s return had spread. Cristina would like an explanation, considering she saved Izzie’s life. Derek takes a lookie-loo at her former teacher as a favor while Izzie greets Dr. Potato Head with some friendly hey-you’re-the-guy-who-got-me-fired stink eye.
Alex wanders by and sees his wife. Izzie hasn’t called, texted, emailed or tweeted that she was even alive, and here she is now, hair and all, more concerned about her old teacher’s illness than her husband. Without a word, he walks away to cancel his appointment with that police psychic.
Outside, Cristina is grilling Teddy Baghdad about her education and background. She is not impressed. Anyone who didn’t attend one of the Seven Sisters, worked in, gasp, Florida, and tries to catch raindrops on her tongue (she’s been in the desert a long, long time) is no one she wants to learn from.
Cristina tells Owen to return her gift and get her a better model. Is anyone shocked that Cristina is a brand whore?
Bailey finds the Chief snoring in an on-call bunk. She pokes him the way you would wake a sleeping bear, hands him a cup o’ caffeine and tells him to get out there and start doing Chiefly things. Behind every great man is a short, bossy woman holding a latte. Still waiting for the day we can dispense with the superfluous man part of this act.
In other news: Dr. Singer accidentally did a faceplant and now Izzie demands he get a spinal tap. They can put that on her $200,000 tab. Meanwhile, Avery née Vanessa Williams gets to assist Teddy with a procedure because Cristina was too busy looking her gift horse in the mouth. Cristina uses the free time to complain about Teddy to the Chief, but Bailey runs interference for him and shoos her away. Adele sashays back in, still looking for her man. Bailey tells her the Chief is busy prepping for a surgery. Adele asks in a deadly calm drawl, “Are you having an affair with my husband?”
Bailey might have thrown up in her mouth a little, if she weren’t so flabbergasted. The Chief? If she wanted a lock-minded, bumbling botchbag in a golf sweater, she would date George Bush. Callie steps in and explains that Bailey is the Chief’s work wife. Bailey and Adele have never heard of such a thing.
Callie: The Chief’s your work husband and you’re his work wife. You look out for each other; you take care of each other. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s like me and Sloan.
Mark: Excuse me?
Callie: Nobody’s talking to you. He’s my work husband but he has a girlfriend. And I have a girlfriend [Adele does a subtle head jerk] but nothing going on between us.
Mark: I mean, there was, at one point.
Callie: You’re not helping.
Bailey: Neither one of you are helping.
Adele allows that Bailey is probably not having an affair with her husband, but tells everyone something is up. He hasn’t slept at home all week. Callie and her lesbro work husband, Mark, exchange juicy gossip eyebrows. “Really?” Mark says with piqued interest, as Callie pretends to be looking at her phone.
Izzie blackmails Dr. Potato Head into giving her teacher a free spinal tap by threatening to tell Reed he’s in love with her. Afterwards, Dr. Singer is mysteriously lucid and recognizing Izzie, asks why he’s in the hospital. Derek looks thing over and says he had too much fluid in his head. The spinal tap removed just enough oil from his crankcase to get his mind running again. A simple shunt should do the trick for good.
Less fortunate is the Chief’s patient, who has turned bright yellow. Lexie and Reed wonder if the Chief could have accidentally clipped the patient’s common bile duct. Bailey shuts them down with the force of a hundred work wives, saying if they tell anyone the Chief might have made such a huge mistake, they’ll be the ones needing emergency surgery.
In the cafeteria, it’s high school all over again. Callie, Arizona, Mark, Owen and Teddy sit at one table while Meredith, Cristina and Alex sit at another. Mark is eager to gossip about the Chief, but he’s cut off when Teddy tells her new friends how impressed she is with the hospital’s high-tech toys and the caliber of its residents, espesh Cristina Yang.
Teddy: I don’t think she likes me but —
Mark: Oooh. She doesn’t like you?
Mark: No. you’re probably right. Just because Yang drove off the last three cardio attendings.
Owen: She did not.
Owen: Come on, that was —
Owen: She had nothing to do Hahn leaving.
Callie: Nope, that was me.
Arizona smiles knowingly because Callie’s thick mane, blinding white choppers and sexy lingerie are all hers now. It doesn’t take Teddy long to surmise that Owen and Cristina are a couple. It also dawns on her that she’s being used to further Yang’s career. She should be thanking Owen for getting her out of Baghdad and back to the land of cheeseburgers and fancy indoor plumbing.
Over at the other table, Cristina, Meredith and Alex are having their own chat about “Desert Storm Barbie.”
Cristina: Owen said she would surprise me. Well, guess what? Surprise! She doesn’t know how to do surgery.
Alex: Leave her alone. It’s her first day.
Cristina: Why are you defending her? She went to state school.
Alex: So did I.
Cristina: Well, she’s skinny and blond.
Alex: So’s Mer.
Cristina: Well, she’s annoying.
Alex: So are you.
Hard to argue with any of that, so Cristina starts asking about Izzie. Alex doesn’t want to talk about his wife, so he grabs his tray and takes his face full of crumbs to another table. All Meredith wanted a nice, normal lunch during her first day back. Normal meaning people are having sex in supply closets, taking turns cutting each other and practicing sutures in the basement, and stabbing live pigs just to see what happens? That normal?
Izzie is arguing with the Chief, who refuses to give Dr. Singer a pro bono shunt. Reminding him she gave the hospital an eight million dollar clinic, Izzie threatens to expose him in the media as a callous ingrate. Well, that just won’t do and Izzie gets her way, yet again.
Bailey spies them in his office and later confronts the Chief that he’s having an affair with her. He guffaws. Bailey ought to stick to medicine and leave the wacky conspiracy theories to Birthers and Carrie Prejean. On a serious note, she tells him he screwed up a surgery and the Man in the Yellow Skin is suffering for it. Suddenly, he’s not laughing anymore. Bailey willingly offers a cover-up because that’s what work wives do.
Meanwhile, Arizona, Cristina and Teddy are examining a little boy who can’t breathe. After asking three seemingly random questions and listening to his heart, Teddy orders Yang to book an OR; the boy has a rare heart condition. Cristina can’t believe Teddy diagnosed the kid just like that. Teddy is done being the good-natured newbie and barks at Cristina to do as she says and book that damn OR. Now you’re talking her lingo.
Once in the OR, Cristina, Arizona and Avery see Teddy’s wisdom — the boy’s heart is abnormal. Teddy asks Arizona to step aside so Cristina can do the honors. Cristina is beaming from behind her mask and funny magnifying glasses as she starts cutting. There’s a small moment of panic during the procedure, but Teddy calmly lets Cristina figure it out on her own and everything turns out fine. Maybe Owen’s Toys for Fembots program wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
Izzie is watching the operation in the gallery. Alex finds her and asks for an explanation, as if women can ever explain why they do the crazy things they do. She coldly says she knows he told the Chief she wasn’t ready to come back to work. “This job was the one thing I had left. The one thing. And you took that away from me. You interfered and got me fired,” she says with absolute certainty.
Having just gotten married, it’s nice to hear she thinks the “one thing” she had in her life wasn’t him, but her job. And by the by, that’s not what happened — he told the Chief to give her a break while she got her strength back — but why muddy the waters with facts? Izzie says she can’t forgive him. He tried to be a work husband, he tried to be a husband husband. Now he’s on his way to being a has-been husband.
Alex is fuming that she jumped to conclusions instead of talking it out. He replies, “I am your husband and you didn’t give me the benefit of the doubt. So you know what? I can’t forgive you either,” and storms out.
To the relief of patients everywhere, the Chief tells Bailey he’s taking a break from botching surgeries and gives her all his cases. Um, yay? Bailey bemoans to Callie that she’s now lost her work husband and her husband husband. That’s supposed to be a bad thing, right?
Callie offers to be her new work husband. Husbian, if you will. She sadly declines that special offer, so Callie suggested Derek. Bailey says wisely, “With all that hair? I can’t be looking at that all day.”
Later, in a quiet moment, Teddy tells Owen she always thought if he were single, he would’ve called her. She’s the gift that wants to keep on giving, if only he’d let her. But Owen’s heart belongs to Cristina, who later skips up to him, giddy as all get out, and thanks him for the best present ever.
A few of the folks are hanging out at the bar after work. Alex is drinking bile and soda with extra bitters, Meredith is taking the newest parts of her liver out for a spin, and the Chief is alone, drinking “club soda.” Except it’s not club soda, it’s bottom shelf vodka.
He’s back on the sauce. Fell off the wagon. Relapsed. Meredith sees him, glances at his empty glass but doesn’t react. Does she suspect? Just then, “Mo’ Vodka, Mo’ Problems” comes on the jukebox.