'Grey's Anatomy' finale sets up Season 9 without Chyler Leigh

chyler-leigh-greys-anatomy-death.jpgThe best way to describe Thursday's finale of "Grey's Anatomy" is to call it unsettling. We knew that there was a death on the way, and we knew exactly which doctors were in the devastating plane crash, but we still weren't prepared for the raw agony of the episode.

Lexie ( Chyler Leigh) died in the first 20 minutes of the hour, with little fanfare, aside from a powerful declaration of love from Mark. There were none of the emotional manipulation tools usually employed by Shonda Rhimes -- it wasn't held until the end of the episode, and there were no soaring musical montages. The moment relied entirely on writing and performances.

With such a jarring start to the episode, we expected some comfort by the end -- but our heroes went unrescued. When we last saw them, Cristina was hungry, Meredith was exhausted, Derek's left hand was so mangled that it's hard to imagine him doing surgery again, and Arizona's leg was badly broken. Mark was having trouble fighting for his life after experiencing such a terrible personal tragedy.

Back at the hospital, there was one moment of joy as Bailey and Ben got engaged. Unfortunately, it was hard to enjoy the romance given the dire circumstances elsewhere. The surgical residents had almost all made decisions to leave Seattle Grace, except for April, whose job prospects were looking very slim. Teddy, with some urging from Hunt, decided to take a job with MedCom, leaving Seattle Grace in need of a new Cardio God.

Season 9 is certainly going to be challenging. Is the plane crash enough to convince every wayward doctor to abandon their plans to move out of Seattle? Will Cristina take over Teddy's position in the hospital? How will Meredith pick herself up after the loss of her sister? Will Mark be okay?


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