'Grey's Anatomy' recap: Milestone 200th episode relied on nostalgia over crisis

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Not many shows can say they've had the honor of making it to 200 episodes, but one ABC drama reached that milestone on Thursday night.

"Grey's Anatomy" has been on the air for an astonishing 10 seasons of medical and personal drama, and with creator Shonda Rhimes behind the wheel, many assumed the landmark episode would feature some huge crisis, changing all the doctors' lives mostly for the worse. That's not too ridiculous a claim, seeing as how this series has relied on many different crises to propel the plot along, some believable and heartbreaking, others ridiculous (ahem, anyone remember the pet lion that wreaked havoc in Season 8?). But Rhimes proved once again that hers is a mind filled with genius, and delivered an hour that reminded us why we've devoted 10 years to this show.

"Puttin' On the Ritz" relied on nostalgia and fond memories to evoke an emotional response rather than some huge emergency, and it worked. We were brought back to Season 1, when the veteran doctors fell back into their intern attitudes as they competed to see who could raise the most money at the Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital fundraiser party. They were playing dirty, stealing from each other, using every tool in their arsenal to raise the funds the hospital desperately needed after the storm, and they were all having a ball doing it. We were reminded of the days when our doctors were interns with little to no responsibilities besides being the best doctors they could be.

The 200th episode also reminded us of past milestone episodes. Derek and Meredith fondly recalled the prom from Season 2, when they slept together and Meredith's underwear got pinned to the bulletin board in the hospital. Sure, that act cause a whole lot of drama back then, but look how far they've come: they're married, with two children. All that petty relationship drama with the vet and Derek's ex-wife seems so far away, and that's why this hour worked better than some random emergency. We can see how our favorite doctors have grown, changed, and matured over the years.

Even Cristina, who really didn't have anything to be happy about in Thursday's episode, showed how much she's grown up. She easily slipped into the position of mentor for intern Shane without acting superior or grouchy or annoyed. She helped Owen get a date, and didn't interfere when it was clear he succeeded in charming a beautiful woman. She was light, happy, and confident all night long. Think back to who she was at the beginning of the series: a headstrong, impossible, rude, and conniving competitor. She's a completely different person now, and these 10 years -- in all the good parts and the horrible parts -- have shaped her into a better person.

Of course, some doctors still have a long way to go before they can achieve total happiness. Alex was thrown a major curveball when a junkie ("Dexter" dad James Remar) who came into the ER turned out to be his father that he hadn't seen in 20 years. This is one reunion that won't involve hugs and tears. Alex wasn't even sure it was his father, so he took a paternity test and left in a rage when it came back positive. Stay tuned for more on this daddy drama.

Former Chief Webber was his old stubborn self, refusing his treatments even though that meant he was dying. It took some clever, stubborn manipulating on Bailey's part to finally convince him that he was being stupid. After alienating Meredith last week, how many loved ones will Webber push away before accepting that he needs help, and others need him to fight?

Callie and Arizona are nowhere near reconciliation, as Callie was telling donors at the party that her wife died in the plane crash to get sympathy donations, and Arizona spent the night getting drunk with Kepner in a closet. Solid choice.

Jackson spent his night stressed about every detail of the party, and didn't have time to even think about inviting his intern girlfriend. She was mad at first, then enjoyed her night as a rock star doctor in the ER. Too bad intern Shane chose the absolute worst time to kiss her -- as Jackson walked into the room. But all's well: she explained to Jackson she didn't reciprocate the kiss. 

We also got to see one of the grossest, slow-motion, bone-through-the-skin breaks of the series to date. Hey, this wouldn't be "Grey's Anatomy" without some gross, gory effects, would it?

"Grey's Anatomy" airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

Photo/Video credit: ABC