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'Grey's Anatomy' premiere: Saying goodbye to George O'Malley


"Grey's Anatomy" viewers were left with one question after last season's cliffhanger finale: Would Izzie and George live or die? 

We got our answer within the first minute of Thursday's season premiere, as George (T.R. Knight) died on the operating table and Izzie (Katherine Heigl) opened her eyes.

Of course, most "Grey's" fans were unsurprised. Both Knight's release from his contract and Heigl's return to the set (for those grueling 17-hour workdays) were well-publicized over the summer. 

As the eternal underdog in everything from his love life to his career, George O'Malley remained a favorite of mine despite his weak story lines in the series' lackluster fifth season. Although his death wasn't a shocker, the panic attack Callie (Sara Ramirez) had when George flat-lined gave the scene the emotional impact it deserved. 

Thursday night's two-hour season opener followed the Seattle Grace staff over the 40 days after George's death, as they struggled through the five stages of grief (helpfully laid out during one of Meredith's famous monotone voice-overs). The time-lapse episode was an interesting choice, and though we sped through six weeks of mourning in two hours, it didn't feel rushed to me. 

After all, "Grey's" has already examined the way many of these characters grieve. We've seen Izzie's seemingly endless struggle to move on after Denny's death, and after Meredith's mother died we watched her work through her issues in therapy and with her mother's journals. I'm not sure the show could have held my attention for another season of crippling sadness. 

This way, we'll be able to watch the Seattle Grace staff deal with the tragedy after the initial bombshell shock wears off. I'm interested to see the way George's death affects the characters for the rest of the season -- especially Bailey and Christina, who don't seem to be coping in particularly healthy ways.

I'm just hoping they'll let O'Malley rest in peace -- meaning, I don't ever want to see him again. After an entire season of creepy dead Denny sex, I think we can all agree that George doesn't need to return as the special guest star in anybody's cancer ghost hallucinations or near-death experiences.

It wouldn't be a "Grey's Anatomy" season premiere without a twist. After some political drama within the hospital, with the Seattle Grace board members unsuccessfully planning to promote Derek to Chief McDreamy, it was announced that Seattle Grace would be merging with rival hospital Mercy West. 

Taking a cue from the sad reality of our nation's economy, the merger may result in a few of our favorite doctors being let go. We're gearing up for another season of competition within the hospital, and possibly for some new Mercy West doctors to join the cast. I can't wait to see who stays and who goes.

Let's discuss! What are you going to miss about George? Who do you think will be lost to the merger? Are you excited about the layoffs, or is the hospital's grim financial situation a little too much reality in your TV? Do you think Izzie's cancer is gone, or are we in for even more dead Denny this season? 

Sound off in the comments below, and be sure to check back after next week's episode.

-- Carina MacKenzie

Photo: Kevin McKidd, Sandra Oh, Justin Chambers and Katherine Heigl in the season premiere of "Grey's Anatomy." Credit: ABC

Comments () | Archives (57)

George was my favorite and I wish that had gotten bigger story lines. I'm going to miss George's innocence and subtle humor. I was always rooting for him with Izzy & in becoming a doctor.
I do not want to see dead Denny, that really freaked me out and I couldn't watch when he was on. I don't care for Meredith's sister or Karev...I know he's a major character but he's so messed up that he shouldn't be practicing medicine. I work in a hospital and if anyone of our staff had such mental & emotional problems they wouldn't be cleared to work with patients.

I thought the two episodes lumbered like the slowest catcher in baseball on the basepaths. SOOO much crying, SOOO much maudlin faces, SOOO much downer expressions and dialogue. SOOO much was too much.
It was humorless, and basically, pointless,other than to watch sad people being sad.
I thought it was pathetic and shows how far the show has fallen. And when Ellen Pompeo leaves for maternity watch, what will the show be titled? "Grey-less Anatomy?"

Wow-- your article was great-- highlighted everything I felt about the show. Not sure I don't want to see George again though. He was one of my favorites. His character with its goodness and humanity-- he certainly wasn't perfect -was somewhat refreshing and was a pleasure to watch. You were spot on with your underdog comment-- I think that was why he was so endearing in a sea of hot mcSteamy/Dreamy characters! I loved rooting for him and actually felt so sad last night (yes, I cried but more because it brought up lost friends in my life-- I think the writers did a great job of hitting that button in all of us)-- even though I knew it was going to happen! I hope we see T.R. in another show sometime soon. I am looking forward in the episodes to come-- I do enjoy the show-- it is on of my top Tevo hits!! I very much enjoyed your writing style and look forward to more! Do you write any other columns?

Ahahaha amazing, Carina. I love reading your articles, you're incredible. Keep it up!!

Soap opera in a new costume.

Decent episode - thought Katherine Heigl was phenomenal...it will be a big loss to the show with her not being in 5 or 6 episodes because of her movie commitments.

I will never be averse to dead Denny. In fact, I think he and George should show up together some time and bring with them some other dead doctors and nurses for a party. Or maybe they can save that for later in the season and morph it into a Christmas Carol kind of thing. Who gets to be Tiny Tim?

I loved, loved, loved the premiere. The way the core group mourned was so realistic, I thought, and it made me re-fall in love with some of my favorite characters all over again (Cristina, Izzie, Bailey, and Callie). Mark Sloan also continues to grow on me in every scene he's in.

I'm not looking forward to this Mercy West merger plot at ALL. This is mostly because I really have grown to dislike the chief. He's just become more and more selfish as the seasons have rolled by, and it's removing everything likable about the character. I want him gone. I want HIM to not survive the merger.

I am definitely going to miss George - there could have been so many more stories to tell and they're never going to be part of the show now. I agree wiht you about hoping he doesn't come back as a ghost - and I hope that now that Izzie's on the mend, they stop with the Denny scenes as well.

A quick glance at the headline led me to believe the series had been canceled.
Unfortunately, that was not the case.

The Season premier's 1st hour was the worst written episode of the series.
George does not have a donor card already? The mother of a surgeon and surgeon wife struggle over organ donation? Give me a break!
A doctor/friend must talk to Izzie who is near death about an ex lover who has died.. Who would ever do that...
Another stinker like that and I will be watching LA Ink..

Lordy, this show sucks.

At first glance, I thought the article was about the show being cancelled. Much to my dismay, it's not being cancelled.
I totally loved the first season, but the show lost me during the second season and I have never returned. The character flaws are too numerous to mention here other than stating at least half them became real annoying including "George".
"Olivia" on Fringe became annoying during the last part of the season and I don't know how much long viewers like me will tolerate watching the show in spite of her.

Life and art are paralleling each other here: It was announced last week in the "real" Seattle that Northwest Hospital is merging with the University of Washington Medical Center.

no comment

I hope that they dont lose anybody..but in fact bring in some new faces to give the show a boost..it is an ENSEMBLE drama after all and the show works best with each cast or several cast members are highlighted and character development can be shown and the talented cast ( I think currently the best on TV right now) will do what they do best..although like all shows they do have a weak episode form time to time to but overall I think this will be just the thing to put that spark in Grey's

Absolutely phenomenal. I thought the episode tied up loose ends well and now we can move on. McDreamy is back to being McDreamy thank heavens. McSteamy is still McSteamy but becoming a better person and Callie rocks. However, Callie might be the one to rue the day she switched hospitals. Time will tell.

I can’t wait for next week to see how everyone handles the hospital mergers. I think last year's interns will be the first to go.

I am forced to watch this hot piece of garbage every week with my wife (in exchange, she watches football with me on Sundays)...and I am amazed that it keeps getting worse.

Did anyone actually watch this maudlin, hack-job of a season premiere and think "wow, that was great!"? Really?

I was mostly struck, when I took time away from trying to slit my wrists during the laborious two hours, at how little real emotional impact George's death had. This was George O'Malley, a central character of the show, and all I could keep thinking was "Wow, Shonda Rhimes must really hate TR Knight." First, she completely dulls any emotional impact a major character's death might have by having George be largely invisible last season and then she has:

1) Characters laughing at his funeral in maybe one of the worst written scenes I've ever seen. I actually felt bad for the actors as they desperately tried to muscle through such a ham-fisted, completely inappropriate piece of writing.

2) Dr. "McSteamy" making fun of George's looks soon after his death.

3) The characters claiming it's not really George because the guy on the operating table looks much taller (a subtle shot at TR's stature).

4) Sandra Ramirez performing maybe the worst impression of a nervous breakdown in tv history immediately after his death, thus completely killing any emotional impact his death may have had in that moment.

"And when Ellen Pompeo leaves for maternity watch, what will the show be titled? "Grey-less Anatomy?" "

Better yet, Cancelled Grey's Anatomy. Worst writing in TV. Acting pretty close to that bad.

Anyone notice that the kid with the spinal cord defect couldn't get the MRI his doctor prescribed because his insurance company wouldn't approve? Who knew Grey's Anatomy was a documentary?

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