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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)

Very sad why did he have to die off the show?

I think the premiere was worth the four month wait. It was awesome. I think the skip through of the 40 days worked well. It kept the story moving. I love Lexi Grey and Alex Kerev, they're my favorite two characters. Kerev did excellent in the episode. I hope there is no more dead Denny. I'm nervous about the merger, hope no more cast leaves. George OMalley will be missed.

I loved George and I will truly miss him being on the show. I also loved Denny and was exicted to see him even if he was dead. I do not like Dr. owen to much something about him gets on my nerves.

I love the show. I will miss George. I wish Meridith and Dr. McDreamy had more sex scenes. They also need a big wedding, not just a post it note. Keep on writing new shows.

I really did not like this episode. This show is a tear dropper EVERY week and I loved that. You never knew how or when but it happend. George was not a FAV 5 for me so I was okay to see him go. He could not bring anything else to the show anyways. This episode should have been an hour. WAY TOO SLOW
I am really upset to find out more people are leaving the show....
I am going to watch another episode...but if it becomes too flighty with the cast I'm out.

I'm impressed with how many things that were referenced in previous episodes were revealed again. Remember when Izzie told Alex awhile back that "she laughed at funerals?" I remember when George talked to a patient's parents about needing to explain the procedure so that he would agree to it. The kid was building a model of some kind and Geroge said "guys like us, need to know how things work." So in this episode his mother comes to Dr. War Veteran saying "I need to understand how things work and I need to understand the part about George coming to tell me he joined the army during war time. Nice allusion - George got his need to understand things from his mom.

They de-scoped George's character so much in the last season, it's hard to pick a moment from last season. I remember Geroge's obsession with Meredith, growing his hair out for her an then cutting it off himself. I miss how he counter-balanced how harsh Alex and Christina were. I remember George and Karev fighting when Alex shot off his mouth about Callie and Sloan. "George is a scrapper." Or when he hauled off and punched Alex for giving him syphilis.

I can't say that I'll miss the relationship he had with Izzie -- apparently it's the same relationship between them as actors and Katherine Heigl is overbearing about it. Bleh. I won't miss that.

I get the sense that Izzie will be fired, not b/c of her cancer per say, but she'll make some mistake and it will bring up her cutting the L-VAD wire. The board will let her go. That and Katherine Heigl doing a movie, seem likely that she'll get cut from the staff. I think Richard will be cut and brought back later..

just my thoughts.

i enjoyed the 40 day in one episode skip of the dramatic missing-george stage. very smart way of making the upcoming episodes a little less predictable. seems to me though that while greys used to be the "it" show on television-its slowly losing the rep. id much rather watch an episode of supernatural at this point--at least that keeps me guessing! nice blog though, ill come back next week for more.

I was really disappointed in the season premiere. This show use to be good. It seemed like the purpose of these two episodes was to give each actor equal time to show their talents in dealing with the death of George (hey smart move there O'Malley getting away from this sinking ship). The whole purpose of that girl supposedly sitting outside the hospital was to give Izzie her chance to give a speech about how life is for the living and do it for George, etc. And determining whether a surgeon would want to be a organ donor is a big plot point? Huh?
The teleplay for these two episodes looked like it was written by a couple of well meaning amateur fans of the show. This use to be must see TV for me, not anymore.

HUGE Grey's fan, can't get enough of the show!!! Still waiting in anticipation for Season 6 to start in South Africa. To Gail, George was nicknamed 007 - license to kill in the first season of Grey's. You lucky devils to be watching before me!!!! I'm green with envy....

I am so disapointed in this show, it used to be one of my favorites, George was the best of them all, his gentleness and sometimes awkward demenor made all of us feel that we can accomplish anything no matter what our background is, just press on, no matter what anyone thinks. Now we are stuck with the girls, oh the girls, come on, no feeling, I don't know weather to kill myself or marry the most gorgous Dr. in the planet, the sweet innocent girl falls for the sleasiest guy on the planet eeeoww. George's character offset many of these disfunctional characters. My best episode was when George had dreams of showering with the girls, and in the end, after an explosion, he was in the shower gently washing the debrise from the studded girls, brilliant writing.
But once you put George on the back burner, the girls could not hold the story and your ratings started to slip. Too bad, I don't see this show lasting much longer.

I still can't over the horror of watching O'Malley trace 007 on Merediths hand, I think about it and I get shivers. The scene with both George and Izzy in the lift made me sob, George was almost everything that was good about a person in one bloke, the journey that he had been on and where he was going to - serving in the forces were unselfish and noble. That said like Meredith I am very dark and twisty and I take great courage from relating to her journey. I love greys, its simple.

You didn't mention anything about Callie moving over to Mercy West, or how Arizona saved that boy's life by going over the Chief's head (with Derek's help). What about Owen? He's making huge steps to get through his PTSD? I don't think these characters get enough credit. Also, how cute are Mark and Lexie?

I will miss George. I loved his and Izzy's friendship. Alex can be such a jerk, and then we see his soft side. Christina, I think, will just crash. She's grieving George's death by being rude and inappropriate. She was so bad taht even Meredith walked out of the room while trying to talk to her. Bailey will be able to deal with it, because she is a strong woman, a rock.

I am sick of Meredith and Derrick and all the whining. This relationship should end or get married. A justice of the peace would satiafy the problem.

Everybody should have a friend like George.
The person that is always around doing thing you hardly notice a person you can depend on when time comes.
This is what I will mis and ultimately the whole series

Gosh, I'm so disappointed that George is gone. He was one of my favorites: sweet, halarious, kinda "dorky," and an amazing man. I can't believe he's off the show. I agree with some of the comments below about the season premier. Did the show get a new director or something? Cuz it just wasn't the same to me...

I'm starting to dislike the chief, too. Why's he being like this? Very annoying, selfish, and cruel to others. Oh, by the way, I love the McSteamy and Little Grey relationship. Love them! Also, um, the directors really need to get over Hunt's panic attacks or whatever he has. It's old and now very frustrating to watch. But Yang and Hunt's relationship is great I love them together.

I think the merger is completely stupid. TV is an escape from reality and for the directors to put these crappy economic times on a great show really sucks. I really hope they don't lose anybody...I'll be really upset if it's one of the main characters (besides Webber- he can peace out). I kind of have a feeling it's Izzy or Alex.

All in all, I hope this season turns around. So far, not too impressed. It's a total shame becuase this is my favorite show of all times. I have ALL the seasons on DVD, which I still watch all the time. Crossing my fingers :)

I wish they'd killed off boring Izzie and kept George. They coul have spiced up his story lines. I channel hop when Izzie is on, or yawn and day dream till she goes away...my least liked character...!

Why didn't they make it like this? George could go in the army as an army doctor and let his actor take leave... Then if he truely wanted out of the contract once he thought it out they could tell use he died in the army... That would be honorable...

I love George and I wish he was still here...

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