‘Grey’s Anatomy’ season finale recap: Cristina says goodbye

Given that Cristina Yang has been the steely, no-nonsense Type-A balance to Meredith Grey's sappy navel-gazing on “Grey's Anatomy,” it seemed only fitting that her last episode on the show would strip away all the maudlin hugging and weepiness (well, not all, but most) in favor of a big explosion. A hospital flooded with critical patients is a good day for Yang (Sandra Oh). 

Of course, last week's episode also felt refreshingly right for Yang. Though promos for the show suggested the return of Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington) would force Yang to decide whether or not to go back to the old flame that dumped her minutes from the altar, it was a brilliant fake out. Even Yang thought Burke's decision to fly her out to his fabulous digs in Switzerland was his way of making a move on her. No, he was simply interested in her mind, as he was looking for someone to run his luxuriously overfunded research lab so he could move to Italy with his wife and kids. Yes, life went on for Burke, just as it went on for Yang. How… weirdly realistic.

Still, Yang did get a fabulous happily ever after, a beautiful lab with a title and yes, a far better shot at getting a Harper Avery than she could ever get back in Seattle. The season finale was equally low on drippy romance. While the moment she shares with Owen, a tiny wave as she looks at him through the observation area of an operating room, was emotional, it was entirely free of dialogue. While Yang ran around the hospital, remembering to say a few goodbyes before climbing into a cab, the one that should have meant the most on a daytime soap got the shortest shrift. No, the really long, weepy goodbye was with someone else — Meredith.

Yang actually comes back to the hospital and insists on a farewell dance off, a moment that I could have done without (what seemed fun in 2005 looks trite and age-inappropriate now). She also takes a moment to tell Meredith to stay alive (not necessarily a given on this show) and think hard about Derek's push to move the family to Washington D.C. “Don't let what he wants eclipse what you need. He's very dreamy, but he's not the sun. You are.”

It's surprising that Meredith needs to hear it, but maybe shoe does, as the promptly announces to Derek she's not moving and that's final. Knowing that both Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey have reupped their contracts with the show for two more seasons, I wasn't sure if the storyline would be split between Seattle and D.C., but now it looks a little easier to discern.

Other characters were also sent packing, though in different ways. Leah (Tessa Ferrer) walked out of the hospital with her head held high,  while Shane managed to hitch a ride to Switzerland with Cristina. Bailey found out her lab work had been defunded, but Webber assures her she gets Cristina's spot on the board. That's about when the cliffhangers started kicking in. We couldn't just wrap things up with Cristina and call it a day, could we?

Though Bailey is sure she has the job, she doesn't know that Cristina has handed over her paperwork to Alex, who now has a reason to stick around the hospital and not just roll in private practice money. But the real shocker came in the form of the new head of cardio, Dr. Pierce. Though at first we mostly see her stomping around the hospital, furious that Cristina won't bow to her, we soon learn that she has a personal reason for taking the job. She tells Webber (because of course Webber is the first one who bothers to chat with her) that she was given up for adoption, but she found out her mother is, wait for it… Ellis Grey. Given that she appears to be African-American, I guess this means she's Webber and Ellis' love child. 

Meredith was a slow to warm up to Lexie, but maybe she's softened with age. In any case, Meredith is desperately in need of a dramatic storyline now that Cristina is gone. For too long she's been the happy homemaker, worrying about babies and whether or not her colleagues still respected her (and the answer was largely, eh, maybe). With her relationship with Derek in tatters and a new half-sister in the wings, there might actually be a return to this being a show about Meredith Grey. That might even be more surprising than a happy ending for blunt, tough-minded Dr. Yang on a show that rarely has them.

Were you happy with the way Cristina was sent off? What do you think of Dr. Pierce?