'Grey's Anatomy' Season 16 Premiere: Ain't That a Koracick in the Head? (RECAP)

Dan Clarendon
Spoiler Alert ABC/Kelsey McNeal

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 16, Episode 1 of Grey’s Anatomy, “Nothing Left to Cling To.”]

Aren’t you glad summer is over, Grey’s Anatomy fans? All that sunlight and warmth is so loathsome, right? Haven’t you just been yearning to get back to cold, damp, foggy, perpetually deadly Shondaland Seattle?

We have a lot to cover in this recap of the Season 16 premiere — September 26’s “Nothing Left to Cling To” — so strap in.

ABC’s teasers made it seem like Jackson (Jesse Williams) was in mortal peril, but Maggie (Kelly McCreary) finds him helping a mountain-climbing couple who posed for a selfie at the top of a summit before the husband, Jai, took a misstep and fell, breaking both legs. His wife, Mari, caught his cable with her broken arm and kept him from plummeting down a cliff for hours. Maggie and Station 19’s Vic (Barrett Doss), who conveniently appears, help Jackson rescue the couple.

In a week’s time, both husband and wife seem to be doing fine. But then Jai has a stroke that the doctor can’t figure out, and Mari is about to take him off life support when Amelia (Caterina Scorsone)—out to dinner with Link (Chris Carmack) after telling him that she wants to continue dating him before she goes “all in”—remembers a patient from her Private Practice days who had fat embolism syndrome. She and Link rush to the hospital and confirm the diagnosis. Even though the guy has, like, 0% body fat, the fat in his bone marrow made its way into his bloodstream when he broke his femur and caused his stroke. Thanks to some “experimental treatment” that is never quite explained, Jai wakes up and is fine (again).

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Meanwhile, Maggie and Jackson have had a full week to calm down after their camping blowout—washout?—but they haven’t hashed out their differing world-views. Plus, Maggie is still angry with him for leaving her alone on that foggy road. Amid Jai’s embolism crisis, Jackson wonders aloud if Mari should have kept hanging on to him instead of letting the “broken beyond repair” man die. Maggie asks him if she’s the “broken beyond repair” one in this metaphor—the one who should have been left to fall down the cliff. “Not you. Us,” Jackson responds. Yep, that’s a breakup alright. (Later, Maggie tells her sisters she deserves better than “someone who regularly abandons me for… trees.”)

At one point, Jackson finds Vic in the ambulance bay and thanks her for helping him out on that foggy night. He says he’s going to grab a burger, and she asks for a raincheck. And if you think that sounds like a flirt, you’re right. (All hail “Vickson”!) Later, they meet for coffee in a park and establish that they’ve both gotten out of long-term relationships—except, you know, Jackson’s relationship ended because he was kind of a jerk and Vic’s ended because her would-be fiancé died. Later still, Maggie exits the hospital just in time to see Jackson and Vic flirting, and after Vic leaves, Maggie frosts him. “I don’t like you, and you don’t like me, and we’re not friends, so it’s none of my business,” she says.

(ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

The other big cliffhanger from last season? Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) follows through on her promise to own up to her insurance fraud so that DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) can be freed from jail. She confers with her lawyer, who says that Mer will likely get a fine and community service but probably won’t lose her license and definitely won’t go to jail. (Mer is surprised by this. “I did this long, dramatic goodbye with my kids,” she contends.)

But when it’s time for her day in court, Mer isn’t remorseful enough for the judge. She asserts that the “system is broken” and only regrets her actions “to the extent that I can, knowing that there’s a very sick little girl out there who’s beginning to feel better.” All of a sudden, her lawyer is begging the judge not to throw Mer in jail.

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Luckily, Mer only gets community service and dutifully starts picking up litter—which offers us some beautiful Seattle exterior shots. A school mom driving by recognizes Mer and mistakes Mer’s community service as voluntary. And this woman even mommy-shames Mer for never having volunteered at the school. Mer gives her a lecture about working moms, but then her supervisor yells at her, and the woman realizes that this litter duty is court-ordered.

Later, Meredith tells DeLuca—who, sure enough, has been freed from prison—that Zola overheard the mom telling the teacher that Mer is a criminal. And Zola even asked Mer how to spell “criminal.” Ha! Their laughter ends, however, when Mer gets an email from the medical board, which says that the board will be pursuing action against her license.

(ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

The other two fired docs aren’t faring much better. Alex (Justin Chambers) transfers Jo (Camilla Luddington) from the hospital psych ward to a 30-day in-patient facility, and as he drops her off, she tells him that he has an out since they were never legally married anyway. Alex, bafflingly, doesn’t immediately tell Jo that he doesn’t want that out. Jo also tells Alex that she regrets becoming “another name on his list of crazy women,” but he tells her she’s way saner than the others. (See also: Izzie Stevens, Rebecca Pope, but also, let’s destigmatize mental illness.)

Later, in a therapy session, Jo tells Alex that she felt shame, fear, and pain about not being able to receive the love that Alex was offering, and Alex tells her that he felt fear when she shut down. “You’ve had enough pain and crazy for a lifetime,” Joe responds. “You deserve someone who doesn’t break like glass and needs to be swept up and shipped off to places like this.” But the therapist sets her straight: “Coming to a place like this makes you stronger than most.”

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When Jo’s 30 days are up—and after Alex gets a pep talk from Richard (James Pickens Jr.)—Alex dons a tuxedo and picks her up from the treatment facility. He gets down on bended knee and tells her he never wants an out. (Finally!) And he proposes that they get legally wed: “Marry me again. Please.” Jo happily accepts.

Speaking of Richard, now that he has lost his job at Grey Sloan, he’s working for an urgent care app and making house-calls—treating, for example, a young girl who vomits what looks like split pea soup all over him. In his support group, he says he blames Bailey (Chandra Wilson) for firing him and Catherine (Debbie Allen) for standing by: “I do not see myself forgiving anyone but myself anytime soon.” (Catherine, for her part, informs Bailey that Richard’s not making eye contact with her.)

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Richard interviews for a job as chief of surgery at Pacific Northwest General, Seattle’s lowest-rated hospital. The hospital’s investors are looking for someone with the experience and know-how to turn the place around, but the interviewer wonders if Richard is thinking about retirement, which he takes as an insult. Richard encourages Alex to apply for the position, since Alex could then hire him. Catherine then yells at Richard for even considering Pac North, though, saying that he’s humiliating her.

(ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

Now let’s get to the babies of the episode. Yep, babies plural. Teddy (Kim Raver) is with her and Owen’s (Kevin McKidd) newborn, Allison, and Owen introduces Leo to the new addition to the family. Later, Koracick (Greg Germann) gets to the hospital and is astonished to see that Teddy gave birth already. Then his intuition kicks in. “Did she get back together with your daddy?” he asks Allison, in full baby talk mode. “Is that what she did? Did he ride in on a white horse and make all the right promises?”

Teddy apologizes to Koracick, saying that he’s a great man, but Koracick says he knows that already and believes that Teddy will soon see the error of her ways. “I’m generous with my money and with my tongue in bed,” he tells her. (Yikes.) He assures her that he’ll wait for her to see the light, and until then, they’re officially friends.

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Koracick does get some good news, though: Catherine gives him a huge promotion. Now he’s running all the Catherine Fox hospitals, so he’s “chief of the chiefs,” as Catherine tells Bailey. Predictably, Bailey isn’t pleased—“I fired all my favorite people, and now my least favorite person has power over me,”—but she doesn’t find much empathy from Catherine because of the whole Richard situation. “That’s what standing by you cost me: my marriage,” she tells Bailey.

Oh, and also we find out that Owen tried to milk Teddy like a cow because her ducts were clogged, so there’s that. In better news, though, he lists his house—the one he bought for Amelia—and goes house-hunting for a new home to share with Teddy.

(ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

Now let’s get to the other baby news. During their date, Amelia mentions to Link that she wants to have a threesome, so she drops by the office of one Carina DeLuca (Stefania Spampinato). If you’ll recall, Amelia has felt stirrings for Carina for some time now, and it’s become more than just a girl crush. Carina comments on the fullness of Amelia’s breasts, which sounds to Amelia like a green light for a threesome… but then Carina clarifies that she believes Amelia is pregnant. “I’m not pregnant. I’ve just been eating a lot. Link eats a lot,” Amelia says, defensively. Then it all clicks. “Oh my god. Oh my god.”

See you next week, fans!

Grey’s Anatomy, Thursdays, September 26, 8/7c