Time. How quickly it flies, how we wish we had more of it, and how we spend what little we have... that's the theme of this great hour of television as we pick up with our Seattle Grace surgeons the day after the infamous prom.
Denny's dead. He's not coming back, and Miranda feels responsible. Izzie feels even more devastated, as she's unable to get up off the floor. For the entire episode. Try as her friends might to help her, she's unable to cope with the devastation... until finally, Meredith coaxes her up at the very end.
No one has spent more time at the hospital than Richard, and it's driving his wife, Adele, away from him. After he spent the previous night working, Mrs. Webber made an appointment to see him and gave him an ultimatum. The skinny: He retires or she's out. It's not looking good for the Chief.
Keeping with the theme of time, we are treated to flashbacks throughout the episode, beginning with the orientation cocktail hour the interns attended before their first day at work. At that event, a pompous Alex Karev mocked female surgeons and predicted that the beautiful Izzie wouldn't last a year in the program.
Fast forward to the present, and Alex (a.k.a. Captain of the Vagina Squad) is cradling a baby found in a garbage can. He and Addison race against time to identify its mother, who is one of four 14-year old Catholic school girls. Until they find out which one, they are unable to perform the life-saving surgery the abandoned infant needs.
Fortunately, one of them finally confesses and the baby can be saved. That is just the beginning of the drama at SGH, however, as a patient admitted with the flu is soon diagnosed with... the plague. Her distraught husband is quarantined, as are Derek and George, who operated on the woman.
As they sit alone in the sealed-off locker room, eating all the food in other people's lockers, Drs. Shepherd and O'Malley find surprising insight and comfort in one other. George talks about what Meredith and Callie (and his admiration for Derek's hair), while Derek tells him about Addison and Meredith. It's bona fide male bonding!
Cue the flashbacks. After consoling Izzie, Cristina recalls first meeting Dr. Burke, the man that would change her life. She's forced to ponder what would happen if she never saw him again. The emotionally challenged intern runs to the hospital (where he's still recovering) in shambles, begging him to never leave her. They poignantly embrace in his bed.
The most revealing and emotional flashbacks of the night involve Derek, however. We finally see the anguish of the immediate aftermath when he discovered Addison's cheating, and how he left for Seattle. Then we fast forward to his meeting Meredith that night at the Emerald City bar.
After he is released from the quarantine, he visits Meredith's house and professes his love to her. Derek tells her she has a choice to make, and that he once had a choice to make... and made the wrong one.
Little does he know that Finn has already been there and effectively said the same thing... or that Addison has discovered the panties Meredith hastily forgot in the exam room the previous night. As the credits roll, Addison tacks them to the hospital's "lost and found" bulletin board.
Should make for some interesting fallout next week!