7:11pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Grey's Anatomy': Cristina's Exit Plan Revealed?
[WARNING: This story contains spoilers from Thursday's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" episode of Grey's Anatomy.]
ABC's Grey's Anatomy seemingly formalized Dr. Cristina Yang and Sandra Oh's exit plan during Thursday's hour.
After leaving Oh's beloved Dr. Cristina Yang at the altar during the season three finale, Isaiah Washington's Dr. Preston Burke returned to the Shonda Rhimes medical drama with an offer his ex may not be able to refuse.
Following her Harper Avery award snub, Cristina will, it seems, be moving to Zurich to take over Burke's practice so her former mentor can spend more time with his family. It's a move that would make total sense for Cris, who despite a marriage-divorce-reunion with Owen (Kevin McKidd), has always considered her career to be her true love in life.
With the hospital staff still reeling from her loss of the Harper Avery award, Cris winds up traveling to Zurich -- which had been calling the hospital multiple times a week begging to have Yang present her conduit findings there -- and bumping into Burke, who is seated in the audience for her presentation. Burke, he reveals, is the one who invited Cris to Zurich to speak at his hospital. "I didn't think you'd respond to an invitation from me given the circumstances of our last interaction," Burke says in a nod to their failed nuptials.
It turns out they've both been following one another's careers, and Burke is on the verge of publishing a groundbreaking findings. After inviting Cris to observe during his surgery, Burke reveals he was on a high after he won his Harper Avery that was followed by a fear that his best work was behind him. Afterward, he put a ton of pressure on himself and came to Zurich, bringing in people from all over the world to the hospital that is bankrolled by a billionaire who wants to make a difference. (Read: No reliance on outside funding, no politics!)
During the surgery, Burke shows Cris his creation, a 3D hologram of the human heart that allows surgeons to see and cut through everything during surgery. Cris is expectedly impressed, as she is with the Zurich facilities. Cris reveals she has big dreams -- she wants to print a functional beating human heart -- but is afraid she can't get the support she needs to do it after losing the Harper Avery. It's then that Burke invites her to do it there, at his hospital.
Cris questions Burke if all this is a ploy to get her back in his life romantically, which is when he shows her photos of his wife and two young daughters. "My family is my world," he tells her. "I know you've become a magnificent surgeon. You've become everything I've dreamed you'd be. You should be in a place like this. You should consider it," Burke tells her, after she shares that she's moved on as well in a much-needed nod to Owen.
"Everything I've ever wanted is here, except he is here… What would you tell me to do?" she asks Mer as the two keep missing one another's calls.
Before leaving, Cris declines the job, and Burke thinks it's because Mer carries a grudge. But Burke presses Cristina's decision. "You think I want to work for you again? I never wanted to work for you, I wanted to be you. The best thing that ever happened to me was you walking away from our wedding. It made me stand on my own two feet," Cristina tells him. "So why offer me a job I can't resist? I don't want the job."
Only Burke has something more in mind. "I don't want you to work for me. Us working together would destroy my marriage, my life. The way I loved you was consuming. And eventually you'll hold the carrot and I'll be chasing you," he tells her. "I have a family now, a life I want. I don't want you to work for me. I want you to take over for me. I'm leaving."
It turns out Burke's wife's family is moving to Milan, and he wants to return her sacrificing her career for his success by bringing her onboard. "You're offering me your hospital, like you're Willy Wonka and you're handing me the Chocolate Factory?" You're not serious. You are serious."
"This place is yours, Cristina, if you want it," Burke says.
After Cris returns to Seattle, Meredith instantly believes her best friend -- her "person" -- is leaving, and viewers are left to assume that Cris is sharing her plans to move to Zurich.
Meanwhile, when Yang is in Zurich, the Chief (James Pickens Jr.) calls the Harper Avery Foundation union with the hospital a doomed marriage, after Grey Sloan is losing key financial grants and surgeons since none of its doctors can take home the key prize. The hospital's ownership has already cost Grey Sloan Yang's boss, Dr. Russell, who has given notice that he plans to leave. Weber blasts Jackson and his mother, and April defends her husband and puts Richard in his place in front of nearly everyone.
Mer tells the Chief that they have to find a way to make it work since the foundation helped save the hospital. "That award was our gold standard. It was everything we worked for. … Catherine made it meaningless with this. She cheapened it," he tells Mer.
Elsewhere, there's a resident who Owen tells the Chief "isn't cut out to be a surgeon," leaving Leah (Tessa Ferrer), Stephanie (Jerrika Hinton), Shane (Gaius Charles) and Jo (Camilla Luddington) to fear for their jobs.
While it certainly seems as if Grey's Anatomy set the stage for Cris to move to Zurich, there's still the option of her potentially taking over for her boss in Seattle, though considering the hospital's limitations, Yang may very well be better off abroad if she wants to follow her surgical aspirations.
Do you think Cristina will move to Zurich? Sound off in the comments below. Grey's Anatomy still has two more episodes before Oh's final episode this season. And if you missed it, check out what the Grey's Anatomy creators and the cast -- past and present -- had to say about working with Oh, their fondest Cristina memories and more in our gallery here.