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3 YEARS

'Grey's Anatomy' Recap: Whose Lives Are Hanging in the Balance?

During the penultimate episode of Season 8, the futures of several of Seattle Grace's best and brightest is left up in the air.

Grey's Anatomy Cast PR Image - H 2012
ABC/BOB D'AMICO
"Grey's Anatomy"

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Thursday's Grey's Anatomy.]

ABC's Grey's Anatomy set up what's poised to be the mother of a season finale during Thursday's penultimate episode of its eighth season.

As the residents start receiving offers after passing their boards (and not so much for poor April), everyone begins to prep for a trip to Boise, where several doctors are set to help with complicated surgery involving conjoined twins.

Johns Hopkins wants Alex (Justin Chambers), surprising everyone around him -- especially Cristina (Sandra Oh), who gives him a hug -- while Chief Weber (James Pickens Jr.) helps him barter the offer to get Owen (Kevin McKidd) up the stakes for him to remain at Seattle Grace. With Hopkins offering him the moon, Alex doesn't quite know what to do with himself when he receives such a vote of confidence, making it hard for him to say no.

STORY: 'Grey's Anatomy's' Shonda Rhimes on the Deadline Finale: 'We're Literally Saying Goodbye to People'

"You ungrateful crapdog!" Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) screams at him after learning that Alex has accepted the offer to head to Hopkins. Angry, she yanks Alex from the trip to Boise and goes herself.

Cristina is debating between Stanford and Columbia, while Teddy (Kim Raver) is giving her star pupil the hard sell to remain as Cris finally makes her decision. "Owen is my person," she tells Meredith (Ellen Pompeo). After Owen tells Cristina that she can't go wrong with either program, she finally leans in and kisses her husband as the two reconcile before she drops the bomb. "I'm leaving," she reveals, later telling Meredith that she's heading east to Mayo.

April (Sarah Drew), who failed her boards, has her offers withdrawn left and right as the sexual tension with Jackson (Jesse Williams) continues to remain unresolved. Ultimately, April learns that she's no longer the best candidate to be hired on at Seattle Grace and will not be offered the job there next year. Owen's offer, she says, was her last shot as she drowns her sorrows in booze and storms off when Jackson tries to comfort her.

STORY: 'Grey's Anatomy': Sarah Drew on the Boards, April and Jackson's Steamy Hook-Up and the Finale 'Event'

Derek (Patrick Dempsey), meanwhile, finally shows Meredith the completed McMansion, where they discuss their future: staying at Seattle Grace, which is what she wants, or heading to Harvard, where he wants to go to as he continues to work for a cure for Alzheimer's. In the end, Meredith reveals she's heading to Boston, with Derek heading to Harvard.

Arizona, heartbroken after learning her best friend in the world's tumor has progressed too far, breaks down with Callie (Sara Ramirez) as she sobs and tells her to never leave.

The bad news continues for Bailey (Chandra Wilson), who after receiving a marriage proposal from Ben (Jason George) learns that he's heading to UCLA to be an intern.

In the end, Mark (Eric Dane), Lexie (Chyler Leigh), Cristina, Meredith, Derek and Arizona all head out to Boise when in the final frame of the episode, their plane crashes, revealing an unconscious Meredith and a brutal wreckage that's reminiscent of Lost's Oceanic Flight 815.

Who do you think will meet their maker during next week's season finale? Hit the comments with your thoughts. Check out the shocking (and spoiler-filled) promo for next week's season finale below. Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit