Credit: Randy Holmes/ABC Television Group © 2011 Disney Photo: Meredith Hugs Zola on the Grey's Anatomy Season 8 Premiere on September 22, 2011

The eighth (and final?) season of Grey's Anatomy is here! So, after the shootings, roof collapses, and crashes of planes, trains, and automobiles — not to mention ferries — what's the next tragedy to befall accident-ridden Seattle? How about a giant chasm swallowing a downtown street?

We're just getting to know bickering couple Danny and Susanna when the ground gives way underneath their feet mid-argument. When Callie (Sara Ramirez) and Owen (Kevin McKidd) get to the scene, they find that Danny is conscious and next to Susanna, who's unconscious and pinned under their car. Callie and Owen try to guide Danny though amputating Susanna's leg, but he wimps out once he hits bone. So Owen, who has less of a family than Callie these days, volunteers to rappel down and do the job himself — and he nails it. Soon Susanna is at Seattle Grace, and Bailey (Chanda Wilson) makes her the subject of a "Gunther," an exercise designed to bring residents together and to suss out the group's natural leader, who turns out to be our very own Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams).

Meanwhile, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) is called to the principal's office — or rather, the Chief's office — where Richard (James Pickens Jr.) informs her that, under duress of the hospital's board, he has to fire her. Alex (Justin Chambers) tries sticking up for her and then gives her the sincerest of apologies, which she accepts.

To top things off, Social Services lady Janet drops by unexpectedly. And though Meredith tries playing it cool, Janet finds out about Meredith's joblessness and the fractured state of her Mc-less-than-Dreamy marriage. So Mer literally takes the baby and runs, hiding out in the basement for a few hours. By the time she finally resurfaces (thanks to a pep talk from Cristina Yang [Sandra Oh]) and explains herself, Janet has already set the wheels in motion. She tells Mer and Der that she has to take Zola while Social Services reviews their case. (And though they're on the outs, Derek [Patrick Dempsey] delivers an impassioned defense of Meredith's virtues.) So they hand Zola over to Janet, and Alex guides a shamed Meredith away from prying eyes and out of the hospital.


Credit: Randy Holmes/ABC Television Group © 2011 Disney Photo: Cristina Talks to Meredith on the Grey's Anatomy Season 8 Premiere on September 22, 2011

Meanwhile, Richard calls Henry into the hospital for the insertion of his islet cell device ahead of schedule. The accelerated time frame — and the fact that Richard has Bailey practicing inserting the device in mice and taking point on Henry's surgery — has Teddy (Kim Raver) freaked, thinking there's something wrong. But we learn that it's all because Richard is passing the baton of his trial on to Bailey, because he's taking the fall for Meredith, after being unable to find her a new position elsewhere. He tells the board that he's the one who tampered with Derek's trial, and neither Bailey nor Meredith herself can dissuade him. (Derek actually wants Meredith to let Richard sacrifice himself, if it means Meredith can keep her job and have a better shot of keeping Zola.)

In other unhappy news, Cristina is holding on by a thread, fully intending to get an abortion but too afraid to do it without Owen (Kevin McKidd). Meredith confronts Owen, telling him that prioritizing her career over a child would destroy Cristina, who, she points out, is just like Meredith's mother. In effect, Mer reasons with Owen on behalf of his hypothetical, unborn child! This leads Owen to finally talk with Cristina and to accompany her to the appointment that night. They go through with the abortion, holding hands the whole time.

On the bright side, now that Teddy is sexed up and happy, she's eager to teach Cristina again. What she realizes, however, is that while Cristina is ambitious and has the talent to back it up, Cristina doesn't know the logic behind her instincts. So Teddy decides to take Cristina back to the basics.

Credit: Ron Tom/ABC Television Group © 2011 Disney Photo: Miranda, Cristina, April, and Alex at the Ambulance on the Grey's Anatomy Season 8 Premiere on September 22, 2011

Alex is Public Enemy Number One at the hospital at the beginning of the episode, but his one and only friend, Arizona (Jessica Capshaw), helps him regain his social standing. He wins major brownie points by apologizing to Meredith, and he's somewhat of a surgical rock star at the sinkhole, spotting a child named Nicky who was nearly buried alive. On the downside, Cristina accidentally injects him with epinephrine, setting off an underlying arrhythmia, and nearly killing him right there in the OR. But don't worry, he'll be fine.

April (Sarah Drew) is having trouble asserting her authority as Chief Resident and keeping the hospital organized, and one of her errors sends the wrong patient to the OR for a splenectomy. But she realizes her boo-boo in time, and Jackson provides many a friendly pep talk... She'll be fine.

Lexie (Chyler Leigh) is busy handling a gaggle of new interns. One nervous one nearly kills a patient, but Meredith and Bailey are there to save the day, so Nervous Intern will be fine.

Listen: everyone is gonna be fine, okay? Even Meredith and Derek. They're a forever couple and we all know we haven't seen the last of Zola. But we're interested to watch how that plays out. Stay tuned!