At the beginning of the season, Sandra Oh and writer Shonda Rhimes were open with fans about the departure of Oh’s character. A loved, but intimidating, surgeon on the team, the impending farewell broke the hearts of fans around the world. At long last, episode 24, “Fear (of the Unknown),” aired to provide closure for this fan favorite.
In the episodes leading up to the finale, Cristina wrangled with the prospect of leaving the hospital. Her ex-fiancé, Dr. Preston Burke, offered her the opportunity to become the head of an institute for heart surgery in Germany. This was a major honor after she lost the coveted Harper Avery award for medical research.
Finally, with a push from her best friend and show namesake Dr. Meredith Grey, she decided to take the offer.
The finale struggles to maintain balance between the two major events of the episode — Cristina leaving and a massive explosion at a local Seattle mall. Suddenly, those close to Cristina, especially her ex-husband and lover Dr. Owen Hunt, were in a frenzy, worried that Cristina was caught in the explosion.
Fear quickly dissipates as Cristina returns to the hospital to help with the explosion victims when she should be preparing for her flight to Germany. She is reminded of this constantly throughout the episode.
All the while, Dr. Hunt never gets a chance to say his goodbye. “Crowen” fans’ hearts raced as the two lovers, apparently meant to be, seemed to play a game of hide and seek throughout the episode.
Finally, Meredith pushes Cristina into a taxi and forces her off hospital grounds. When we think Cristina has finally left for good, and viewers are sobbing their hearts out, she returns. Cristina drags Meredith into an on-call overnight room for one last chance to dance it out. Nostalgia kicks in as the two ladies jump around the room, arms above their heads, letting go of all worries. This is Cristina’s final hoorah, when she confidently reminds Meredith that she is Cristina’s “person” — the most precious person in her life.
As Cristina goes to leave, she says her final goodbye to Owen through a partition glass, as he is in the middle of a surgery. This goodbye symbolizes the necessity for Owen’s life to continue without Cristina. The “Crowen” fans continue to sob.
At the end of the episode, Cristina parts with words of wisdom as the final narrator of the season. She is in Germany, running the heart institute, with one of her best students at her side.
With Cristina’s farewell, the question weighing on everyone’s mind is, what’s next for “Grey’s Anatomy”? The show is one of the longest running on television today, with Cristina Yang’s character as a showrunner. Many fans wonder how the show could continue without her.
Anatomy has had its fair share of departures over the years, many more gruesome than others. Season 8 ended with a devastating plane crash that killed off Meredith’s sister and her husband’s best friend.
However, no other departure is as large as this. Oh’s exit from the show sparks concern among fans about the season finale. Many departures resulted from death. Thankfully, it wasn’t the case here.
The show will continue. Season 11 is slated to begin filming soon, and nearly all of the remaining cast is signed on.
Cristina Yang’s spunky, go-get-em attitude will be a defining characteristic of this show for years to come. She was the woman impaled by an icicle, lost her eyebrows on her wedding day and dedicated her entire life to saving others. Goodbye Cristina, you will be missed.
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