The hour began with Nathan wandering into the lounge looking for scrubs, which left several of the surgeons wondering what was up. Amelia's response was to search out Owen in an on-call room for a little snuggly banter which was interrupted, as per usual on Grey's, by Owen's pager alerting him to his next work crisis.
It was jarring to see the shift as Owen stepped from skillfully treating his first patient of the day with Alex and some of the new interns into basically breaking up a fight over a patient which erupted between Maggie and Nathan. His professional demeanor quickly turned to outrage as he saw Maggie fighting to save a patient while also trying to figure out why Nathan was, to her mind, getting in her way. The scene's tension amped up for everyone once Nathan announced he now worked on Maggie's service. Owen and Maggie immediately took their shared concerns about the situation to Bailey in the operating room.
Owen's emotional distress grew as Bailey proudly confirmed Nathan was indeed her newest hire. Owen seemed dumbstruck by this news and quickly receded into his own thoughts, barely acknowledging Maggie thanking him for backing her up with Bailey. As he stood processing his reaction in the hallway he observed Meredith addressing orders to Penny who remained on her service.
As a precursor of the protective bonding we saw later in the hour, Owen approached Meredith for advice as he pondered how to begin to process having to work with Nathan. As Meredith explained her teaching strategy, which she reduced down to 'she's here, I have to work with her,' we saw Owen shake his head before saying he didn't think he could do such a thing.
While we still had no idea as to what the personal history might be between these two surgeons, we soon saw that whatever it's bringing up for Owen goes deep. An intern stumbled upon him in a darkened on-call room, seemingly in his own world, muttering and pacing, experiencing what we were left thinking was a return of his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Owen, shaken and distressed, quickly brushed off the intern's offers of help before telling him firmly to get out.
The ups and downs of the episode continued as we saw Owen doggedly trying to hold onto his teaching skills as he quickly assessed an intern's mistake while also making time to show him the surgery his mistake meant for the patient. Generous and humorously compassionate in surgery with his intern, Owen's mood once again turned seething as Bailey introduced Nathan to his now fellow surgeons. Owen's attempt to walk away was thwarted by Bailey's insistence the two men be properly introduced. Owen's tone grew jagged and irritable as he loudly expressed what a bad call Bailey made in hiring Nathan. Rather than take her suggestion they discuss it privately in her office, Owen cut short the conversation and stalked outside to the ambulance bay.
A little surprisingly, Meredith stood by anxiously, intent on supporting Owen. When she approached him to talk, Meredith made it clear she was making good on a promise she made to Cristina that she would watch over Owen in her absence. Deflecting Owen's insistence there was nothing to talk about, Meredith quickly cut to the chase, letting Owen know she was on his side and that he didn't have to tell her anything more than 'do we hate him?' While Owen seemed both surprised and relieved by Meredith's solidarity, it also, perhaps, reminded him of their long and complicated history as the two most important people in Cristina Yang's life.
It was stunning to see a gentlemanly character like Owen have such a visceral and downright messy emotional reaction to a situation as we saw for him in this episode. Since the end of Season 10 when Cristina left for Zurich, Owen has kept a firm cap on his emotions and focused on moving forward with his life, always finding comfort in the rigors of being a trauma surgeon. Fans have been waiting for a storyline through which we'll learn a bit more about Owen Hunt's history and emotional life and it seems to have finally arrived now that the hospital, typically his safe place, has been infiltrated by someone who's clearly on his bad side.
Elsewhere in the hospital: April and Jackson scheduled and rescheduled dinner and, instead, ended up in bed together; Arizona stepped back into dating with an unexpected partner in crime - Richard; Callie went to bat for her girlfriend which put her in the middle of Penny and Meredith's approaches to work; Miranda made it clear to Ben that Jackson can no longer be their roommate; Maggie and Amelia examined their bond via banter about race in the workplace; Penny started making a place for herself professionally at Grey Sloan Memorial; and Jo continued to be whiny and self-focused.