While the potential for a resolution resided within the court settlement which was in the offing, the financial realities of that settlement were anything but simple. Additionally, the surgical team had residual emotional fallout from the crash with which to deal. Their reactions showed them to be people trying to figure out how a traumatic experience changes you and impacts your perceptions of the world and those around you, as well as how do you truly move forward from such an experience even once you’re ready to do so?
Amidst this stressful situation, Owen Hunt and Cristina Yang delved into their reconnection as a way to support each other. They each seemed to draw strength from having regained their relationship and to be healing each other in the process of reigniting their emotional bond. They soon settled into an easy rhythm with each other, one in which they reveled in the joy of reestablishing their relationship and new patterns within it. While they savored their romantic time together as they always had, their intimate reconnection also allowed them to begin to more deeply show themselves emotionally to each other, turning them into even more of a reconnected team in the process. Spending time together and supporting each other opened them both up to sharing their vulnerabilities as they processed the lawsuit and its personal and professional impacts.
Owen, struggling with his guilt over the plane crash, worked diligently to take care of the interests of patients, his colleagues who survived the crash, the rest of the hospital's staff, as well as the board. As he took on the task of sorting out how to provide quality patient care while facing the very real financial constraints placed upon the hospital by the settlement, he turned to Cristina for moral support which she readily provided. When Owen admitted to her he wasn’t sure he deserved forgiveness for the crash, she took on the task of trying to provide that forgiveness for him. In addition to providing her own love and support, Cristina confronted Derek Shepherd when he angrily reacted to Owen’s concern for his wellbeing in light of the impending court settlement, telling Derek they were all being given a chance to move on from the tragic crash and that Owen deserved such an opportunity too.
At the same time that Cristina and Owen were gaining momentum personally in having renewed their commitment to each other, they were also stepping confidently into their rapidly changing professional roles in a surgical service that was being redefined around them.
Owen continued to step up as a leader, running interference between the hospital board and hospital staff who were increasingly at odds in the wake of the settlement, while also playing tour-guide to a board-appointed physician advisor who had been brought in to assist them in streamlining their operation and shoring up the hospital’s fiscal health. As he worked with the physician advisor, hoping to mitigate the worst of the administrative challenges the hospital faced post-settlement, Owen carefully trod the line between diplomat and advocate. He did as the board requested and showed the advisor around the hospital while also trying to remind her of the value of the people involved in the work they do at the hospital. Owen urged the advisor to incorporate the exhilaration of medicine into her critique of the hospital and its staff when they spent the day working on a patient's carotid repair instead of attending to their scheduled day's worth of meetings.
Cristina, meanwhile, stepped confidently into her role as a cardiothoracic fellow, providing thoughtful patient care while reaching out to her colleagues for support, working with a new department chair, and growing into a patient and collaborative teacher to a new crop of interns. We saw an example of Cristina’s maturing professional approach when one of her interns ran afoul of the physician advisor’s recommendations to standardize hospital procedures. In an effort to cut costs and eliminate possible errors and litigation, cameras were installed in some surgical care units - behind which sat remote physicians. Initially Cristina was at odds with the remote physician who challenged her approach to patient care, yet when one of those remote physicians called out Cristina’s intern for attempting to improperly administer blood products to a Jehovah’s Witness, Cristina took it as an opportunity to caution her intern to focus on the patient rather than her own instincts.
Even as the surgical team worked diligently to stabilize the hospital, it was soon clear that the physician advisor’s plans were more about readying the hospital for sale than it was about enhancing their existing structure. Especially challenging for Owen and Cristina both was the advisor’s strenuous recommendation that the emergency department be closed and replaced with a more financially expedient day-surgery clinic. Their status as a Level One trauma center and their reluctance to give up that status sparked determined and thoughtful discussion for many of the surgeons, and certainly for Owen and Cristina as the two sweetly bonded over the closing of the ER in which they had met. Owen said a poignant goodbye to the ER into which he'd put so much effort and was joined by Cristina who asked him what he would do next. When Owen could only reply that in the short term he needed a drink, Cristina offered to buy the first round and they left work arm in arm, secure in each other’s love and support.
Owen’s role as tour guide soon turned even more bittersweet as he was asked to squire potential buyers around the hospital much to his own chagrin and that of his fellow surgeons. As the somber reality of a potential deal grew evident, Owen's stress levels ratcheted up as he also had to run interference with his staff as they adjusted, often quite poorly and vocally, to the changes inherent in readying the hospital for sale. He stood strong, for the most part, under the weight of his professional responsibilities, yet his fraying nerves also showed themselves in his emotional reactivity as he struggled to meet the demands of staffing a hospital while the reality was that there were many more changes in front of them as part of the deal.
As workplace stresses mounted for them both, Owen and Cristina’s sole solace remained their reunion. As Owen attempted to manage the increasing demands of his professional duties, Cristina made it clear in her words and actions that she was firmly in his corner. In one episode, while they enjoyed intimate time together, Cristina tried to convince Owen to set aside his workload at least temporarily so he could rest and get some sleep. The toll this situation was taking on Owen was clear as he seesawed almost manically between sharing sweet words with Cristina and checking text messages on his phone for updates on the sale’s progress. At work, Cristina stood strong by Owen’s side as well, admonishing other staff to support Owen's efforts to keep the hospital running when they talked about leaving to pursue other opportunities.
When Meredith Grey approached Cristina with the plan the crash survivors had begun devising to purchase the hospital, Cristina told Meredith to stop talking nonsense about planning to do something they were ill-equipped for and instead concentrate on having Owen's back. Cristina swore she wouldn't lie to Owen as she felt they were asking her to do in keeping him in the dark about their plans. Instead, she sought Owen out to shore him up and to get a sense of his feelings about whether the sale was indeed a good thing for Seattle Grace/Mercy West. As they spoke away from prying eyes, Owen's shoulders slumped as he admitted to Cristina he didn't believe the hospital and its staff would be better off with their new potential owners, but that it was the only option they had.
It was only when Owen himself admitted his misgivings about the potential sale that Cristina agreed to step into her fellow crash survivor’s attempt to find a way to buy the hospital themselves. When the timetable toward closing on the sale shortened unexpectedly, Cristina took that information to her fellow survivors and said they had to fix the situation for Owen. The complex result was that Meredith, Derek, Callie Torres, Arizona Robbins, and a reluctant Cristina all announced their resignation to the board in an effort to slow, or perhaps halt, the sale until they could make a counter offer. Unfortunately, Owen had to be left in the dark temporarily about their plans so as not to be blamed for their actions by the board.
For a short period of time there were two parallel hospital purchase processes which, of course, lead to some frustration and distance between Owen and Cristina. Unaware of another potential option, Owen moved forward with the offer they had on the table in an attempt to salvage the situation in the only way he knew how, while Cristina and their colleagues worked to secure outside funding for their plan to purchase the hospital themselves. Another unfortunate aspect of the sale in front of them was that the board and their physician advisor kept from Owen the purchaser’s plans to liquidate the hospital’s assets and fire all the employees.
When the survivors' efforts for an outside deal reached an impasse they turned to Richard Webber and, at Cristina's urging, Owen for assistance. Upon hearing from Cristina about their deal and how it was her attempt to protect him and offer him another option to take to the board, Owen was immediately ready to join in on their plan. Owen went to the board and interceded on their behalf so as to buy them more time to secure the deal. It seemed all might be lost when their follow-up plea to their investor fell through yet Owen and Cristina remained a team, holding hands and consoling each other over their shared disappointment. The team got a not altogether surprising reprieve when Catherine Avery - Jackson Avery's mother and Richard's paramour - offered up the Harper Avery Foundation as the deal's funding source with one catch, a Foundation representative of their choosing on the team's board - an utterly shocked Jackson.
In the wake of the deal, staff began to return to work and the team began to try to figure out how to run a hospital while maintaining their personal and professional relationships and hectic surgical schedules. The new hospital board, made up of surgeons with little administrative experience, struggled with their Foundation partnership’s suggestion of a potential change in leadership to boost staff morale. When Cristina shared this information with Owen against her fellow board members’ objections, he made the decision to quit, later telling Cristina he questioned his ability to be an effective leader when the pain of the plane crash still lingered.
Cristina took every opportunity to show her loyalty to Owen in the wake of his decision to quit, standing up for him and making it plain that she not only saw his side of things, that she was firmly in it with him as well. Cristina told her fellow board members that she was not going along with any management team decisions that involved leaving Owen out of the loop. Additionally, Cristina emphasized that Owen should be a major part of the discussion about reopening the Emergency Room and their plans to regain the hospital’s Level One Trauma designation, which they had as a result of Owen’s efforts in leading the trauma department. Fortunately, the newly appointed board found that Owen’s absence, and his administrative and surgical expertise, was not something they could do without and quickly reinstated him as Chief of Surgery. Owen agreed to return with some conditions, including the reopening of a souped up Emergency Room.
As they found themselves both once again working under the same roof, Cristina and Owen stepped into finding a shared purpose professionally while relying even more strongly on their personal relationship. Cristina was adapting to her role on the newly formed hospital board alongside Owen as their Chief of Surgery, while Owen was enjoying his newly revamped trauma department and being able to move past the corporatization of their workplace which had occurred while the hospital was up for sale. Yet, as this is Grey’s Anatomy, this time of connection also left them poised for the next chapter in their growth and new challenges to face as we saw in the final run of episodes in Season 9.