Alex Karev's Absence On 'Grey's Anatomy' Was Totally Glossed Over In The Winter Premiere

ABC/Kelsey McNeal

Spoilers ahead for Grey's Anatomy Season 16. Oh, Karev, you deserve so much better. By now, fans have had a chance to deal with the shock of actor Justin Chambers abruptly leaving Grey's — and that his last episode had already aired without any advance notice. But if you thought you'd immediately find out what happened to Dr. Alex Karev on Grey's, the ABC medical drama's winter premiere was a major letdown.

In fact, the Thursday, Jan. 23 episode titled "Help Me Through the Night" glossed over Alex's absence almost completely. Near the beginning of the Station 19-Grey's crossover event, Meredith showed up at Alex and Jo's apartment (bottle of wine in hand) to download her friend — literally since Grey's' first season — in part, about Cristina sending her McWidow whom she claimed "stole" Alex's old job.

The first mention of Alex came before Jo instructed Link, visiting his old pal in her apartment, to answer the knock at the door. Fearing it was the police coming to bust her for using her position as a Station 19 Safe Haven volunteer to essentially kidnap a days-old infant, Jo told Link to tell them she'd brought the newborn home "for a wellness check with Alex," since he's a pediatrician, after all.

Link's response? "He's in Iowa!" Of course Meredith was on the other side of the door, however. "You're not Alex," she said to Link. No kidding, but crisis averted for Jo, at least.

ABC/Kelsey McNeal

Although viewers heard the specific state in which Alex is "visiting his mom" (as Jo told Mer), that's about the only detail given in the entire episode. In the aftermath of the car crashing into Joe's Bar, Meredith "called in reinforcements" to Grey Sloan Memorial in the form of Webber and Hunt. Nobody questioned or explained why their Pac North colleague Alex wasn't with them though.

Later delivering the sorta-kidnapped newborn to Grey Sloan, Jo met McWidow, aka Dr. Hayes, whom replaced her husband as pediatrics chief, for the first time. Realizing her relation to Alex, McWidow told her he'd "heard good things." Jo, however, responded, "About me?" No, Jo . . . the other Dr. Karev. Remember him?

In addition to a (hopefully) forthcoming full explanation of Alex's absence, Grey's set up the second half of Season 16 in a, well, very Grey's manner. Obviously Amelia was still keeping the secret fall finale reveal that, based on her due date, Owen might be the father of the baby she'd believed to be Link's. Groan. Before she could contend with that, however, she played the role of confidant to Teddy (ya know, Owen's current girlfriend and baby's mother) about why Owen hasn't proposed yet.

ABC/Christopher Willard

Teddy didn't have to stress for too long, however. Perhaps inspired by Jackson admitting mid-surgerythat he somehow thought they were already engaged (or his insecure need to head off any potential threat from Koracick), Owen proposed to Teddy with his mother's ring by episode's end. (He even threw in an eye-roll-worthy "Teddy bear" reference.)

Leave it to Owen to steal Amelia's thunder of trying to tell Link that she'd found out the sex of their (or maybe their) unborn child. Amelia began telling her boyfriend, "It appears that..." before Owen burst in with a, "We've got news!" announcing his and Teddy's engagement.

Amelia soon got her chance, and Link couldn't have been more excited that "it's a boy." He even suggested the To Kill a Mockingbird-inspired name Scout. This poor guy is going to be crushed if the baby turns out to be Owen's. (Many Grey's fans may share that pain, too.)

ABC/Christopher Willard

Meanwhile, Bailey spent the episode both reeling from, and also bottling up, her painful miscarriage grief. Actor Chandra Wilson, in a poignant operating room speech to Webber, reminded fans why she's earned so many awards season nominations and wins. Admitting she's "not fine" (as the injured residents ended up being, in the end) and that she won't ever be able to hold her lost baby girl in her hands, Bailey — through sobs — delivered the powerful lines: "She just was... Oh god. And now she isn't, and I can't do anything but just stand here and...stand here and lose her." Cue the tears.

Bailey did make a quick mention of Karev's firing during the scene, but, like the rest of her castmates, didn't seem to have a clue why he won't be appearing on the show again. Here's hoping fans soon get answers — and a proper, fitting sendoff — in the near future.