Before the two-hour season premiere of ABC's hit ShondaLand series aired, cast members promised a lighter tone for this season. According to The Hollywood Reporter, audiences will still enjoy the usual drama and dark twists that fans have come to identify with the show, but the series will be "going back to its roots" with a fresh infusion of comedy that used to be perfectly balanced on the show in its earlier seasons (before it became relatively dreary).

A big thanks to the old school vibe goes to Krista Vernoff, a "Grey's Anatomy" alum who returned to the show after a five-season absence. Cast member Giacomo Gianniotti (Andrew DeLuca) told The Hollywood Reporter that Vernoff, who was an executive producer and writer for the series during its first eight seasons, wants "comedy and wants people to laugh" because that's the "way she started it" and how she intends to continue.

The premiere certainly proved that "Grey's," while sticking to its predictable but addictive drama base, is ready to play with a bit of humor and levity again.

Suffering isn't optional

The pain-themed premiere picks up immediately after the events of the season 13 finale, effectively addressing the biggest cliffhanger moments: Megan Hunt is alive, Eliza and Stephanie are gone, Owen and Amelia are struggling through their "sham of a marriage," and the hospital is in the process of being renovated after that huge fire caused some serious damage to Grey-Sloan.

The biggest elephant in the room was Meredith and Nathan keeping their relationship a secret from Megan, Nathan's presumed dead fiancée.

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Amid the love triangle storyline, it was good to see Meredith remaining true to Meredith: Megan's surgery to fix her nasty and painful stomach wound and to reverse her colostomy bag so she could have a functioning bowel came first. Meredith was ultimately able to use her brilliance to help Megan through an unprecedented and successful surgery that would allow Owen's sister to heal and get back to her son: an orphaned boy currently with the U.S. military in Baghdad that she was unable to bring to the states because of U.S. immigration laws.

Megan finding out from Meredith that she and Nathan were an item was handled with the levity Vernoff promised: You knew that the conversation between the two women was inevitable, and it didn't disappoint. Obviously, Megan was hurt, but her character is understanding and she recognized that Meredith was her best chance at getting better. The scene ended with them complimenting each other, agreeing that Nathan has good taste in women. The moment was handled in a refreshing way, avoiding an unnecessary spectacle and focusing on what really mattered: Megan's health and her son.

The best comedic relief of the premiere came in the form of Richard's new group of sub interns that were an absolute delight. The young medical students followed Richard through a tour of the hospital and later became key in helping Meredith find a donor to help with Megan's abdominal surgery. The interns, referred to as sub-I's, may have been a headache for Richard with their relentless texting and note-taking and their complete unpreparedness at being in a hospital setting, but when confronted by other doctor's about his new ducklings, Richard didn't hesitate to defend them.

Richard and the sub-I's weren't the only ones having fun, though. Arizona went on the rebound after Eliza ghosted her, completely disappearing after being fired from Grey-Sloan last season (thank God), so she found herself in the comforting arms of another woman at the bar. After taking her home, Arizona discovered that this woman was none other than her roommate and colleague Andrew DeLuca's older sister, Carina DeLuca. Arizona watches in amazement as the two siblings bicker in Italian at each other before Andrew storms out to sleep at the hospital, leaving Arizona to get acquainted with Carina.

This wouldn't be "Grey's Anatomy" if there wasn't a handful of relationship problems going on at once, though. While Jackson and Maggie are tip-toeing around their obvious attraction to each other, April reveals to Jackson that them essentially being friends with benefits who happen to have a child together is causing her pain, and she is considering moving out.

Jo, after losing Stephanie (who was transferred to a hospital in Texas after being injured in the fire), confides in New Stephanie, aka, Bailey's husband, Ben, about her growing feelings for Karev. She is falling in love with him again, but her history with violent men makes her hesitate. With Ben's help, Karev is able to reveal that he found Jo's abusive husband and chose not "to kill him," all the while reassuring her that he would never hurt her the way her husband would - or like Karev's abusive father. This also came after Bailey told Jo that Karev is a puppy dog and wouldn't hurt a fly (unless it was hurting someone else, like how he beat up Andrew when he thought he was hurting Jo). By the end of the premiere, the two were doing what we expect every couple to do on this show: Hooking up semi-publicly in the hospital.

Vernoff's presence was also shown when, instead of getting angry or jealous, Karev finds it funny that Jo slept with one of the sub interns before they got back together.

But, back to the biggest love triangles: Meredith, Nathan, and Megan, as well as Owen, Amelia, and Teddy. Even though Megan and Meredith bonded as mothers and clearly respect one another, that doesn't mean the story's over.

Meredith, while obviously hurt when seeing that Nathan was proposing to Megan, was seemingly ready to walk away and allow Megan and Nathan to have their happy ending. When Megan asked Meredith if she loved Nathan, Meredith confided: "I had one great love in my life and he died." When it comes to relationships, things usually don't come in pretty packages on "Grey's," and this time was no different. In Meredith and Nathan's final scene together, we discover that Megan rejected his marriage proposal because she thinks Nathan is still in love with Meredith. At the news, Meredith abruptly walks away with Nathan calling after her. In all fairness, it had been a stressful day: Her first botched attempt at Megan's surgery left Meredith breaking objects out of frustration until she figured out the key to helping her.

Meredith had appeared to move on from Nathan as soon as Megan came back into the picture, and now she's realizing there might be a possible future with him still. Overwhelmed, Meredith has to turn her back for the moment, but will she and Nathan get back together?

Arguably the biggest mystery and most important plot of the premiere was figuring out what was going on with Amelia. She avoids Owen and his family like the plague, focusing on a surgery that Jackson continuously tells her is impossible involving a kid's tumor and jaw reconstruction. Amelia is also unhappy at Teddy's return, who came back to check on Owen and support him and Megan after she was revealed to be alive after being a hostage for 10 years. There's a bit of friction between Teddy and Amelia, and Megan also notices the distance between her brother and his wife. She asks him, "How's married life?" and Owen, in turn, asks his sister, "How's your colostomy bag?" Well, that's an answer.

The mystery of Amelia was handled in a subtle way that by the time we got to the end and the big twist was uncovered, I appreciated how the writers set up the reveal. Everything has a purpose, and Carina's arrival on the show wasn't just about being a new love interest for Amelia. After Andrew reveals that his sister is an attending OB/GYN, we see Carina approaching Bailey with a study she is doing that involves women's orgasms and chronic pain relief. Ultimately, she needs female volunteers to masturbate in the MRI so that she can read their brain scans for her research. While the research is valuable, the entire point of it in this episode is the reveal of what is really going on with Amelia: a tumor.

In all fairness, the closer you get to the end of the episode the more obvious it is that a medical condition was going to be the answer to the mystery of Amelia's behavior. As I mentioned before, "Grey's" does have a certain predictability to it, especially after having been on for so many seasons. Still, they attempted to obscure the truth by making the audience wonder if Amelia's standoffish attitude and her taking huge risks (such as manipulating Jackson into doing the kid's jaw reconstruction) is a sign of her being on the verge of a relapse or possibly still struggling with Derek's death.

The writers do this in a couple subtle ways: They have Amelia mention oxy addiction when she's talking about helping the kid so he doesn't become reliant on painkillers for his jaw, and then later she says, "My husband's sister came back from the dead and my brother didn't..." As soon as Amelia volunteers to be a part of Carina's study, though, you realize this isn't just about Amelia's sobriety or her grief over Derek.

Behind the scenes

Besides the drama unfolding on screen, I noticed a few elements in the two-hour premiere that made me appreciate the effort still being put into a show heading into its 14th season by the cast and crew. One of them was the new setting shots infused in some of the scenes, particularly in transitional sequences.

The shots struck me right away; there are transition scenes that have become commonplace on the series, and as soon as the new ones popped up I found myself rewinding to go back and view the fresh takes on the Seattle setting minus a green screen. Finding out from Shonda herself that they did indeed shoot some scenery from the actual location where "Grey's Anatomy" is supposed to take place was pleasing. The mastermind behind the show was just as excited as anybody else at the opportunity to shoot a few pieces on location:

Besides those shots, the directing was also phenomenal. The tracking shots and the continuous takes from one moment to the next, characters seamlessly exiting and entering the screen in a single take, was a thing of beauty. "Grey's" own Kevin McKidd (Owen Hunt) directed the second hour of the premiere and left me hoping that we'll be seeing more of those brilliant, creative technical moments for the rest of the season.

Episode 3

The next episode, titled "Go Big or Go Home," will address whether or not Amelia reveals the news about her tumor and how she intends to have it treated. So far, the DeLuca siblings are the only ones in on the secret, and "Grey's" being "Grey's," there's a strong possibility one of them will reveal the truth to someone before Amelia gets the chance to. After giving permission to Owen to be with Teddy, Owen jumped on the chance but is temporarily rejected when Teddy says she doesn't want to start a romantic relationship with him with him cheating on his wife. When Owen inevitably finds out about the tumor, will he feel forced to stay with Amelia to support her, the way she did for him when they found out Megan was alive?

The biggest question, of course, is whether or not Amelia will recover or if "Grey's Anatomy" is intending on killing off another huge character from the show. I feel the latter might be unlikely, but then again, an angry Jackson did tell Amelia, "You keep it up, and your luck is gonna run out." This could be a foreshadowing that things will only continue to go downhill for Amelia, but if anyone needs to catch a break, it's her.

During Meredith's voiceover, we hear the well-known quote that, "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional," followed by Meredith saying that whoever said that didn't know what the fuck they were talking about. For a season that has promised a bit of lightness and levity, is this a sign for things to come?

There's no doubt that "Grey's Anatomy" returned to the small screen in a big way, and that Vernoff's presence back on the show was just what the series needed.