In an ideal world, Cristina Yang and Izzie Stevens would have returned to last night's episode, the former stopping a wedding to make out with her true love, the latter stopping an awkward fistfight. But unfortunately Meredith's person and Alex's soulmate only appeared in the season finale as references. But the shadows they cast were weighty, and Cristina's absence in particular is sometimes a stronger character than those still literally roaming the hospital's halls.
They both get their names dropped at the very start of the episode, with Izzie's mention kicking off the theme of the episode — can you get a second true love? Alex isn't sure, and thinks Izzie might have been his only shot. Meredith dismisses Izzie as a one true love candidate at all because...reasons? I don't buy it. Alex was in love with Izzie when she loved Denny, Izzie was in love with Alex when he loved the ferry crash victim. Their love withstood a last-wish wedding, cancer and possible brain damage and — not just work place drama. The show can give him a second chance at love with Jo, but you can't erase his history.
Meredith, in a move that would make her the villain if she wasn't always our intrepid heroine, suggests Owen call Christina on his wedding day. Why? To see if their love could reignite over the phone lines, which would result in Owen would be leaving Amelia at the altar. Not great sistering, Mer.
Mentioning departed characters is natural for Grey's or any show for that matter. It's like, when real people talk about exes who've moved on, or deceased loved ones when memories are triggered. But, even with Grey's recent renaissance, it's hard not to let these name drops remind fans of what now seems like a simpler, more exciting time to be watching the happenings of the hospital.