Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy. Read at your own risk.
Capping off what has arguably been one of the most depressing seasons of Grey’s Anatomy yet, the bad news just kept on coming.
After April (Sarah Drew) finally found solace from the loss of their child by becoming a badass soldier, the chaos of the bridge collapse left her wanting more. Realizing that April has found her happiness without him, Jackson (Jesse Williams) encouraged her to return to the army—though he won’t be waiting for her when she gets back this time. Does this spell the end of Jackson and April? EW caught up with Drew to get the scoop:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Are April and Jackson really done?
SARAH DREW: We haven’t actually broken up. We’re left on the precipice. He’s given me an ultimatum that gives us room to figure out what’s going to happen next season. I think this is the first of many conversations. I don’t see it as a total breakup, I see it as they’re definitely in a really, really rough situation. I don’t think that it’s the nail on the coffin for them. He says if you go, we’re done, but April still has to make a choice, so that’s where—I guess—we’ll pick up next season, but [Shonda Rhimes] could make a different choice.
How does April feel when Jackson is giving her that ultimatum?
Oh man, it’s the saddest thing in the world. This is the first moment where she has come to terms with the fact that she actually has not been taking care of him over the past year, that she was so devastated by the death of their baby that she went and did something that really healed her in a pretty profound and incredible way. But in that process, she didn’t take care of him. He’s finally saying it out loud and there’s a lot of resentment that’s built up that she wasn’t capable of dealing with or processing in her own road to recovery. Now she’s gone and had this crazy experience that is really, really hard to relate to someone who hasn’t had that kind of an experience. It’s going to be an uphill battle for them to try to find their way back to one another. I really, really hope that they do. It was very sad shooting that scene. I want them to survive. I want them to find solace in each other. I want them to be able to heal with each other. We’ll see where the show takes us in season 12.
April has found her happiness without him, so if she decides to stay, could that ultimately backfire with their relationship?
Of course it could. She’s left with an impossible decision. She has found this thing that has healed her from the trauma of losing their child. But if she continues to pursue that thing, she loses the love of her life. There’s no winning in this situation for her. If she does decide to stay, that could build resentment for her and the relationship could backfire anyway. It’s a really tough situation.
This is what makes Shondaland shows so great. People are faced with impossible situations and somehow they find someway to make it through them, cope and survive and eventually thrive. I’m not hopeless in the Japril scenario. I have a lot of hope that they can find their way back to one another. We’ll see. I have no idea what next season will hold. The writers are tossing around a lot of different ideas and scenarios for Japril. I hope they can weather this.
Given that we just went through such a huge time jump, will next season pick up right where we left off?
I have no idea. I think it would be really interesting to see pieces of that year in flashback. It would be cool to piece together what happened in these people’s lives. It’s kind of crazy to skip a whole year for everybody and only get little tiny snippets of what happened. It would be cool to color in some of that stuff that we missed. Everything is fair game. The writers are breaking story right now for next season. They do it all the month of May and take June off before we go back to work in July, but they’re having a ball in that room tossing out all the different scenarios. I don’t know what’s going to stick, but I do know there’s this incredible energy amongst everyone of this new beginning for Meredith and, as a result, a new beginning for the show in a pretty exciting way. Everybody is really excited to see how Meredith moves forward after the tragedy of losing Derek. People are excited to jump into this new chapter of Grey’s.
Though April has found her happiness in joining the war effort, should we be worried that maybe she’s seeking the adrenaline of war to dim her pain?
Totally. There are a lot of complicated things that come from going and serving in the way that she did in that year. Yes, she could potentially turn into an adrenaline junkie and that normal life could become totally dull in comparison. It could also be really what she says in the finale, which is a calling. I see it as when you’re on the front lines in a war-torn situation where you see death around you all the time, your own personal drama and trauma diminishes, because you’re seeing a much bigger world and you’re pretty small in the midst of it. That, more than anything, is what has provided the healing for her.
It can be something that’s really healthy, but it also can backfire in that she can’t be satisfied with anything because she needs that adrenaline rush and needs to be on the precipice of death at all times. That’s a really scary situation to be in. I’m really excited to see where April goes. The world is wide open for her in terms of how she begins to exist in this new skin that’s developed over the year that she was on the battlefield. We’ll see a very, very different April. That’s exciting for me as an actress and it’s exciting to see how her relationships will transform as a result.
Is it fun for you to play April as a badass now?
It’s really exciting. It’s a gift to have the stability of a job on a phenomenal show, but also get to transform in the way that I’ve been able to. I think back to who she was in her first episode with the little red notebook, and then who she was when she was at her boards, and then who she was when she married Jackson, and then who she was when she lost her baby, and now this is a whole new incarnation of her. I feel like I’m getting to play several different characters over the course of the life of April on Grey’s Anatomy. It’s also scary. I spent my day working on episode 23, I literally burst into tears like seven times, because I was like, “I don’t know who I am anymore! Who is this new April? What has she experienced? How is this informing how she’s carrying herself, how she speaks and how she emotes?” It was really scary at first, but I’m now excited about it. After two episodes of living in this new skin, I’m figuring her out. I can’t wait to see what she does and who she becomes.
April gave up a lot for this relationship after running out on her wedding. Can she even imagine a life in which Jackson is not in it?
No, I don’t. They fought so hard for each other. Even after they got married, they fought so hard for each other as a couple as they were navigating coming from two very different backgrounds and two different world views. The way that they supported and cared for one another through the death of their son, I think that that was pretty epic. It’s all pretty epic. I can’t imagine her being OK with letting go of him. I hope that we get to see them fighting for each other. I hope that’s what next season brings us. I can’t imagine that they’re not going to at least try. They’ve been through too much to not try. At the end of the day, people do change. It’s all up to the writers at this point.
Grey’s Anatomy will return to ABC this fall.