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Grey's Anatomy: Ellen Pompeo on that steamy hookup

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ABC/Kelsey McNeal

Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Thursday’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Read at your own risk!

Owen and Amelia aren’t the only ones who took the next step during Thursday’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

In a shocking turn of events, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Riggs (Martin Henderson) ended up sleeping together — which was especially surprising after it seemed Riggs had some flirtation going with Maggie (Kelly McCreary).

Ever since Henderson’s casting was announced in the wake of Patrick Dempsey’s exit, fans pretty much expected Riggs to be a new love interest for Meredith, but the show patiently waited, even giving Meredith a brief fling with another doctor. “I did know from early on that Shonda [Rhimes] didn’t want the first person that Meredith was with to be the one,” Pompeo tells EW. “She believed there had to be one sort of get it out of the way before she had one that stuck.”

“Like most people, I presumed that it was inevitable,” Henderson says. “However, they were taking such sweet time about it. I actually was starting to doubt, maybe Shonda won’t put me with Meredith. Actually, when I was reading episode 23, I honestly thought it was going to be Maggie and Nathan. I did not see that ending coming at all. It shocked me when I realized. I’m hoping the audience has a similar reaction, because it does come out of left field, which is fun. The way they get together, it’s this very reactive, passionate thing. No one has really thought it through. It’s certainly not really romantic. It’s more of a magnetic animal thing that they’ve acted on, the consequences of which remain to be seen.”

True, the hookup is about as impulsive as Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) and Owen (Kevin McKidd) deciding to get married, which you can read all about here. Will the love in the air in the finale jump-start Meredith’s desire for something more? “She can find happiness,” Pompeo says. “She’ll never have another great love. What scared her about Will Thorpe is she had a great experience with him. She really liked him, she thought she was falling for him, she slept with him, and it wasn’t terrible, it was great. That scared her and made her feel incredibly guilty. She didn’t think that she was ever going to be able to enjoy another man again. So then when she did, she completely had a panic attack and freaked out.

“Now we’re going to see Meredith have flings with safer people who she knows she can’t fall in love with, and know she can’t really be with, a.k.a Riggs,” Pompeo continues. “Riggs is super safe because everybody hates him.”

Due to a time jump in the finale, we won’t actually see the morning after, but certainly we’ll learn how they feel about the situation during the season ender. “Neither of them want to have a commitment, at least not to each other, which is funny,” Henderson says. “Meredith interprets Riggs as a certain kind of guy. She projects onto him her fears of what he’s going to now demand of her. We find out that his take on the relationship, if you could call it that, is actually quite different, and it makes her feel a little more relaxed. No one is really putting any pressure on each other. Born out of that is this nice — it’s ambiguous the way it’s written — but it’s going to lead somewhere. But I don’t know where.”

Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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