Could the lives of Arizona, Bailey, and Jo be in danger?
During Grey’s Anatomy‘s winter premiere, the trio is called to a maximum security women’s prison to treat a violent 16-year-old pregnant prisoner. Confined to the halls of this underfunded and dangerous ward, Bailey (Chandra Wilson), Jo (Camilla Luddington), and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) must navigate this bleak glimpse into the prison system, where the entire episode is set — you won’t see Grey Sloan or any of the other doctors throughout.
“When we sat down for the table read, we knew it was going to be a bit different because it’s primarily Chandra, Camilla, and I,” Capshaw tells EW. “I don’t think anyone knew what to expect, so there was a different kind of anticipation and excitement about reading it.”
However, excitement turned to anxiety once it became clear that this prison isn’t a safe place for the trio. “[We were] feeling like inevitably, because it’s Grey’s, something big is going to have to happen,” Capshaw says. “Every time we turned a page or went down a hallway or got frisked by a security guard, we were all waiting for the other shoe to drop. It felt like the Silence of the Lambs episode. It felt like something was just going to jump out at us. It was really, really fun in a different way to feel excited and anxious in that way.”
Production on the episode was also a new experience as the trio spent a lot of time together. “I think we’re all in almost every single scene,” Capshaw says. “It actually fell on my daughter’s sixth birthday, so my daughter celebrated her birthday on the set of Grey’s Anatomy in my trailer; we had a trailer party.”
“We worked really, really hard,” Capshaw continues. “It’s in the prison and it’s a little bit grittier and there’s a lot more anticipation, you’re just not sure what’s going to happen. The character that we go to help, we’re not really sure what she’s in there for or if she’s dangerous. She certainly doesn’t look dangerous, but is she dangerous? It was really fun to do because it felt like still Grey’s Anatomy, but an extension or segue that felt unexpected.”
The episode also marked an unexpected reunion for Capshaw with Klea Scott (pictured right), who portrays the hardened prison doctor. “Klea is great,” Capshaw effuses. “She actually randomly was also in Minority Report, which my dad [Steven Spielberg] directed that I also had a tiny part in. My bandwidth is not what it used to be with four children, a job, and basically life. She came up to me at the very beginning and was like, ‘We already worked together!’ I completely drew a blank, like, ‘I have no idea what we’ve worked on together,’ and she said, ‘Minority Report,’ and I was like, ‘Well, there you go, that’s really digging into the recesses of my beginning of being an actress in the world.'”
Grey’s Anatomy returns Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.