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Grey's Anatomy's Caterina Scorsone on Amelia's next step

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

Surprise, surprise, Amelia Shepherd survived her brain surgery. But the question remains: What’s next?

Though the road to recovery was rough during Thursday’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy, with Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) even initially fearing something went wrong — because practically everything in her life before this has! — she is cleared to go home. Though Amelia was ready to set Owen (Kevin McKidd) free, unsure of where they stand since he was clearly going to end things when he found out about her tumor, she does indeed go home with him. Are they getting back together? Or will Amelia’s potential personality changes affect that? EW turned to Scorsone to get the scoop.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When had you first heard about Amelia having a brain tumor? What was your reaction?
CATERINA SCORSONE: I heard about it from Krista Vernoff. She gave me the heads up. My reaction was like, “Oh my gosh, of course!” [Laughs] There was a giant lightbulb over my head. “Of course! Everything makes sense now!”

Do you think they had known about this tumor story line for a while and built to this?
I don’t know. I’m trying to, on purpose, stay out of that process. As the actor, I want to not know what she doesn’t know. I don’t want to take it apart too clinically. I try to keep it in a zone of what Amelia would be thinking, like, “How long has this been happening? Which parts have to do with the tumor and which are just me?” It’s very easy to use what’s going on, because Amelia would be in a state of a lot of puzzlement and deep questioning.

It does seem to answer why she’s made so many impulsive decisions over the years.
It does make sense! You’ve been with us all the way since Private Practice, and we know that Amelia has always been this wacky, wild woman, but she hasn’t been erratic in this way until recently. She was the life of the party, but again, she was working a program, she was very sober, and she worked with a sponsor, and she worked her steps. The kind of behavior that was happening in the last season or two was not sober behavior. Something was off. Yeah, if you’ve been with Amelia since the beginning, you can see that she’s wacky, but she’s got a warmth to her. She has a consistency and a coherence in her values that suddenly was going all over the place. She would say that she wanted one thing and then do exactly the opposite — she proposed and then ran away from the marriage as though it hadn’t been her idea in the first place. There was weird stuff going on and it wasn’t consistent with Amelia’s personality, and it wasn’t consistent with Amelia’s values. So suddenly everything does seem to make a lot more sense knowing that there was an external cause of some of this.

How different is this Amelia? Are there noticeable changes in her personality in upcoming episodes?
We’re still working that out now. We’ve just stepped away from this huge trauma of discovering a tumor and having a major medical intervention, so there’s the personality changes of just going along with having endured a trauma like that and having changed because you faced something so extreme and so scary and gotten through it. Up until this point, Amelia’s mostly faced the mortality of all of the people that she loved — other people whose lives she had no control over. In this situation, it’s her own mortality that she’s facing. Perhaps for her, it’s a big moment in terms of having a different relationship with her ideas about life and death. But that said, the core of her is still her. She’s not going to become a different person. It’s not that they removed functioning parts of her brain. They removed a benign tumor and made room for her to not be affected by all of this crazy chemical interference. It’s more about restoring what is really Amelia and removing what is artificial, rather than some vast personality change. She’s not going to wake up and not like the books, shows, and people that she liked. She’ll still be Amelia, she’ll just be tumor-free.

Richard Cartwright/ABC

Could this be a new beginning for Amelia and Owen? Is it almost like starting over for them?
I think it potentially could be. Basically, we’re pressing the reset button on that relationship. She has given him the opportunity to step away, and they’re trying to figure out what was real and what wasn’t. As time goes on, and the initial fear and trauma falls away and her physical recovery improves, they’re going to have an opportunity to really look at each other and see what was there, what is there, and what should be there in the future.

Will we then see Amelia bonding with Megan [Abigail Spencer]?
You haven’t seen the standalone episode, right? It is a big one. The standalone episode is episode 5. We will see Amelia and Megan’s relationship unfold a little further in the next episode. Megan and Owen will have some interaction about the relationship. It will be further explored in the next one.

Is that why we’re seeing this flashback to Megan’s abduction? Is Amelia getting the full story?
It’s more of an event having to do with the story about Megan and Owen. Amelia’s in it and there is discussion of the relationship, but that episode really focuses on their early relationship and their life together before we met Owen.

How will this change her dynamic with her sisters? She even mentioned Meredith always thought she was crazy, so what does that dynamic look like moving forward?
I don’t know! I’m really hopeful for them. At the core, Amelia loves Meredith so much and she loves Derek, and Derek was everything to her. Meredith has always been this connection to Derek, and she wants to be family with Meredith, she wants to be close to her, she moved all the way from Los Angeles to help her take care of the kids, so she wants to have this closeness. For one reason or another, she’s never been able to have that with Meredith, so hopefully this will, in some ways, soften Meredith’s feelings about Amelia. Maybe moving forward they have more of a shot of really being the sisters that Amelia so badly wants to be.

How does this change her drive at work? Will she struggle at all in her recovery?
She’s definitely going to be nervous about what her capacity is going to be after the surgery. For anyone who goes through something like that, obviously, the fear of cognitive effects would be huge, especially for someone who is actually a neurosurgeon and has seen all kinds of things go right and go wrong. So I definitely think that’s going to be on the front of her mind as she gets back into her scrubs and goes back to work.

Is it fun for you to rediscover this character?
Yes, the big balance is just going to be figuring out what was affected, when it started being affected, and which parts were altered or changed by the surgery. Also, in a more subtle layer on top of that, which parts were altered and changed by her experience, which has nothing to do with the tumor, it has to do with a person who encountered new information, new challenges, and gained new perspective in life, and how that’s changed her. Both of those factors could have implications for how she moves forward in life. Again, we just don’t know where one ends and the other begins.

As she’s discovering all of this, is there a constant for her, someone who can help her get re-centered as she’s figuring it all out?
That’s one of the blessings of a big event in people’s lives: People rally. She really has seen a lot of support from everybody. All of the doctors in the hospital show up for her and are there to support her. She definitely looks to Owen for comfort and support, he’s definitely still a huge figure in her world, and her sisters. Underneath that, she really has an opportunity to see how all the doctors of the hospital are there for her, and it really is a family in a more palpable way than she’s really experienced before. So that’s nice.

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