Is Grey’s Anatomy about to lose another original character?
After a promo for Thursday’s hour indicated that Miranda Bailey would suffer a heart attack, many fans of the long-running ABC medical drama have been worried that her portrayer, Chandra Wilson, may be exiting the series.
According to the logline for the episode, the stress of managing the hospital and coming to terms with her husband Ben’s (Jason George) decision to become a firefighter will push Bailey to her limits, leading to a possible heart attack. Does this mean Wilson is leaving Grey’s?
“Let’s say Bailey has been stressed,” Wilson tells EW with a laugh, actively avoiding giving away any spoilers. “Is Bailey leaving? I think this is the right thing to say: Bailey’s been stressed and needs to take care of herself.”
Fans probably shouldn’t worry too much about her survival, as the episode really serves to depict how women’s medical issues can often go misdiagnosed — a storyline loosely inspired by the episode writer Elisabeth R. Finch’s real-life experience in being diagnosed with cancer. “It’s not directly related to Finch’s story, but only in relation to the experience with illness, the experience of going in to an emergency room, and with diagnoses, and the fears that come as a result of anyone having to go into a healthcare situation,” Wilson says. “That’s where the similarities end.
“What we really wanted to talk about in this episode, especially for women, is heart disease, how it manifests, how much of a killer of women it is, and how to be taken seriously when you walk into an emergency room situation so that you can be properly diagnosed and properly treated,” Wilson continues. “That’s the thing that was always at the forefront of each of the scenes that we went into, and the performance, as well as the conversations that Bailey was having with each of the characters.”
Certainly part of the stress that culminates in a potential heart attack comes from Ben deciding to switch to a more dangerous career — George’s character will soon be heading to the firefighter spin-off Station 19. “She hasn’t had any problems telling anyone who will listen that she’s not happy about it at all,” Wilson says. “He has already switched careers once, from anesthesiology to becoming a resident, because that’s supposedly where his passion was, and now his passion is changing again. Bailey doesn’t like unstable ground. She likes to know what’s happening next and what’s going to happen after that. Even though she would never begrudge someone the opportunity to expand and to explore and be their best self, she still likes things to be consistent, so she’s not very happy with her husband, and not being able to express that unhappiness coupled with the normal stresses of the position that she’s been in, that’s a lot on her plate.”
Make of this what you will about Bailey’s fate, but Wilson teases that we will get more info about the character’s childhood during the hour. “There are things that get revealed in this episode about Bailey’s upbringing that make you understand the person that you’ve been seeing since the pilot,” Wilson says. “Where she’s coming from, why she behaves the way she behaves, the kind of relationships that she has with her family, the kind of relationships she has with patients, the driven, professional woman that she is — you get a glimpse of where the seed of her comes from.”
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.