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'Grey's' return features another return
Just as Jo (Camilla Luddington) and Alex (Justin Chambers) began to reconcile, Jo was shocked by a blast from her past in the form of the abusive husband Paul (Matthew Morrison) from whom she ran. How will she handle this new turn of events? Check out some sneak peek photos from the Jan. 18 midseason premiere.
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Here's the logline from the midseason premiere: "Jo finally faces her estranged, abusive husband Paul Stadler, while Grey Sloan continues to work with the FBI after a hacker has compromised the hospital's computer system."
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Paul briefly appeared on the show last season when Alex (Justin Chambers) tracked him down but decided not to confront him, knowing it could put Jo in further danger. But Paul found Jo anyway. Paul’s return kicks off a major storyline for Grey’s in exploring domestic abuse, which Jo suffered for years at his hand.
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“I can tell you that I’m excited that we are telling this story in the way that we are telling this story,” executive producer Krista Vernoff tells EW. “Paul is a terrifying human for Jo to have to face, and she gets a lot of support in facing him. It is dramatic, and it is emotional, and it is frightening, and it is the Shondaland roller coaster, and I’m really proud of it. At this time, in this world, I think it’s a story that needed telling.”
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The current climate of near-daily allegations of sexual harassment or assault, however, doesn't necessarily factor into the storytelling, as the story line was planned long before these recent headlines. “I don’t think it has colored it,” Vernoff says. “We always approach Grey’s Anatomy from a place of human storytelling and the stories that we want to tell."
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Vernoff continues, "I think that what’s happening and what’s coming out, this rug being shaken out and the clean up that’s happening — this beautiful, painful cleanup — is making us feel like the need to tell our stories is ever more present, and we’re proud of the stories that we’re telling.”
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Fortunately, Jo has found a new family of her own at Grey Sloan, who can and will step up to protect her.
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Now that Nathan is gone, Grey's isn't rushing to give Meredith a new love interest. “Meredith Grey is a very complex character who had the love of her life, and that person died,” EP Shonda Rhimes says. “I don’t know that for her that epic romance is exactly what she’s looking for next. I think it might come when she least expects it, but I don’t think that’s what she’s looking for next. I kind of subscribe to the idea that a woman should be looking for something else, mainly something for herself, as opposed to basing everything in a man. I think we’re watching her grow and evolve.”
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Still, Vernoff is hopeful that Meredith will find romance in the future. “What is next for Meredith in terms of a love life remains to be seen,” Vernoff tells EW. “I believe that romance and love are always a possibility, especially after we’ve lost the loves of our life. We have to evolve out of our immediate grief. I believe that immediate grief takes more than a couple of years. I don’t want to ever short-shrift the people who have gone through the death of a spouse and say you just move on, or you just move on with the first person.”
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“I believe that Nathan served a beautiful purpose in Meredith’s life, which was to open her heart again and show her that she could care about someone again,” Vernoff continues. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean that person is your person for life. One of the things that I love that we do on the show is show this very human journey.”
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Though Maggie and Jackson were interrupted in the winter finale before they could actually have “The Talk,” we will get to see it soon. “They’re going to have that conversation within the next few episodes,” Vernoff confirms.
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"What’s ironic is that all of the reasons the fans might not want Jackson and Maggie to get together are the exact things that make really great drama," Kelly McCreary tells EW. "That’s true of life, too, the stuff that makes things a little bit messier is the stuff we think we don’t want, but ultimately makes us stronger, so if that’s where it goes, then there’s probably good story to mine and good lessons to teach there about humanity and god knows what else.”
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What that means for April and Jackson, however, remains to be seen. But April will have a big episode in the second half of the season that’s inspired by current events. “We’re taking on some very real issues this year,” Vernoff says. “We’re doing an episode that focuses on police bias, in addition to the domestic violence story line. April is at the center of an episode that really looks at the injustices of the world and how a character like her processes that.”
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Still, Jackson and April will never totally be out of each other’s lives. “They’re going to be doing life together to some degree because of this child,” says Sarah Drew, who explains that the couple not living under one roof could end up being a good thing for, at the very least, their friendship. “The thing that is not okay is being somewhere in-between,” Drew says. “That’s the thing that is continually causing the most pain so it could be a really good step for her to make a clean break and try to shut her heart down when it comes to him, which is incredibly difficult, especially since they share a child together, and she can’t just refuse to see him.”