Credit: Danny Feld/ABC

Sandra Oh, who plays the brainy, acerbic Dr. Cristina Yang, will be departing Grey’s Anatomy at the end of this tenth season, but not before the show rips open one of its central relationships: the friendship between Cristina and Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo.) From the sound of it, the conflict will be as messy and difficult as any of the show’s toughest surgeries.

“A beautiful storyline is coming up about the friendship between Cristina and Meredith, and I love it,” says Oh. “I love it because it’s challenging and it’s like a real growing pain that they go through. … At the beginning of the season they have quite different lives: Meredith is married and has two children, and Cristina, who has now parted ways from Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd), is a non-parent and is very focused on her work and life, so that causes a riff.”

Oh especially appreciates the development because — like many of the best Grey’s Anatomy story arcs — it’s true to life. “My best friend I’ve known since I was six and we’ve been best friends since we were in junior high and lived on the same street,” she says. “There have been times that we have issues in our relationship. You come to a point where you feel distance from your relationship, and things are brought up and that you have to weather. Like any good long-term relationship, you have to put in the time and your love will sustain.”

Speaking of long-term relationships, just how will the doctors of Grey’s (and viewers!) say goodbye to Cristina after almost a decade? Oh, who says she thinks executive producer Shonda Rhimes has a plan, has one request. “Please! I would like my character to remain alive!” Oh says — especially since she’s open to guest-starring on Grey’s after she departs as a series regular.

For more scoop from Sandra Oh, tune in to the “TV Editor’s Hour” on Entertainment Weekly Radio SiriusXM 105 Friday at noon.

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Grey's Anatomy

Meredith. Alex. Bailey. The doctors are definitely in on Shonda Rhimes' hospital melodrama.

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