If Grey’s Anatomy fans expected a warm sisterly embrace between Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Maggie (Kelly McCreary) when the ABC medical drama returned for season 11, they were sorely mistaken. Instead, the unaware Meredith butted heads with the new head of cardio, ultimately leading to a nasty confrontation that will undoubtedly color Meredith’s reaction when she eventually finds out the truth that Maggie is her half-sister.
“It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” McCreary tells EW. “Maggie’s a professional, but they push each other’s buttons professionally. They have different approaches on how to do things. Try as Maggie might, she can’t release her stubbornness or other vices, like her tenaciousness, when it comes to working with Meredith.”
But Meredith isn’t the only Grey Sloan doc she’ll will go toe-to-toe with in this week’s Maggie-centric episode, in which she faces a series of unfortunate circumstances at work. “She’s having a hard time connecting with the other doctors at the hospital,” McCreary says, explaining that Maggie will put her foot in her mouth more than once. “She gets some information about Karev [Justin Chambers] that she shares with the wrong people and that’s a total whoops, and she has a very awkward moment trying to stick up for Bailey [Chandra Wilson] and inadvertently insults the entire board at the hospital. She has the best intentions, but things aren’t going quite well.”
The episode will also explore Maggie’s history, which will give viewers insight into her adoptive family. “She’s talked about how they are a loving, goofy and funny in the scene with Richard [James Pickens Jr.] in the premiere,” she says. “We’re going to get a nice taste of that to understand how she’s different from them. We’re going to see what a great doctor she is. She’s clearly super bright. She’s a very young woman to be in the position that she’s in at the hospital. We’re going to see her excellent problem solving skills in action, and we’re going to see her awkward social skills in action. “
Speaking of Richard, fans should expect the bombshell that he’s her father to drop sooner rather than later. “It could be really joyful or totally unnerving,” McCreary says. “The audience will be able to feel when it has reached a boiling point for Richard and he has to relieve of the stress of it for himself.”
In turn, it’s only a matter of time before Meredith discovers the truth. “I think some skepticism is a totally reasonable response,” McCreary says. “How many more sisters are going to come out of the woodwork for Meredith? Exasperation would be a totally reasonable response as well. The audience can infer from past experiences.”
Check out an exclusive sneak peek at Meredith and Maggie’s icy relationship below:
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.