In tonight’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy, Dr. Taryn Helm (Jaicy Elliot) lives her best life by taking the lead on her first-ever surgery. “I’m so Meredith Grey!” she blurts out — the culmination of a crush she’s had on the title character since joining Grey Sloan Memorial in season 14.

Here, Elliot talks about Helm’s big moment in the OR, and how she really feels about Ellen Pompeo‘s character these days.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Has Helm had a chance to do this level of surgery in previous seasons?
None that I took the lead on! This was my first official, adult version of doing a surgery.

But… you weren’t allowed to succeed. What the heck happened?
Let’s keep in mind that this was a very advanced surgery for such a young doctor. I was very excited for Taryn to get down and dirty, doing an exciting surgery. This season I feel like that’s where I’m kind of headed. I’m hoping they’re allowing her to focus on the work.

GREY'S ANATOMY - "Back in the Saddle" - The Grey Sloan doctors operate on a man who crashed into Maggie's car as Owen, back from paternity leave, struggles with Tom's new position. Outside the hospital, Meredith's recent firing doesn't stop her from diagnosing those around her. Plus, Richard and Alex start anew and it's not easy. All the while, Jo readies herself to return to work, and Amelia has a new revelation in her relationship with Link, on an all-new episode of "Grey's Anatomy," THURSDAY, OCT. 3 (8:00-9:01 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (ABC/Jessica Brooks) JAICY ELLIOT
Credit: Jessica Brooks/ABC

You uttered the line, I’m so Meredith Grey. Is that the first time you’ve ever said that? Are you still crushing on Meredith?
This is the first time! I think it’s interesting because Taryn has shifted from, ‘I want to be with Meredith Grey’ to ‘I want to be heard.’ I think maybe that’s where her crush came from, her having this admiration for the power and the badass woman that Meredith is. This definitely is a new version of the crush that I’m experiencing.

So does that mean it’s strictly a platonic crush?
It’s a little bit of a gray area. It’s interesting because a lot of what I’ve experienced on the show mirrors a reality for me. We started as interns. This is my first show. It’s kind of all mixed in together. This crush is about admiration but I also think it is kind of just a crush. We’re experiencing gender fluidity nowadays in people’s relationships. I think it reflects well in this specific situation because we don’t know if she’s in love with her, but also, does it matter? It could be true and it could also not be true. Whether she’s gay is not necessarily the point. I think [Taryn is crushing because] it’s just about who Meredith is.

Does Meredith know that Helm has a crush on her?
I don’t think so. I think Meredith is unaware of how much people appreciate her. She’s just concerned about trying to build and create and innovate and do things for other people. I don’t think that she would think that I am in love with her. Maybe she has a sense … I mean, I do say things that hint to it a lot. I do feel like, if anything, if someone who’s around her might have noticed and told her, I don’t think she would hold it against Taryn. I think she would just ignore it because it’s kind of irrelevant to her life.

I love that moment when Meredith is sitting in the lobby and Taryn says, ‘Oh, there’s Meredith Grey! Is she back?’
She’s like a mentor. She’s a source of inspiration. She’s the reason Taryn went to Grey Sloan, to walk that path and to be close to that kind of energy and success.

Maybe it’s time this show develops the next Meredith Grey. Have you entertained the thought?
I mean, first of all, that would be amazing! I could see Meredith becoming a mentor to one of the interns and in which case, I would think Taryn would be the option unless Levi [Jake Borelli] takes the lead on that. It’s not something that I have read right now and it’s not something they’re even thinking about. We just read the 350th episode and it’s so exciting. I feel like the show just keeps getting better and better, so we don’t know. Maybe with time I might get there. That’d be very cool.

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Are you in the 350th episode?
Yes I am! It’s going to be a lot of fun.

You’re definitely one of the smarter interns.
That’s how I think of her. I don’t think she likes to be emotional. She’s trying to stay really professional because emotion gets in the way of her work. Sometimes she tries too hard because that’s who she is and it gets in the way of her doing her best job. I can see her trying to change that and learning and growing. I definitely consider her to be the smartest.

I know Helm’s alias is Hell Mouth. Will they still call you that someday or has it gone away?
The writers were really excited about calling me Hell Mouth. A lot of them are very big fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it’s kind of a cool nickname. I think they’ll bring it back now and then. We had a wrap party and they made a margarita that had jalapeno in it. They called it the Hell Mouth drink.

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

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