Spoiler alert! Do not proceed you probably have not watched Thursday’s winter finale of Grey’s Anatomy.

Is Meredith Grey going to die?

Thursday’s winter finale of Grey’s Anatomy, the second hour of a two-part crossover with Station 19, ended with the beloved physician in far worse form than earlier than. Still feeling the consequences COVID-19, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) appeared to be on the mend after waking up from being in and out of consciousness, throughout which she’d transport herself to the beachy dreamscape (the identical place she reunited with Derek and George). But after seeing a COVID affected person coding throughout the corridor, Meredith went into hero mode and have become the Meredith Grey viewers have been accustomed to seeing for almost 20 years, efficiently reviving the affected person with out exhibiting any worrisome indicators.

Seconds later although, it turned clear Meredith wasn’t again on the mend. She was merely on a “COVID high.” After taking a couple of steps towards her room, Meredith collapsed within the doorway of the affected person’s room, and as her mates revealed later, her lungs are shot and the one method for her to have an opportunity to dwell is to get on a ventilator, one thing Meredith was adamant in opposition to. But with out the ventilator meant her probabilities of survival decreased exponentially. As her appointed medical proxy, Webber (James Pickens Jr.) made the painful and troublesome determination to go in opposition to her needs and provides them the go-ahead. The episode ends with Meredith being placed on the ventilator, because the surroundings adjustments to the seaside, the place she’s contently looking towards the ocean — the sounds of the ventilator overtaking the voiceover.

There’s lots to unpack simply from the ultimate minutes of the Grey’s winter finale: How unhealthy is Meredith? Will she ever come out of this? Will she battle to dwell? Will she be reunited with Derek one final time on the seaside? If she does come out of the opposite aspect, how modified will Meredith be? “It’s not something that we take lightly and we don’t want to feel like Meredith is being let off the hook too easily,” Grey’s government producer Andy Reaser solely tells ET. “The virus keeps everyone guessing and it’s relentless, so it’s going to take relentlessness to fight it.”

While these questions are solely scratching the floor for what’s to come back (and solutions will not come till March), Reaser was joined by fellow government producer Meg Marinis for a candid dialogue on the troubling signal for Meredith’s COVID restoration (and if she’ll even get higher), clues for Patrick Dempsey’s upcoming appearances, hypothesis that season 17 could possibly be it for Grey’s, early teases for the March return and rather more.

ET: There appears to be a layer of poignancy this season due to the context through which the story is all unfolding. How has it felt within the writers’ room? Has it felt totally different from earlier years merely due to the circumstances?

Meg Marinis: Yeah, it positively feels totally different within the room this yr. I really feel like all of us really feel this… Obviously all of us wish to inform massive tales each single season however this yr particularly, everyone seems to be coming in on fireplace with story pitching due to, sure, what is going on on on the planet. And due to what is going on on the world, all of us really feel this ardour to inform tales that resonate with individuals and what they are going by way of on the planet proper now, because of the circumstances, resulting from COVID, resulting from racial injustice, because of the isolation that we’re all feeling each day. I am unable to even inform you how excited I used to be to come back again to work within the writers’ room on the finish of May as a result of for me, it was like, “Oh, my gosh, this is normalcy,” as a result of I hadn’t been within the writers’ room for a few months and I’d been caught in my home with a toddler. But additionally, I really feel like all of us have a lot extra to say this yr, if that is sensible.

Andy Reaser: Yeah. I’ll say that I’ve personally thought much more about individuals I’ve misplaced in my life and those that I fear about. Different from different years, that is actually the primary yr since I’ve been right here that on any given day it is not unusual for someone to pitch one thing, different individuals to begin crying after which the room saying, “OK, let’s take 10 minutes,” as a result of all of us should be with our feelings as a result of we’re speaking about what we’re going by way of on the identical time we’re going by way of it and that is very uncommon.

Marinis: There’s a further rawness to it, I feel.

I’m certain there have been a variety of conversations being had about Meredith being the one to get COVID and to go by way of her paces with this, however her being the vessel for the viewers to really feel that emotional catharsis has been impactful. What impression did you see in having her undergo this expertise and really feel the issues that lots of people are feeling?

Marinis:  [For] nearly all of viewers, Meredith Grey has been part of their lives for 17 seasons, if not 17 years. At least for me, I’ve been on the present — not the complete time however for a very long time — and I really feel like all of us have a relationship along with her and I really feel that when somebody you might have a relationship with and is so beloved goes by way of one thing that the complete world can be going by way of, you are feeling such as you’re going by way of it collectively. And additionally, as a result of she’s going by way of this, not solely within the premiere, she was nonetheless doing medication so we sort of noticed what she was going by way of as a healthcare employee and a frontline employee, and I feel that actually resonated with followers. The response on Twitter about seeing how this impacts healthcare employees was overwhelming, but additionally now that she is within the mattress and we have had a couple of of those episodes the place she’s been on the seaside, she’s additionally an instance of revisiting previous relationships and the those that imply probably the most to her, which I feel COVID and every thing happening on the planet proper now’s actually relatable for everyone.

Reaser: It permits her to undergo what lots of people are going by way of who’re nonetheless bodily helpless and never in command of their destiny essentially. I feel it additionally triggers one thing for the viewers the place individuals have this need to assist others and to do no matter they’ll for different individuals. Meredith is the center of the present and so beloved. The empathy meter is kicked up as excessive as potential with having her be the one that’s experiencing this and who persons are seeing expertise it.

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In the winter finale, Meredith goes into hero mode to save lots of a affected person and at first, it looks like she’s on the mend however she’s really simply on a COVID excessive. In the tip, she’s placed on a ventilator and in far worse form than earlier than. How dire are issues for her by the tip?

Reaser: What I’ll say is that is from the numerous, many conversations we have had with our medical employees and our medical doctors who’ve consulted on the present. We needed to be as practical as we probably might about our portrayal of the virus and the hazards that it poses, and the COVID excessive or comfortable hypoxia is one thing that we have heard about time and again and time and again the place you are like, “Oh, we’re all better,” after which the individual, simply on a dime, fully crashes. It’s not one thing that we take flippantly and we do not wish to really feel like Meredith is being let off the hook too simply. The virus retains everybody guessing and it is relentless, so it will take relentlessness to battle it.

Marinis: I fully agree with Andy. Her hero second, we would really examine someplace, I consider, that medical doctors, even being hospitalized, have been nonetheless attempting to assist sufferers as greatest as they may, even after they have been sufferers themselves as a result of you might have this calling and you may’t cease it. I feel that is just a little bit what is going on on in her conversations with Koracick, that they have been saving lives their total profession. How do you flip it off when the world round you is falling? It’s that helpless feeling that Andy was speaking about. She cannot really feel helpless. She cannot sit within the mattress. She’s Meredith Grey. She goes to make use of each final little bit of power she will to assist everybody. We do not know what is going on to occur, but when Meredith has caught the factor, we’re hoping that she’s going to battle.

Meredith’s confronted demise earlier than and been in near-death conditions. But this feels much more unsure. Is there an urgency to her mortality right here, extra so than ever?

Marinis: With COVID, like Andy mentioned, it is so unpredictable. No one can predict how the illness will go in a wholesome individual or an older individual. There’s no consistency to it. And Meredith Grey is as a younger, wholesome individual, wholesome physician. The indisputable fact that it is gotten this far, it is tremendous scary for all of us, as followers and in addition individuals residing with this. There’s an urgency as a result of it is COVID.

Is it honest to say that extra time can be spent now on the seaside as a result of she’s on this purgatory on the finish of the episode?

Reaser: We wish to say sure, however we additionally wish to be aware of the very fact we, very deliberately… I do not know should you picked up on this, however this episode ends with the closing voiceover begins, however then it would not actually cease. Then you simply hear the music and also you hear the sound of the ventilator and we’re unsure, going into this particular second within the season, how succesful Meredith is of imagining herself being on the seaside. It will come again in ways in which it has not but, that we’ve not seen but.

Krista Vernoff mentioned that we’ll see Patrick Dempsey at the very least a couple of extra instances. Is that also on the desk?

Reaser: I’ll say it is positively on the desk and it is positively deliberate, however I do not wish to discuss an excessive amount of about it as a result of I do not wish to discuss concerning the timeline of it.

There appears to be a sense of finality and closure by way of the seaside scenes with Patrick Dempsey and T.R. Knight’s returns. What’s the temperature like within the writers’ room about this probably being the tip of Grey’s, or at the very least closing in on the tip?

Marinis: As for nearing the tip, I really feel like beginning the previous couple of seasons, there are all the time theories. But I really feel like we’re succeeding nonetheless in unimaginable style, and we’re so grateful for that. But I’ll say, due to the circumstances of this yr, we had been writing every episode — as a result of we don’t know, relying on COVID charges and clearly manufacturing remains to be happening, if someday, they’re simply going to say now we have to cease due to security. We have been writing every episode prefer it might probably be the final episode till we might get again on the air as a result of we simply do not know. So we’re throwing every thing that we will, story-wise. Not each episode ends with a cliffhanger essentially, however each episode has such an emotional punch to it, for at the very least a couple of of our characters, that if it needed to be the final episode for a second, it could possibly be. The first six are positively an instance of that. But we’re fortunate in that we have nonetheless been capable of proceed to shoot, so we could have extra episodes. But as for the tip, who is aware of when Grey’s Anatomy will finish.

Reaser: Not to get too hung up on phrases, however there is a distinction between an ending and the ending. Elements of this season positively contain an ending.

Because you’ve got each been with the present for a number of years, what has having Derek Shepherd and George O’Malley again within the Grey’s orbit meant for you guys personally? 

Marinis: For me, it has been very thrilling, but it surely’s additionally been very, very emotional. I began on Grey’s actually proper out of college as an assistant. I can inform you what I used to be doing in my life throughout sure moments of Grey’s Anatomy. So having the ability to convey again these characters, it has been emotional for me, even outdoors of the present. Watching the scenes with George with my husband, he was like, “Oh my god, he was your favorite.” I’m like, “He is my favorite. It’s not was.” It’s additionally been taking me again by way of the reminiscences of being on the present, and the individuals who labored on the present, and crew members, and solid members, and writers, and producers who’ve come and gone. It’s been an enormous, emotional journey for me, at the very least. I sound actually tacky!

Reaser: I’ve solely been right here, it is bizarre to say solely within the sentence, however I’ve solely been right here seven seasons. I began the yr after Sandra [Oh] left and the yr that Patrick left, so it was very nice to see him come again. Having by no means gotten to work or write for T.R., it was actually, actually particular for me to see him come again on the present as a result of it was simply nice. And I can inform you, anytime when writers received to see the footage, writers have been crying as a lot as followers are.

Marinis: Listening to George discuss, it simply takes me again since you’re like, “Oh my gosh, remember when life was just simpler and you weren’t making sure we were completely in PPE before we went out?” It offers me this big sense of nostalgia and feeling of, I do not know why I’m utilizing this phrase, but it surely makes me homesick.

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One factor Webber says within the winter finale that actually caught out to me was that COVID will change the face of the hospital endlessly. And they’re going to lose medical doctors from simply psychological, emotional and bodily put on, they usually’ll lose medical doctors from the virus. Is this a warning bell of issues to come back within the second half of the season? 

Reaser: Yeah. Yes is the reply. That made its method into the script earlier than we had absolutely… It began leaping out as much as us extra too as we have been realizing issues we have been organising with out even realizing that we have been setting them up. And Richard Webber is the voice of [reason] and has probably the most expertise out of anybody in that hospital. And for him to provide a warning alongside these traces, he isn’t simply being paranoid.

Marinis: Yes. I additionally suppose that the psychological well being of our medical doctors and healthcare employees actually landed house on this episode. Obviously the bodily well being, it is simply as worrisome. But we’re actually beginning to see the impact that this illness is having on the psychological wellness of our healthcare employees. So we completely wish to present that in our characters as effectively.

Koracick remains to be battling COVID and never 100% however is he within the clear?

Marinis: He remains to be within the hospital with COVID. So, I’m not able to say he is within the clear but.

Reaser: We love our jobs or that you just throw us a query like that, which we must be so dumb to reply!

Teddy comes clear to Owen about Alison and her previous love, but it surely would not finish effectively. Where do they go from right here? What are you able to say when it comes to the difficulties that lie forward for these two?


They nonetheless have a really messy street forward of them. This admission from Teddy simply threw Owen an enormous curveball. The different factor I typically remind viewers is that we’re in a brief timeframe in these six episodes, so it is not like Owen has had all this time to completely come to phrases with what occurred between Teddy and Koracick. It’s nonetheless very, very uncooked for him and now she simply advised him this factor, which fully blows his thoughts due to how lengthy they’ve recognized one another and she or he’s by no means talked about that earlier than. They nonetheless have a variety of issues to work out.

Reaser: He actually has a removed from ultimate response to someone telling this painful and private [secret], however to echo what Meg mentioned, it is like within the span of that scene, he would not even have time to undergo and do the maths of the final 20 years what they’ve gone by way of and all of the implications and conversations they’ve had and absolutely wrap his head round what which means. He’s with someone who thought she was in a love triangle and that possibly she was in love with two individuals or had extra emotions than Koracick than she had for him. Then that is fully out of left subject, and including to it that their daughter is called after this one that was the love of her life is simply actually a giant shocker.

Marinis: There’s lots to unpack.

Another shock is Jo and Jackson. Has the response to that individual coupling shocked you? Are you leaning into them extra this season?

Marinis: Oh yeah. I’m certain there are issues on Twitter that I have never seen, however I’ve additionally seen a variety of actually constructive response. This pairing offers everybody some pleasure as a result of one, it is so surprising and it is a kind of moments that I feel that Grey’s has been nice over the previous 17 years the place we’ll take the 2 individuals that you just by no means thought can be collectively and have them be mates with advantages. And I feel that it places a smile on peoples’ faces. I feel whether or not or not they like them as a pair or not, it was only a shock, and it is enjoyable to be shocked. And individuals want that pleasure. I feel that pairing, they’re so humorous collectively, the characters, and Jesse [Williams] and Camilla [Luddington] have an incredible comedic chemistry. So it is actually enjoyable to observe them learn traces and act collectively. I feel it simply places a smile on our face, which is what we actually, actually wanted. But like they are saying, it is a enjoyable association, a enjoyable friendship. So that is what it’s as of proper now.

The intercourse trafficking storyline from final season returns, and Andrew and Carina resolve to observe the lady who was chargeable for trafficking Andrew’s affected person final yr. Are they about to seek out themselves in a dicey state of affairs appearing as beginner PIs?

Marinis: Stay tuned. 

Reaser: Last season, I received requested extra about Erin and her destiny, than something individuals had requested me about on any earlier reveals, and if we have been going to convey that story again. And we positively felt there was extra to inform in that realm. So we’re. And I wish to simply additionally, sort of alongside these traces, however I wish to give a shout-out to Felicia Pride, who’s new to our employees and wrote this episode, and did an exceptional, phenomenal job, and simply introduced a lot coronary heart and a lot humor and so many smarts to the best way that she crafted this episode. And Pete Chatmon did an exceptional job directing it. It’s not essentially the subject that long-term followers are going to be clamoring to grasp or hear about as a result of it would not contain relationships, and residing or dying, however I feel Kelly [McCreary] simply did a house run on this episode talking to the hazards that the ladies confronted and the toll that it has been taking over her that we have seen all through different episodes. I feel her efficiency was so fantastic. She’s married to Pete Chatmon, the director, they usually have been actually a beautiful group. Her look when Winston surprises Maggie on the finish, of pleasure however heartbreak and the way a lot she wants that, I feel, is simply so fantastic. And we’re very, very excited to have Winston, [played by] Anthony Hill, be right here in individual and never should be on a pc display for some time.

How would you tee up the primary episode again? What feelings or emotions ought to viewers be ready to really feel within the return?

Reaser: It’s Grey’s so it is the entire spectrum. One of the issues that has been so nice concerning the present, and that is from the start when Shonda [Rhimes] and Krista have been there, method earlier than we have been, that the present has all the time carried out an incredible job of balancing extremes of tone and emotion, as an alternative of simply being all one factor. You can go from a second of being overjoyed to a second of laughing, to a second of full heartbreak, to a second of being on the sting of your seat. And we’re persevering with alongside that street. The winter finale is a crossover and I feel I can say this, the [spring] premiere can be going to be and it is actually thrilling. I might say, purchase a hat and cling on to it as a result of it is thrilling and it is surprising, and it is all of the issues that Grey’s is so nice at.

Grey’s Anatomy returns March 4 on ABC. For extra on the collection, watch the video beneath.