SPOILER ALERT: This article contains details about the March 11 episodes of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19.
Just like the fall finale, “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Station 19” returned from their hiatus with another powerful and deeply emotional crossover. Tonight’s episodes dealt with the aftermath of the dramatic off-duty rescue of two black teenage girls by the Station 19 team and the arrest of Robert and Dean by an overzealous white cop. The series also said goodbye to one of Grey’s Anatomy’s doctors, Andrew DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti), as ABC’s ominous promo hinted. (Read Deadline’s interview with Gianniotti here).
As the firefighters at Fire Station 19 try to digest the events of the previous day and discuss the problems of racism in the police force, the series successfully concludes its season-long kidnapping storyline. When we last saw DeLuca in the cliffhanger of the fall finale, he had just spotted Opal – the child trafficking suspect who sparked his manic episode last season – in the parking lot of Grey Sloan and drove off with his sister Carina to follow Opal’s car. The DeLucas called in Carina’s friend, Captain Maya Bishop of Station 19, and her team to help with the operation. Eventually, Opal was arrested, but not before her accomplice stabbed DeLuca.
With his sister by his side, DeLuca was taken to Grey Sloan, where he underwent successful emergency surgery under the direction of Owen and Teddy, but then developed DIC and died in the operating room despite Owen and Teddy’s best efforts.
While on the verge of death, DeLuca was able to spend time on the beach with Meredith in a dream sequence, and she subsequently became unresponsive and was placed on a ventilator.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen, Meredith, but whatever happens, I want you to know that I’ve never felt like you’ve seen me, I’ve never felt inspired like you’ve been inspired, you’ve made me not only want to be the best I can be, but even better,” he said. The duo, whose budding romance was interrupted by the pandemic, had one last touching conversation before DeLuca told her, “You’re going to be okay, Meredith,” and then ran to his late mother, who waved. While her body passed out in the operating room, he was reunited with his mother on the beach in a heartfelt embrace.
In an interview with Deadline, Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 showrunner Krista Vernoff talks about the decision to kill DeLuca this season, the significance of his death and the impact his sudden death will have on his sister Meredith and the other doctors at Grey Sloan. She also talks about a big Teddy-Owen arc that will follow their new connection as they fight for DeLuca’s life, and a George Floyd/BLM storyline in Ward 19. She also explains if we’ll see DeLuca again and discusses Meredith’s status – as well as the status of the series not being renewed for Season 18. (You can read more about that here).
DEADLINE: When did you decide that DeLuca’s character would die? Was his mental health crisis last season a point where you thought about killing him off?
KRISTA VERNOFF: No. That was one of the first creative ideas I had when I was imagining what this season would look like. It’s like I said. The stories tell themselves. I just try to write them down as fast as I can, and this story told itself as I was walking on the beach and imagining the season, and I was like, “Oh, no, really?! But it felt powerful and important, and I don’t always know why, but that’s the story that came.
DEADLINE: Was it important to you that DeLuca fully rehabilitate himself before he died? He helped the kidnapped girl and Bailey earlier in the season and did one last brave thing by having Opal arrested.
VERNOFF: Yes. It was extremely important to me that it be clear that he overcame his mental health crisis and that the rest of the story with the sex trafficking was rooted in his bravery and his goodness as a human being, and I think we got that right. I didn’t want to risk sending the message that he died because of his mental illness. He died after overcoming his mental crisis, with courage and strength, and he died a hero. He probably saved many lives in the future.
DEADLINE: What was your conversation with Giacomo about his character’s passing?
VERNOFF: This story was the most vivid
DEADLINE: How will DeLuca’s death affect his sister, Meredith and the other doctors at the hospital?
VERNOFF: The impact will be profound. He had become very popular, and all of these doctors had come together during the surgery and started to take an interest in him. That has an impact on his sister and everyone who loved him. The big question mark is Meredith. You know, Meredith is not awake, and even though she was on the beach with DeLuca, there’s a question mark about how this is going to affect her.
DEADLINE: In DeLuca’s conversation with Meredith on the beach, he sounded prophetic when he told her, “Meredith, it’s going to be OK.” Should we conclude that he’s right?
VERNOFF: Yes. Should we read anything into that? I don’t. We’ll know more about it.
Can you tell us when we will know Meredith’s fate?
VERNOFF: Don’t you want to watch the show play out?
DEADLINE: Yes, but there’s also a lot of anxiety.
VERNOFF: I know it’s painful and it’s scary. That goes for Covid, too.
DEADLINE: What was it like working with Giacomo and the rest of the cast on his final episode?
VERNOFF: I feel like everyone did their best on all the storylines, and I’m really grateful to Giacomo. What I said to him at the table reading when we read this episode was, thank you for playing this character so powerfully and beautifully, for giving the world the opportunity to feel our collective grief over your death.
DEADLINE: Will we see him on the beach after DeLuca’s death? This is a great opportunity for you to bring back the characters you want.
VERNOFF: There was talk about bringing him back to the beach, but we all found his outing with his mother so deep and powerful. I cried more at that sight than I’ve ever cried at anything on our show in years, and so we didn’t want him to go back to the beach. You will see him again. He’ll show up in more episodes this season, but I don’t want to spoil what that is.
DEADLINE: Is anyone new coming to the beach this season?
VERNOFF: I would say chances are you’ll see other people on the beach.
DEADLINE: In his final hours, DeLuca seemed to bring Owen and Teddy together in their grief when they couldn’t save him. And Teddy had just let Koracick go when it happened. Are Owen and Teddy reconciling again?
VERNOFF: Owen and Teddy have a big storyline in the next two episodes.
DEADLINE: In Station 19, watching the characters react to the events of the fall finale, it almost feels like listening to the show’s writers themselves in the writers’ room react to the events of last summer. What was it like writing these conversations between the different firefighters?
VERNOFF: Well, we have a very diverse cast and a very inclusive writers’ room, and we honor and include many voices and many perspectives when we talk about these deep issues. So it’s a very open process.
DEADLINE: What’s next for this group? Dean’s lawsuit is a new development that could provide insight into the court system. Is that something that will be an important story line in the future?
VERNOFF: Yes. It’s an important storyline for the whole season. Our season is still set in May and June of 2020, and if you remember, in April, May and June of 2020, as a nation, we dealt with the death of George Floyd and the uprising that followed, and so we’re bravely confronting a lot of those issues in the series.
DEADLINE: Will the death of George Floyd be included in the series?
DEADLINE: Mainly in Ward 19 or in both series?
VERNOFF: In both series to some degree, but it’s very central to Station 19.
DEADLINE: You ended the fall series with two very heavy episodes, back to back, with the death of Bailey’s mother and the death of DeLuca in the first episode. Are there any light, breezy episodes of Grey’s coming soon?
VERNOFF: Is there a light and playful Grey’s to watch? Maybe later in the season. We have some pretty intense things coming up, and that’s just the nature of the year we’re in. It’s just a reflection of the year we’ve just had, and I would say there are some nice light moments. Not breezy, but when DeLuca’s mom shows up on the beach. I mean, what could be better than that? Yes, it’s deep, and yes, you feel your feelings, but I would say these episodes are not alone