'Grey's Anatomy's' Shonda Rhimes: "Fans Should Be Worried" About Meredith and Derek

With Derek's departure for D.C., the showrunner tells THR the show's journey is about Meredith standing on her own two feet. Plus are the flashbacks an indication of early-onset Alzheimer's?
 ABC/Richard Cartwright

Grey's Anatomy diehards just watched as one of the show's most beloved couples split up. And now the show's central love story — Meredith and Derek — could be in jeopardy.

During the season-11 midseason finale, Derek (Patrick Dempsey) and Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) agreed that it would be best for him to go to Washington, D.C., and accept a job working for the president.

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"For Meredith, this journey is really about her coming into her own as a surgeon, figuring out who she is and who she wants to be, standing on her own two feet and trying to be her own person for the first time without the support of Cristina (Sandra Oh) and without the support of Derek," Rhimes tells The Hollywood Reporter.

That journey started in the season-10 finale, when Cristina, headed for Switzerland, stressed to Meredith that she needed to be the sun — and fight for what she wanted: to remain in Seattle.
"This is the first time that's happened for her in a long time," Rhimes says of Meredith's ability to stand on her own. "I wrote a line in one of the episodes that comes up where Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) says, 'I have a feeling that if necessary you would be the middle spoon in a Derek-Cristina spoon, and that would be fine with you.' And you get this idea that that is who she has been for a long time — supported on either side with those people — and she has to let that go now."

Meredith's journey will see Derek out on his own in Washington and potentially missing in action for a few episodes, with the former leaning on Alex (Justin Chambers) — much to Jo's chagrin.

"Meredith is trying really hard, and I think fans should be worried about them because whenever people grow in different directions, that makes it much more difficult," Rhimes warns. And that may not be all that Meredith has to worry about.

Rhimes issued a firm "no comment" when asked if all of season 11's flashbacks — notably the Kate Burton episode that filled in the gaps in Meredith's memory of her mother giving birth to half-sister Maggie — could be an indicator that Meredith is showing signs of early-onset Alzheimer's.
Grey's Anatomy and the rest of the TGIT lineup returns Jan. 29 on ABC.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit

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