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'Grey's Anatomy's' Shonda Rhimes Previews 'Emotional Death' in Season 9 Finale

With only two episodes remaining this season, the showrunner teases Cristina and Owen having "the talk," revisiting Arizona's grief, a journey for Alex and Jo as well as life-changing moments for April.

Grey's Anatomy Pompeo Oh Episodic - H 2013
ABC
"Grey's Anatomy"

Things are heating up at Grey-Sloan Memorial with only two episodes remaining in Grey's Anatomy's ninth season.

This week, a hot new craniofacial specialist (Hilarie Burton) blatantly flirted with Arizona (Jessica Capshaw), who seemed to enjoy the attention. Jo (Camilla Luddington) turned to Alex (Justin Chambers) after what appears to be a case of domestic violence at the hands of her former boyfriend and a super storm is on its way to Seattle, putting Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and her unborn son at risk. Meanwhile, Owen (Kevin McKidd) and Cristina (Sandra Oh) continue to dodge "the talk," even as Ethan's future hangs in the balance.

The Hollywood Reporter turned to showrunner Shonda Rhimes to preview what's ahead and get the scoop on how the season nine-ender compares to the brutal plane crash that claimed the lives of both Mark and Lexie.  

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The Hollywood Reporter: One doc fights for their life in the finale. Compared with the plane crash, which ultimately claimed Lexie and Mark's lives, how deadly can we expect this year to be?
Shonda Rhimes: We're definitely going to see some people in jeopardy. When we leave the season, we're definitely going to be worried about one of our own. I don't think that anything can match the brutality of last year's finale for me. I just watched it again recently and was kind of surprised myself about the brutality of it. I don't think we're going to match that but for a lot of our characters, it's a much more emotional. There's a lot of emotional death.

THR: How will Owen and Cristina address the Ethan situation? They've been through this before -- Cris has been steadfast about not wanting children. How will this be different? Is she willing to lose Owen?
Rhimes: They keep tabling this discussion because they truly love each other. They got divorced so they could take it off the table. Now, they've reached a point where it's going to be something that they can no longer table. They can no longer not talk about this. They're going to actually have the conversation. That's where we're headed.

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THR: Should we be concerned for them?
Rhimes: We should be concerned about the future of every couple.

THR: What will Owen learn from the Ethan arc? It seems like Ethan's grandmother is already setting up a choice between social services and Owen.
Rhimes: We have some twists up our sleeve. There's plenty that Owen is going to learn and realize.  He clearly has made a choice in his mind that he's chosen Cristina and he's is with Cristina but I think things are going to get bumpy there for a while.

THR: Meredith's baby seems genuinely at risk in the promo for next week's episode. Storms and expectant mothers typically don't mix. How will she and the baby fare?
Rhimes: I've said before that Meredith is basically giving birth in the last-worst situation you'd want to be giving birth. It's going to be not so pleasant for her. Ellen did really beautiful work and the story we told is really charged, interesting and strong. It's the last way you'd want anybody to ever have to have a baby and that's Meredith Grey. Things obviously don't come easy for Meredith Grey. Derek (Patrick Dempsey)  possibly, maybe will be around (laughs).

THR: Arizona is enjoying the attention and flirting Lauren (Hilarie Burton) is showing her. How far will she allow this flirtation to go?
Rhimes: It's going to go very, very far. I feel fairly committed that it marginalizes Callie (Sara Ramirez) and Arizona to say that they're the lesbian couple and happy and they can only be with one another as the happy couple that sits in the corner. It neutralizes them. They've been on this very interesting, complex journey this season and that journey is not finished. I've done lot of reading on PTSD and grief and these people have been through a hell of a lot this season and we've watched them struggle to right themselves fairly quickly -- perhaps too quickly. There's stuff there that has not been dealt with. We're taking them through it, which I think is great, and Lauren is definitely possibly a part of that.

THR: What's the goal of this story -- Arizona finally allowing herself to believe she's whole? How will this affect her marriage to Callie?
Rhimes: The goal of the story becomes really clear in the last moments of the finale: you really begin to understand in their last scene. From our table read, that was the most stunning moment of the table read -- the entire cast gasped and fell silent. You begin to really understand what's going on here. It's complex and it's big for them and you're seeing something huge. I'm not going to tell you what the goal of the story is, the point is when you discover what the goal of the story is, you get it.

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THR: Last night set the stage for Alex and Jo -- who seem destined to be together. How will he handle this second chance with her?
Rhimes: We're going to see Alex behave in ways that are surprisingly un-Alex. There's growth there, which is lovely, but we're watching him make his way through a fairly complicated situation. Not all is as it seems coming out of last night's episode. We discover some interesting things for him. There's a journey that happens in these last two episodes for him with Jo as they move through the storm.

THR: April (Sarah Drew) and Matthew (Justin Bruening) are back together yet she asks Jackson (Jesse Williams) out. At what point will April begin to fight for Jackson again?
Rhimes: In next week's episode, something really huge happens for April that is a life-changing moment for her that turns her in one direction, then in the finale she has another life-changing moment that turns her in another direction. Both of those moments directly and indirectly involve Jackson. It's going to be really interesting to see where she comes out at the end of that.

THR: Are you approaching season 10 as the last one for Grey's?
Rhimes: Nope!

What are you looking forward to seeing? Hit the comments with your thoughts. Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit