'Grey's Anatomy': What's Keeping Jo and Alex From Getting Married?

Grey's Anatomy S12E08 Still - Publicity - H 2016
Mitchell Haaseth/ABC

Grey's Anatomy S12E08 Still - Publicity - H 2016

Will Alex (Justin Chambers) and Jo (Camilla Luddington) finally have a successful marriage proposal on ABC's Grey's Anatomy?

That's among the biggest burning questions heading into Thursday's penultimate episode of the Shondaland medical drama's 12th season.

The promo for the hour — perhaps fittingly titled "At Last" — advertises that the episode will feature not one but two "jaw-dropping proposals" (as well as one "shocking hookup"). Given Alex and Jo's multiple efforts to get engaged as well as the fact that the engagement ring is still in their possession, could the couple finally get engaged?

"It's been a long time since Alex has asked Jo and it's lingering in the air," Luddington tells THR. "She has the ring in the drawer so I don't think it's ridiculous to take it out of the equation that she may finally have to give him an answer. The first time he proposed, she was wondering if it was because of his dad and where that angle was coming from. The second time, she didn't know that proposal was coming and she was arriving to break up with him. Going off those two proposals, there's a lot going on. It's a super complicated situation and we haven't even started to scratch the surface of it all."

One thing that has been standing in their way has been Alex's longtime friendship with Meredith. Following Cristina's (Sandra Oh) departure and given Meredith's turbulent relationship with sisters Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) and Maggie (Kelly McCreary), Alex has evolved to become Mer's "person," often putting his friend ahead of Jo, much to the latter's chagrin. That's prompted a lot of speculation that Alex and Meredith could be MFEO ("meant for each other" in Shondaland speak). And that's not something lost on Luddington, who before she joined the series was a diehard Grey's Anatomy viewer.

"As a fan watching it, I understand both for and against that," Luddington says of a romantic pairing between Alex and Meredith. "I understand that after losing Derek (Patrick Dempsey), you almost feel like you want someone who has been with Meredith since the beginning to maybe step up and help her heal a little bit — and I guess Alex could be that person. On the other hand, it's rare to see platonic relationships on TV. Meredith and Alex seem like siblings to me and it seems a little incestuous."

Luddington compared a potential Alex and Meredith pairing to Alex and Izzie (Katherine Heigl) — whose romantic relationship evolved after Denny (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) died.
"When Denny died, that's when Alex and Izzy got together; so Derek dies and Alex and Meredith would get together? Since Alex has been with Meredith since the beginning, he'd be the back-up person. I feel like Alex needs a girl who from the get-go has always thought he was it for her."

For her part, Pompeo hopes Jo and Alex are MFEO and is perhaps the couple's biggest fan.

"I know that's not happening right now," Pompeo told THR of an Alex-Mer pairing during a recent set visit. As for Alex and Jo, the actress warned that there's (shocker!) drama ahead for the couple. "I'm excited about that because I love those two and I want to see them get some good story and stuff to play," she said. "Justin to me is an ace of diamonds. I love him so much. He's so talented. He's like a young Brando — he has everything and is so amazing. But I don't know [about a romance with Meredith and ALex]; we'll see."

As for Luddington, she still has high hopes for Alex and Jo's long-term romantic future together — despite two unsuccessful marriage proposals.

"She is crazy about him and in love with him," Luddington says. "There's always been a part of her that hopes to re-create what she never had — a safe home life and family — and I do think she dreams about doing that with Alex, but it's super complicated and there are a lot of things that are preventing that from happening."

Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on ABC. Stay tuned to THR's The Live Feed after the episode for two special postmortems.