6:02pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Grey's Anatomy's' Camilla Luddington on Jo and Alex's "Huge Step"
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the season 11 finale of Grey's Anatomy.]
Third wheel no more.
During Thursday's season 11 finale of ABC's Grey's Anatomy, Jo (Camilla Luddington) created a permanent space for herself in Alex's (Justin Chambers) life when she used her entire savings to put in an offer for a fixer-upper loft space and moved the couple into their own home. "Sell Meredith her house back, because this is what I want — our own place, for us," she tells Alex, noting that they can make it anything they want.
Then, for the first time, Alex and Jo say "I love you" to one another, as the couple seem poised to take the next step in their relationship — on the same page for the first time in what feels like all of season 11.
The big move comes after Meredith, unable feel at home in the McDream House after Derek's death, asks Alex if she and the kids can to move back into the home previously owned by her late mother. Jo's newfound homeownership — which comes after Alex reiterates that he sees his future with her — opens the door for him to be Meredith's emotional support while also prioritizing Jo. He winds up giving Jo the respect she's been longing for since the start of the season, while also being there for his best friend.
Elsewhere in the episode, as Grey's Anatomy completed its most depressing season yet, Jackson and April separated as she mulled redeployment, and Maggie joined twisted "sisters" Meredith and Amelia to dance it out after the former shared news of her parents' divorce. As for Amelia, she listened to the heartfelt message Derek left for Meredith and may finally have found closure after her brother's unexpected death.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Luddington to break down Jo and Alex's big moves.
Jo has surprised Alex with this fixer-upper. What prompted her to buy the house, even knowing Alex himself owned Meredith's old place?
When Alex says, "I'm asking you if it's OK if they move in," Jo makes a comment that, "Oh yeah, like I can say no to a widow and three kids." She realizes that as much as she's given a choice, she would never turn someone like that out of the house. She cannot say no. She's often been in the position of needing to find a home. Jo knows that Meredith would love that house back and there's also an element of it sounding like Alex almost needed to nest, in a way. He wants his roots and I think Jo feels that same way — that as a healthy couple, they also need their own space and their own time together. This was the solution to all of those things. It's exciting for her but it also shows her that Alex is really committed to her and that she's going to be put first for once. I think she feels that she's not put first very often. This way, Alex can still have that relationship with Meredith — go over, give her the house, spend time with her — but then Jo and Alex will come together and have their own typical relationship-living-together moments that they want to enjoy.
Does Jo's big purchase count as an adventure that they can do together or is she still looking to follow April's lead?
I don't know what happens next season, but I don't think Jo was thinking anything [like] that she "for sure" had to go. I believe that this purchase is her staying, but also seeing if Alex really wants to take that next step with her. She's definitely saying that now she wants to put down roots; she's very serious about that. She's crazy about Alex and you hear her say she loves Alex. I don't think she's leaving.
Alex and Jo have declared their love for one another. Where do they go from here? Does this put the pressure on Alex to propose?
Oh man, I know! In that time-jump episode, I got so many tweets about him proposing! I don't know if it puts pressure on him. I think Jo and Alex are moving in a very similar pace within their relationship. I don't think Jo is wanting to have kids immediately; she's not expecting to get a ring. If it happens at this point, I'm sure she would say yes because obviously she's crazy about him. I don't think there's pressure there, but who knows! It would be great to see some wonderful, epic proposal on Grey's Anatomy. But knowing Alex, he'll have a pizza delivered and the ring will be in the middle with a pepperoni on top or something! It will be a very Alex and Jo way of proposing.
See more 'Grey's Anatomy's' Famous Departures
Have you pitched that to Shonda?! That's amazing.
(Laughing) I will, I'll pitch it to her!
Jo, again, is showing that she's the perfect girlfriend and understands Alex needs to be there for Meredith. But she's had issues in the past with Mer being the third wheel in their relationship. How does Derek's death change all that?
I don't think her patience will run thin. I think Jo really respects that relationship with Meredith. She also is an adult who wants to feel as though she and her boyfriend have a healthy relationship where they're spending quality time and moments together and she feels that that might be compromised. Jo really respects Meredith and losing Derek means that Jo relates to that feeling of not having people in your life that give you stability and love. She only has respect for Meredith and the house was her solution — and her way of trying to see if Alex can be both things for both people.
Do you see Jo and Alex as following a similar trajectory to Meredith and Derek? I mean, Derek built the McDream House for Mer and Jo may be doing the same thing here for Alex.
I wish it was a Dream House! That would have been much nicer! We filmed that scene and the place was so terrible, I was laughing when we turned up to set; it's so Jo! But I love that she can see potential there, it's so sweet. But that's interesting; I never thought that Alex and Jo's relationship was the same as Meredith and Derek's. In one way, I hope so, and in one way, I don't. Their love story is now a tragic one and I hope there's a happier ending for Jo and Alex. To have the love that Meredith and Derek had, I think anyone would aspire to have.
As someone who grew up with nothing and lived in a car, why is home ownership so important to Jo?
It's huge to her. It's something to be proud of that she's earned herself. It seems like a success for her. Wanting to put down roots and nest and have this place with the person she loves, that is something she must have always dreamed of. It was the thought in her head when she was living in her car that would get her through the day, that one day she would not be living that way anymore. It's a huge step and extremely exciting for her.
How do you think Alex will juggle supporting Meredith with Jo? Do you think there's any sort of power struggle coming?
I don't think it's going to be a separate life; it's people getting their own space. Alex will jump over to Meredith's and see her in the middle of the night [if she] needed him. That would absolutely happen — and Jo would not have an issue with that. She really understands that this is an extremely hard year for Meredith, and Jo, she gets it. I don't think that that's now going to wedge its way in the middle the way that it did before, because they do have their own place; it's a solution for that.
How much do you know about season 12? Do you have any hopes for Jo next season?
I know nothing about the direction of next season. [As for] next season, toward end of the season, I'd love for Alex and Jo to be engaged. They've jumped over a lot of hurdles in their relationship. I was waiting to break them up! I feel like if they're going to continue in this direction, that would be nice if they got married and at some point down the line even had kids. I also want Jo to find her specialty and to be part of the Plastics Posse. It would be really fun to see a female member trying to be part of that circle because it was like a boys club before and I feel like they need that female energy.
What did you think of the Grey's Anatomy season finale? Sound off in the comments section below. Grey's Anatomy returns in the fall on ABC.