'Grey's Anatomy': Crisis for Meredith, the Doctors' Futures and 5 More Teasers

Grey's Anatomy - TV Still: Dark Was the Night - H - 2011

With contract talks under way for new deals with stars Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, Justin Chambers, Sandra Oh and Chandra Wilson, the Grey's Anatomy finale is proving to be particularly tricky for showrunner Shonda Rhimes.

"I change my mind a lot," Rhimes told The Hollywood Reporter on Monday night at the TV Academy in North Hollywood of the writing process for the Season 8 ender. "This morning I was in the writers' room questioning every decision we were making and trying to figure out what the best way to do things was. It's a process and it's very different. But I'm excited about it."

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Rhimes was joined by cast members from all three of her ABC series for Welcome to ShondaLand: An Evening With Shonda Rhimes & Friends at the TV Academy, which saw the prolific writer/executive producer feeling particularly jovial ahead of the Thursday launch of her latest effort, the Kerry Washington political fixer drama Scandal.

With cast members Pompeo and Oh also on hand, here are seven teasers of what to expect from the remainder of the season.

1. The upcoming graduation will bring a sense of nostalgia to Grey's, with all the residents poised to become attendings. "They have to take their boards and interview for jobs all over the country," Rhimes said during the panel. "We don't know where people are going to end up, but it's this very nostalgic feeling of something being lost for all of them; you're suddenly realizing that Meredith, Alex and Cristina have grown up and things are really changing."

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2. Some residents may fare better than others during their boards. "Meredith is dealing with a crisis while she is taking the boards," Pompeo told THR. "Something happens to Meredith during the boards that really gets in the way of her taking the test and her passing."

3. Meredith and Cristina are both exploring hospitals out of state. "I go to an interview in Boston and I tell the lady in Boston that it's my first choice," Pompeo told THR during a recent set visit. With his on-screen wife pondering a life out of state, Dempsey told THR that Derek will continue to be supportive. "He's not going to stand in the way of her career," he says. "I think it would be good [for them] because then it would give them a different type of conflict: How do you sustain this relationship? Does he leave and go to Boston or where ever she would end up and what do they do with the child? I think that's a nice way to introduce some conflict that we haven't seen before." Cristina, meanwhile, is being heavily recruited and has her eye on USC.

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4. St. Elsewhere's William Daniels will guest star as Cristina's proctor during the examinations. "You see vintage Cristina," Oh teased during Monday's session.

5. The writing has been on the wall for Cristina and Owen's (Kevin McKidd) marital troubles beyond this season's abortion and affair. "You can see places where things were glossed over, decisions were made out of haste or out of some other reason," Oh told the audience of her on-screen romance with Owen. "It's been great to play a story line where a couple is coming head to head over things that they haven't dealt with."

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6. Don't expect to see Cristina and Owen's marriage woes wrap up anytime soon. After learning of Owen's affair, Oh says the story line will be drawn out in a fashion that's realistic to relationships and marriages. "It's a devastating and true and common situation that more than 50 percent of couples have to go through in some way or another," she told THR. "What I'm happiest is with is that they're taking their time. It's not going to be something that is resolved or ended quickly."

7. Pompeo wants to return. With her contract up at the end of the season, the Grey's star is still excited to go to work on the medical drama every day. "It's a wonderful job and wonderful group of people who all really care how good the show is," she told THR. "It's a win-win: I have a great job, the show touches people and people find solace in the show and it's entertaining. I don't see what more I could want in a job."

Grey's Anatomy returns Thursday, April 5 at 9 p.m. on ABC.

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