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April may have found her dream dork.
During Thursday’s penultimate episode of Grey’s Anatomy’s ninth season, the handsome and humble paramedic Matthew (Justin Bruening) surprises his lady friend with something so dorky and sweet that only April Kepner (Sarah Drew) could love.
As the super storm rapidly approaches Seattle, Owen (Kevin McKidd) ejects April from a major surgery — a case that rightfully belonged to April, who had been on point with the patient from the start. He had a good reason, it turns out: She had to be free when an ambulance rolled up to present a dozen-plus of April’s friends dancing to a flash mob set to the Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be” — all leading up to a marriage proposal.
Matthew’s sweet, and admittedly sudden, proposal is met with an immediate yes from April, who during their celebration shares a very telling look with Jackson (Jesse Williams). It comes two episodes after sparks continued to fly between the friends and former couple, who, had Matthew not returned for a second chance at love with April, could very well have been on the path to a romantic reunion.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Drew to get the scoop on the surprise proposal, what’s next and how Arizona’s (Jessica Capshaw) tryst with Lauren (Hilarie Burton) will impact everyone now that the super storm has hit the hospital.
The Hollywood Reporter: What was your first reaction when you read the proposal in the script?
Sarah Drew: I knew in advance; [director] Tony Phelan told me it was coming and I was really excited. I’m a musical theater and dancing geek and love everything that is bright, happy, feel-good and involves choreography. I was so excited about it that I went online and watched flash mob proposals on YouTube and cried my way through them. It’s so epically romantic and so much fun. The only thing I wish I could have done was to have danced.
THR: How many takes did the Flash Mob take?
Drew: We had two big rehearsals leading up to it — one was a full day and the other was half a day. It took 10 hours to shoot. Tony, who directed, could have cut it 75 ways since there were so many people watching, with so many amazing reactions from the dancers, April and Matthew. They could have cut it a million different ways and had it still be just as romantic. I shot that whole flash mob proposal horribly sick — people were bringing me tea and I wound up losing my voice at the end of the day. That week was one of the most intense weeks I’ve ever had. Despite the fact I got sick, it was still my most favorite day on any set ever.
THR: Why does April say yes so quickly? It seemed like she was just flirting with Jackson again.
Drew: I don’t think she was flirting with Jackson. In a lot of ways, she’s not really completely aware of how she feels about Jackson. There’s residual stuff from what their relationship was as a couple that with the closeness of their friendship and their chemistry draw them together. I don’t think she is aware that she’s pulled between Jackson and Matthew, even if she is.
THR: April immediately says yes and the scene cuts to Jackson. What kind of doubts does she have about getting married? Will April and Jackson talk about this in the finale? Will he confront her?
Drew: There’s some definite confusion. She moved on from Jackson when it ended in episode seven and he’s with Stephanie (Jerrika Hinton). She started dating the world’s most wonderful guy, who is on the same page as her about their life goals, beliefs and who they are. There’s so many things that fit with Matthew; he’s been sweet to her this whole time. She has made the choice that Matthew is her guy and if she has some confusion and draw back, it will smack her in the face without her realizing it. There will be some confusion for sure, but it’s not something she expects. Plus you can’t really say no in a flash mob situation, can you? (Laughs.) Not only is it epically romantic but you have a billion people looking at you! That hasn’t come up but I don’t know if it will come up next season. The very public proposal scenario leaves little room to say no.
THR: Shonda Rhimes told us that April will have a second life-changing moment in the season finale that sends her in a different direction than Matthew and involves Jackson in some capacity. What can you tease about what she’s facing?
Drew: There are some big things that happen to April in the finale. She goes through the wringer emotionally. It’s an emotional roller coaster for her in the finale. She is totally excited and committed to being with Matthew and she’s still reeling from the joy of being proposed to as the finale starts. Then things happen that make her really begin to wonder if he’s the right choice for her. It’s pretty intense.
THR: How will we see April handle the storm in the finale?
Drew: She’s got some badass trauma moments. The surgeons are using skills during the storm that they learned when they taught the Syrian doctors. We see a lot of people being super badass.
THR: Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) is in labor, what kind of role will April have?
Drew: April is not involved in Meredith going into labor. She’s elsewhere.
THR: What can you tell us about whose life is in danger in the finale?
Drew: April isn’t involved with that. However, it’s very scary and it’s very much hanging in balance at the end of the finale. We don’t know what’s going to happen — and the audience won’t either — until we come back for season 10.
THR: Will April have made a decision between Matthew and Jackson by season’s end?
Drew: We end the season with her in complete and total confusion and incredibly emotional about the confusion.
THR: Matthew’s proposal indirectly leads to Arizona’s infidelity, in that Arizona glances at Lauren when he’s professing his love for April. How is Arizona’s cheating going to impact the rest of the hospital?
Drew: It depends on how many people find out about it in the middle of the crisis. There are a few people who know but they’re in their own trauma situations in this episode. Everybody is in their own world of being badass and dealing with their own drama. It’s not going to go well for Arizona — it never goes well for cheaters.
THR: April’s boards are also coming up again. How will she navigate her now very full love life with the demands of her exams?
Drew: That is something we won’t know until I’m at the table read for season 10, episode one. It’s one more thing to confuse her life and potentially make her fail again. If having sex with Jackson is what made her fail, what’s being torn between two men going to do to her?! (Laughs.) My 14-year-old self who never got asked out on date is jumping with glee over this.
What do you think April will do? Hit the comments with your thoughts. Grey’s Anatomy‘s season nine finale airs Thursday, May 16, at 9 p.m. on ABC. Watch the flash mob, below.
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