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Chandra Wilson returns to the director’s chair Thursday when she helms her seventh episode of Grey’s Anatomy, this time overseeing a story line that’s near and dear to her heart.
Thursday’s installment of ABC’smedical drama will feature a patient battling Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome, an affliction that Wilson’s daughter suffers from that the actress pitched to producers of the Shonda Rhimes series.
The episode, titled “Second Opinion,” also sees Bailey coming full circle in a way, when the actress who portrays Miranda Bailey directs Cristina Yang’s (Sandra Oh) homecoming to Seattle when the plane crash survivor returns to the hospital to torment the interns in a way reminiscent of Bailey’s past as the “Nazi.”
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Wilson to discuss directing Grey’s, having the teacher become the student and learn from Cristina and preview what sounds like an impossible wedding between Bailey and Ben (Jason George).
The Hollywood Reporter: This is your seventh time directing Grey’s Anatomy. What was your big takeaway this time?
Chandra Wilson: This was the first episode not only as a director but as an actor that I actually made a pitch for a storyline. Not only was my pitch accepted, but they incorporated it into the episode that I’m directing. I wanted to incorporate a character who is a Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome sufferer, which was incredibly important to me because my oldest daughter is a CVS sufferer and to be able to be on a platform where I can get that name out nationally and validate so many sufferers that are out there that haven’t heard of it before or people don’t believe that they have it or they never knew that it had a name was incredibly important to me.
It’s a bit fitting that you’re directing this episode where Cristina returns to Seattle Grace to torment the interns. Does it feel like coming full circle for Bailey?
It is. Bailey’s whole journey this year has been all of her babies have grown up, including her son. So where does she fit in? So she’s been a busybody. Not only do I have Cristina Yang returning but Bailey’s also instrumental in trying to get Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) off her behind and to come back to work. I have some Jackson (Jesse Williams)/April (Sarah Drew) action going on in this episode and there’s also some pretty pivotal news for the progress of the legal ramifications of the plane crash. Some really great information comes out about where blame is ultimately going to be placed.
How does having Christina back change “Bootty Call Bailey’s” attitude? Or will she let Christina take over the role of the “Nazi”?
Going forward — not in this episode — Bailey spends a lot of time observing the kind of doctor that Cristina has turned into. This is the one of her interns that was the most selfish of all and Bailey saw a lot of herself in her. Bailey makes some interesting observations about who she has become, not only as a doctor, but as a person. Bailey ends up working on a case with Cristina and some of her interns and this puts her in the position to be able to watch her.
What’s she going to be able to learn from her? Is she going to be impressed with how far Cris has come as a doctor and how her personal life has seemingly paid a price for it?
Impressed is a big word for Miranda Bailey to be able to give that kind of compliment. For the most part, Bailey left her old interns alone to grow into who they’re going to be but they’re near and dear to her.
Now that her interns have interns of their own, how is Bailey going to search for a new role now?
Webber (James Pickens Jr.) told her she’s got her hand back — she doesn’t have to hold anybody’s hand anymore — so she has to figure out what she’s going to do and she’s in the process of doing that. She told Ben that she’ll marry him though she hasn’t made any steps toward the marriage because he’s living in another state. Bailey still has to figure out what’s important to her and what it is that she wants to do that’s valuable.
Bailey has already done a big wedding with her ex-husband. What might her wedding to Ben look like?
(Laughing) It will be a surprise to her. She’s just as reluctant she can be about making any plans, setting the date, inviting people or getting a wedding party together. It’s really going to have to be an all-in effort or nothing at all.
Why is that?
Bailey has been married before and she thought she did right the first time. She spent 11 years in that marriage, and it didn’t work and it’s hard to jump right back into that frying pan after you’ve done it already. She did the whole invitations and all of that and the fact that she would have to send out more invitations and invite all those some people again just seems a little silly to her.
How might Ben respond to that?
Ben has learned how not to pay too much attention to Bailey and her waffling. He wants a wedding so he’s going to go about the business of putting together a wedding (laughs).
How might their long-distance relationship hinder that?
Just the fact that they would even consider going through with the large ceremony considering they don’t even live together in the same state is just silly. So you really have to weigh the pros and cons of what is important to your partner and make a decision based on that.
Could we see a Seattle Grace-set wedding, complete with interns?
Wouldn’t that be absolutely appropriate to do it just like that? (Laughs.) It will take a lot to get her out of the hospital because that’s where she thrives, that’s where she feels her importance and with the anxiety of making a big step in your life, she spends a whole lot of her time right there at the hospital.
How long can they navigate this long distance relationship after they’re married?
That’s the question that I keep asking. I guess we’re all going to see cause we haven’t gotten that far into the other episodes. So far, they’ve done it for half a season. We have to see what the second half’s going to bring.
Could Booty Call Bailey stick around as a married woman?
(Laughing) You know what, that was a one-time, one-show thing. She was working real hard to become the “Nazi” again and she’s going to have to bite off a few heads before she can get back there. There’s some redemption that needs to come. We’re working on redeeming that.
Might Bailey feel a bit guilty about being so happy while others are still dealing with the ramifications of the plane crash?
Bailey has been very removed from that. She has been helping individual people heal — like looking after Zola so Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek (Patrick Dempsey) can take care of themselves and being available to Arizona and understanding that she has a really hard journey. As far as the legal stuff, she can only ask peripherally, but they’re really not allowed to talk about anything. Bailey tries to be supportive in this episode with Callie and just allowing her to have a sounding board if she needs to have one and understanding that she really can’t talk about it.
How is Bailey going to play a role in the lawsuit? Might Owen kind of lean on her a little bit?
There is no way that all of those people that are so close can be affected by something and all of the rest of us have nothing to do with it. So, coming down the pike, the legal ramifications do touch everybody else in the hospital.
Might it be a case of having the pick sides with the victims of the crash and the hospital?
Not that I’ve seen so far. To the best of our ability, it’s a separate issue from the day-to-day operations of the hospital. At least that’s what the goal is and trying to keep it that way.
What kind of wedding would you like to see for Bailey and Ben? Hit the comments with your thoughts. Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on ABC. Check out a preview, below.
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