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Grey’s Anatomy’s Arizona Robbins is on the road to recovery from the deadly plane crash that ultimately claimed the lives of Mark and Lexie — and her leg. But according to co-star Jessica Capshaw, she’ll hit a major hurdle Thursday when Arizona begins suffering from Phantom Limb Syndrome. During the hour, Capshaw tells The Hollywood Reporter that the “spooky” story line will rattle Arizona to the point of her turning to a Seattle Grace cohort for support in shaking the very real feeling dreams.
THR caught up with Capshaw on Wednesday to preview the episode and discuss Arizona’s recovery, mending her relationship with Callie (Sara Ramirez) and if she’ll ever find out about Alex performing the amputation.
THR: Arizona is suffering from Phantom Limb Syndrome. How will we see her battle that?
Jessica Capshaw: It’s very real and the writers have done such an incredible job of being so responsible for researching the challenges that Arizona would face. It has felt like a very important part of the storytelling in terms of what someone might go through who has had this happen to them. It starts in dream sequences with Arizona understanding this pain through her dreams. She ends up trying to hide it from Callie because she really wants to move on. After the grief and the loss, Arizona is trying to rebuild and figure it out again. She wants to keep [her suffering] separate from Callie because she wants to magically make it disappear. But it is unrelenting so she ends up seeking council. After it doesn’t go away, Owen (Kevin McKidd) ends up helping her with different therapies. It’s a great story — it’s kind of spooky and a little bit dark but with the same heart that beats throughout the entire tone of the show. It’s like a child when you dreamed of falling out of bed and felt like it was a real sensation — these are dreams that feel that real to her. The loss of one’s leg — or any limb — is a deeply profound thing so then having this situation when she feels it not there, it’s mind-bending.
THR: Might we see her flash back to her four days in the woods before being rescued?
Capshaw: No but there is a flashing of sorts (laughs). It’s more dreamy but there are parts where she harkens back to what she was before the limb loss.
THR: Would those flashbacks involve wheelie sneakers?
Capshaw:(Laughs) No, but that would be great! With the way viewers seem to feel about the wheelie sneakers, I feel like that will be the ultimate vindication that she’s completely back when she can rock those!
THR: Arizona and Callie made tremendous strides during their getaway at Bailey’s wedding. How might that progress? Might we see her call Callie “Calliope” again soon in that sweet Arizona fashion?
Capshaw: I don’t know the last time she called her Calliope! I think it’s been forever! As I said in the beginning of the season, we’re not teeing up a story of defeat. Ultimately, we want to see both of these characters find their way back to the relationship that they were in prior to the devastation [of the plane crash]. Arizona is coming back to herself as a doctor and making her way back to herself as a partner and as someone in a relationship and figuring out how to show up for that. Everybody wants to hurry for the big happy ending but the journey back to it is incredibly interesting as well. I get it, I root for characters that I love on TV shows but the truth is you wouldn’t want to watch them be happy every single week. I love watching them take their baby steps and figuring out how to go back to being what they were before this loss.
THR: There’s still the elephant in the room that Alex, not Callie, is the one who performed Arizona’s amputation? What will her response look like when she does find that out?
Capshaw: I don’t know what they have planned for that. I’m surprised it didn’t come up earlier when Arizona was in a really dark place and probably would have flipped out. The Arizona we’re seeing now is coming to terms with everything. I don’t know how much that will change the game for her. I feel like when you’re feeling bad, everything is bad and you want to blame everyone. But when you’re feeling good, at the end of the day, what does it matter if it’s gone, it’s gone. I don’t feel like it’s been played out to be this looming secret where there are people standing behind doors whispering about it. It’s been one of those things that just hasn’t come to light yet. When it does, it certainly will be interesting to see what happens.
THR: Same-sex marriage is now legal in Washington — might we see Callie and Arizona renew their vows with another ceremony, big or small? Callie mentioned that it wasn’t legal at the time during their formal ceremony.
Capshaw: That’s definitely a writer question. I’m sure they have a feeling about that. Whether it was legal or not, the way we played it as characters is they’re married. They’re no less married because it’s legal or illegal. I feel like Arizona is a married woman.
What are you looking forward to seeing for Arizona? Hit the comments with your thoughts. Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.
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