[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Grey’s Anatomy‘s “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” episode.]
Amelia’s erratic behavior on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy is now behind her.
During Thursday’s episode, Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) underwent surgery for the sizable brain tumor that ultimately played a direct role in some of her most erratic behavior.
As Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) points out, Amelia left a successful practice (and a guy) in California to move to Seattle to be closer to Derek (Patrick Dempsey) — the brother she resented. Amelia left her own wedding to Owen (Kevin McKidd) and quickly returned for the ceremony. Those same questionable decisions applied to her professional life, clashing with doctors at the hospital over procedures others deemed risky.
As Thursday’s episode revealed, Amelia survives the surgery and painful recovery and winds up going back home with her estranged husband after she gives Owen an out on their marriage.
Below, Scorsone talks with THR about Amelia’s storyline and what’s next.
What was your first thought when you read that Amelia had a brain tumor? Did Krista Vernoff give you a heads up that you weren’t being written out?
Krista gave me the heads up so I thankfully did not find out at the table read. Obviously you’re very protective of your character — always! — and you don’t want too much tragedy to befall them. And in Amelia’s case, that’s any more tragedy, ever! But at the same time, there was an aspect of, “Of course she has a tumor! This explains so much!” In some ways, it was a relief to know that there was this focus for some of her behavior over the past year.
Amelia’s behavior was so erratic that it didn’t make much sense. Did you have any theories about why she was acting the way she was?
It had started to feel more erratic. Amelia has always made wild decisions in her life. We know that she has a history of addiction so a lot of people would chalk that behavior up to, “Crazy Amelia,” or maybe “addict behavior.” But it wasn’t. Amelia works a strong program and I want to be clear that sober Amelia working her program is not a crazy person and that’s where leaving her wedding with Owen and coming back and the bust-ups that were happening all the time — it didn’t seem like very sober behavior and she wasn’t drinking anymore. There was something up because she would have been talking to her sponsor. The kind of decisions she was making would not have been supported by the program she works; there had to be something else. And in this case, there was: it was this external beast that was affecting her brain chemistry and causing her to believe and do things that were not consistent with her beliefs or typical thoughts and values.
When Krista first told you about the storyline, did you have any concerns that you were being written off the show?
Krista was very good about leading with the reassuring part. I wasn’t concerned.
Amelia survives her tumor removal. What was it like shooting this episode?
It was actually really fun because it was so different from a typical episode. I wasn’t in scrubs; I was the patient on the table and got to have the Grey’s Anatomy experience from a different perspective. And when we weren’t shooting, I could fall asleep in the bed — which was awesome. It was work, work, work, nap. Work, work, work, nap. (Laughing.)
Amelia has made all these decisions — Meredith even points out that she leaves a thriving practice in California and a guy to come to Seattle to live with her brother, Derek, whom she resented. Do we still know Amelia? How different is this Amelia?
That’s what we are exploring right now. The tumor was developing for 10 years, but it wasn’t symptomatic that whole time. As with many tumors, they sit there silently growing until they start pushing against something that makes other things start to go wrong. Amelia’s personality, sense of humor, what she likes and doesn’t like, her friendships, those are all Amelia. She’s still funny, wacky Amelia but some of the erratic decision-making and some of the adrenaline and stress hormone that was probably being released, some of her ability to judge situations once the tumor was big enough to start affecting those areas of the brain, things went off. She will still be Amelia; she just will be out of this period of really erratic behavior: the spikes of anger, the stuff that was not sober behavior when she was perfectly sober…
Amelia realizes that when she told him about the tumor, Owen was coming to leave her. When Amelia gives Owen an out on their marriage, is she looking for an out, too?
One of the humbling parts is that she doesn’t know how much was her and how much was the tumor. She has a lot of remorse about some of the things she did, the things she said and the ways people were affected by her behavior. That was a weird experience, it was like having a brown out and not knowing what she did or why and what parts of it were rational and what parts weren’t. She needs to go internal and take a step back. Amelia knows that Owen has the right to do that, too, and really start evaluating things: Here we are, post-trauma, who are we and what’s left?
How will viewers see Amelia and Owen explore that?
You do see them address it; they have some conversations about the relationship.
Where does Amelia go from here? She’s like a cat, this is her what, third life?
Ha! There’s multiple versions of herself! But I don’t know, that’s part of the adventure. You get to open your arms and say yes to and go where they lead you. Amelia still has to get back to work and see how much confidence she has in that. Regardless of what was said, she now has a slightly different configuration in her brain so she has to confront that and see if anything is different cognitively in surgery. But this is the big unknown. She’s almost hitting rock bottom and this is the physical manifestation of that. She couldn’t go on like that anymore and she did something to remove the defect and now the possibilities are endless. Who could she be?
This season has a lot of nods to the past — there have been a couple of Private Practice references —
I can definitely feel the Private Practice voice in Amelia coming back, which is really fun. There’s a little more of her humor and sardonic way of seeing things and her humorous self-awareness that I missed since Private Practice. I can feel Krista infusing her with that voice again in a lot of ways. That’s really exciting.
Is it possible that any of the cast could return as part of Amelia’s healing process? Kate Walsh and Amy Brenneman recently did a Facebook Live to celebrate the show’s 10th anniversary and mentioned their willingness to do so…
I would pay them out of my own check to come here! I’d love to have anyone from Private Practice come and guest star. I love them so much, they’re family to me and to Amelia.
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays on ABC.