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Grey's Boss Previews Alt-Reality Ep, Second Half of Season: 'Everything Blows Up to Holy Hell'

Grey’s Anatomy returns tonight after a nearly two-month hibernation with the conclusion of a wrenching (and literally killer) two-part episode. And while the extended absence rankled many a fan, it did not irk series creator Shonda Rhimes.

“We campaigned for it,” she tells TVLine. “Usually what happens is we air on Thanksgiving and people don’t watch because they’re eating turkey and falling asleep. Then there’s a weird break and we air one more episode in December — and then we go on another break until January. It’s so much better when [the original episodes all] run in a row.”

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And what a run it will be. In the following Q&A, Rhimes previews tonight’s dramatic climax (R.I.P. Henry) and teases the second half of Season 8, including an explosive Owen/Cristina story, the completion of Der and Mer’s dream house, and the one episode that’s so big it’s set in another freakin’ reality!

TVLINE | Why’d you go and kill Scott Foley?!
We’re so in love with Scott Foley. And we would’ve kept him if we could. But [Henry’s death] is a really good storyline to tell for Teddy.

TVLINE | It’s a really dark storyline for Teddy. How is she going to bounce back from this? Is this going to ruin her on another relationship forever?
She’s not in a place where she’s even thinking about anyone else or whether or not she’s going to love again. We’re not at that phase yet. She’s [going to be] getting over the very shocking death of her husband and she’ll cope with it the best she can. And she’s going to have a lot of blame to place on some people.

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TVLINE | Speaking of which, what is this going to do to Cristina?
[Henry’s death] is a catalyst for Cristina and Owen to [face] what is the real problem in their relationship, which is Cristina had this abortion that Owen’s not comfortable with. The unresolved tension about the abortion really explodes in these upcoming episodes. Everything just blows up to holy hell.

TVLINE | Meredith also was left in a precarious situation. She’s also still reeling from the loss of Zola, who isn’t really out of the picture, right?
Zola gets resolved this evening. You’ll know what’s going to happen with that tonight.

TVLINE | When will Derek and Meredith’s dream house be completed?
At the end of the season the house will be done.

TVLINE | What’s in store for them prior to that?
You’re seeing tremendous growth in them as a couple. And we’re watching Meredith figure out what she wants to do now that she’s stepping back from neurosurgery for the good of their relationship. We’re going to see what that means for her. And we’re going to watch Derek really fight to be the [best] doctor that he can and put his all into what’s going on with him and Meredith.

TVLINE | There’s also the big alternate reality episode. How did that come about?
One of our writers, Stacy McKee, pitched it. And I said the only way it could work is if Meredith’s mother never had Alzheimer’s and Richard had picked Ellis to stay with versus staying with Adele. To me, the most interesting way of viewing an alternate universe is, “What if Meredith had never been dark and twisty? What if she’s a bright shiny girl?” Well, for starters, she never would’ve been in a bar to meet Derek. And from that, the entire world changes. Would Meredith and Cristina have ever been friends if Meredith was a bright and shiny person?

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TVLINE | Do Callie and Arizona figure into the episode at all?
They do. And that is the best part. If Meredith is bright and shiny, Arizona remains unchanged, but a lot about Callie’s universe is very different. If Meredith was never dark and twisty, she never would’ve slept with George, who never would’ve fallen down the stairs and dislocated his shoulder, and he never would’ve met Callie.

TVLINE | Sounds like a lot of work went into breaking this episode.
We had the best time figuring out what pieces of the world no longer exist because Meredith is a cheerful person.

TVLINE | We know that Derek and Addison never would’ve divorced. Safe to say they’re the most miserable married couple on the planet as a result?
Yeah, I don’t think that’s a match made in heaven at all. I think that was not a couple that was destined to stay together and be happy.