Grey's Anatomy's Kim Raver: Teddy's Grief Fuels 'Intense, Surprising' Changes for Her and Owen

Step 1 for Grey’s Anatomy‘s Dr. Teddy Altman was learning that her husband, Henry, had died during surgery. Step 2 was realizing that said sad news was kept from her for hours. Step 3, played out last week, saw Teddy finally process her loss, and break down emotionally. So what’s next for the devastated doc as her story continues tonight at 9/8c on ABC? Kim Raver shared with TVLine some insight into Teddy’s mindset, and how a sense of betrayal will steer one Seattle Grace relationship, in particular, in a “surprising” new direction.

TVLINE | When you first got wind of the Henry’s death storyline, did you have any concerns, were you tentative about anything? And if so, how were those feelings alleviated?
I wouldn’t say “concerns” is the right word to describe it. I was excited because I think there are so many layers for Teddy to work through. You know that Teddy is going to have to go to some pretty dark, sad places, but what I think is interesting — and [series creator] Shonda [Rhimes] and the writers and I had a conversation about this — is the way she grieves is played out in a different way. There’s a direction that Teddy is starting to go into, where she sort of becomes a workaholic. She’s in so much pain and not actually going through that grieving process, because she’s kind of in denial. Also, there’s an interesting thing that’s happening between Teddy and Owen; it’s very clever on Shonda’s part to create this tension with the two of them, because they have such a big history. It’s with the deepest friendships that subconsciously she felt the safest, and that’s what we’re sort of playing with.

TVLINE | So if she is hardest on Owen, it’s coming from a place of, “Hey, we’ve been friends for a while, going back to Iraq.”
Yes. There’s some intense stuff that’s coming up with that, and that makes for interesting drama. A lot of surprising things for their friendship will definitely be coming out of Teddy’s grief. I don’t want to give away too much, but…. Teddy feels extremely betrayed, in a way. She was in an OR, fixing someone else’s mistake, and people kept coming in — but especially one person — saying everything [with Henry’s surgery] was fine. So to have that trust be broken, especially by the person she really entrusted her whole life to, cut pretty deep.

TVLINE | What was your interpretation of the scenes where Teddy had Cristina repeatedly recount Henry’s surgery? Was it not so much that she wanted to know Cristina did it right, but that Teddy needed to have it driven into her head that Henry was dead?
I think it’s a combination of things. Those scenes were so interesting to me, again because she’s not grieving like a regular person. She was sort of balancing between surgeon and wife, and that was a high-wire act for her. Having Cristina repeat it over and over again had nothing to do with her wanting to “torture” her, as [April] said. What it really was for her was, “If I had been in that surgery, I need to meticulously go over every single thing that happened, to know if there was anything that I, Teddy, could have done to make the outcome different.” Not knowing that is unbearable for Teddy. It’s almost as if she needed to “replay the video” in her head, to see what she could have done to save Henry. Teddy’s “thing” is about fixing things and making them better — that’s why she’s an incredible surgeon — so her inability to have saved the person that’s he was madly in love with is excruciating for her. That’s that’s why there was that release at the end [of the episode] – it’s her horrific realization that there was nothing that could have been done. And for Teddy, that is kind of incomprehensible.

TVLINE | Some of our readers felt Cristina could have given Teddy a hug during her breakdown. Of course, that’s not typically Sandra Oh’s character, but was there any discussion on the set of trying that out…?
I’m trying to recall….. I don’t know, that’s really a question for Sandra. That’s her domain.

TVLINE | The synopsis for this week’s episode, in which Teddy and Cristina steal a case from Alex and Dr. McQueen, suggests a lighter, more “normal” Teddy. Or is that not quite the case yet?
It’s definitely a lighter Teddy, but she has a lot of anger underneath, so she’s going to be covering. I don’t want her to be like, “Oh, now everything’s fine! She figured out how he died and everything’s cool.”

TVLINE | She’s acting out.
Yeah! That’s a perfect way of putting it. She knows what she’s doing and what she’s not supposed to be doing, so “acting out” is a great way of saying it. She’s angry. She’s angry with Owen, and that anger could be covering sadness. I think she’s extremely sad.

TVLINE | You’re making me somewhat scared for Kevin McKidd. It sounds like Teddy is really going to lean into Owen.
[Laughs] I am tipping you off a bit. I don’t know how much we want to give away, but yeah… It’s going to be difficult between her and Owen. But it’s also exciting what starts coming out of Teddy’s sadness, and it’s pointed toward Kevin McKidd’s character.

TVLINE | And before we go: Will you be tuning into True Blood next season, to catch Scott Foley (who played Henry)?
Yes, absolutely! With some sadness, I will, but with excitement for him!