Post Mortems
greys anatomy season 13 episode 16 sarah drew post mortem

Grey's Anatomy's Sarah Drew Talks [Spoiler] as Jackson's Father and That Big, Non-'Super-Romanticized' Twist

It turned out that Grey’s Anatomy didn’t just reunite Jackson with his long-lost father in “Who Is He (And What Is He to You)?” While in Montana with April to perform a throat transplant on a young patient, he not only confronted his dad (Eric Roberts — surprise!), he also hit the sheets with his former wife. Here, Sarah Drew, who plays Kepner, reflects on the ABC drama’s atypical handling of the hookup — and what it could mean going forward — and marvels at Roberts’ ability to play “kind of a jerk but not a jerk at the same time.”

TVLINE | Were you surprised that Jackson and April slept together?
[Laughs] Yes! But not totally surprised. They’re still so connected to one another, especially now that they have a child together and are roommates. And she really showed up for him in this episode in a way that I don’t thinks she has in their entire relationship so far. I really love that their dynamic in this episode is that she sort of walks beside him and gives him space while he’s wrestling with all of this. She doesn’t need anything from him, she’s not asking anything of him, she’s literally just being present, listening to him, letting him hash this thing out in a way that he needs to.

TVLINE | Which says a lot about how well she knows him.
Right. That can only be earned through people who are each other’s person. That’s really satisfying. You get to see how much love there still is there, you get to see how deep their friendship is and honestly, how much they need each other. And I like that it’s done in a way that isn’t typical. It isn’t super-romanticized. It’s just her really showing up for him, and that closeness, him being supported in such a profound way in such a profound moment, walks them straight into the bedroom together! There are still issues, of course, but in this moment away from their normal lives, she shows up for him, they want to connect, and they let themselves do that.

greys anatomy season 13 episode 16 sarah drew post mortemTVLINE | What does it mean for them going forward? Are Japril Japril again?
There are so many different ways that it could go — confusion and anxiety about what it means for them… or just a deepening of the friendship and a return to best-friendship. It could lead to a rekindling of the marriage. There are so many different places for it to go that would make sense.

TVLINE | Was it hard to keep the secret that Eric Roberts was playing Jackson’s father?
[Laughs] Yes! And he was so phenomenal! Both he and Jesse [Williams] did really, really exceptional work in this episode.

TVLINE | Was he what you imagined when you pictured Jackson’s dad?
I guess I didn’t know what to expect, but once I saw him in action, I was like, “This guy is so perfect!” There’s a charm to him, and you understand why he wound up where he wound up — in this bar having abandoned his family. But you don’t detest him. Eric Roberts did a really great job of sort of walking that fine line. You basically witness a man who is super-likable but didn’t have the balls to own up to his responsibility. And you know, those people exist in this world.

TVLINE | How does it affect Jackson, having finally gotten to speak his piece with him?
I think it’s like an opening of a door and then a closing of it. It seemed to me that he’d had this curiosity his whole life. He thought he needed his father, and then he realized that he doesn’t. There’s something deeply empowering about that that I think is pretty beautiful. There’s a strength that is kind of unleashed as a result of this journey for him.

What did you think of #JaprilTheSequel? Was Roberts who you pictured as Jackson’s dad? Are you hoping for a Japril remarriage? Hit the comments.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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63 Comments
  1. Matt C. says:

    Loved this episode! I’m glad it had a much happier ending than last season’s big Japril episode. I hope that this means they can finally try to move forward as a couple again!

  2. JJ says:

    I’m lost…Sorry. How can Jackson’s father have the last name Kepner?

  3. kn1231 says:

    Greys as a whole has been lacking this season. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the show and will watch it through until it ends but this season has been the worst of the series. I’ve actually been rewatching the show on Netflix to bring back the enjoyment it once gave me. I also dropped Scandal this season as well. I don’t know what Shonda is doing, but she needs to pull her writing teams together and put on some serious work. But I will say the premiere of The Catch was fantastic, and I’m looking forward to tonight’s episode.

    • Pedro says:

      I think it’s the strongest since 8, along with 12.

      • kn1231 says:

        I can’t think of one strong thing about this season. Not one saving grace. I thought they did a great job not letting the show die off last season after Derek died, but that momentum has officially ended. I am genuinely curious what make you think this season is so good? Maybe I’m missing something?

    • lizzie says:

      I agree. I’m not really enjoying this season. I can’t stand Minnick. And I can’t believe that there has been no fallout from the kid that she and Stephanie killed.

      • Tony T says:

        That is bugging me too… how can they go from killing a kid and Richard picking up the pieces and informing the family to Minnick is so amazing and everyone loves her the next episode. Hopefully the parents sue the hospital, hate Bailey, Kepner and Minnick this year… they can all die in a Shonda-riffic tragedgy

    • remizak says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more, all the way down the line. It’s stunning to me how bad Grey’s is this season. The ridiculous Owen/Amelia no-good-reason-but-drama estrangement, the fake roadblocks on Meredith’s romance, the nonsensical Minnick plotline and now this random episode. It really makes me wonder what’s going on with the writing team. Is this just a placeholder season or do the current writers just have no idea how to do real Grey’s writing? I want to see a lot more Meredith and a lot more Alex––actually doing something legit––and I don’t think I’m alone in that.

    • Ally Oop says:

      I disagree completely. This season and last have been great.

      • liame says:

        I’m with you Ally, it’s great TV and not the same old stuff over and over again. A lot more Meredith would turn me away because all the characters deserve stories.

  4. Yolanda Mintz says:

    I don’t think Jackson signed the divorce papers.

  5. Nims says:

    WOW!! This was probably the best written episode of the season. Just so beautiful and heartbreaking. April and Jackson need to get back together. This is couple is so good together. Jesse Williams was phenomenal and Sarah Drew was amazing. These two bring out the best acting in one another.

  6. Stacey says:

    Loved this episode, it was so great seeing Grey’s characters supporting each other again. This season has been pretty disappointing for me, all the infighting has make all the characters pretty unlikeable. But this episode brought back the joy of watching Grey’s for me, the fact that I am a big Japril fan helped with as well :)

    • Alichat says:

      I agree. The fighting has been exhausting this season. It was nice to see two characters supporting each other through a crisis that wasn’t Minnick related. I’ve always liked Jackson and April together. I always thought their characters were well balanced. And I have to agree with Sarah Drew. Eric Roberts was a great choice for Jackson’s father. He was charming and a complete jerk without seeming like a jerk. You can see where Jackson gets his charm and laid back personality. But he doesn’t ditch his responsibilities, and in that he’s nothing like his father. I hope this moves April and Jackson’s relationship forward and doesn’t become some roller coaster of nonsense.

      And speaking of nonsense, I hope next week’s episode has Owen ending things with Amelia. Please…..for the love of the audiences’ sanity……end that mess. He deserves someone that isn’t going to flake out on him every few months.

    • Pedro says:

      People aren’t always likeable. This season has brought forth really interesting conflict.

  7. liame says:

    I enjoyed the scenes between Jackson and his dad. This was a great episode because Jesse Williams commands the camera, he’s such a great actor.

  8. West Side E says:

    I still hate April. Episode would of been great with Merideth and Jackson they could of bonded over bad dads. April should go back to the army

    • Gisele says:

      Lol! I agree TOTALLY!

    • fransar94 says:

      Meredith is the main star of the show but there’s no need to make everything about her! April Jackson’s ex wife and the mother of his child and Meredith is his friend.. Simple as that…

    • Tee says:

      Nothing in Seattle is shown, for real? I’m debating watching then. I don’t really understand this couple’s appeal. April has just been incredibly annoying since she and Jackson had sex on break during the boards. I don’t know anyone who flips out as much as she does, and as a viewer, it gets tiring watching her and trying to believe that she can actually function as a doctor.

      • Sally says:

        EXACTLY!!!
        She freaks over every little thing! Annoying. And she’s supposed to be a surgeon?😂
        Whoever wrote her lines for breaking bad news regarding the braindead kid about organ donation……what kind of a dr do it like that? So insensitive. I mean who in their right mind would allow a high strung overly emotional Dr like her touch them for surgery😐
        She’s just a bad actor. The rest of the cast can be said believable for their role.

  9. msstargate says:

    I absolutely loved this episode. Jesse Williams was owned the hour. I think I had a grin on my face the entire hour. I hope when they are back in Seattle the communication between April and Jackson continues. If it does there is hope for a future for Japril.

  10. Ashly says:

    This episode made me so happy!

  11. N says:

    Loved seeing Eric play Jackson’s Dad

  12. Carla says:

    It was okay. April has been pissing me off. She really hasn’t heard Jackson; his greif after loosing the baby, his longing for her when she went to Iraq. She screeched at and manipilated him through the first 1/3 of this episode. I want her to face that before he takes her back…

  13. broncfanwa says:

    No Japril sequel please. Jackson deserves better and April deserves to leave forever…preferably with her ex mother in law stapled to her fanny while they are both launched into space.

  14. Fleur-de-lis says:

    I really love April. I don’t understand why is everybody against her. Probably because she’s different. She is not a cheater like Arizona, not messy like Mer, not egocentric like Christina, not jerky like Alex, not full of money like Jackson. I think she’s empathic and kind, good and smart. Okay, she’s annoying, but nobody in this show is perfect. Professionally speaking, she is the best doctor from all. She’s passionate, she likes doing administrative stuff, she was in Iraq..she’s organised,she’s not proud…she has flaws, but come on…aren’t that bad…oh, and she’s not sleeping around and she have faith in relig. Shoot her for that!

    • kn1231 says:

      Didn’t she cheat on her paramedic fiancé with Jackson, prior to her leaving him at the alter? And then she ran off to war without really consulting her husband? April is no saint and she just as many issues as the rest of the characters.

      • jovana says:

        She didn’t cheat on him.

      • Stacey says:

        She never cheater with Jackson. She did consult Jackson before going off to war, but she is not required to do what he says.

        • kn1232 says:

          She’s not required to do what he says, but when you’re married to someone you are required to listen to your partner’s side of things. She did not, she said what she was doing and she did it. And people can continue to make excuses for April, but what she did was wrong and it led the the end of her marriage.

  15. Ștefan says:

    I actually love April. A lot. I don’t understand why everybody is sooo against her. Maybe because is different?! She’s not messy like Mer is, not egocentric like Christina, not a cheater like Arizona, not full of money like Jackson, not a jerk like Alex..she is annoying, I admit it, but let’s face it..we all have flaws..I think she is the best doctor in this show, because she’s kind, she has a big heart, she adores her job, she likes administrative stuff, she was in the middle of the war, an experience that changed he and evolved her. She has principles, not fooling around sleeping with other doctors…she has faith in God and she minds her own business. Yes, she made mistakes, she is/was manipulative with Jackson and didn’t pay attention at his wishes, but is easy to judge..She lost her baby and she didn’t know how to handle the situation. When you’re down, you don’t act like you should. In conclusion, I strongly think she is a powerful woman, dedicated to her job and she learned from her mistakes..why shoot her, then?

  16. Iris says:

    First episode I watched this season, and I enjoyed it.

  17. Nadee says:

    I didnt like that Jacksons Father was not allowed to tell his side of the story in detail of why he gave up his life and his son.

    • Tee says:

      Probably to open the door for a second episode. It’s Eric Roberts. I don’t know why you’d hire him for just one episode.

    • Jamie says:

      I actually like that he didn’t. Because it would just be an excuse. He is clearly healthy, clear-minded, not on drugs, etc. And even if he was a mess back when he left, he has had the rest of Jackson’s life to contact his child. And he didn’t. Jackson showed up and his dad just started chatting about the coffee he brews and talking about how he hated being an Avery. His not wanting that life is perfectly fine, but he really didn’t seem all that pressed that he didn’t have a relationship with his son. Jackson didn’t need to hear his excuses about why he abandoned his kid and had no interest in knowing him.

  18. sara says:

    GREAT EP!!
    I love these 2 together and can wacth them for our….love the ep. it’s the start to the road to come back together

  19. Tamara Washington says:

    This episode had me cheering… I was touched when I saw Jackson empathize with the donor and transplant parents. I cried when I saw the pain in his eyes with his dad not recognizing or knowing him, I was proud when April supported him with dealing with the situation and I cheered when Japril hooked up. I am rooting for them and rekindling the marriage. #teamJapril

  20. Tom_B says:

    It was a decent episode but didn’t really fit in with the story Catherine told last season, about Jackson’s father trying to take full custody when they divorced and a big battle ensued. Not really the picture they are showing now.

  21. Glad says:

    I want Jackson and April together again ..they make their issues but I love together…they,are an awesome couple 💓💓💓💓💓💓

  22. Antwon303 says:

    IMO, that was easily the best episode of the season. I normally don’t go for episodes that soley focus on one or two characters but this one was exceptional. I can hardly even recall the first JAPRIL episode which means it wasn’t anything really special to me.
    I must give kudos to the actors, the writer and Kevin McKidd (Owen) for directing a strong episode. I enjoyed it from the opening scene with Catherine and Jackson riding to the episode. I really like their relationship. They are at odds now but you can tell they have a close mother/son relationship and last night showcased why. I know she isn’t popular but I adore Catherine. She is strong, intelligent and force to be reckoned with. Last night she demonstrated that she knows her son and gave him who/what he needed. I believe she felt that the temptation to seek out his father would be too strong for him not to do so and wanted the woman he loves to be there.

    The medical story really pulled me in…which is something that has been sorely missing this season. I felt invested and the characters/actors were compelling. I am so glad they were able to pull off a miracle for the little girl. I thought the one mom who was rather fierce–hugging Jackson before and after the surgery was very sweet.

    I had a feeling that JAPRIL would have sex but it didn’t happen how I thought it would…which would be in a heated argument–Jackson just grabbed her and kissed her. Nope. They were coming off of the high of their successful surgery and Jackson had the epiphany of this woman was my best friend, my wife and IS the mother of my child. I think in that moment the love they still have for each other came to the surface–catapulted by a little lust of course ;-) Jesse and Sarah have tremendous chemistry. I have a feeling that was some exuberant lovemaking LOL. I also thought their dialogue was on point. April didn’t advise him as much as she listed and nudged him along the way to something she knew would bother him if he didn’t address it.

    I don’t know if this means a reunion for JAPRIL but I’d be okay with it. I sorta miss them together. I liked the scenes with Jackson and his father. Jesse really commanded the screen last night. Eric did a good job too and I liked that the show acknowledged Jesse being biracial by giving him biracial parents. I also liked that it was left messy vs being hugs and fist bumps. He abandoned his wife and child and clearly never ever inquired or tried to make contact.

  23. kay says:

    I was glad to see Eric Roberts back on TV as the Dad who left their kid (he played a similar character on Code Black). The scenes with him and Jackson were great. Maybe Mr. Avery will decide to get to know his son and granddaughter better and come to Seattle. Wouldn’t it be great to have him decide to become involved with the Foundation again and push back against Catherine? In regards to April, I have never really been a fan of the character and did not understand how she and Jackson got together. When she was accusing Jackson of using his pain and being a father to connect with the parents, I could not believe it. Many times she has used her situation to do the same and her judgmental attitude towards Jackson exemplified why I dislike the character. This season has been the most disappointing, but bring Mr. Avery back to Seattle and watch the sparks fly!

  24. It was a good episode but not to sure about April and Jackson

  25. corinne says:

    I love Grey’s – but man could we stop having so many storylines where there are kids involved and they keep dying? Its so depressing….

  26. Jackie says:

    I don’t get why everyone is so mad at April I mean I have been watching the show for a while, but I just don’t get it, what did she do besides took Meredith job temporary, or break the guy she met before Jackson heart, or broke up with Jackson (divorced him) other than those things why do you all hate her

  27. Lisa Echerd says:

    In a show that has been going as many years as Grey’s they need to change the format once in awhile. I like the episodes that have zeroed in on certain characters and have gotten them out of the hospital. With only April, Jackson and Catherine, we got to really focus on their story. There are so many characters now, many with long complicated histories. The prison episode was also a dramatic break and showed that there is drama somewhere else besides Grey Sloan.

  28. Liv says:

    I am a big Jackson and April fan. I usually love all their scenes together, but because of the tone of the season (the general fighting) I am kind over this season. I would love for my fave couple to get back together but this is a Shonda show NOTHING COMES EASY!

  29. original grey fan says:

    I have concerns for Jackson that he hasn’t yet recognized Aprol is becoming Catherine Avery mark 2. No surprise that they ended up in bed together, but back to reality of April and her ambitions for her career.

  30. Elanna Haywood says:

    This is the first time she’s used her bossiness to help him. I still hate her.

  31. Kim Olovsson says:

    I really hope this has opened the door for Eric Roberts to return for more episodes. That’ll be a great breath of fresh air for such a stale and frustrating season.

  32. Yoko says:

    Horrible season but good episode. Haven’t had enough Avery lately. Kepner, meh. Not looking forward to series preview of next week as I DO NOT want Meredith with Riggs at all. Just go on and bring Owen’s sister back so Riggs can be with her. Get someone handsome for Meredith!

  33. Gingerella says:

    I loved April and Jackson getting together and I hope it’s permanent, the show needs a relationship that works since Meredith & Derek… I don’t care what happens to Amelia & Owen and I can’t stand Minnik, get rid of her. The show has been sagging a bit this season and this episode having Japril back together really picked it up for me!

  34. Ann Marie says:

    I just love this episode. Practically watched it like a million times. Lol. I’m really rooting for japril to be back again. It’s awesome their chemistry is insane and they are the real deal now 😘
    #sarah #april #jesse #jackson #japril forever

  35. Rebecca says:

    I really hope Jackson and April remarried.

  36. Lori says:

    Late to the party here- but I binged watched GA on Netflix and wanted to weigh in on the Jackson and his father episode with April. I actually thought this episode nailed it and it opened up a part of Jackson that needed to be dealt with. He needed to see his father (amazing performance by Eric Roberts) and say the things that needed to be said. In addition to this, the only person who could do this with him is April. She finally was there for him in this episode as his best friend, and mother of his child and telling him he was a good father. The sex was a bonus- and not entirely surprised.
    April has grown so much in the past couple of seasons- from being a screeching selfish person to slowly coming into her own as a person. I love Jackson and April together (and April- I used to dislike her in the beginning but love her now) she knows she made mistakes with Jackson and their marriage and she is trying to fix herself and mature – they have such an amazing chemistry together and hope Shonda doesn’t let this couple die-literally and figuratively 😂 .