Grey's Anatomy Preview: Jesse Williams Talks Jackson, April, Lexie and the 'Bittersweet' Finale

That was not the all-nighter Grey’s Anatomy‘s Jackson Avery had in mind for the night before the oral boards.

On the eve of the Seattle Graces residents’ eventful exams, Jackson found himself hitting the sheets instead of the books, with The Virgin April Kepner. Jesse Williams previewed for TVLine the awkward aftermath for that twosome as well as revealed why Lexie might always be a part of Jackson’s life.

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TVLINE | So, impromptu romp aside, how did the oral boards go for Jackson?
We’re going to find out in a minute. It’s really taxing on him even without the unexpected sexual experience with April and the bar fight and that stuff. It’s like, “The pressure better not get to me but it kind of is. And also my grandfather’s in one ear and my mom’s in the other.” This expectation is I have to not only pass them, but ace them. I have to be spectacular. But it’s fun to have him shaken up; he’s usually very steely and handles pressure in the moment very, very well, like during the shooting in Season 6.

TVLINE | It’s out there that one of the residents failed. Without naming names, were you surprised to see who it was?
I was absolutely surprised to see that anybody failed. But I get why. It makes it really interesting because it’s not simply, “Oh, crap, somebody failed. We’ll start a new episode next week.” This is going to have real ripple effects not only for that person but throughout other characters. It’s not something that you can just patch up in a week or a year.

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TVLINE | Did you suspect, as some did, that a Jackson/April hookup was coming?
I did not. I thought they were going to be able to walk the line of staying on the friendship side of things. What they have is kind of really unique and organic in the world of Grey’s Anatomy – two genders in a completely platonic, wholesome, pleasant and productive relationship/friendship. Who is to say that has to end? Yet we all know that things get more complicated when sex is involved. This is something that’s not going to resolve itself or identify itself in a matter of a week, or a month. It’s really going to have to play out and have its ups and downs. I hope so, at least.

TVLINE | What’s it like when we pick back up? Is it awkward? Are things between them warmer, chilly?
I think all of those are happening in the next episode. You’re going to see a real kind of tenderness, an understanding and patience between them. But you’re also going to see some awkwardness and bitterness and resentment. All of those things kind of swirl [when you get involved] with somebody that you trusted and you still trust, but you’re disappointed in yourself and you’re blaming yourself. I think both of us do that.

TVLINE | Wait, who is disappointed in whom?
Well, I think that they’re both going to be dealing with, “Should we have done this? Did I just ruin it? Should I have said no? Did I act out of exuberance or the moment or being drunk or whatever it was? Did I overstep? Did I put something at risk?” As opposed to if we just met somebody at a bar and had sex with them, which is like, whatever, you pack up your stuff and you go. I really care about April and she really cares about me, and that makes it more complicated, not less.

TVLINE | As impetuous as it was, what do you think it meant to Jackson in the afterglow, so to speak?
It’s hard to say. He tried to be safe and wise and not deal with girls, really, when he first focused on transitioning into Seattle Grace from Mercy West. He kept his head down, got his work done and didn’t get caught up with banging nurses or anything. But he couldn’t help himself with Lexie once they got close; he really kind of fell for her. He made himself vulnerable probably to the least available person in the hospital, because he knew that she had a longstanding relationship with Mark. He knew he shouldn’t head in that direction, but he went against his better judgment and got burned for it. So, I think that what he sees in April is, “This is somebody who at the very least won’t hurt me.”

TVLINE | Are you saying that things are 100-percent done, finished, finito between Jackson and Lexie?
I think he can’t fully escape it, because he’s got a really cool relationship with Mark now. If he wasn’t so tied to Mark, it’d probably be easier for him to leave it in the past. But because he’s going to stay around Mark hopefully and that’s a friendship that’s still growing, I don’t know how Jackson can fully bury it. It’s going to keep Lexie somewhere in the rear view mirror. I see good things ahead for Mark and Lexie, and Jackson can get over it if he can distract himself with work and a new job, or if he can pass his boards. But if he fails, that’s a whole other thing.

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TVLINE | Looking ahead to the season finale (airing May 17): For a show that has in the past staged a ferry accident, opened a sinkhole in the middle of the city and sent a gunman roaming the halls, how will that episode rank as far as intensity?
I’d say it definitely ranks up there with intensity. We’re not cutting any corners in terms of the pressure, dire straits. It’s about a life-and-death split-second decision in this case. It’s something that I really enjoyed reading and [acting], I just wish it was even longer. I wish we were doing a double episode like we did in Season 6, because it’s kind of something you didn’t want to end. But it’s also bittersweet.