‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 20 Finale to End on ‘Existential Cliffhangers’

[This story contains spoilers from the May 23 episode of Grey’s Anatomy, “I Carry Your Heart.”]

Caterina Scorsone and Kevin McKidd could not have been a part of the unique solid of Gray’s Anatomy. However within the final 15 years, between Gray’s and its two spinoffs, Non-public Observe and Station 19, Scorsone and McKidd have each logged sufficient hours within the O.R. to grow to be two of the longest-lasting actors of the venerable ABC medical drama, which was not too long ago renewed for a record-extending twenty first season. (Within the Gray’s universe, McKidd has performed Dr. Owen Hunt in over 350 episodes; Scorsone has performed Dr. Amelia Shepherd in over 280.)

At this level, the characters and the fictional world they stay in really feel as actual to the viewers because the actors who play them. Whereas Gray’s started as a soapy romantic drama that adopted the lives of surgeons at a Seattle instructing hospital, the present has indubitably grow to be a cultural touchstone — and, in flip, a transparent signal of the altering instances.

“The connection to the present now’s extra, I need to say, like this ubiquitous factor. It’s not a few specific plot. It’s about, ‘The place are we, individuals? The place are we as a tradition proper now?’ So you’ll be able to are available in at any level and discuss what’s taking place within the information proper now,” Scorsone tells The Hollywood Reporter in a joint interview with McKidd. “I believe loads of the viewers can step away after which come again once they need to examine in on one thing.”

Audiences who selected to examine again into Gray-Sloan Memorial Hospital for the penultimate episode of season 20, which was directed by McKidd, discovered that, in basic Gray’s vogue, the surgeons have been coping with issues of the center — each actually and metaphorically talking. Former cardio chief Maggie (Kelly McCreary), who left for a job in Chicago final season, returns to Seattle and groups up along with her soon-to-be-ex-husband Winston (Anthony Hill) on an advanced domino process involving two transplant recipients. However the spark between the 2 former lovers is short-lived, with Winston lastly signing and returning their divorce papers.

Whereas virtually the entire different romantic {couples} and entanglements — of which there are various — hit one other bump within the highway, the large driver of the hour got here within the type of a serious breakthrough in Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Amelia’s Alzheimer’s analysis, which new Chief of Surgical procedure Teddy Altman (Kim Raver) funded with discretionary funds behind Catherine’s (Debbie Allen) again. After Amelia catches Catherine snooping round her analysis lab at Gray-Sloan, Amelia packs up all of her knowledge and jets off to Boston, the place she and Meredith start working across the clock to expedite the publication of their analysis earlier than Catherine can shut it down for good. However the considered betraying Catherine a second time is sufficient to give Amelia pause.

“If we’re proper about this, it makes [Derek’s] work out of date. Nobody is gonna learn it. Nobody is gonna reference it ever once more,” Amelia tells Meredith in a heated dialog. “I’m not saying it’s rational, nevertheless it doesn’t change the truth that after we do that, we’re burying my brother deeper within the floor, and I might suppose that you just, of all individuals, would perceive that.”

Amelia is reluctant to additional jeopardize her skilled relationship with Catherine and the Fox Basis. However after she and Meredith uncover a robust correlation between the intestine microbiome and Alzheimer’s, Amelia decides that one of the best ways to honor the legacies of Derek (Patrick Dempsey) and Meredith’s mom, Ellis (Kate Burton), could be to publish their findings. They may, nevertheless, face a severe complication; by the top of the episode, Teddy comes clear to Catherine and loses her job consequently.

Under, McKidd and Scorsone replicate on the evolution of their respective characters, why they consider there’s nonetheless super worth in telling tales on Gray’s, and the one storyline that longtime followers of the present all the time need to discuss to them about.


On this shortened season of Gray’s, Owen finds a technique to reconnect with Teddy after her near-death expertise, whereas Amelia groups up with Meredith to do their groundbreaking Alzheimer’s analysis behind Catherine’s again. What are a few of your greatest takeaways out of your respective character arcs this season?

KEVIN MCKIDD I really feel like Owen’s matured rather a lot. In his youthful seasons, he was all the time fairly hotheaded and had this tempestuous manner of conducting himself. He was a bit of short-tempered and passionate however definitely made some rash selections, and that’s beginning to change. He needs to actually have communication with Teddy. The youthful model of Owen would have simmered on this disconnect that he and Teddy have this season, and [he’d] go off and act out in a roundabout way, and we’re seeing him lastly try to use his phrases, which I believe is development for Owen. (Laughs.) So I’m pleased with him that he’s now lastly beginning to go, “Hey, I really feel like we’re not speaking; we have to discuss the truth that we’re not speaking.”

CATERINA SCORSONE I believe Amelia actually confirmed up with one thing to show and was very centered on Derek — each as this individual that she had skilled competitors with, but additionally [he] was her essential attachment determine. The tragedy that occurred the place their dad was killed in entrance of them left each of them deeply traumatized and trauma-bonded, and he turned a father determine for her, after which they each pursued neurosurgery. So I believe she actually had one thing to show and by no means felt impartial and autonomous, however there was an adolescence about her when she first got here to the [Grey’s] world. I believe over the course of the sequence — and with Derek’s loss of life and her coming into her discipline and changing into fairly masterful in that discipline — she’s actually reached a stage now of psychological, emotional independence and autonomy. 

On this season, with the Alzheimer’s trial, the analysis is now essentially shifting away from what Derek was doing. She’s surpassed his analysis professionally in a manner that I believe may be very emotional for her as a result of she’s grow to be the grownup in her life and realizing that she is definitely her [own] major attachment determine, proper? And that’s the maturity of this journey of maturity. It’s letting go of this concept that the adults are going to return and prevent, or the adults are going to return and validate you, and it’s coming into your individual energy and realizing that you’re the grownup and you’ll have a neighborhood of friends. There’s interdependence, nevertheless it’s not this sort of childlike dependence on an exterior validator.

Kevin, you made your directorial debut on Gray’s with the season seven episode “Don’t Deceive Me (Please Don’t Go),” and you’ve got now gone on to helm 40 episodes of this present. How do you go about balancing the performing and directing sides of your mind?

MCKIDD This episode was my forty first episode. So [with] the subsequent episode I direct subsequent season, I’ll have directed probably the most episodes of all administrators on the present, which is unthinkable to me. [Rob Corn, one of the show’s original producers who departed in 2016, has directed 41 episodes. Debbie Allen, who plays Dr. Catherine Fox and also serves as executive producer, has directed 39.]


MCKIDD I don’t know fairly how that occurs, and but right here we’re! I like the truth that I get to train these very two distinct components of my mind. I believe for all of us, whenever you’re performing, you simply must be utterly inside the pinnacle of your character as a lot as you’ll be able to. Yeah, you’ll be able to have a bit of little bit of a way of what the director wants and what the story wants, however you need to be true to your character and persist with your lane.

With directing, you need to have a broad sense of what the entire arc of the present is, what the message of that episode is, the way you’re delivering that, the tone by which you’re delivering that. You additionally must do it effectively, on time, and underneath price range, so it’s creative but additionally fairly mathematical and sensible. Whereas performing I discover as a way more emotional, subjective train. I really feel like one factor, for me, feeds the opposite. I don’t get too tired of one of many duties; I get to maintain altering what I’m doing. So it actually invigorates me and retains taking part in Owen really feel actually recent and directing really feel actually recent.

SCORSONE Kevin is certainly considered one of our very favourite administrators. There’s not an individual on set who finds out that it’s a Kevin episode and isn’t thrilled. We all know it’s going to be a strong episode, we’re going to get house on time as a result of he’s very environment friendly, however he’s additionally sort to everybody and has a deep respect for each single crew member and the entire roles that they’re taking part in. I believe he understands extra intimately than lots of people what each single particular person’s job is and the way very important all of them are to this factor coming collectively. As a result of he has such an inside monitor on what the performing course of is, he’s very respectful and affected person, however he is aware of the place to push and provide you with a bit of little bit of problem in your efficiency. He can stage with you, and also you belief him as a result of you recognize that he is aware of what you’re doing. We really feel so held when Kevin is directing. 

MCKIDD (Smiling) Thanks, Cat.

Within the penultimate episode, Amelia tells Meredith she seems like their analysis is erasing the contributions that Derek made to the sector of neuroscience. It’s a poignant dialog between the sisters-in-law, particularly when you think about that Meredith as soon as noticed Amelia as a hopeless screw-up, and now they’re on extra stage phrases. Caterina, how would you describe the evolution of their relationship? A variety of it all the time appears to boil all the way down to their love for Derek.

SCORSONE Yeah. Derek is household of origin for Amelia after which chosen household for Meredith, however for each of them, he’s a core attachment determine, in fact, in several methods. One is that this household of origin and one is that this romantic attachment, however their identities are so linked to his legacy. So I believe you’re proper.

I like studying about neuroscience. It’s an space of nice curiosity to me, so I used to be so excited in regards to the storyline that we’re doing and the entire new analysis into Alzheimer’s. My daughter [Pippa] is in a inhabitants that has a excessive incidence of Alzheimer’s as a result of she has Down syndrome, so this new analysis goes to be game-changing for therefore many individuals’s lives, together with my very own child.

[The scene] is like, Oh no, that is erasing Derek’s analysis. However I believe the way in which I used to be capable of finding a manner in was sort of what we have been speaking about. It’s not erasing Derek. We needed to examine off these containers that he researched. What it’s erasing is Amelia’s want for Derek, proper? It’s like whenever you understand that your dad and mom don’t know every part and that they could truly be taught a bit from you at a sure level. So I believe it’s this last second of closure in her considering that she might by no means be a whole surgeon with out Derek’s enter and affect. She doesn’t want any of the analysis that he did anymore. It’s not related anymore. So it’s feeling the lack of that closure for her the place she’s truly full with out him. She says, “We’re burying him deeper within the floor,” and he or she’s speaking in regards to the medical neighborhood, however I believe for her, the emotion is coming from “I need to nonetheless want him. I believe I’m now the grownup, and that’s onerous.”

And Derek has been gone for 9 years now. It’s not essentially a recent loss, however I believe it nonetheless looms over her as if she simply misplaced him. 

SCORSONE Yeah, it’s deep in her psyche.

MCKIDD I obtained the privilege to direct that scene, and also you carried out it fantastically. I learn this factor about after we actually die. OK, we die bodily, however then when the final individual that remembers us dies, that’s the time we actually die as people. I believe that’s a really primal factor that that scene unconsciously faucets into for Amelia.

Ellen Pompeo as Meredith within the Gray’s Anatomy‘s penultimate episode, “I Carry Your Coronary heart.”

Disney/Anne Marie Fox

Kevin, Owen has gone by way of his justifiable share of turmoil over time. His journey has actually ebbed and flowed, within the sense that he has felt caught at sure instances — and this season felt like a type of instances. What new layers are you continue to capable of finding within the character, even in spite of everything these years of taking part in him?

MCKIDD I believe he’s an enchanting, fairly polarizing character, and he’s not a personality who was designed by Jackie Strause Shonda [Rhimes] to be favored. He turns up and virtually immediately strangles [Sandra Oh’s] Cristina Yang. So the conception of the character was this protagonist-slash-antagonist function; he can ebb and circulate between having an virtually antagonistic function within the present, and I like that he’s in a position to dance on that knife’s edge.

The previous few seasons, there’s been a lot dramatics — Teddy hides her being pregnant after which finally ends up dishonest on Owen with [Greg Germann’s] Koracick, and he finds out on the marriage day. Teddy virtually dies on the finish of final season and he or she survives, and he will get a second to catch his breath and go, “The place am I in my life? And is my profession fulfilling me?” I believe he’s simply been surviving all these dramatic conditions which were happening in his life, so it’s been good to play a person questioning the place he’s in his world, his life story, and the subsequent chapter for him when the mud has settled a bit of bit on the actually explosive components of his life. It’s been very nice to faucet into that extra delicate journey. 

The penultimate episode ends on a boatload of cliffhangers — Teddy has been fired by Catherine for misappropriating the funds for Meredith and Amelia’s analysis, Meredith and Nick are on ice once more, Adams (Niko Terho) is contemplating working at Maggie’s hospital in Chicago. What are you able to preview in regards to the finale?

MCKIDD What I’ll say is that loads of characters find yourself sort of on —

SCORSONE Tenterhooks!

MCKIDD A variety of us very a lot find yourself on a profession precipice, if you’ll, on the finish of the finale.

SCORSONE Definitely, it’s like an existential cliffhanger 12 months. (Laughs.)

Whereas a lot of your co-stars have left to hunt out totally different alternatives, you’ve gotten each chosen to remain on Gray’s, which has lasted longer than anybody might have anticipated. How lengthy do you each plan to remain on Gray’s, and the way lengthy do you suppose this present can proceed to generate recent tales?

SCORSONE The factor that’s so uncommon and compelling about Gray’s is that it’s virtually just like the present and the hospital have grow to be a personality within the lives of tv audiences. It’s such a long-running present, it’s so worldwide, and it one way or the other spans so many demos when it comes to age. Children begin watching it in center faculty, and so they’re watching it with their grandmas who’re, like, 96 years previous. With the medical doctors but additionally the entire affected person instances coming in, I believe so most of the tales contact individuals in all totally different walks of life in any respect totally different instances, so the attain is tremendous broad.

The connection to the present now’s extra, I need to say, like this ubiquitous factor. It’s not a few specific plot. It’s about, “The place are we, individuals? The place are we as a tradition proper now?” So you’ll be able to are available in at any level and discuss what’s taking place within the information proper now. What’s taking place in medical science proper now? What’s taking place in politics proper now? Who’ve we not included? Who will not be being represented? Let’s convey them in. So it’s this very mercurial, evolving constellation in Gray’s. I believe loads of the viewers can step away after which come again once they need to examine in on one thing.

I believe [actors] generally get burnt out on a long-running present as a result of they’re like, “Properly, I’ve finished the story.” But when the story you’ve hooked your self into is the story of a human being navigating consistently altering circumstances, that story is rarely going to be previous. That’s recent, each single new circumstance you’re thrown into. So so long as we are able to keep dedicated and sufficient to really be discovering that recent second, we will be right here so long as they are often right here. 

MCKIDD I agree with every part you simply stated. The present has grow to be this touchstone of American tradition, and world tradition at some factors. We’re not the canary within the coal mine, however we’re definitely this reference level for individuals.

SCORSONE It’s virtually like a scrapbook. You’ll be able to look again and be like, “Oh, bear in mind after we didn’t perceive that social situation? Keep in mind when our language round it was so restricted?” We’re a “pop” artwork kind. These should not avant-garde, small theater homes. It is a pop artwork kind that’s accessible and reasonably priced to everybody. It’s in everybody’s lounge. How are we participating in conversations about what’s taking place? 

MCKIDD Additionally, the factor about medical doctors on this high-pressure life that they’ve professionally chosen to stay in is that they’re simply making an attempt to get higher every day; you see these individuals making an attempt to indicate up professionally and of their private dealings a bit of bit higher every day. I simply suppose that aspiration has a really international and everlasting which means for individuals, and that’s why it appears to not get previous. It’s very sustainable as a result of it’s very relatable. I imply, should you’re a great human being or making an attempt to be a great human being, we’re all simply making an attempt to indicate up and be a bit of bit higher and a bit of bit extra developed, every day we get to get up on this planet.

SCORSONE And generally, one of the best ways you will be of service on a present is to indicate a flaw, and it permits individuals to acknowledge that flaw in themselves or others and likewise see that the flaw resides inside an individual who has loads of magnificence as effectively. So maybe they’re in a position to forgive it in themselves a bit of bit or forgive it in any person that they love as a result of they’ve been given the opposite components of the story which are straightforward to empathize with or connect with. 

MCKIDD Yeah, it’s about the way you get better from errors and the way you heal, as a result of all these medical doctors make errors on a regular basis. We see them fail and survive — and that’s a part of the human situation. I believe that’s what makes it very relatable for individuals. 

Kim Raver as Teddy with Kevin McKidd as Owen in Gray’s Anatomy.

Disney/Anne Marie Fox

Wanting again, is there a storyline that you just discover individuals all the time wanting to speak to you about once they meet you on the road?

SCORSONE Individuals all the time convey up the scene, Kev, with you and me on that again porch when Derek died [in season 11].

MCKIDD I used to be going to say that — [they talk about] that entire storyline that we had.

SCORSONE That was so enjoyable.

MCKIDD After I got here again from the conflict, and also you have been about to take the oxy once more.

SCORSONE I used to be going to take the oxy, however I believe the lead-up to virtually taking the oxy was that she’s heard that Derek’s useless, however she’s not in a position to deal with it psychologically [or] emotionally, so she’s making inappropriate jokes and he or she’s performing out and [doing] something to keep away from the ache of grief. After which the ultimate stage of that’s, in fact, possibly doing medication. Owen mainly reveals up and is like, “Are you going to really feel it or not going to really feel it?” After which Owen creates a secure sufficient place.

MCKIDD He holds that house for her to try this —

SCORSONE So she will be secure sufficient to really feel the unthinkable, unsayable, ungrievable grief of dropping, once more, her core attachment determine. And having moved by way of it with this secure container with Owen, she’s in a position to sort of transfer on and heal, however you’ll be able to’t heal till you’ve felt it. 

MCKIDD Yeah, I used to be going to say precisely that very same second for our characters. It was very a lot these two broken, uncooked individuals coming collectively to create some therapeutic. 

It’s straightforward to neglect that Owen and Amelia have been married at one level, however they appear to have reached a very good place that the majority exes would usually shrink back from. They’ve come a great distance since their tumor-induced marriage.

SCORSONE (Laughs.) I believe we’ve the quintessentially good ex relationship the place our characters have been married, so the entire query marks are gone since you’re like, “Been there, finished that!”

MCKIDD Mm-hmm, yeah.

SCORSONE However the entire witnessing of one another’s lives, figuring out one another’s deep motivations and characters, and really trusting that the opposite particular person is an effective human being is all there, so it’s like household. I believe we really feel like we got here by way of the fireplace of a wedding and now we’re like brother and sister. (Laughs.)

MCKIDD Completely. Yeah, it’s bizarre, however the friendship that Owen and Amelia have now’s actually enviable. Probably the greatest highlights for me this season is attending to play that basically core, historic friendship between them. 

SCORSONE We’ve seen one another’s worst; we’ve seen one another’s greatest. We’ve gone away indignant, after which we’ve been like, “Yeah, all issues thought of, I like you!” So there’s simply an ease there.

Kevin, you talked about earlier that Owen is sort of a polarizing character. How attuned are you to what followers — however particularly youthful followers — are saying about your characters and the present on platforms like TikTok?

MCKIDD I’m not that conscious of it as a result of I’m not on TikTok — and possibly I needs to be, I don’t know. I simply resist it a bit of bit, so I believe my daughter, Iona, possibly simply doesn’t inform me what’s happening. (Laughs.) I’ll ask her! I’m going to ask her this actual query. 

SCORSONE I believe one of many good issues about TikTok is usually, should you haven’t had time to observe the episode, they do these actually brief compilations.

MCKIDD The recaps!

SCORSONE And also you’re like, “Oh, yeah, they appeared good!” But additionally, in season 18, when that storyline between [E.R. Fightmaster’s] Kai and Amelia occurred, I believe queer TikTok actually took to that story. It turned such an essential storyline for queer TikTok as a result of we had this nonbinary physician in a relationship with Amelia. So I believe that was once I first turned very conscious of the entire TikTok of all of it, and I believe it’s stunning.

Particularly with a present like ours the place there are particular relationships which are creating illustration for individuals who don’t have sufficient illustration or who’re being discriminated in opposition to, there’s a neighborhood side to discovering the relationships and characters that you just resonate with on TikTok. These “ships” or these fanbases grow to be their very own factor. It’s like a water cooler neighborhood the place individuals can truly create real-life relationships and really feel help, and all of it begins due to a compelling romance or storyline.

Ellen Pompeo not too long ago spoke about how she has been rewatching and reliving Gray’s along with her eldest daughter, Stella. Do both of you even have youngsters who’ve binged the present on streaming platforms? What do they consider the work you’ve finished?

SCORSONE My youngsters haven’t watched it but. Now, the older [children] are conscious simply because whenever you’re strolling round on the earth, individuals have a fairly profound connection to the present, so generally, there’s very emotional individuals that may come as much as us. So that they’re conscious of the affect of the present, however they haven’t watched it themselves. However Kev, I guess your youngsters have.

MCKIDD My son, Joseph, not a lot, however my daughter, Iona, actually obtained into it a couple of years in the past. Really, I’m going to see her subsequent week; we’re going to fulfill for a trip. I’m going to ask her how far she obtained. I believe she obtained to season 13. She did that Netflix binge factor, and he or she beloved it, however she discovered my character annoying. She was like, “Why is he like that? He’s annoying, generally!” And I’m like, “Yeah, that’s the purpose!” However she was actually obsessive about it for a time, and I believe it’s considered one of these reveals that you could return to. I’ve heard of those who have watched all of it after which gone again to the start and watched all of it once more.

SCORSONE Like, 5 instances!

MCKIDD It’s superb.

SCORSONE However I really feel like there’s one thing about this present the place it turns into just like the soundtrack to your entire life as a result of it’s been on for 20 years. It’s grow to be consolation meals for lots of people. [My comfort show] is Fleabag. However for lots of people, even simply to have it on within the room whenever you’re burdened, it virtually seems like they’ve obtained their mates over, or your aunt is within the subsequent room together with your cousins, and one way or the other, you’re feeling accompanied by way of onerous instances. It serves so many various features at this level.

Gray’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9/8c on ABC. Episodes stream the subsequent day on Hulu.