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'Grey's Anatomy': Kelly McCreary Says Maggie Is in a 'Bit of a Crisis' in Season 16 (Exclusive)

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Should Maggie be worried?

Grey's Anatomy left things on an even more worrisome note for Grey Sloan's former head of cardiothoracic surgery in last week's winter premiere, when Maggie was sued for the "wrongful death" of her estranged cousin, Sabrina, a devastating loss that was depicted in an emotional November episode. On Thursday's hour, titled "A Hard Pill to Swallow," the consequences of Maggie's sudden decision to quit her top post and the pending lawsuit begin to take over every aspect of her life. 

For Grey's star Kelly McCreary, Maggie's choice to leave Grey Sloan in the aftermath of some uncharacteristic mistakes "didn't" surprise her, since she was already headed down a dark and dangerous path. 

"It surprised me as much as it did to her to the extent that she is not used to messing up like that," McCreary, 38, told ET recently at ABC's winter Television Critics Association press tour party. "She got broken up with at the beginning of the season. She's second-guessing herself. This is not how she's used to functioning in life and I think she's really in a critical moment, like in a bit of a crisis."

"But I also think that a breakdown like this," she said, "it's the crucible for an incredible breakthrough to take place. And I am looking forward to her rebirth."

With Maggie at her lowest point both professionally and personally, is the ex-doctor facing a crisis of conscience? 

"When people are really faced with failure, it's an incredible opportunity to start fresh," McCreary said. "And in her life right now, I'm looking forward to her shifting her perspective on relationships, on her work, on herself in this world, and her value as not just a good doctor but other parts of her personality and spirit coming out."

McCreary reflected on what went wrong with Maggie's roller-coaster romance with fellow Grey Sloan doc, Jackson (Jesse Williams). After the couple broke up at the start of the season, Jackson jumped immediately into a relationship with Station 19 firefighter Vic (Barrett Doss). 

"What you learned about [Maggie's] relationship with Jackson is that just because you have things in common with somebody doesn't mean that you're compatible with them," she explained. "I think that she was sort of coasting along with a lot of things in life and not really making deliberate choices."

As McCreary teased, there may be an opportunity for Maggie to start anew -- whether that means a return to medicine or not remains up in the air, especially with this looming lawsuit putting a dent in any future plans.

"It's an incredible opportunity for her to explore what happens when you follow your bliss, when you follow the thing that really lights you up and not just slipping into like, 'Oh, it's right here,' convenient and easy," McCreary hinted.

Asked to elaborate what that means for Maggie, the actress played coy, "You'll just have to wait and see."

Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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