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'Grey's Anatomy' Deals With the Rocky Aftermath of Alex Karev's Departure

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Grey's Anatomy is dealing with the aftermath of Justin Chambers' final episode.

In the first episode after last week's farewell to Alex Karev, the series addressed the repercussions of Alex's decision to abruptly leave his wife, Jo (Camilla Luddington), and friends in Seattle for his former Grey's flame, Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl), where they are happily raising their two 5-year-old twins on a horse farm in Kansas. While much of Thursday's hour focused on the paternity results of Amelia's baby (it's Link's! whew!), several characters pondered an Alex-less existence. To say it's going to be rough seas is an understatement.

Newly divorced from Alex, Jo vents to her best friend, Link (Chris Carmack), who's been at the center of Amelia's paternity drama, about her failed marriage as they await the train to go into work. In the corner of her eye, she catches a young couple, sorry "face-eaters," making out just feet away. Jo, understandably bitter from her sudden breakup, comments on how happy she is that there aren't any existing love songs about "the part where your husband leaves you" and you're stuck crashing on your best friend's couch. She cynically declares that "love sucks."

But later in the episode, Jo changes her tune after Link agrees with her cynical take on love after all the drama he's gone through.

"No, it doesn't suck. I spent all week trying to hate Alex and nothing works because every time I get into my car, I see this little trash bag that he put on the side pockets so I had somewhere to put my gum wrappers and tissues and I felt so loved that he did that. And now, he put me in the trash with the wrappers and the tissues," Jo emotionally tells Link. "I'm so mad. I'm so hurt. But I also know that he is the reason that I will get up again. I will climb out of the trash and I will rise."

"I'll rise so high that I'll make him a fool for ever having left me and I'll do it because of how well he loved me. I am changed because of him. He helped me feel worthy of love and even though, it's over, that is mine to keep," she perseveres. 

Meanwhile, Alex's closest friend at Grey Sloan, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo), breaks the news to Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) about Alex's decision not to return. Amelia says what we're all thinking after realizing that "he's not coming back to say goodbye": "This is a sea change." But Meredith doesn't want to harp on losing her "person." "I don't really want to talk about  it," she says. And so, the conversation ends.

But Meredith can't help but open up to Bailey (Chandra Wilson) about being the lone intern left in her class all those years ago. "On days like this, Alex would make me laugh. Dark gallows humor, but he would make me laugh," she reminisces, prompting Bailey to reflect on her own experiences. (They are the only interns left from their respective years.) "I stood in that room dreaming of being the last one of my class, of being the jind of surgeon I had become. One by one, they dropped off until Torres and I were left, then she left," Bailey remembers. "At some point, it stops feeling like victory and it just feels lonely."

"I just don't know if I want to do this without him or if I want to," Meredith confesses.

The shocking wrap-up to Alex's 16-year run on the show left many fans stunned and prompted Pompeo to defend the divisive ending, calling it the "best send-off" for the character. Showrunner Krista Vernoff issued a statement following last week's episode: “It is nearly impossible to say goodbye to Alex Karev." 

"It can't not reverberate. It's such an incredible, impactful character," Williams told ET on Wednesday in New York City while promoting his upcoming Broadway debut in Take Me Out on the aftermath of Alex's departure. "I've always said that’s always been one of my favorite characters."

Even with Chambers' time on Grey's over, his absence will be deeply felt for the foreseeable future, especially when it comes to Jo's storyline moving forward.

"[Justin's] been one of the sweetest and funniest guys on set with me and everyone, certainly not just me. He's a light and he's so unassuming and chill as a person. And that character is specific and rooted and motivated," the 38-year-old actor said. "Yeah, it's a big departure and it will impact all of us and impact the relationships that form and sever as a result, for sure."

Over the weekend, Luddington teased Jo's post-Alex life, telling a fan that "the scripts for Jo this season are [shocked emoji faces]! JUST. WAIT," she wrote on Instagram.

On Thursday evening, Grey's announced it was halting production for at least two weeks amid the coronavirus crisis. See the full letter below.

To Our Incredible Cast and Crew:

Out of an abundance of caution, production is postponed on Grey’s Anatomy effective immediately.  We are going home now for at least two weeks and waiting to see how the coronavirus situation evolves.

This decision was made to ensure the health and safety of the whole cast and crew and the safety of our loved ones outside of work, and it was made in accordance with Mayor Garcetti’s suggestion that we not gather in groups of more than 50.  

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay hydrated, stay home as much as possible, and wash your hands frequently.  Please take care of yourselves and each other. As updates come in, we will keep you informed.

Thank you for all that you do! 

Krista, Debbie, & James

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

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