Grey’s Anatomy will take family drama to a new level this season.
Meredith and Derek are in the midst of making the life-changing decision of moving to Washington, D.C., Callie and Arizona are looking at a future in which they have more children, and April and Jackson are about to welcome their first child. Which all pales in comparison to the fact that the new head of cardio is actually the daughter Ellis Grey gave up for adoption unbeknownst to Richard, making her Mer’s half-sister. Suffice it to say, there’s a lot of drama coming in season 11.
With that in mind, EW thought you may need a refresher on where we left off with the docs of Grey Sloan Memorial and a tease on what’s coming next:
Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo)
What happened last season: Cristina gave Mer one last piece of advice before leaving Grey Sloan: Don’t let Derek overshadow you. Therefore, Mer tells Derek that she refuses to move to Washington, D.C., in the closing moments of the finale.
What’s next: Once Meredith finds out the truth about her new half-sister, it won’t be easy for her. “It’s one thing to be surpassed by Cristina, it’s another thing to be faced with another one of your mother’s progenies and have her be younger, further ahead and possibly more talented than you—and have it make you question everything you want and who you are,” showrunner Shonda Rhimes says. How she’ll deal with Derek is another matter…
Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey)
What happened last season: Even though he promised Meredith that he would take a backseat so her career could flourish, Derek was unable to say no to the POTUS’ offer to work in D.C., causing drama in the McMansion.
What’s next: “Meredith’s conflicted because he has this incredible opportunity to go work for the White House and do this brain mapping initiative, which is groundbreaking stuff and could mean a lot to his career,” Pompeo says. “And yet, he made a promise to do something, so they have to find a way to work this out where neither one of them are going to resent each other for the choice that they make.”
Maggie Pierce (Kelly McCreary)
What happened last season: Hired by Grey Sloan as the new head of cardio, the young hot shot doc was revealed to be the secret daughter Ellis Grey (Kate Burton) gave up for adoption without Richard’s knowledge—making her Mer’s half-sister.
What’s next: Unfortunately, Maggie and Meredith do not get along very well. “They have different approaches to medicine and patient care,” McCreary says. “They have to negotiate while working together how to be a team. There’s a bit of tension there.” Setting aside the half-sister factor, Maggie has some big shoes to fill after Cristina’s exit. “She’s the new kid on the block,” McCreary says. “She’s got to establish herself among the doctors and with the interns as their boss. She’s very young for her job, so she’s got to earn the respect of a lot of people.” Oh, and for the record, Maggie doesn’t realize that Richard is her daddy.
Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.)
What happened last season: Richard had planned on proposing to Catherine Avery last season, but decided against it after they got into an argument when Cristina lost the Harper Avery award for working at Grey Sloan. But the real shocker was his discovery that Ellis Grey had given up what was likely their child for adoption—and she now works at the hospital!
What’s next: Learning that he has a daughter he never knew will set Richard on an interesting course, but he’ll find a new friend in a surprising place. “There’s a moment early on when Amelia finds herself the keeper of some secrets that Richard didn’t necessarily want her to know by being at an AA meeting that he didn’t know she was at,” Rhimes teases.
Amelia Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone)
What happened last season: Amelia realized that she was happier in Seattle and no longer needed James (Matt Long), so she planned to stay at Grey Sloan and take over Derek’s service when he moved to D.C.
What’s next: Now that it sounds like Derek will also be sticking around Grey Sloan, it will cause some tension with Amelia. “They’re both having a brother-sister dynamic battling it out for the neuro corner of the hospital,” Scorsone says. Knowing Richard’s secret will also weigh heavily on her. “Amelia is not great at keeping secrets, so it’s very tricky for her to keep that secret,” she says. And though Amelia left her fiancé behind, Scorsone says she has “faith that Shonda will find the right soulmate for Amelia.” Wonder who that could be…
Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd)
What happened last season: Though Owen attempted to move on by dating another doctor, he and Cristina both had a hard time letting go—though she made that easier by leaving Grey Sloan without really saying goodbye.
What’s next: “He’s in denial about how heartbroken he is, so he’s buried himself in work,” McKidd says. “The only person who notices is April Kepner. She tries to enlist all the guys in the hospital to be his special friend.” But the guys don’t do the trick and Owen finds a connection with Callie. “She’s going through so much and he’s going through so much, so they’re starting to open up to each other and lean on each other emotionally,” he says. As for a new love interest, “Owen needs time to heal.”
Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez)
What happened last season: After Arizona’s infidelity, the duo separated for a while, but eventually got back together and realized they wanted to have another child—though Callie can’t carry the baby because of the car accident.
What’s next: Callie and Arizona will look into other avenues to have a second child—which may just be another band aid on their relationship. “A patient comes in that turns out to be a surrogate,” Ramirez says. “By observing the beauty and the love around that surrogate and the parents that she’s having the child for, that inspires the two of them to consider that option.” Callie will also have some “new opportunities professionally at the hospital,” Ramirez notes.
Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw)
What happened last season: Though Arizona had been sleeping with Leah (Tessa Ferrer) for a while, Calzona repaired their marriage last season and even decided to move into a new home together.
What’s next: Though Rhimes has said there’s a 50/50 chance of Calzona staying together, there is plenty of hope. “We get to start the season instead of at a deficit, at a norm and now they get to figure out how they’re going to show up for each other and, in a lot of ways, if in their relationship they’ve earned each other,” Capshaw says, adding that Arizona will have some new “exciting stuff” happening at the hospital, including working with Geena Davis’ character. “She’s taking on more responsibility and the leg is absolutely behind her.”
Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson)
What happened last season: After suffering from OCD because of an incident in the OR, Bailey was finally cleared to go back into surgery. Bailey was also poised to take Cristina’s spot on the board, but Yang left her shares to Alex.
What’s next: “It’s like getting slapped in the face,” Wilson says. “There’s no way this is going to go down without a fight. Everyone has something at the hospital, some kind of title, and she’s not the head of anything at this point. She’s ready for the title and ready for her investment in the hospital to show.”
Alex Karev (Justin Chambers)
What happened last season: Alex left Grey Sloan to work at a private practice, though he’d still poach patients from the hospital. He got a reprieve though when Yang decided to leave her shares in the hospital to him.
What’s next: Don’t expect Alex to back down when Bailey complains since he very much wants that position on the board, which gives him a viable reason to return to Grey Sloan.
Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington)
What happened last season: Though she turned down Alex’s makeshift proposal, the two have been in a happy relationship for a while now.
What’s next: “Meredith Grey has decided that Alex is her new person, so Jo is kind of jealous right off the bat and it causes some drama between her and Alex in the first few episodes,” Luddington says. On the medical side, we’ll also see Jo step up when a huge accident happens and she “gets voted to climb into the car and be there right in the action.”
Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams)
What happened last season: Realizing they got married very quickly, April and Jackson’s relationship somewhat imploded when they disagreed on how they’d raise their future children—which turned out to not be hypothetical since April is pregnant.
What’s next: The impending baby will force both April and Jackson to grow up and face some of the issues that they may have set aside—one of which is his mother Catherine Avery (Debbie Allen), who will return in the upcoming season.
April Kepner (Sarah Drew)
What happened last season: Though they initially tried to hide the pregnancy, it wasn’t long before the rest of the hospital found out—namely Stephanie and Callie, both of whom were peeved over it for different reasons.
What’s next: It’s unclear when April will actually welcome the wee one since Drew is at a different stage in her pregnancy. “It’s funny we’re processing it differently too because the character was pregnant before we knew the actor was pregnant,” Rhimes notes. “The actor is far more pregnant than the character is. We’re trying to figure out when the character gives birth.”
Stephanie Edwards (Jerrika Hinton)
What happened last season: She previously dated Jackson, who ran off with April at her wedding. And now she’s one of the only surviving interns after Leah was fired and Shane (Gaius Charles) left with Cristina
What’s next: Stephanie will be stepping up at the hospital more, but that comes at a cost when she gets caught between Meredith and Maggie on a case. “It’s contentious to start off with, but not because of any fault of Stephanie’s. It’s contentious because Stephanie is a casualty because of her proximity,” Hinton says. On the plus side, we may actually see Stephanie get a new love interest that doesn’t leave her for another woman.
Grey’s Anatomy returns Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.