It’s time for Grey’s Anatomy plane crash 2.0!
As EW first teased, Thursday’s episode will feature a plane crash in Seattle that tears open old wounds from the season 8 crash that claimed the lives of Mark Sloan (Eric Dane) and Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh). The all-hands-on-deck emergency situation will be especially difficult for Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw), who both suffered big losses as a result of the event—for Mer, it was her sister, and for Arizona, her leg.
“[Arizona] is completely shaken up, super to her core shaken up and having crazy flashbacks. She’s scared, overwhelmed, and not feeling great,” Capshaw tells EW from the set of the ABC medical drama. “They have a moment where they help anchor each other: ‘It’s going to be fine. We’re not in the plane crash. Other people were. We’re going to do our jobs.’ They help each other remember that.”
In a bid to help the survivors of the initial plane crash cope with resurfacing PTSD, the rest of the hospital will overcompensate, even as Meredith and Arizona vow to push through the pain. “All the people who didn’t get into the plane crash are trying to take care of everything that the other ones would be taking care of to try to step up for them and recognize that it’s rough for them,” says Sarah Drew, who plays April.
For the rest of the hospital, the event becomes an opportunity to learn more about what really went down when their best and brightest doctors were stranded in the middle of the woods. “Stephanie [Jerrika Hinton] and Jo [Camilla Luddington] don’t realize quite the horror of what happened,” Luddington says. “In this episode, the details get revealed to characters around them that were not aware of exactly what went down, so you see everyone’s reactions to that.”
“We end up learning way more about the plane crash because before it was just gossip, whispers on the wall—literally because the hospital was renamed for the people that passed away that we never met,” Hinton adds. “Now we get to know enough about them to make them full people.”
Continuing the running theme of the season that Maggie (Kelly McCreary) is basically Jon Snow—in that she knows nothing—we’ll also see Mer’s half-sister learn about the plane crash for the first time. “Her reaction is an enormous amount of empathy and understanding for both Meredith and Arizona because they spell it all out,” McCreary says. “She has a greater understanding of why some of the dynamics are in play in this hospital in the way that they are. There’s still so much she doesn’t know about all the crazy stuff.”
But Meredith and Arizona won’t be the only ones affected during Thursday’s episode. “It triggers Owen’s feelings of guilt and responsibility about the plane crash,” Kevin McKidd says. “He has that army mentality where you don’t leave anyone behind, and he’s been eaten up over the feelings that he put them on that plane. He’s really struggling in this episode.” Unfortunately, the event may make him side with Amelia (Caterina Scorsone), who tried to call things off between them last week. “That fires up a lot of traumatic feelings for Owen that make him feel that maybe she’s right, maybe this isn’t a good idea anymore.”
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.