Was last night's season finale of Grey's Anatomy the beginning of the end?
In the wake of the unsettling events of Thursday night, series creator Shonda Rhimes aims to have the end justify the means, as the ABC drama enters what may be the eighth and final season for Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey next fall.
What does she mean by that - and without Mer and Der, could Grey's Anatomy possibly continue? Here's what had Rhimes had to say on this and other topics the morning after the bombshells of "Unaccompanied Minor" were dropped:
On whether she's prepared for the backlash from fans, Rhimes tells TV Line:
"I don’t know if I steeled myself for the blowback. I’m sure there’s going to be some, but I’m not even sure I thought about it. I've been busy thinking about setting us up for next season, which might be the final season for the [original cast members]."
"I wanted to spend next season doing nothing but telling stories about the originals, and I felt like in order to do that, we wanted to put everybody in a place where the focus was squarely on Meredith and Derek, Cristina, Alex."
"I’ve heard a number of people say, 'I don’t think Meredith would do that.' Meredith is the girl who put her hand on a bomb in a body cavity. Meredith is the girl who tried to help a serial killer kill himself, so that he could donate his organs."
"Meredith - and this is obvious - has a compass that has always led her to shades of grey. She does not believe in black-and-white, she does not believe in good or bad."
"She does what she thinks is right. It’s funny, when we first pitched this storyline to Ellen, the first thing she said before we got to the end was, 'But I give Adele the drug, right? I definitely give Adele the drug [versus the placebo].' We said yeah, because that’s who Meredith is."
"Derek has always been a person who believes in right or wrong, and that has been the fundamental argument of their relationship. I also feel like it’s important to say that Meredith and Derek aren’t getting a divorce; their marriage is in trouble."
On what part of Mer accepts responsibility for pushing Derek away:
"I don’t know. Maybe 50-50? She made a choice but she knew she made a choice. It wasn’t a simple choice to make, but it was the only choice for her to make. As a woman who would tell a gunman to shoot her [in the Season 6 finale], that’s who she is."
"She deals with consequences later. I know that she feels justified, but I also think she knows she made her own bed. He just needs his space."
"The work of his life, which was him basically trying to cure the disease that Meredith eventually will likely suffer from, has been ruined. If he knew about the baby [Zola], things might be different, but he doesn’t."
"Right now he’s just angry and he needs a chance to get over it.
On whether Meredith and Derek are still destined to be together forever:
"I feel like Meredith and Derek are meant to be together forever, and we’re going to make sure in the end they end up together – unless one of them dies or something. I don’t think it undercuts the drama. I think how we get there is the journey.
On whether season eight is it for the cast - and the show:
"It might be the last hurrah for a lot of them; you never know. I really don’t know and I don’t presume to know. Everybody [including Chandra Wilson, Justin Chambers and James T. Pickens] has an individual choice to make and I get that."
"It’s been seven really amazing years. Everyone has a choice to make. All the originals are in play."
On whether Cristina will really terminate the pregnancy:
"No one’s ever told me I couldn’t, so it never occurred to me I couldn’t. It is a polarizing issue, and we deal with a lot of polarizing issues. Addison performs abortions on Private Practice all the time, and she’s had one herself."
"Violet has had two herself. I don’t feel like that’s the point. Every woman has her legal, God-given right to choose."
On Cristina and Owen's prognosis:
"I’m still debating what’s going to happen with Cristina and Owen, in my own head. Every day I change my mind about what’s going to happen with them."
On Alex's romantic tribulations:
"I want him to be happy so badly! I really do. It’s so difficult because he’s such the kicked dog a lot of the time, and his character is so tough about it. But you really feel sorry for him. I feel like he hasn’t had any happiness since Izzy.
On whether the Charlie's Angels pilot killed his relationship:
"I love Lucy and I thought Rachael was great; she has such a sparkle to her. If that pilot hadn’t happened, things would be entirely different."
On the climactic Mark-Lexie scene:
"I really like Mark and Lexie together, and I re-edited that scene like 50,000 times. I took it out, I put it back in. The writers and I argued about it for days and days, and it felt like we needed to give Mark some place to go.
"He’s been in baby land this whole season and he needs to step out of Callie and Arizona’s relationship and stand on his own. That’s what we’re trying to do."