Meredith shared some unexpected, joyous news with Derek at the end of last week's Grey's Anatomy, but even prior to that, the couple had reached a point where their relationship was healthy, happy and functional.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, conducted prior to Meredith's reveal (see our review and Round Table) Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey opened up about their characters and all things Grey's Anatomy.
Excerpts from the cast members' recent sit-down below ...
On the situation with Derek's hand:
Dempsey: "I'm assuming we'll have him back in the O.R. soon, but he needs to have some conflict. It can't be just breaking up with Meredith anymore. [Laughs.]"
Pompeo: "There's a little bit of tension, which I think is an interesting thing for them to have to work through. How do you deal with that? But I think it's been cute to see Patrick with Zola, too."
Dempsey: "Besides Zola, [Derek's] focus is on who's liable for the plane crash. That's his only focus. He's not operating, so that's what his whole focus is about - continuing on with the court case."
On Derek and Meredith staying strong amid other relationships in shambles:
Dempsey: "They seem healthy for the first time. There's one healthy relationship that is happening here, and a good partnership. I'm very happy about it ... there are other great surprises this year between Derek and Meredith that people will be very happy about. Very good, positive surprises, soon to be aired."
On the plane crash still hanging over the survivors:
Pompeo: "The writers have the challenge of doing a big finale every year, and they do a great job of it, and then they have to put the pieces back together the next season."
"The first half of the season is always dealing with the aftermath of whatever the finale was. We're on Episode 9 now and we've been putting back all of the pieces and sort of healing and mending."
"I guess toward the middle of the season we'll have to make a shift - we'll be finished with the aftermath of the crash, and then we'll have to get into some sort of neutral period before we have another grisly finale. I don't know what could happen next year!"
On how the crash changed Meredith:
Pompeo: "Well, I have come back from death, so ... [laughs] this is like the 12th time! I've been blue at the bottom of Puget Sound, and ... was I attacked by a bear? No. But I was almost shot and killed, I escaped a bomb."
"I've been through a lot. Meredith is tough, for sure."
On the new crop of cast members this season:
Dempsey: "I think we're always trying to see who the new group is coming in so that the show can run for 22 years. So we'll see what happens. It's amazing that people are still really fanatical about it."
"I was on a plane yesterday, and people were like, 'Are you going to operate again?' 'What's going on with Meredith?' It's great. People are passionate about it, and it's pretty remarkable, I think, that they've continued to be for so long. We're very fortunate."
On whether Grey's Anatomy can ever produce a happy ending:
Dempsey: "Yeah ... I don't think there's any happily ever afters in this group. They're all too dysfunctional. They need like group therapy! [Laughs.] "I think Meredith's relationship with Cristina is a little unhealthy."
That's something I'm not sure is healthy ... I think they need a little break there. It's like they're almost married. Shepherd ends up with Hunt I think. [Laughs.] That's what's gonna happen."
Pompeo: "We really took a break from [the Mer-Cristina relationship] recently because Cristina was gone. The truth is, a lot happened between Cristina and Meredith and the relationship can't be the same anymore."
"I think that Cristina's gotta work on her relationship with Owen, and she's gotta find her way back to him and deal with that. But we've got to keep moving forward."
On former Grey's characters, living or dead, that they'd like to see return:
Dempsey: "It's really hard. It's always hard losing characters that we've grown to love, and certainly from that initial first group, it's unfortunate to see people go on, but I don't think Shonda [Rhimes] will bring anybody back."
"I don't think Izzie's character (Katherine Heigl) was ever really resolved, and I think there's a moment there that should be resolved - I think that would be nice for the fans. I'm not sure that would happen, but that would be some nice closure I think."
On guest stars he'd like to work with:
Dempsey: "It'd be fun to have my mom (Tyne Daly) come back - that'd be really nice - and to have all the family together. I would like the whole family to come together and have it revolve around Derek and Meredith's home life and an event that happens. What could that be? Hmmm ... "