We’re still reeling from McDreamy’s shocking death on Grey’s Anatomy three weeks ago, but it looks like tonight’s season-eleven finale won’t require quite as many tissues. The show's star Jerrika Hinton, who plays surgical resident Stephanie Edwards on the ABC show, stopped by InStyle’s New York offices earlier today. She told us what to expect—and what not to expect—when tuning in tonight.
“The episode ends on a different note than traditional finales,” said Hinton. “The writers gave you the horrible thing a few episodes before the finale, so you’ve already had the trauma. Now, it’s about healing and progressing for these characters—and for the audience, too.” Of course, that doesn’t mean all is quiet for the doctors at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. “We pick up right where last week left off with the tunnel collapse,” Hinton said, warning that there's plenty of gore ahead for one unlucky character who was involved in the accident. “He basically has the worst combination of things that we’ve had in the history of the show. He’s in a crushed car, he’s impaled—I was just like, ‘Wow we’re doing it all with this guy?’”
While that rescue attempt may be the focus of tonight’s episode, the late Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) won’t be far from everyone’s minds—especially when it comes to his wife, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and younger sister, Amelia (Caterina Scorsone). “They're both processing the way that Meredith handled Derek’s passing, which Amelia feels was inconsiderate,” said Hinton. “Meredith made a very quick decision to have him taken him off life support—there were no phone calls to his sister or anybody else to get their perspective or have them say their final goodbyes. It was just the two of them, and many could consider that a very selfish decision.”
So, does Hinton think it was the right call? “I think both parties have a right to their perspective,” she said. “Yesterday, Shonda [Rhimes] and I were talking about the way they let the McDreamy storyline end. It could have been that he had an affair and then just went away, but the better—and healthier—choice that respects both the fans and the characters is to keep that love alive.” So despite the fact that Derek is gone, “they still get to have that fairytale, and it doesn’t disillusion everything that we've hoped for over eleven years,” said Hinton. “His passing doesn’t destroy that—their love is still perfect.”
But sadly, not everyone’s love may be worth saving. Now that April (Sarah Drew) is back from war, she and Jackson (Jesse Williams) will continue to deal with their marital struggles on tonight's episode. Meanwhile, Hinton’s character is stepping into a new role. “Stephanie is the head of the interns, so she's the big boss,” Hinton said. “I’m really excited for her to finally be in a position of power—and it’ll be interesting to explore what kind of leader she chooses to be.” And Hinton has big goals for her character in the future, especially in the relationship department. “I’m excited to finally have a new love interest, because I like the pants-off dance-off scenes!” she said.
The season finale of Grey's Anatomy airs tonight at 8 p.m., ET on ABC.