You. Were. Warned.
Early Thursday, Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes issued the following alert to fans via Twitter: “Do not expect to be comforted or happy at end of the GA finale. I wrote it and even I found the ending to be very unsettling.”
She wasn’t kidding.
Although we’ve known for weeks that a Seattle Grace vet would meet an untimely end in this week’s plane crash-themed season climax, the death still packed a wallop — mostly because it came so early in the hour (defying finale convention). And, more importantly, because the character’s last name is in the title of the freakin’ show!
Yep, Rhimes went and killed Lexie!
Truth is, Little Grey, played for five seasons by Chyler Leigh, didn’t stand a chance. Trapped beneath the wrecked fuselage, she was barely able to say a final goodbye to despondent ex Mark before she slipped away in the episode’s first 20 minutes. The death triggered a meltdown in sister Meredith (Ellen Pompeo really brought it, huh?) while Mark (an equally impressive Eric Dane) completely shut down. We would later discover that McSteamy was battling more than just a broken heart — he suffered something called a “cardiac tamponade,” as Cristina quickly diagnosed. She and Mer then performed some eww-inducing emergency surgery and saved his life. (Arizona and Derek also sustained serious injuries but, thankfully, survived.)
Meanwhile, back at Seattle Grace, Teddy nixed that Metcom offer and decided to remain at the hospital because she wanted to stay close to her dead husband’s ghost. And out of loyalty to Owen, who then turned around and fired her as a way to force her to take the job. (So long, Kim Raver!) Her exit would seem to pave the way for Cristina to become Seattle Grace’s new Cardio God.
UPDATE: After the West Coast airing, here is what Rhimes shared on Twitter about writing out Leigh and Raver:
Callie said it best tonight: Life changes in an instant. Turns on a dime.
This finale was incredibly hard to write. I did not enjoy it. It made me sick and it made me sad. We end the season not knowing ANYTHING about the future. Except for two things. We know we are definitely saying goodbye to two of my favorite people: Chyler Leigh (Lexie) and Kim Raver (Teddy).
I know this season’s finale had some surprises for viewers and the exit of Kim Raver was one of the big ones. But Kim’s series option was up and she was ready to give Teddy Altman a much-needed vacation. It’s been a pleasure working with someone as talented and funny and kind as Kim; everyone is going to miss her terribly. I like to imagine that Teddy is still out there in the Grey’s Anatomy universe, running Army Medical Command and building a new life.
I love Chyler and I love the character of Lexie Grey. She was an important member of my Grey’s family. This was not an easy decision. But it was a decision that Chyler and I came to together. We had a lot of thoughtful discussion about it and ultimately we both decided this was the right time for her character’s journey to end. As far as I’m concerned Chyler will always remain a part of the Shondaland family and I can’t wait to work with her again in the future.
I’d write more but I’m honestly too sad. I don’t like life changing in an instant and turning on a dime.
Elsewhere in the finale:
* Jackson decided to take the Tulane job, leaving best friend and lover April to mourn what could’ve been. (Sorry, no way Jesse Williams is leaving.)
* Bailey and Ben officially got engaged in one of the episode’s rare happy moments.
* Alex revealed in a voicemail to Arizona that he was accepting the position at Johns Hopkins. (Sorry, no way Justin Chambers is leaving.)
Reaction? Were you blindsided by the big death? When Lexie took her last breath, did you immediately flash back to this TVLine story from last fall and wonder if there was a connection? Which performance were you most impressed by? How long do you think Mer, Der, Cristina, Arizona and Mark will remain stranded in the middle of nowhere? Hit the comments!