While many of Grey’s Anatomy‘s fans were surprised by how well Dr. Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington) was handling the breakup from her husband, Dr. Alex Karev, showrunner Krista Vernoff shared she intentionally wanted her reaction to the news to be a positive one.
Venoff explained one of Grey‘s most shocking moments this past season. After Justin Chambers announced he was leaving the series back in January, the writers had to come up with a farewell episode to his character, Alex, who had been a part of the show since it premiered. Viewers watched as Alex told Jo and several of the doctors he was close to that he was leaving Grey Sloan Memorial to be with his ex-wife, Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) and their two twin children, whom Izzie secretly gave birth to.
After reading the letter in the episode, “Leave a Light On,” Jo appeared to be moving forward with her life in the show’s following episodes. She decided to drop Alex’s last name and even replaced her husband with a new roommate after he left her the home they resided in.
According to TVLine, Vernoff said she didn’t want Alex’s dramatic exit to take over the rest of her journey throughout the season.
“I didn’t want to put anyone through it,” Vernoff explained. “[Camilla] had so beautifully gone through many months of very dark storytelling, and I didn’t want any of us to watch Jo go into a hole again.”
Alex’s abrupt divorce filing via a letter was only one of the dramatic issues Jo faced this season. After learning she was conceived through rape, fans of the show watched as she went through a downward spiral. Things began to get so bad for her that she had a mental breakdown early in the season. She was also dealing with the fact that, prior to his letter, Jo didn’t know where Alex was for several weeks.
Vernoff noted that while the news of where Alex had gone was brutal, she thought Jo needed to know the truth about her marriage for her to move on, which is why she wasn’t dwelling in the negativity. She added that her reaction felt “honest” to what someone in her position would do.
“Jo had imagined every possible worst-case scenario,” Vernoff said. “And even though one of them came true, just having the information allowed her to move on. It felt like she had done a lot of grieving for the relationship in the weeks prior to receiving that letter.”
Shortly after the episode aired on Thursday, March 5, Luddington shared on Instagram that the writers were continuing to have interesting storylines for Jo in light of Chambers’ exit. However, viewers will have to wait to see what is next, as Grey’s, along with several other television shows, has halted production due to COVID-19. The medical drama aired an early-season finale on Thursday, April 9.