Get ready for a whole new Amelia Shepherd.
She may have just had a massive tumor removed from her brain, but now that the long-suffering Grey’s Anatomy doc is on the road to recovery (and, you know, not permanently suffering from locked-in syndrome or anything), the actress who brings her to life on a weekly basis is hopeful that this is the start of a whole new outlook on life for her character.
“I think, obviously, things are looking up for Amelia. They can’t get much more down,” Caterina Scorsone told E! News. “I know that this whole season, there’s been the emphasis on bringing some of the lighthearted humor back, infusing it into the show in the way that we had it a little earlier on. I know that [season 14 showrunner] Krista Vernoff used to write Amelia’s character back on Private Practice, and when Amelia was on Private Practice, her voice was really quite comedic and humorous. I think that, again, now that we’ve gotten through this very tragic storyline, I’m anticipating and I’m starting to see there’s a lot of lightness in store, a lot of light in store for Amelia.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean that Amelia (and viewers) weren’t put through the wringer during tonight’s episode, which saw the various stages of recovery from her quite intense surgery, which involved an 11-hour wait before she even came out of anesthesia, a bit of the aforementioned locked-in syndrome scare (“Am I gorked?” she asked herself once she realized she wasn’t speaking out loud), a detour into speaking French, and finally, a momentary lapse in memory when it came to brother Derek’s (Patrick Dempsey) death. (We choked up when she asked to call him and we’re not ashamed to admit it!) But only one scared Scorsone to the core.
“I mean, I think the initial wake up when she thinks that she’s talking and realizes it’s happening in her head and no one can hear her. I can’t imagine the kind of crushing, claustrophobic horror of that situation,” the actress said. “Do you remember that movie [The Diving Bell and the Butterfly]? Oh my god, when they guy wakes up and he has that rare condition where he’s fully conscious but [he’s trapped.] I couldn’t even finish that movie, it was so crushingly horrifying. It was such a nightmare. So when she wakes up in that state, I mean, just the possibility of living you life that way, panicking about it, and not even being able to articulate that your panicking, it just seems like an episode of The Twilight Zone. So that was awful. You know, speaking French for the rest of your life, that would’ve been cool. She would’ve had to move but, you know, it’s not the worst thing. Hang out in Paris for the rest of her life.”
As Scorsone sees it, the successful surgery presents an opportunity for Amelia to see the world different. Especially after DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) talked some sense into her and let her know that the other shoe isn’t going to drop just because she expects it to. “I think that is something that is so hard to say how much of that, as Deluca says, is the tumor itself pressing against the structures of her brain that create panic and fear and feelings of doom and depression. All of the mental health symptoms that people can get from all kinds of physical ailments and events,” she explained. “So there’s that and then there’s the conscious and unconscious realities she’s been dealing with her whole life, from when she was five years old and she witnessed the murder of the father. And then the subsequent tragedies that befell her over and over again. Again, it’s like she was living in a way that predicted doom around every corner, and so doom met her around every corner. This is an opportunity, whether it’s because of the tumor or not, to re-pattern her thinking and kind of re-groove her brain and her thought patterns to have a potentially more hopeful default setting. So hopefully, whether or not it was the tumor that made her feel this way or it was the trauma from her childhood, hopefully this is a kind of release from the prison from that kind of thinking that’ll allow her to move forward in a different way.”
Speaking of moving forward, we couldn’t get off the phone without asking Scorsone for some scoop on those final moments when, even after telling Owen (Kevin McKidd) that he could be free because he didn’t know who Amelia really was, she still went home with him. “You know, I think people are people. Breakups are hard under the best of circumstances,” she said, laughing. “People are complicated and relationships are complicated. There’s so much love and there’s so much that they’ve shared, and yet there’s so much trauma and hurt and there’s just so much to wade through in terms of what was real and what wasn’t and what hurts and what was good. I think they’re probably not quite clear. So I’m sure the feelings are not straightforward for the two of them.”
But with the promise of lighter days ahead, here’s hoping it gets a little easier.
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.