Sara Ramirez, Jessica Capshaw
It's taken a while, but Grey's Anatomy's once bubbly pediatric surgeon Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) has risen from the ashes of the plane crash. With a new sense of confidence after losing her leg, Arizona has begun to accept that she is whole, even if she's missing a part of herself. Some of Arizona's growth nearly ended her marriage to Callie (Sara Ramirez), but she has come out the other side ready to move on with her life and even convinced her wife to move into a new house so the couple could really start fresh after her infidelity with Dr. Boswell (Hilarie Burton).
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But Arizona's resolve will be tested during Thursday's episode (9/8c on ABC) when she's hit by a gurney that results in the destruction of her prosthetic leg. "She has a terrible, awful, no good, very bad day," Capshaw tells TVGuide.com from the set of the ABC medical drama. "The idea behind this episode was to put a button on explaining the leg. It's part of her, but it will be an unspoken part of it now. Now we just accept her for who she is. But it's very much about: What is it like to go through a really bad day when you have a prosthetic and what happens if something happens to the prosthetic? What do you do? How do you remain a surgeon? How do you remain in relationships?"
However, Arizona will have a very different reaction to this day from what you might expect. "Had she had this day a year ago, she would've been sitting in the bathroom floor in her own pee again," Capshaw says. "It would've been enough to just flatten her. I think the point is that she has a very, very bad day and she's actually OK. It's just a bad day as opposed to being something that brings her to her knees."
This day happens to coincide with learning who's behind the new rule at Grey Sloan that superiors cannot date their subordinates. It turns out that it was Leah (Tessa Ferrer) who filed the complaint after the abrupt ending of their fling when Arizona went back to Callie. "Thank goodness that rule wasn't started 10 years ago," Capshaw says with a chuckle. "We'd have no couples, and the show would not exist."
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"It always seemed to me that the relationship was meant to serve as Arizona thinking it was completely over, that Callie had left her," Capshaw continues. "If you go back in the history of Grey's Anatomy, Arizona was certainly a little bit of a loose gal. So, she went back to those ways and she had that relationship with Leah. She tried the whole time to say it was nothing more than what it was. When she got back together with Callie, which I don't think she saw coming, it got messy. I don't think that there's anything illegitimate with Leah's complaint, but I do think the hits just keep on coming. It was bad enough that it happened, but now it's going to hurt people."
Though it's another bump in the road for Callie and Arizona, Capshaw believes that the couple is trying their best to make their relationship work. After Arizona confronted Callie and her need to always fix her wife, the duo quickly recognized that buying their new home could potentially be just a band-aid that ultimately might not solve their problems. "I think they're going to try to be OK," she says. "Where they're at is that they're constantly on tenterhooks with each other. I don't know how many band-aids you can put on. It doesn't seem that Arizona went back to therapy, and I don't think they've been in therapy."
While fans have been very vocal about Callie and Arizona's short time apart, Capshaw questions their motivations behind whether they truly want to see the dynamic duo back together. "Have Callie and Arizona showed up for each other the way that you'd want them to? Do you want them to be together just because they've become this couple that you want to succeed? Or do you want them to be together because you truly feel like, at the end of the day, they've earned each other and done right by each other?"
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Of course, every fan will have a different answer to that, but Capshaw has found it fascinating how strongly those devoted fans have reacted to the story line. "It is so ridiculous what some people write to [executive producer] Shonda Rhimes as if she's some sort of Machiavellian, sinister, twisty person behind a computer just plotting to ruin people's lives," Capshaw says. "She's trying to create story, drama and something that makes you think, feel and care. If she didn't do that, then she wouldn't be where she is, and no one would care about any of these characters."
It should come as no surprise then that Rhimes has not brushed Arizona's infidelity under the rug, despite some of the harsher reactions to the story line. "It's not like a small thing happened," Capshaw says. "Arizona certainly didn't mean to do it. Remember, she never tried to hide it or be duplicitous about it. She didn't overnight turn into a villain. She just did something really bad."
"Now, without the infidelity hanging over her head, you probably would be more inclined to understand why, if you're a whole person one minute and then you lose part of yourself physically forever, you'd be a little tough to live with," Capshaw continues, "and why you wouldn't want someone constantly trying to fix you or remind you that you used to be something that you're not, and trying to get you back to that, as opposed to just loving you for who you are now. That's ultimately the truth that you have to embrace at the end of an event like this: You are whole even without the part that you're technically missing."
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Check out a sneak peek of Arizona's accident, which Capshaw admits made her laugh. "The idea is that you're shocked and amazed that she's just gotten run over by a gurney, and I have to say that it is pretty funny," Capshaw says. "You see the stunt double flip in the air and you're like, 'Seriously? A gurney did that to me?!'"
Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9/8c on ABC. Do you hope Callie and Arizona last?