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Grey's Anatomy's Debbie Allen Weighs in on Jackson's Fate and MerLuca's Big Step in the Finale

Well, is he dead?!

Megan Vick

[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the Season 15 finale of Grey's Anatomy. Read at your own risk!]

The Season 15 finale of Grey's Anatomy didn't come with as much death as we expected, but the end left a big question mark over one of our favorite characters.

Maggie (Kelly McCreary) and Jackson (Jesse Williams) made it from their tent to their car -- having a potentially relationship-ending fight on the way -- only to run into the thick fog taking over Seattle. Jackson decided to pull over and check out the nearby area to see how far the fog reached, promising to return to the car after 10 minutes. When he never made it back, Maggie stepped outside the car and yelled his name, but there was no response. At best, Jackson is just lost and having trouble finding his way back to the car. At worst, he's gravely injured or dead, and who knows how long it will take to find him.

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In a slightly less dark boat, is Meredith (Ellen Pompeo). Meredith was finally able to get free of the hyperbaric chamber and tell Catherine (Debbie Allen) and Bailey (Chandra Wilson) she was the one who committed insurance fraud. However, Richard (James Pickens Jr.) and Karev (Justin Chambers) also took the blame, resulting in all three of them being fired. Meredith headed down to the county jail where DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) was already in a red jumpsuit. She swore to get him out of there -- and threw in an "I love you too" for good measure. But can this new romance survive prison separation?

Meanwhile, Jo (Camilla Luddington) finally came clean about what has been causing her downward spiral and checked herself into the Grey Sloan psychiatric ward to get the help she needs. It looks like she's going to be OK, even if she's out of commission for a minute. What's less certain is whether Teddy (Kim Raver) and Owen (Kevin McKidd) will officially make the leap into romance or whether they'll slide back into the "won't they" mode of their relationship.

TV Guide talked to Grey's Anatomy director and executive producer Debbie Allen about the finale's big cliffhanger, that MerLuca I-Love-You, and what to expect next season.

Jesse Williams, Grey's Anatomy​

Jesse Williams, Grey's Anatomy

Mitch Haaseth, ABC via Getty Images

Is Jackson dead?
Debbie Allen:
That's the big cliffhanger. That is a huge cliffhanger. What has happened to Jackson?

What can you say about his status and what you want people to be feeling after they watch the episode?
Allen: In the vein of Shonda Rhimes and Krista Vernoff, we never want to say how the audience should feel; we leave so much on the table and we plow and leave so many seeds sown that they come away with their own impression. ... What we always do is we want to tell great stories. We want to tell stories that are relevant to the world, which we have been doing so well this season. ... I think we've just left a lot of great seeds for people to sow on their own and at the end of the episode [Thursday] people are going to be anxious for next season to see what the hell happened. Where is this going to go? That's the beauty of what we do.

Can you tease how you think Catherine is going to react when she finds out next season that Jackson is at least missing?
Allen: Are you kidding? Catherine is going to call the FBI, CIA, everybody she knows to get them onboard to find her son if he's missing -- if, in fact, he is missing. That's her son, her only son. He's her life. Richard is so a big part of her life, but that's her son... We're not telling Catherine right now [what] has happened because we want her to have a good summer.

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Before Jackson disappeared, he and Maggie had this huge fight. Is that something you think they can survive if he makes it through this?
When I read that [fight] scene, I told Krista Vernoff, the head writer, that this was ... a mini Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff. In that play, there's alcohol and a lot of things, and the gloves come off and the people finally say things that they normally wouldn't say. Their circumstance of where they are has made that kind of happen, Jackson and Maggie. I mean, they told some truths to one another. There were revelations in the middle of chaos. They're discovering who they are to each other in a whole different way.

We get this big Meredith and DeLuca moment toward the end of the episode. At what point this season did you know that DeLuca was going to be worthy of that first post-Derek "I love you?"
Allen: I knew this in the first episode back. [Meredith] kind of woke up from a nightmare where she was kissing DeLuca, then there was Jackson in her bedroom, then Greg Germann was in her bedroom. It's like that scene when they were kissing in her dream, there was chemistry. There was real chemistry. You know sometimes we can say, "This one goes together, that one," and then you look up and you see it. So we saw chemistry with them... This relationship has evolved. It's really good. We're really looking at how we're going to explore this.

That moment plays out, as big of a deal as it is, kind of low-key. Why did that feel appropriate for this moment?
Because it's how Ellen Pompeo acts, very natural. She's very real and she doesn't like to overdo things. It's part of the nuance that she brings to her role that I can't begin to celebrate enough. I appreciate her every day as an actor. So, the way it happens is the way it happens in real life; "By the way, I think I would tell you I love you too." It was great. I loved how she played it.

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What inspired you to have Jo go to the psych ward? That felt like a very big step rather than having her just get a therapist on a weekly basis.
Allen: Her problem is very serious. It's been ongoing for quite a while, and she's had real trouble facing it. She fell into like a drunken stupor for a while, and they're giving her the best help right there in the hospital. They're going to help her find her way. And that's going to be an interesting journey for her as well, how she brings herself back.

One thing that I thought could be open to interpretation was the birth scene with Teddy and Hunt where they say they're going to be together forever raising this child. Was that them saying they want to actually be together or do they need to have a more explicit conversation in Season 16?
Allen: This has been going back and forth since the beginning of the season. We've gone around the block with Owen and his feelings about Teddy. Krista and the writers, we kept talking about it back and forth. Who is Owen going to be alone? Is he going to have a kid? What's going to happen? Is she going to go with Koracick? At the end of the day, we knew the chemistry between them was so real and genuine. There's history all the way back from their war days and time together. You just can't compete with that, that relationship. His sister had to come and remind him of his stupidity, and why isn't he going after the woman he really loves? So that was really great. So I think we can expect them to be together, but what's going to happen with the doctor in their apartment, building a baby crib? I don't know.

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I expected Hunt and Teddy to get together eventually, but then I was surprised by how bad I felt for Koracick, who is now in the middle of this.
Allen: I know. Well, he's just been so endearing. I mean he's such a great character. You know, he's just so politically incorrect to everyone. It's part of his charm. He's really a sexy beast, he is, but there's something like Teddy that tamed him. On that New Year's party that they had together, that moment, that kiss that they shared was the beginning of him feeling a little different than he felt with all the other women he's been dealing with at the hospital -- and there's a lot, there's a lot of them.

Grey's Anatomy returns next fall on ABC.