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Justin Chambers, Grey's Anatomy

ABC

Poor Alex Karev.

Season 13 of Grey's Anatomy hasn't even premiered yet, and we already know it's going to be a rough one for the talented pediatrics surgeon played to gruff, but lovable perfection over the past 12 years by Justin Chambers. After all, you can't just attack a colleague and beat them to within an inch of their live over one hell of a misunderstanding regarding your girlfriend and expect there to be no consequences. That's just not how Shonda Rhimes' world works. (Same holds true for the real world, too.)

For once, there's the very real possibility that the season's greatest target for tragedy won't be Ms. Rhimes' usual victim and the show's namesake, but her bestie. Could Alex be the new Meredith?

It's not as if the show has shied away from torturing Alex before. As the only fellow intern in her class who arrived with enough damage to rival Meredith's dark and twisty baggage, Karev has been put through the wringer time and again in the past 12 seasons. He watched as the woman he loved fell for a dying man and supported her as she grieved the death. He fell in love with a patient with amnesia who returned to her husband upon regaining her memory, later returned claiming to be pregnant with Alex's child and then attempted suicide and had to be committed after it was revealed she suffered from a "hysterical pregnancy" and wasn't really knocked up. He married Izzie, only for her to abandon him and never return. His estranged father was admitted to the hospital and then died. He was freaking shot.

It hasn't been easy.

Grey's Anatomy, Season 13, Ellen Pompeo, Justin Chambers

ABC

But in recent seasons, things for Alex have been relatively calm. He's been in a stable relationship with Jo (Camilla Luddington). He and Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) have never been closer. And he's kicking as the head of Peds. So, naturally, it's time for things to all come crashing down on him. After all, that is the Shonda Rhimes way.

Not only could he potentially lose his career and his freedom if DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) decides to press charges—or worse, if he doesn't survive—but the truth about Jo still being married to her abusive ex-husband is bound to come out. And when it does, it'll only rock Alex's world even harder.

"People who are hurt revert to their less mature selves a lot of the time, and I think that he is hurt and he doesn't quite know how to cope with that," Rhimes told EW, hinting at a potential regression to the Alex of early seasons thanks to all this chaos.

What's Mer got to worry about compared to that? A pesky love triangle with her half-sister Maggie (Kelly McCreary) and hew hottie Riggs (Martin Henderson)? Big whoop. For a woman who has survived the very worst trauma primetime soaps has to offer its characters, that's practically a cakewalk.

Her name may be in the title, but this looks like the Season of Alex to us. We'd be excited, if only we weren't so worried about what that may do to him.

Grey's Anatomy returns Thursday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. on ABC.