Grey's Anatomy showrunner Krista Vernoff is doing her best to explain herself after that heartrending spring premiere.
The ABC medical drama returned on Thursday, March 11 with quite the bang, as Andrew DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) was stabbed while pursuing a human trafficker on the crossover episode of Station 19. Grey's then confirmed the character had succumbed to his wounds when Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) saw him during a dream sequence on her infamous beach.
After the episode aired, Krista told Variety she realized "this one is going to be devastating for the fans. And I feel it too."
The producer explained that the story line involving DeLuca's tragic end came to her "like a vision" as she herself was strolling along a beach. The character's demise is particularly difficult for fans, given that the surgeon's bipolar diagnosis had helped normalize mental health issues.
"I think he went out a hero," Krista shared. "I think that he went out fighting for what he believed in. And he was through his mental health crisis. He'd become a very productive member of the hospital staff. And he wasn't going to let this woman walk away again."
According to Krista, Giacomo appreciated that his character's death didn't contribute to the stigmatization of individuals dealing with bipolar disorder.
"He was so relieved that I was not having him kill himself, or go out in a mania frenzy," the TV writer continued. "And he was excited to play it—he played the hell out of it. He actually does appear in a couple more episodes this season. And he's directing an episode."
As for later episodes, Krista teased that more characters will be joining Meredith on the beach, and while she didn't name names, she did promise "some surprises in store."
Sadly, the show's future beyond this season remains in flux as Ellen has yet to extend her contract. In the meantime, Krista said she doesn't know whether the series will end with this season but that she's planning a possible ending that serves as a series finale, in addition to one that sets up another season.
"I wish I knew," she said about whether the show will return. "It's a source of frustration at this point. And it sort of doubles my job, my workload, because I have to plan for both contingencies. But I am. And god willing, I'll know soon."
While we wait to learn what's next for Grey's, keep scrolling to see all of the show's most shocking moments from over the years.