At this rate, Grey's Anatomy and its ever-changing roster of doctors may very well outlive us all. But with original star Ellen Pompeo committed to the series until a sixteenth season, it looks like the drama is checking off some obvious plots from its to-do list just in case a series finale is closer than we think. The Grey's Anatomy Season 15 Episode 6 promo shows the return of a veteran character, and things always tend to turn complicated when he's in town.
In this week's episode, "Everyday Angel," fans caught a glimpse of old-school character dynamics when Meredith tried to help Teddy realize that if she decided to raise her baby alone, her child would still find Owen someday, hurting both father and child in the process. Although their day together included a fleeting mention of Cristina Yang, the sweet exchange between Meredith and Teddy sadly wasn't foreshadowing yet another of Owen's former love interests returning to Seattle. As the promo for Nov. 1's episode, "Flowers Grow Out of My Grave," teased, Meredith's dad Thatcher is sick once again, and it looks like the Greys' complicated family history will play alongside Teddy finally telling Owen about her pregnancy.
In the clip, Webber asks Meredith when she last saw her father, because he's now sick. Longtime viewers know that the two were last together in Season 7 when Thatcher arrived at the hospital with a kidney stone and a much younger girlfriend. Lexie was still alive, and while Meredith was used to Thatcher leaving her behind, Lexie struggled with their dad being so secretive about his pain and his new relationship. Thatcher was then apparently MIA when both Lexie and Derek died, so it's safe to say that he and Meredith don't exactly keep in touch nearly eight years after his last appearance on the show.
The news of the character's return in Season 15 was first reported in August, soon after actor Jeff Perry wrapped his seven-season stint as politician Cyrus Beene on fellow Shondaland series Scandal. Although Thatcher's time away from Meredith definitely fits in with his history as an absentee father, Scandal and Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes has previously admitted that Perry's Scandal role played a part in Thatcher's absence. In 2012, she told The Hollywood Reporter:
We lost the chance to cross over the moment that Jeff Perry became both Meredith's father [and] Cyrus. There's something very strange about watching Jeff Perry play Meredith's father at 9 p.m. then at 10 p.m. watch him play Cyrus.
So, what exactly does one talk to her father about when he appears after seemingly missing his daughter's funeral and failing to comfort his other daughter when she became a widow? Judging by Webber's careful tone and Meredith's foreboding reaction in the teaser, Thatcher could be close to death, which would definitely cause a whirlwind in what's supposed to be Meredith's sunny season of love. Then again, if it's a close call and Thatcher pulls through his issue, maybe this hospital visit will inspire a warmer relationship between him and Meredith. We can only hope, right?
Season 15 of Grey's Anatomy continues on Thursday, Nov. 1, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.