R.I.P. Samuel Norbert Avery.
On Thursday’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy, April (Sarah Drew) and Jackson (Jesse Williams) got the news they had been dreading: that their unborn baby tested positive for Type II osteogenesis imperfecta, meaning that he would almost surely die shortly after being born, and that his bones might even be already breaking inside April’s womb.
And so, the couple makes the heartbreaking decision to induce an early labor, to spare their son any further pain and so that they can spend at least a few minutes holding the baby before he died. April prays for a miracle, Jackson braces himself for the inevitable, and the situation basically plays out exactly how Dr. Hermann (Geena Davis) had warned them it would.
Before she induces, April confesses that the situation has shaken her faith to its core. After trying to decide on a name with Jackson (the scene where they reference not wanting their son to get picked on at school is a real gut-punch), and later bonding with a woman who lost her husband in a car accident, April settles on Samuel. And so, Samuel is born, baptized, and dies all within the span of what looks like a couple of hours. Will this make April lose her faith?
“What I love about this episode is, it’s a journey of finding a glimmer of hope in the midst of pain,” Drew tells TVGuide.com. “And that, I think, makes going through something this horrific worth it. Because as long as there’s hope in there, and there always is, I believe.”
TVGuide.com chatted with Drew to get a breakdown of the episode and find out what lies ahead for Jackson and April. Read our full interview below to see where she believes April found her surprising source of hope:
TVGuide.com: Obviously this episode shakes April’s faith to the core. Will she question her faith going forward?
Sarah Drew: Yeah, I think she’s pretty shaken. I do think that she sort of gets a small miracle in the form of the patient that she’s comforting, who’s lost her fiancé. I see that scene as the words that [April’s] speaking to her, she feels like they’re speaking to her. In that moment, I think she feels like God has sort of shown up for her in a really amazing way. So, I think it’s caused her to question what he’s doing, but I think at the end of the day she feels like God still has her back. I do see her taking on maybe a more mature faith.
What other repercussions will this have on April going forward?
Drew: Moving forward, she kind of doesn’t have any patience for things that don’t matter, and we’ll start to see that as she interacts with patients and with Jackson. I think we’ll start to see sort of a grittier side of her. But I don’t think this has caused her to lose her faith. I think it’s been really painful, but at the end of the day she has felt God with her.
Losing a child is one of the hardest things for a couple to endure. Will this cause problems for Jackson and April down the road?
Drew: Not as of yet. I think that this has actually brought them closer together in a crazy way, because they have discovered that they are able to cling on to each other for dear life and hold each other up and care for one another. We’ll see some things start to crop up, just because April maybe doesn’t want to deal with the fallout of what this experience has been, and Jackson is really trying to care for her. And that can come across as being too careful with her. So, that kind of stuff will come out. I believe in them. I think that they’re going to get through this and I think they’re going to be stronger because of it.
Do you think they’ll try for a child again?
Drew: Not that I know of.
In the episode’s voiceover, April talks about how she’s grateful to have had some emotional distance from her patients. Do you think she’ll be able to maintain that, or will this change her approach to her job?
Drew: I think we’re going to see kind of both hands. There may be certain patients that then cause everything to come flooding back. But for the most part, I think she’s developing kind of a harder edge and a harder shell, where she’s going to get her job done and she’s going to do it really, really, really well. She’s going to kick ass at what she does. And she’s going to keep her distance in a way that is the healthiest she can for herself.
We see Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) drawing some parallels between her own experience and April’s. Does April turn to her or anyone else for support?
Drew: We haven’t seen that happen as of yet. Mostly it’s her and Jackson weathering it together.
How did you and Jesse prepare for these scenes, especially the one where you’re holding the baby?
Drew: That was the last scene of this whole arc that we shot together. And so, we sort of had been through the wringer for three episodes. But I’m glad that that was our last scene that we shot, because it was so intense. I remember showing up to the trailer and seeing him and just looking at him and saying, ‘Alright, buddy, you ready for this?’ I think there were a lot of things along the way, in playing the scenes that led up to that, that helped prepare us for the emotional reality of shooting that last scene. … I feel so lucky to have been given such an incredibly caring scene partner. I feel like we both really went through something when we played this story line. Because your body sort of goes through it, even if you’re not actually going through it. … I felt so just lifted up by him and supported, and I think he felt the same way with me. We have a great friendship anyway, but it was a really kind of special journey to take, I think, as acting partners.
Jackson seems to be resigned to the outcome from the start, but April holds out for a miracle for most of the episode. Do you think she would have the same approach if she were dealing with a patient in her situation, or is she too personally tied to it?
Drew: I don’t know. That’s a tough question. I think that it’s really hard to fully understand the emotional repercussions of something until you are in it. If you’re watching from the sidelines, it’s a lot easier to kind of take a step back and be like, ‘Yes, miracles do happen but this is not that case.’ Everything in her is hoping it’s a miracle. I do think that the scene where she’s trying to go back to work and Jackson stops her and she expresses her just frustration with God, feeling like this is unjust and unfair, I think that’s a moment where we see that she knows that a miracle isn’t going to happen. She knows that the baby isn’t going to make it. It’s just kind of putting off the inevitable. That’s how I see her running out of the room and saying, ‘Maybe a miracle will happen.’ I think it’s putting off the inevitable and trying one last-ditch effort to be like, ‘OK, God, if you’re going to show up, show up now, before I do something that’s irreversible.’ And then when Jackson comes to talk to her, I think it’s this moment of resignation where, yeah, I know this is going to happen. It’s too hard. It’s too painful. I don’t understand why God is doing this. But then what’s wonderful is that I believe that God really does show up for her.
What is it that makes April finally decide to deliver the baby early?
Drew: It’s two things. It’s knowing that the baby’s bones are breaking and the baby’s in pain and she’s trying to figure out how to parent her child the best way she can. And number two, Catherine Avery giving her an option that’s fine. Yes, we’re going to deliver early, but it’s not going to be an abortion. It’s going to be a kindness and I’m going to get to see my baby and love my baby and baptize my baby and say goodbye to my baby and hold my baby. It’s all of those things.
You’ve previously said that you hope this story line helps people who have been in a similar situation get through their grief. Have any viewers reached out to you about this plot line?
Drew: Yes. Already I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me. I had one woman say that she has Type III osteogenesis imperfecta. She said that when her mother was pregnant with her, she had to go through a similar questioning that April and Jackson have been going through, and she and her mother have been watching it together and were saying that they were just so moved by the story line. I’ve had a lot of people just really excited that we’re bringing awareness to this disorder, because it’s so rare but it affects a lot of people. … This gives the audience and people who have been through something similar, through the loss of a child, opportunities to grieve and to be able to share their story. And that, for me, is what storytelling is all about.
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8/7c on ABC.
VIDEO: Sarah Drew explains the real-life inspiration behind April’s baby story line
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