‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Fans Will Get a Special Episode in Season 16

(L-R) CHANDRA WILSON, KELLY MCCREARY, JESSE WILLIAMS, JAMES PICKENS JR., DEBBIE ALLEN
An on-set photo from season fifteen of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ | Eric McCandless via Getty Images

After sixteen seasons, Grey’s Anatomy is getting a little more life pumped into it by coming up with some fresh narrative approaches. It’s a bit surprising to see something like this for an aging show, though it’s not the only one if you also go by equally as old NCIS on CBS and the return of Ziva. However, Grey’s is sticking by their current cast roster and letting them shine individually.

Reports say Grey’s will have one special episode in the coming season focusing on one key character. We have to wonder if this becomes a trend there and they’ll do more like it to challenge the writing team.

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time a show focused on one character for an entire episode.

An overdue standalone episode for Richard Webber

You can only count four actors now on Grey’s who’ve been with the show since the beginning. This includes Ellen Pompeo, Justin Chambers, Chandra Wilson, and James Pickens, Jr. The latter has played Dr. Richard Webber since the first season, even if you can argue he’s been taken a bit for granted.

The writing team realized this and decided to give him a solo episode this coming season. What the plot will entail is still under wraps, though he’s become one of the show’s respected elders who currently mentors many of the younger doctors.

Earlier in the series run, his competitive spirit to make Grey-Sloan the leading hospital in the nation for surgeons got him into a bit of trouble for taking some daring steps to get there.

Along the way, we’ve seen Dr. Webber go through a lot of troubling things in life, including hiding the fact that he’s the real father of Maggie. Outside of seeing him in many stories (including becoming Director of the Residency Program), the show never has delved into things going on in his own life for a full hour.

Is this a hint that maybe the show will sunset soon?

Perhaps you can argue because Grey’s might not be on any more than a couple of more years, the writers want to delve deeper into their iconic characters while they still have the chance. One could argue it’s a smart move so when the show goes into full rerun/streaming mode someday, everyone can binge-watch the show and feel like they truly know these characters and their personal lives.

If we had to guess what this special episode will be about, we’ll probably see more about Webber’s personal life and his relationship with his now revealed daughter, Maggie. There’s also the relationship he nurtured with Catherine Fox (played by Debbie Allen), leading them to marriage.

Maybe this is an overly safe route and Grey’s writers will instead have Richard involved in a critical medical situation all by himself. Should they go this route, it would be a tribute to what many dramas did decades ago in ensemble shows to give an actor a complete showcase for themselves.

Oftentimes, this meant placing the featured character in a different place from where the show was normally set.

Maybe they’ll take Richard back to his Manhattan roots

Based on the character history of Richard, he appears to have spent a lot of his earlier surgical career in Manhattan before coming to Seattle 16 years ago. What if we learned more about his backstory, or even going back there to encounter an unexpected situation?

There’s also the specter of his prior alcoholism, which could always spark up again, potentially making a full hour with the character a major acting centerpiece for James Pickens, Jr. 

As an older member of the cast, it could garner him an overdue Emmy Award, precipitating the writing team at Grey’s to give some serious acting workouts for their other individual characters.