‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 17: Jo ‘Builds a New Life’ After Alex’s Surprising Exit

Grey’s Anatomy fans were torn apart when Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) left his wife, Jo (Camilla Luddington). For years, Jo and Alex — aka JoLex — had a romance worth watching. Now, Jo is single and viewers will get to see how she stands on her own. But what exactly does that entail? Recently, Jake Borelli, who plays Levi Schmitt, teased what to expect from Jo in Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 — and it’s pretty exciting.

What happened to Jo and Alex on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’?

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In Grey’s Anatomy Season 16, Alex suddenly went missing. The surgeon told his friends and colleagues he was visiting his mom in Iowa. But the situation grew suspicious when he started ghosting Jo. For weeks, no one knew Alex’s whereabouts. Meanwhile, Jo was left with her anxieties as she anticipated every possible worst-case scenario. 

Finally, Alex explained what happened in Grey’s Anatomy Season 16 Episode 16. In a series of letters to Jo, Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.), and Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson), Alex revealed he was living on a farm in Kansas with Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) and their twins. 

Apparently, Alex reached out to Izzie for Meredith’s medical license trial. Then Izzie told her ex-husband she used the embryos from when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic melanoma. So Alex, who has always wanted to become a father, left Seattle for Izzie and their children. But in the process, Alex abandoned Jo. He also left her with signed divorce papers and his shares to Grey Sloan Memorial.

Krista Vernoff shares how Jo was able to remain strong after Alex left ‘Grey’s Anatomy

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After Alex left in Grey’s Anatomy Season 16, Jo was resilient, even after everything she’s been through. Then when speaking with TVLine, showrunner Krista Vernoff explained why Jo was fine after the breakup. 

“I’ve had the experience in my life where the pain of not knowing is so much worse than a very painful truth,” Vernoff said in April 2020. “Jo had so many episodes of not knowing [where Alex was] that even though the [eventual] answer was horridly painful, there was really honest relief [in just knowing what was up].”

She continued, “Getting an answer finally allowed her to strangely feel better than she had when she was just in the dark. Jo had imagined every possible worst-case scenario. And even though one of them came true, just having the information allowed her to move on. It felt like she had done a lot of grieving for the relationship in the weeks prior to receiving that letter.”

What will happen to Jo in ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 17?

Camilla Luddington as Jo Wilson Karev in 'Grey's Anatomy' Season 17 promo
Camilla Luddington as Jo on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ | ABC/Mike Rosenthal

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In October 2020, Vernoff updated fans on Jo’s storyline for Grey’s Anatomy Season 17. When speaking with TV Insider, the showrunner revealed the character would find some light with her new friend and roommate, Levi. 

“They are delightful,” Vernoff said of Jo and Levi. “It’s an unexpected and joyful friendship. I’m glad they have each other.”

Then in an interview with Entertainment Tonight in November, Borelli shared Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 will truly highlight how Jo copes with Alex’s exit.

“At the end of season 16, we have this unlikely relationship that I’m obsessed with,” Borelli said. “I think it was this wonderful new way to allow Jo’s character to have some levity after her huge storyline with Alex Karev last year. So I’m hoping we get to keep some of that levity here in season 17 because I know it’s going to be really intense talking about the issues that are affecting us right now.”

He continued, “We really get to see how Jo navigates life without Alex Karev and how Jo builds a new life with the people around her that she loves. It’s one of my favorite storylines this season.”

Whatever happens with Jo moving forward, it certainly seems the character will be bringing some much-needed humor and happiness on Grey’s Anatomy Season 17. So get ready. New episodes start on Thursday, Nov. 12, on ABC.

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