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Season 15 of Grey's Anatomy proved that the veteran medical drama hadn't lost its touch for cliffhangers, despite breaking a record set long ago by ER. Although Meredith didn't have her hand on a bomb in anybody's chest in this particular Grey's finale, the episode did end with DeLuca behind bars after taking the fall for Meredith, Meredith along with Richard and Alex getting fired by Bailey for majorly breaking the rules (and law), and Jackson seemingly vanishing into the mist after an adventure gone wrong with Maggie.
The Season 15 finale aired all the way back in May, so fans have been waiting months and months for payoff on these cliffhangers. How much longer will we be waiting? The answer is a little complicated. First off, showrunner Krista Vernoff said this about when the Season 16 premiere will pick up in-universe:
Well, that's one promising answer! The aftermath of Jackson's disappearance, the firings after Meredith and Co. failed to successfully pull off a redo of the iconic "I cut the LVAD wire" scene, and DeLuca behind bars would have lost some of the impact if they were resolved over hiatus, and Season 16 picked up five months later to drop some exposition about what happened.
Of course, tidbits from the filming of Season 16 have given a few peeks into what's probably happening (or not happening) with the DeLuca/Meredith situation, and Jesse Williams signing on for two more seasons of Grey's Anatomy was pretty solid proof that either Jackson would be back in the flesh sooner rather than later or that Grey's was turning him into Denny Duquette 2.0.
All of this isn't to say that the entire Season 16 premiere will take place immediately following the events of the Season 15 finale. Krista Vernoff went on in the talk with TVLine to say this about the timeline of the premiere:
We will then span a little bit of time over the course of the hour. I would rather not reveal [how much time will pass].
So, Grey's Anatomy will deliver some kind of time jump in the Season 16 premiere, even if the showrunner wasn't willing to divulge the details of how much time yet. Does "a little bit" mean a matter of just days or weeks? Or was she just choosing her words carefully, and the episode will catch up with real time of fall 2019?
We'll have to wait until the premiere hits the airwaves later this month to find out for sure, but Krista Vernoff was a little bit more forthcoming with details in a different conversation with TVLine, concerning what happened to Jackson and his future with Maggie. She said this:
They are in a pretty difficult place when we pick up. It’s hard to take back the things that were said in those woods. They will have to continue to unpack their feelings about what happened on that trip for some time to come.
Krista Vernoff may know what happened to Jackson now, unlike when the Season 15 finale actually aired and introduced the mystery to viewers, but she didn't specify where he went when he disappeared into the fog. His disappearance came after he and Maggie spent most of the episode fighting with each other, and the future of their relationship wasn't looking too rosy. A romp in the woods turned out to be very much not what their romance needed!
That said, Krista Vernoff's comments do suggest that they'll continue to work on their relationship, if "for some time to come" holds true. Jackson's disappearance is probably the most difficult of the cliffhangers to speculate about, and what happened to him is the biggest question that I personally want to see answered.
Fortunately, the wait is almost over. Season 16 of Grey's Anatomy will debut on ABC in the fall TV premiere lineup on Thursday, September 26 at 8 p.m. ET.