Grey's Anatomy Will Address Alex Karev's Absence In 2020 Return, But There's A Catch

Actor Justin Chambers as Alex Karev looks sad in Grey's Anatomy Season 16 premiere ABC

Welp, Grey's Anatomy's 2020 return has the thankless task of being the first new episode of the show since Justin Chambers announced that he was done as Alex Karev. Not even that he would exit the ABC show, but that he was already gone, having snuck out the side door in Season 16's November 14, 2019 episode.

Fans had no clue until Justin Chambers made his statement last Friday. So now what? Now Grey's Anatomy has to address Alex's absence, and it will do so right in next week's winter premiere, Season 16, Episode 10, airing January 23.

However, while Alex's absence will be addressed, it won't be done in a way that brings closure. That's the word from TVLine in response to a fan's question on how Grey's Anatomy will explain Alex's absence. So we'll hear about Alex but not get the closure or answers we want in the 2020 return. The questions will be left hanging.

I don't want closure, personally, but I would like answers. They do have to address Alex's absence in some way, not just in the winter 2020 premiere but in a way that explains how Jo Wilson Karev is moving on without her husband. Oh, and what's happening with that baby? Remember, Jo rescued a baby at Station 19 -- a baby left at a fire station, just like she was -- and, what, she's raising the child alone now?

Or, even worse -- to me -- is she going to start some kind of new romance with the new doc? It's possible Grey's Anatomy saw this coming longer than we knew, since Alex Karev's position at Grey Sloan has already been filled by Dr. Cormac Hayes, played by Shameless alum Richard Flood.

New photos of Grey's Anatomy's return episode -- which follows the big Station 19 crossover -- show Cormac and Jo with what I assume is the baby Jo plans to care for.

Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Camilla Luddington as Dr. Jo Karev Richard Flood Dr. Cormac Hayes ABC

It's nice to see the new doc smile, but I don't like this look he's giving Jo:

Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Richard Flood Dr. Cormac Hayes and Camilla Luddington as Dr. Jo Karev

They're not really going to go there, are they? Jo and Alex just got married. She just changed her name from Jo Wilson to Jo Karev. Jo and Alex were talking about starting a family. Jolex fans don't want to see that 'ship sink right when it was about to set sail. Jo was finally getting back on her feet after her mental health crisis. Alex has a new job at Pac North, but I was hoping he'd be able to follow Meredith Grey back "home" to Grey Sloan.

How are they going to explain Alex's absence? I have some suggestions on that front I'll post Friday (update: here they are), but I'm wondering if Alex just keeps working off-screen at Pac North, like April is still in baby Harriet's life as Jackson's ex, we just don't see her anymore. I'd hate for Alex to go to Iowa to take care of his mom and not take Jo. But I don't want Jo to have to leave Grey Sloan just because of Alex/Justin Chambers.

Speaking of Jo, what does actress Camilla Luddington think about this? Meredith Grey star Ellen Pompeo had a brief reaction to Justin Chambers leaving after 16 seasons on the show. But the silence out there is deafening. No one even has just a nice statement about the time spent together? They don't have to get into any personal specifics about his decision to leave. No one owes us anything, I'm just surprised is all.

At any rate, as Justin Chambers exits -- without saying goodbye on screen, for whatever reason -- Grey's Anatomy will continue to add stars, like a Suits vet for a new Season 16 arc. And apparently DeLuca is sticking around despite actor Giacomo Gianniotti's own cryptic social media posts.

Don't forget that Grey's Anatomy is moving timeslots when it returns next week. ABC has decided to start with Station 19 at 8 p.m., to continue the car-crashed-into-a-bar storyline that sounds like the setup to a dad joke. Then Grey's Anatomy will follow at 9 p.m., with whatever mention we get of Alex and his absence. I'm guessing that comes from Jo, but it could also come from someone at Pac North.

Grey's Anatomy Season 16 returns Thursday, January 23 at 9 p.m., new time, on ABC.

Gina Carbone

Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.