Warning: spoilers ahead for Episode 14 of Grey's Anatomy Season 16, called "A Diagnosis."
The biggest mystery heading into the second half of Grey's Anatomy Season 16 was originally how the show was going to say goodbye to one of the last remaining original characters, but "A Diagnosis" raises the question: should fans be more concerned about DeLuca than Alex Karev? Sure, Alex is the one who will be seemingly gone for good and DeLuca evidently isn't going anywhere, but things aren't looking too great for DeLuca.
In "A Diagnosis," the clock was running out for Suzanne, and DeLuca and Dr. Riley were on a mission to diagnose her before it was too late. DeLuca was struggling with Riley's decision to pull Suzanne off all her meds so that they'd be able to figure out what was wrong with her, and the case was getting to them. DeLuca's irritation with the case and Meredith's attempts to step in turned into agitation, and culminated in DeLuca yelling at Meredith in the hallway of the hospital after she tried to stop him from administering a drug without running it by her.
For any other character, the sleep-deprived acting out might have felt more like the show's means of breaking up a relationship, and "A Diagnosis" did seemingly end with Meredith and DeLuca done. Since this is DeLuca we're talking about, however, there are larger concerns.
Meredith and his sister shared their concerns that his agitation was actually mania, and DeLuca could be following his father's path. While manic, DeLuca's father operated on seven people in a row without any sleep or food, resulting in four deaths. Understandably, Meredith wanted DeLuca to slow down and get some sleep, and she recruited Bailey to pull DeLuca off Suzanne's case. That didn't stop DeLuca and Riley from connecting the dots about Suzanne, and DeLuca did save her life when he administered the drugs.
The ends just don't necessarily justify the means, and DeLuca didn't take even a moment to explain to Meredith what he was giving his patient or why he felt it was the right decision. Meredith and Carina are worried, and maybe we should be as well. He wasn't answering Meredith's text at the end of the hour, which isn't a good sign.
So why does this mean DeLuca is more worrisome than Alex, when the most straightforward excuses to explain Alex's long-term absence are pretty dark? Although he was ghosting Jo last week and Jo was panicking this week about the potential of Alex reconnecting with somebody back home in Iowa, Link stepped in to calm her down. He reminded Jo that Alex is a good man who loves her very much, and they recently got married.
Jo left Alex a message telling him that she'd jump in front of a bear for him (in reference to the case Grey's Anatomy wound up with after the shark-jumping events of Station 19), and it's really only because Justin Chambers' departure has been confirmed that fans have any reason to be more worried about Alex than DeLuca.
Still, the easiest ways to write Alex out of the series are by killing him off or tanking his marriage to Jo and moving him to Iowa. Clarity on the Alex front isn't coming any time too soon, and DeLuca might just need a nap and a snack. Find out when new episodes of Grey's Anatomy air on Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.