Spoilers ahead for the February 27 episode of Grey's Anatomy, called "Snowblind."
The mystery of what's happening with Alex Karev on Grey's Anatomy has only grown with each episode that passed since the news broke that Justin Chambers was leaving the series after 15 years. His final episode has already aired, so however his story is resolved won't include any new scenes with him short of a surprise appearance. Up until "Snowblind," it seemed like Alex was just spending more time with his mom in Iowa than expected and not returning phone calls. After "Snowblind," things feel a whole lot more sinister. Is Grey's killing him off?
Grey's Anatomy jumped into the mystery right off the bat, even as it picked up where Station 19 left off after dropping an unexpected Kobe Bryant reference. Meredith was walking down the hallway texting Alex, and her message wasn't exactly encouraging:
Alex, I know you’re not in Iowa. Where are you??
Meredith sent the text, but "Snowblind" never revealed if she got an answer, and I'm inclined to believe the episode would have shown it if it happened. That said, the episode didn't reveal how Meredith knew Alex wasn't in Iowa or whether or not she's had contact with him since he left, so there are lots of questions. Still, she was worried enough about him to text while the hospital was slammed with people suffering the effects of the blizzard.
Meredith's text was the first nod to Alex being MIA of the episode, but far from the last. Cormac complained to Meredith during surgery that Alex wouldn't come back even to help save a patient, when he had a reputation for caring deeply about the children he treated.
Alex by Season 16 isn't the kind of guy who would just neglect his child patients without even a word, no matter what he was dealing with. If he had access to a phone, he would reach out, right? Then came the most devastating reveal at all from Jo. At the end of the episode, Jo miserably confessed to Link that she believed Alex left her:
I thought you were him. He left me. I think he did. I think he woke up one day and felt the need to escape his life and me. I called his mom. He wasn’t there. He’d never been there. He left me. And now I can’t, I can’t… I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe, frozen and unable to feel anything at all.
Everything about Alex prior to the winter finale of Grey's Anatomy Season 16 pointed toward him as a devoted, loving husband who cared about his patients and was willing to put the work in to make his hospital a better place. He seemed fine in what turned out to be his last appearance; could Grey's Anatomy believably have Alex abandon his wife and his life without killing him off?
It would be an awful thing to do to Jo after everything she's already gone through, but it would be a way to write out Alex without losing Camilla Luddington as Jo by sending her off to be with her husband or forcing Jo to give up on him. Would it be better or worse for Alex's legacy as a character if he died or abandoned everything without even saying goodbye on screen?
Grey's Anatomy was seemingly stuck in an unwinnable situation since Justin Chambers' decision to depart seems to have been quite abrupt, so fans may not be happy with however the show explains Alex's absence. Of course it would be sad if he's the latest Grey's character to be killed off, but would it really be more tragic than all of his progress being undone by having him leave his wife like this?
The March 5 episode of Grey's Anatomy will serve as Alex's farewell episode. ABC hasn't dropped any details about what to expect from his storyline, but the description for "Leave A Light On" indicates that it could be an emotional hour:
Bailey and Ben face a huge, life-altering decision, while Meredith and several of the doctors reflect on the past.
Based on "Snowblind," Bailey and Ben are presumably discussing whether or not to take in the boy who needs a home after leaving the hospital for good. Unfortunately, Meredith is the only one mentioned for the reflections on the past. Richard and Bailey are the only ones who have known him as long as Meredith, but plenty of doctors formed connections to Alex to reflect on. Including, of course, Jo.
Check out the trailer for Alex's farewell episode:
The teases of Alex in the trailer show footage from episodes spread throughout the series, including the very first season. These teases also don't definitively rule out a surprise appearance from Justin Chambers as Alex, since Grey's and ABC surely wouldn't spoil such a twist in a promo. Fans shouldn't get their hopes up for a cameo, but it's not out of the question at this point.
See what happens when Alex's farewell episode of Grey's Anatomy airs Thursday, March 5 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.