Season 17 of Grey’s Anatomy has already seen the likes of Patrick Dempsey, T. R. Knight, Eric Dane and Chyler Leigh reprise their roles on ABC’s long-running medical soap, each making an appearance in Meredith’s (Ellen Pompeo) beachy purgatory. Thursday’s episode saw the return of another beloved character, albeit for a real-world reunion.
Sarah Drew’s April Kepner, who was written out of the series after season 14, reappeared for a Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams)-centric storyline, as he turned up on his ex-wife’s doorstep in the May 6 episode, “Look Up Child.”
“It was so beautiful. It was honestly like the most delightful homecoming ever,” Drew told ET’s Nischelle Turner of returning to the Grey’s set. “And then just working with Jesse, because he’s so easy. It’s so easy to work with him. We have such a great relationship and partnership.”
While co-hosting Thursday’s Entertainment Tonight, Drew explained why now felt like the right time to come back. “When the writers called me to pitch the idea — and I had already seen that Derek had come back — I asked, ‘Is this the last season?'” she shares. “And they were like, ‘We don’t know. But we’re going to give it all we got!’ So, I was like, this seems like a pretty special season to come back.”
Sadly, April won’t be sticking around for the remainder of the season. “It’s just this one episode,” Drew confirms. (Which makes sense, considering the actress is currently starring on another series, Freeform’s Cruel Summer.)
Ahead of the episode airing, Drew reminded viewers that as “juicy” as the onscreen reunion would be for Japril fans, the characters had continued their relationship offscreen. “I think it’s important to realize that nothing changed in their interaction of co-parenting this child,” she told ET of the couple’s daughter, Harriet. “They’ve seen one another. They’ve been co-parenting this whole time. I don’t know exactly what the custody is between the two of them, but he has Harriet sometimes. She has Harriet sometimes. There’s a handoff that’s happening all the time continuously throughout the pandemic.”
Drew previously teased her return on Instagram, sharing an on-set photo with Williams and captioning it, “Nbd. Not excited at all. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️”
A post shared by Sarah Drew (@thesarahdrew)
In the episode, Jackson visits April during a stormy night. As the two are stuck together when the power goes out, he asks April and their daughter to move to Boston after he tells her that he’s starting a foundation. He assures her that the foundation would also employ her and husband, Matthew (Justin Bruening).
“What I’ve never done is stand in the way of the happiness you chose for yourself. I had your back. I know this is a surprise and I’m just asking you to do this for me,” he tells her.
“I want you to be happy, Jackson. You deserve it. But running the foundation, I’m sorry, you’re not that guy. I don’t think you ever will be,” she replies. “Jackson you are a brilliant surgeon…Why would you want to give all of that up?”
“It’s not about what I want, it’s about what I need to do.”
I LOVE YOU, APRIL KEPNER ♥ @sarahdrew#GreysAnatomypic.twitter.com/MZaM6KKeks
The next day, April drops a couple major bombshells. First she tells Jackson that she and Harriet will move to Boston. She also reveals that she and Matthew split.
“It looks like I’m moving to Boston,” she says with a smile. “Figures crossed for new horizons.”
Naturally fans on social media couldn’t contain their excitement to see Japril together again.
jackson: "you're saying yes?!"
april: "yes, i'm saying yes!"#greysanatomypic.twitter.com/WNHkAKZwUy
Seeing #Japril on my screen again is making me so happy #GreysAnatomy
Me after April said her and Matthew split up: #GreysAnatomypic.twitter.com/Ga0Q5bijh3
Jackson and April have such passion for helping people 🥺 #japril#GreysAnatomy @sarahdrew
YES JAPRIL ENDGAME #greys#greysanatomypic.twitter.com/jgXMpkrFHA
JAPRIL HAS A CHANCE OH MY GODDDDD THEY CAN BE TOGETHER #Japril#GreysAnatomypic.twitter.com/EurHULxghM
ONLY JAPRIL #greysanatomy#japrilpic.twitter.com/gxtug4W3lJ
Additionally, the episode also featured Jackson going to see his father, Robert (Eric Roberts). During their tumultuous time together, the two reflect on Robert’s absence in Jackson’s life, with Robert telling him that he would be better off without him. “I did not want to mess you up,” he admits. “I know an apology will never make up for it.”
As the east coast episode aired, ET also confirmed that Williams is officially leaving Grey’s. His last episode, titled “Tradition,” will air May 20.
“I will forever be grateful for the boundless opportunities provided me by Shonda, the network, studio, fellow cast mates, our incredible crew, Krista, Ellen and Debbie. As an actor, director and person, I have been obscenely lucky to learn so much from so many and I thank our beautiful fans, who breathe so much energy and appreciation into our shared worlds,” Williams said in a statement. “The experience and endurance born of creating nearly 300 hours of leading global television is a gift I’ll carry always. I am immensely proud of our work, our impact and to be moving forward with so many tools, opportunities, allies and dear friends.”
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
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