Henry's (Scott Foley) death will have a long-lasting impact on not only his wife, Teddy (Kim Raver), but also on Cristina (Sandra Oh) and Owen (Kevin McKidd) as their issues come bubbling to the surface, showrunner Shonda Rhimes tells The Hollywood Reporter.
"Everything explodes next week [for Cristina and Owen]," Rhimes says. "It's probably one of the biggest explosions we've ever had for our characters and Owen is the reason for the explosion."
In last week's winter premiere, Cristina let Owen have it after her husband forced her to lie to Teddy about Henry's fate in order to save another patient's life during a complicated surgery. The outburst has been long time coming, as the couple hasn't yet dealt with their core differences including her abortion.
"Owen feels like he made a concession when he didn't want to make a concession [about the abortion] and that she hasn't made any concessions back," Rhimes says. "He went and held her hand while this happened and she's never made a single concession back. I think that for him is the problem."
The couple has been quietly navigating one another since Cristina's abortion and her long history of putting her career ahead of their relationship could eventually proving a tipping point for Owen, who ultimately won't be able to tolerate being second fiddle, a story Rhimes says isn't seen very often on the small screen.
"Owen has been shoving things down for a very long time and doing things the way Cristina wants them done," Rhimes notes. "We talk a lot in the writers' room about what it means to be an extraordinarily strong woman with a gift who knows that she's gifted. She's not willing to let her relationship take a front seat."
"Men do it all the time but she's this woman who's not willing to let her relationship take the front seat," she continues. "She's a gifted surgeon first and foremost and for her, that means a lot in terms of what Owen is going to have to put up with. Watching him try to put up with it and then not be able to put up with it is very interesting."
While the duo will have their troubles at home, work won't provide much respite for Owen as Teddy will blame him for Henry's death. "[That's] not necessarily Owen's fault, but she has to blame somebody and she's chosen to blame Owen," Rhimes teases, noting Cristina's role in Teddy's recovery will be the most surprising. "[Teddy's] also trying to figure out what her life is and who she is now, that's also complex. But she's not over [Henry's death] yet."