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Grey's Anatomy Roundtable - Arizona & April exit



Sarah Drew and Jessica Capshaw, two of the longest-running recurring cast members outside of the core original group (Pompeo, Chambers, Wilson, Pickens) also portray two of the most beloved characters on Grey’s.

Arizona gave a voice to the LGBT community in a time where network television shied away from same-sex relationships and any kind of mainstream representation. April has been giving a voice to a different community, to religious fans of all walks of life, teaching us that faith and science don’t have to be opposites.

Drew in particular, has stolen the spotlight this season with her brutally emotional portrayal of April’s crisis of faith which got her the well-deserved title of performer of the month on STV. Instead of being sad all over again about a future of Grey’s without April or Arizona in it, join us on this roundtable where we discuss how their exits were handled, how these two characters have resonated with us personally and also celebrate their best and lowest moments from the past 10 seasons.

What did you first think of April and Arizona when they made their debut on the show?



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Nick: It’s funny because even though she is probably one of my favourite characters of all time, April’s first appearance did not make a lasting impression on me. She was just one of the annoying new Mercy West transfers that everyone hated. I took so much pleasure in seeing Lexie embarrass and despise her.

Nick: Arizona wheelie’d her way into Seattle Grace and my heart and filled it with gay rainbows and sparkles. She may have come off as a “pixie stick” in her debut but only a stone-cold heartless monster could be immune to her charms and especially to the gay magic that was early Calzona. Bathroom kisses will never be the same.

Sam: I was very biased towards April when she first appeared on the show because I’ve been a fan of the actress since I saw her on Everwood and Mad Men and heard her on Daria. Although April could be a little on the annoying side, Sarah Drew played her so fantastically that I couldn’t help but root for her against Lexie, even though I loved Lexie as well.


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Sam: I was initially put off by Arizona when she first debuted because I thought she was a little too much of a young hot-shot. I thought that was all her character was going to be and she wouldn’t end up being very interesting or stand out against the other characters. I thought she would be gone after a short while like so many other added characters. But that moment she kissed Callie and revealed herself to be queer changed everything for me. That rounding out of her character gave her that extra spark I needed to hope for her to stay on the show.

Patrycja: I actually at first didn’t like her character which is funny because she became one of my favourite characters on the show. I think I disliked her because of the storyline that brought her into the show. I don’t think anyone liked the new Mercy West characters at first.

Patrycja: I fell in love with Arizona the minute she came onto my screen. Her character just brought so much joy and happiness that I couldn’t help but like her.

Abi: I remember April being incredibly peppy but such a contrast from the other characters that they already had on the show that I liked her quite a lot. She was definitely one of the better Mercy West characters to be introduced (which I think the writers understood) and Sarah Drew seemed like a gem.

Abi: Honestly I didn’t like Arizona when she was first introduced and I wasn’t sure how long she was going to stick around for because she didn’t seem like she was going to be that much of a team player and gel with the rest of the cast, but obviously I was proven wrong.

How has your initial reaction changed over time?

Nick: April is nearly unrecognisable to who she was in her first few seasons on the show and Sarah Drew has portrayed the hell out of her in both her darkest and happiest moments. Her discussions about religion and faith opened my eyes and when she lifted herself up when she was at her lowest, I felt like she gave me the strength to do the same. She truly is a beautiful and fearless swan.

Nick: Needless to say having this adorable gay protagonist for 10 whole years was a gift. Even though her relationship and marriage with Callie fell apart (because of plane crashes and amputations and many other things Shondaland threw in her way) I’ve grown more attached to her than I was to Callie and more in love with her than when she first appeared. Seeing Arizona as a successful single mum, healthy and happy again in the next stage of her life was so exciting, especially because of her friendship with April which only grew stronger over the years. It's definitely too early to say goodbye to either of them


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Sam:
My fondness for April grew a lot over time. I was up and down with her a lot during her first season. Sometimes I felt for her, sometimes I was annoyed with her. But over time she has shown herself to be an incredibly strong, determined doctor and human that would overcome any challenge that came her way. She rose up from an anxiety-ridden mousy doctor to a tough, capable leader that could and would stand up for herself and for others.

Sam: Arizona became one of my top 3 favorite characters on this show since her first appearance. Her taking Alex, another of my top three favorites, by the hand and helping shape him into a great pediatric surgeon is one of my favorite storylines on the show. Her strength, tenacity, energy, and confidence shined through; not just as a woman or a doctor but as a lesbian and later on as a person with a physical disability. Though there have been a lot of bumps on the road with her, several of which I hated to see happen, I’ve really enjoyed watching her journey.

Patrycja: I really began to love April as the show went on. For me what changed my opinion of her was her strong personality. Once she became the determined and tough doctor, I really began liking her. And in the end she just became stronger and stronger after the many heart-breaking things she had to face which showed me that I am more than capable of getting through anything that life throws at me.

Patrycja: Arizona became my favourite character. I fell more and more in love with her character after seeing her fight through the plane crash, her divorce, the custody battle and being a single mother. I was and still am also a huge fan of Calzona so that definitely made me love her even more.


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Abi: Honestly once the April and Jackson relationship started kicking off I knew I was fully committed to her as a character, not because she was suddenly more interesting because she was with a man, but because she just had this different energy and something clicked for me, even more, when I saw her. Once again, when April found her focus in trauma and she had even more independence and belief in herself that was something really powerful for me and just made me fall more in love with her character.

Abi: I’m always thankful for LGBTQ+ representation that isn’t a stereotype and I definitely think that’s what Arizona represented, both in part due to the characterisation of her and the storylines she was given, and that definitely made her grow on me as the seasons passed.

What have been your favourite moments with these characters?


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Nick: For April it would have to be: pleading the gunman to not kill her because she had barely lived in 6x24, her superhero moment when she brought an entire crushed car into the ER to save a patient in 11x23 and her crisis of faith this season, particularly her speech during the game night episode and her resolution.

Arizona’s arc with Nicole Herman in season 13, the Calzona relationship start to finish, and a very recent scene from 14x22 when Arizona went over to a patient’s house to talk a mother into a fetal surgery she was scared of getting done. Arizona gave this monologue where she talked about her childhood with her father and losing her leg and how lucky she was that Callie made the right choice. It was a very beautiful end-of-the-line sort of moment, it summed up her journey and made me really proud of how far she’s come.

Sam: Hands-down my favorite moment with April is in That’s Me Trying; the episode in which she is essentially assigned to be a trauma surgeon in a training test involving dummies. April goes from rule-follower to rule-breaker in an effort to save her dummies. She took the test so seriously she was willing to do anything, including stealing an ambulance and threatening to run over Owen if he doesn’t get out of her way to let her save her patients. That was such a turning point for her character and my love for her. I also loved that moment during the shooting episode when she started talking to the shooter facts about herself in order to humanize herself to him so he wouldn’t shoot her. I just love how April can be so panicked in a situation and yet do all the right things.

Sam: That first kiss with Callie is one of my favorite Arizona moments. I also loved that speech to Callie’s dad about how she would be a good man in the storm for Callie and how that was how she was raised to be. I also loved all of her moments with her patients, her tiny humans, and how she’s never been patronizing to them and treated them with the respect full adults get.

Patrycja: My favourite April moment is by far when April done everything to save the dummies which for the day were her patients. She went as far as getting an ambulance and threatening to run Owen over if he didn’t move out the way. But another one that definitely also stands out to me is April’s losing faith storyline this season which was truly heartbreaking.


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Patrycja: A moment that I will always remember is when Arizona gave Callie’s father a long speech about how she was raised to be. But another moment which I love is Arizona and Callie dancing in their apartment. It was just such a care-free and flirty moment that I abouslutely loved between Calzona.

Abi: Honestly my favourite arcs for April were when she initially connected with trauma as her speciality, going into the Army and over to Jordan to be a trauma medic (and thus the breakdown of her relationship with Jackson, even though it was sad) and her most recent arc with the crisis of faith. I believe Sarah Drew has been an incredibly underrated actress throughout her Grey’s days and I hope she finds another show that lets her have a ton of dramatic scenes and show how good of an actress she actually is.

Abi: My favourite for Arizona was the loss of her leg after the plane crash and how she struggled with that and how her relationship suffered as a consequence of Callie making that decision. I thought it was really powerful and I love that it wasn’t something that was sorted in a matter of a few episodes and instead took at least a season.

What did you think of their departure, did they get the send-off they deserved? Could it have been handled better?

Nick: Although Arizona got the ending that made the most sense, April had a lot more to do this season and Sarah Drew got one last chance to really knock it out of the park. Even more than that, she got to experience her own Shonda catastrophe by almost freezing to death in a river after an MVC. I was paranoid all season that they were going to kill her off. Her actual send-off was pretty much what I expected from her character with the added and super sweet bonus of seeing her get married again, this time without the drama I wish we had seen more of her decision to quit her job but I definitely savoured her last moments. For me, no matter how she left I would never be okay with her leaving because I loved her to death so a happy ending that semi-wraps up her storyline in a respectful way is all I could wish for given the sad news.

Nick: As soon as word got out on their departure we were all scratching our heads to figure out how they’d go. Arizona’s was more obvious, given they introduced Sophia’s issues with living away from Callie pretty early on. Bringing Nicole Herman back and sending her off with Arizona with the career opportunity of a lifetime was fitting and reminiscent of Cristina’s exit. I did feel as if they gave up on some of the plot points to save time which is why we didn’t really see Arizona be there for April during her crisis and presumably why Arizona and Carina’s surgical innovation project was finished within in a single episode. Congrats Carina, the lesbian Grey Sloan torch is being passed down to you. As for Calzona being endgame, I must say it did reawaken my stone cold gay heart that thought they’d never be reunited even though I'm not 100% sure if they really should be together after all they've been through.



Sam: First of all, I have to say I’m really glad that at the very least they were not killed off. I was worried about that (at least for April) after last week’s episode. But as for how they were sent off, I was happier with Arizona’s than I was with April’s. I’m glad she got a happy ending with someone, but I was kind of upset it wasn’t with Jackson. I shipped them since their first season on the show together and I know that shows have to keep storylines going (especially for one so long-running as Grey’s), but I was hoping they could find a way to keep them together. But I know the only way for that to happen was to either have them both on the show or both off the show, so that wasn’t going to work for what they had planned for April. Although, sending her off with a guy she dumped for Jackson and a job that was so far off from being a surgeon didn’t feel like the most natural plan.

As for Arizona, again from a shipping standpoint, I was happy with how she was sent off. I’m glad that they put Calzona back together. This didn’t make too much sense for me either given how they left things off with them when Callie left, it made up for all the trouble the writers put them through in their last couple of seasons together, so I’m happy about that.

Patrycja: I personally thought that Arizona’s reason for leaving was very understandable and it was brought out fairly early in the season so it all made sense. But when watching their final episode, it just didn’t feel like a farewell to the characters. I didn’t feel as though I had just said goodbye to my favourite character.

Patrycja: April’s exit storyline was very rushed in my opinion and didn’t entirely make sense to me. It is very much in April’s nature to help people but she loves her job so much that I just don’t believe she would give it up so quickly. I think this path was chosen to allow more time for April’s losing faith storyline but I do think she deserves a better send-off than this. And once again I didn’t feel as though I was saying goodbye to this character. The goodbye feels unfinished in both Arizona’s and April’s exits to me.

Babar: Honestly, I am disappointed in how they exited. Sure, Shonda didn’t kill them and I am happy for that. But to me, how they exited didn’t make any sense. They had been building up to Arizona’s exit for a while now with Sophia having problems. But in the finale we learned that Callie is single, so what’s keeping her there? The whole reason Arizona moved cross-country and took Sophia with her was to be with Penny. So why couldn’t she move back? Why did Arizona have to leave?


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And like I said earlier, we had been building up to Arizona’s exit, but April’s was handled even worse. So she came close to death in the penultimate episode and we learn in the finale (which takes place a month later) that she just quit her job like that to do “God’s work”? What was that? Would have been nice if we had been giving some justification for that instead of mentioning it a couple times. Also, I am not a “Japril” shipper, I am pretty indifferent to them, but April and Matthew’s relationship progressed way to fast just to give April a “happy ending”.

Abi: The way April left just felt really really rushed for me. The fact that they just announced that she’s secretly been dating Matthew for months even though there haven’t really been any signs of that, and then just suddenly getting engaged and married in about five minutes is just a bit too much. I’m glad April seems to be happy, but I’m in two minds as to whether they should have gone down a more dramatic avenue for her. I guess at least it sets it up for her to possibly return one day.

Abi: Arizona’s exit makes slightly more sense, but again, I thought she was over Callie but suddenly she seems like she wants to be with her again. I completely understand wanting the best for your child, and New York seems to be that, but it doesn’t have to mean that Callie and Arizona have to get back together (albeit offscreen). It just seems like the exits of Sarah Drew and Jessica Capshaw happened incredibly quickly and the writers scrambled to put something together that could pass as an excuse for them leaving.

Where do you see these characters in the years to come?

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Nick: April will be going on holiday Arizona every summer. I’d really like to say she’d be back together with Jackson but since they really decided against it by pairing her up with Mathew again I’ll have to accept it’s over for good. I think she’ll be running a trauma centre in another hospital, or training army docs somewhere close to her beautiful farmhouse house.

Nick: After setting up her successful baby saving hospital with Dr. Herman, I wanted Arizona to move to Italy and retire with Carina but maybe she’ll be together with Callie again. As long as she’s happy I’m happy.

Sam: I see April not sticking with this new job for very long. It’s a great cause but she’s a trained surgeon; I can’t see her giving that up forever. She invested way too much in it. I can see her coming back to the hospital, during, like, season 30 and then maybe she and Jackson will get back together when/if her relationship with Matthew falls apart.

Sam: As for Arizona, I think she and Callie will stay together forever with no more drama. They’ll raise their daughter and adopt more, possibly developing a situation like The Fosters but with both moms being surgeons.

Patrycja: I would love to imagine April with Jackson but that ship sailed when they decided that Matthew and April were going to get married. So, I see April going back to working in a hospital and being the chief of trauma or returning to work with surgeons in the army. I see her visiting Arizona, Callie and Sofia in New York quite often with Harriet and maybe another child.

Patrycja. I see Arizona setting up a very successful Centre for Women’s Health with Herman in New York and I see her living happily with Callie and Sofia. What can I say I am a huge Calzona shipper. I can see them marrying each other again and inviting everyone to New York for a beautiful wedding that April definitely helped to organise.

Abi: Honestly I can see (and definitely hope) that both characters return to Grey Sloan, even if it is just to get closure for them. I think after almost a decade on the show they both deserved better treatment than what they got and they’ve both created lives in Seattle and Grey Sloan that will draw them back. If Teddy can keep returning then there is nothing stopping April and Arizona from doing the same.


And just like that, these two beautiful women have made their exit marking almost a decade of gracing our screens with talent, tears, humour, and grace. I still feel like we're going to see them next year, it won't feel like they're really gone until season 15 comes around but I am hoping and praying to the Shondaland gods that they make a return for the series finale whenever that may be.
Thank you for joining us and reading our thoughts, let us know what you thought in the comments below. Make sure to read Patrycja's finale recap here , see you next season!











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