After two months of waiting, fans finally got to see how Jo dealt with the return of her abusive ex, Paul Stadler (Matthew Morrison) in the mid-season premiere of Grey’s Anatomy, titled, “1-800-799-7233” (the number of an actual abuse hotline.) Jo was forced to confront Paul who arrived at Grey Sloan with his fiancee, Jenny (Bethany Joy Lenz), ready to sign divorce papers and to “catch up” with his long-lost spouse. Whatever outcome viewers might have been expecting, the final moments of the show blew up a myriad of predictable scenarios in favor of a huge cliffhanger — Paul clinging to life after a hit and run, and Meredith asking Jo and Alex, “What did you do?” Did Alex and Jo try to kill Paul, or was his “accident” a happy coincidence?
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Wishing Doesn’t Make It So
There are plenty of reasons to suspect Jo and Alex had something to do with Paul’s accident. Alex has a violent past, particularly when it comes to Jo. He almost went to jail after assaulting DeLuca, and that was just because he suspected (incorrectly) that DeLuca did something shady to Jo. Alex knows that Paul is a monster. With Jo in the precarious position of having to face down Paul one last time in order to finalize their divorce, Alex admitted he regretted not killing Jo’s estranged husband when he had the chance.
But the one with the real motive is Jo. During his few hours at the hospital, Paul, a world-renowned surgeon, worked overtime to trash Jo’s reputation in an attempt to preserve his own. He tried to get her alone several times, presumably to threaten and intimidate her. But it was after Paul learned that Jo warned Jenny about his abusive behavior by describing the brutality of his attacks that Paul revealed his true self and pummeled her verbally. His big finish was a threat to find Jo, using the contact information she gave Jenny.
Jo realized that she would never be safe and told Meredith and Alex she wished Paul was dead. Viewers know she’s been prepared to murder him for years, keeping a gun close by in case the opportunity to do so presented itself.
Partners in Crime?
In the teaser trailer for episode 10, it looks like the evidence is mounting against Alex and Jo. Jenny tells Jo, “You don’t have to worry, I didn’t tell them it was you.” Jenny could be covering for Jo because Paul’s fiance is the one who actually ran him down. After that heart-to-heart with Jo, she may have decided killing Paul was her only out. Or Jo’s got a legit reason to worry.
As guilty as Jo and Alex would appear to be, they look shocked by Paul’s predicament, and Jo swears to Meredith they’re innocent. But it isn’t Mer they have to prove it to. Instead of turning the already tragically unlucky couple into Grey’s version of Bonnie and Clyde, it’s much more likely Paul is a victim of karmic retribution (or a terrified fiance.) Jo and Alex could either be indirectly involved (not enough to prosecute them) or strictly onlookers. It’s even possible they weren’t anywhere near the scene of the crime which is problematic if they don’t have a good alibi.
The person who might hold Jo’s and Alex’s fates in his hands is Paul himself. If he survives he could either absolve them or seal their fates. Paul is a proven liar (a fact reiterated by Jo over and over), and he could see trying to frame Jo for attempted murder as a way to exact revenge against the woman, who in his twisted mind, stole his money and put his career in jeopardy. It’s doubtful a near-death experience will cause Paul to have a come-to-Jesus moment after which he decides to all of a sudden become a nice guy. But an accusation would lead to a long, messy storyline, and it’s time to give Jo some closure.
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Will Paul survive and quietly disappear from Jo’s life? Could this possibly be a random hit and run? Does Jenny have as much motive as Alex and Jo to want Paul dead? Is killing off Paul kind of a cop out? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8/7c on ABC. Want more news? Visit our Grey’s Anatomy page on Facebook.
(Image and video courtesy of ABC)