(CNN) — Warning: “Grey’s Anatomy” season premiere spoilers ahead.
“Grey’s Anatomy” is a show on which the characters have famously survived a lot: bombs, plane crashes, mass shootings, car accidents and lots of heartbreak. But the Season 13 premiere of ABC’s long-running primetime soap left one character who’s been there through it all in an especially devastating place.
In the season finale, viewers saw Alex Karev physically attack surgical intern Andrew DeLuca because he thought his colleague was taking advantage of a very drunk Jo. That, of course, wasn’t the case — he was simply helping Karev’s better half get into her bed to sleep off her alcohol.
As Karev landed punch after punch, it was clear the result would be bad. Thursday’s season premiere revealed it was — indeed — very, very bad.
DeLuca was badly beaten and his left eye required surgery that may or may not leave him blind. At one point, fellow surgeon Ben told Meredith the young man’s career was over (Loyal “Grey’s Anatomy” watchers, however, know surgeons have returned to work after worse).
Throughout the episode, Meredith — and later Ben, whose suspicions about DeLuca’s attacker were confirmed — struggled with whether or not to turn in Alex. But Alex ended up saving them the trouble and doing it himself, leading to one of the most heartbreaking perp walks in recent TV history. Fans didn’t take the development well.
What makes Alex’s predicament especially sad? That he began on “Grey’s Anatomy” as a surly, self-absorbed intern and over the years has revealed many shades of himself — most of them filled with goodness. Now, he’s in a position where he might lose the life and career he’s worked hard for because he tried to protect someone he loved.
So where will Alex go next? Actor Justin Chambers tells EW in an interview that Alex will have to “find redemption.”
And his relationship with Jo will be tested, especially when he finds out about her secret husband.
“I think he’s going to feel very betrayed,” he said.
Luckily, he’ll probably have Meredith there to lean on. As creator Shonda Rhimes tweeted during the season premiere, “They will always have each other.”
“Grey’s Anatomy” airs Thursdays on WGNO.