According to a source speaking to TVLine.com, we finally know what role One Tree Hill alum Bethany Joy Lenz will have on Grey's Anatomy. The outlet reports that the TV veteran will be playing the fiancée of Jo’s abusive husband, Paul, who chillingly turned up at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital in the final moments of the show's midseason finale. ABC has yet to confirm Lenz's role, though The Hollywood Reporter first broke the news of her casting in October.
Lenz will be joining the show at an incredibly tense moment when it returns on Jan. 18 at 8 p.m. EST, and her reported role will only add to that tone. Jo has, over the years, gone to great lengths to keep her newly formed identity hidden from Paul, played by Glee's Matthew Morrison, whom she escaped from long ago. She's downright convinced that if he were to ever see her again, he would kill her. In recent episodes, though, Jo has been weighing her legal options and starting to become OK with the idea of filing for divorce. This would allow her to finally take back her life in a huge way, but also opened the door to having to face Paul yet again — a situation that's unfortunately come true much sooner than she ever expected. And now, there's even the added twist of another woman.
Jo and Paul's relationship, from what she has revealed about it, has been toxic at best and extremely dangerous at worst. It remains unclear if Lenz's character will be aware of who exactly Jo is, but it seems safe to assume that if she knew a former flame of Paul's was fearing for her life because of his abusive behavior, she wouldn't be agreeing to marry him. And, it's clear from Alex's brief encounter with Paul that he's skilled at putting on a friendly face to deceive the people around him.
What's worse is that, as TVLine.com points out in the same piece, Paul appears to be a hit when he arrives at the hospital, with new ABC photos from the episode showing him schmoozing with Arizona. This is so not OK. What's worse is that Alex, Jo's current longtime romance, has a history of violent outbursts, especially when he's defending someone he loves — that much is clear from the DeLuca fiasco. And, now he knows what Paul looks like, so if he happens to pass him in the hallways, something is about to go down. We can't emotionally handle seeing you go back to jail, Alex. Please find another way to handle this situation.
It's possible that Jo might find reprieve by approaching Lenz's character — who TVLine.com also reports is named Jenny — and telling her what she knows about Paul. After all, if he hurt Jo this bad during their time together, it's likely only a matter of time before that turns on Jenny. However, it's unclear how much Jenny would believe a total stranger over the man she's chosen to marry, especially if she's blinded by her love for his charming alter-ego.
Paul and Jenny's engagement also sheds some more light on why exactly Paul would try so hard to track Jo down. Jo has long maintained that Paul would one day find a way to seek her out and kill her, but hopefully, his reasons for showing up in Seattle uninvited are less sinister. Perhaps he's simply been hoping to put that long-needed divorce to rest in order to make things official with Jenny. Of course, even if this is his reasoning, he can't be even remotely redeemed at this point. He's a danger to any woman around him, and I find it hard to believe that Jo would happily sign some documents and allow him to waltz away with a new soon-to-be-wife in his clutches.
Will Paul try and bring bodily harm to Jo yet again? Will Alex be able to reign in his protective instincts if he sees Paul, opting to call the police rather than take matters into his own hands? Will Jenny be yet another woman who falls victim to Paul's trap? Will my blood pressure ever go back down? That last one is almost certainly a hard "no," but viewers will have to wait for Grey's to return later this week to gain more answers as this troubling situation unfolds.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.