There's been a lot of mystery surrounding Alex Karev's past. The Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital surgeon has made it clear that his childhood wasn't a happy one, and that in addition to dealing with an alcoholic father, he often bounced from foster home to foster home. Last week revealed a startling development when Alex realized his mom hadn't been using the money he'd sent her to pay for his rent, leading him to believe something is up. So is Alex's mom dead on Grey's Anatomy?
Right now, it seems like the answer is "no." According to Deadline, former Bionic Woman star Lindsay Wagner has been officially cast to portray Alex's mother, so she's definitely appearing onscreen at some point. Of course, Grey's could always pull a fast one and cast the actress to appear in flashbacks of some kind for viewers to delve into after Alex discovers his mom is gone, but that seems pretty unlikely.
There are plenty of reasons Alex's mom might have stopped using the money he was providing her — perhaps she got a job and no longer has a need for his money, or maybe she's dating someone who's taking care of her. But none of these rosy scenarios seem particularly likely. It's been mentioned in the past that her mental health has been an issue. She dealt with schizophrenia, so Alex had to step up at a very young age. While her having a mental health issue certainly doesn't mean Alex's mom is incapable of ever taking care of herself, Alex has always made it seem like he was her protector. If his instincts tell him something is wrong, then something probably is.
Jo and Alex are headed on a road trip to investigate what's up with Alex's mother, so viewers will find out soon enough. Perhaps a more interesting question is why the writers decided to bring Alex's mom into the show at all. Alex has been through having a wife with cancer, his friends getting killed in a plane crash, the legal battle with Deluca — hell, he was even one of the people who were shot when a gunman came into the hospital. These struggles would have been natural openings for his mother to become a bigger part of his life if that was going to happen, but it never did.
This is likely just due to the simple fact that obscure family members don't often have a place in an already crowded Grey's Anatomy cast, especially if they don't organically fit into the structure of the hospital, like Deluca's sister, Carina. So now, for the show to all of a sudden refocus on Alex's family, there has to be a reason.
One of the most probable causes for finally bringing Alex's mom into the show is to accentuate how much Alex has grown up from the loving, but troubled, boy that she may have known before. Grey's seems to be on that path lately, especially after bringing Nurse Olivia back to the show last week. Alex infamously didn't exactly handle their relationship gracefully. Her appearance seemed like a one-off occasion, simply meant to allow Olivia and Alex to politely make up, and let viewers to see that Alex isn't the same old schmuck he used to be.
Of course, Alex just slammed Dr. Koracick up against a wall a few weeks ago when he disagreed with his course of treatment, and is only about a year removed from beating Deluca to a pulp over a misunderstanding, so the show still has a lot to do to prove he's grown in a real, permanent way. He is incredibly well-meaning, heartfelt, and interesting as a character, but he definitely hasn't become a master of controlling his emotions. Hopefully, though, time with his mom will shed even more light on his past and how it shaped him into the flawed Alex Karev we all know and love.