Buckle up, Grey's fans — a familiar face is headed back to Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. According to Entertainment Weekly, Nurse Olivia is returning to Grey's Anatomy, but it's unclear right now what her purpose at the hospital will be. Viewers haven't seen her face in a long time, so let's revisit who Nurse Olivia actually is.
Her unfortunate claim to fame that most fans might know her from is the syphilis "incident." After sleeping with Alex, she contracted the STD, and subsequently gave it to George, leading to endless taunting from the rest of the interns, and putting an interesting twist on Olivia's time on the show. Though she wasn't always at the forefront of many stories, Olivia was seen working on plenty of cases, and she was actually a reappearing character through Season 6, when her job was a casualty of the hospital merger.
Olivia's character was fun and interesting, sure, but she wasn't exactly an Erica Hahn or an Eliza Minnick — not a character who shouldered multi-episode arcs or changed the fabric of the show. It could totally prove to be yet another one-off plot that distracts from the rest of the cast's already limited screentime, or Olivia could prove to provide a compelling patient story, like the good old days. But regardless, she's pretty low on the list of characters you'd expect Grey's Anatomy to bring back, so the return has definitely piqued the interest of Grey's fans.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of Olivia's reemergence is the fact that she's bringing a child back with her. According to EW, Olivia's son is tagging along with her as she arrives, and photos reveal that Olivia and Jo are having a conversation during her visit. This child can't possibly be Alex's — right? Presumably the last time Alex and Olivia slept together was way back in Season 2 or Season 3, three seasons before Olivia actually left the hospital, so it seems like she definitely wouldn't have been able to hide a pregnancy during that time.
But, Grey's Anatomy has a really hard time allowing couples to be happy together for any significant amount of time, so a secret Alex baby is definitely something that they would have no problem throwing at us. Some fans speculate that the child could even be George's. Again, the timelines don't really line up, but the timeline of Grey's Anatomy has been jumbled at best for years, so I wouldn't put it past them. Actor Sarah Utterback, who plays Nurse Olivia, said in an essay for Shondaland that Olivia is now married, though, hinting that perhaps the circumstances of her son's paternity aren't as dramatic.
Hopefully the show doesn't place Olivia and Jo in some kind of weird, "we both slept with Alex" kind of conflict, either. Olivia and Alex were a casual thing years and years ago, and that kind of animosity between women over a shared past fling can seem super stale and unnecessary. Jo and Alex have gotten through plenty worse than this, so an Olivia issue would seem pretty contrived, and for the love of god, just let a couple exist happily without an obstacle hitting them from left field.
If the appearance does its job, though, it could be a charming throwback to nostalgic years past. The time Olivia was on the show are arguably some of the best seasons Grey's Anatomy has ever put out — George, Izzie, Derek and Cristina were all still around, and the show still had that quirky newness, unhindered by the much larger onslaught of narratives packed into each hour episode these days. And, Grey's has made mentions of Cristina and Derek in recent episodes, finally nodding back to times that no one seems to really talk about anymore. Maybe Olivia's arc, and her interactions with the doctors from back in the day, will bring viewers even more blasts from the past.