Warning: Spoilers for episode 4 of Grey's Anatomy season 16 are ahead.
Up until now, Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and Andrew DeLuca's (Giacomo Gianniotti) relationship has been smooth sailing. Sure, there was that snag where DeLuca almost went to jail to protect Meredith when she committed insurance fraud — but honestly that was only a speed bump.
However, now it seems like Meredith and DeLuca could break up on Grey's Anatomy. They had a disagreement in the Oct. 17 episode about Meredith's new desire to expose the failing healthcare system. When Meredith's accidental takedown of Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital went live online, DeLuca worried about how it would affect his own career and Meredith's. He asked her why she felt the need to go out on a limb right now when her medical license was already up for debate. Hadn't she ever thought about just quietly doing her community service and returning to work? Well, no. She's Meredith Grey.
Meredith has never, not once, played by the rules on Grey's Anatomy. She's broken both hospital laws and real laws numerous times — always in the pursuit of the greater good, of course, but very often with no regard for the consequences. When DeLuca suggested she be more self-preservational, Meredith balked. She retorted that if DeLuca thought she was just going to "sit on [her] mountain of privilege" then he didn't know her at all. The conversation felt very much like the precursor to a breakup and the promo for the next Grey's only furthers that theory.
In the promo Meredith talks about DeLuca: "He's sexy and he's fun. I don’t know if he'll ever be more than that." It seems that now that a real issue has come up in their relationship, she's rethinking her feelings entirely. DeLuca was a fun way for Meredith to get fully back into the dating world after Derek Shepherd's (Patrick Dempsey) death, but she seems to be thinking that DeLuca may not be her endgame.
There's some hope though.
Neither of the next two episode synopses mention any tension between DeLuca or Meredith. If they were going to break up, there would possibly be a hint in there. Unless, of course, the writers want to shock viewers (note: writers love to shock viewers). MerLuca has been a popular 'ship for some fans, and a breakup would be hard for many to swallow. Problems in their relationship, though? Those are definitely on the way.
Showrunner Krista Vernoff told TV Line that she felt it was natural that the couple would face obstacles after Meredith's insurance fraud. "They've got to navigate the complexities of a new relationship in the wake of Meredith having been fired and having broken the law," she said. "There are stressors on their very new relationship coming from the ramifications of those decisions last season."
Vernoff made sure to point out how new the relationship is, which could hint that it's too early for them to survive something like this. In an interview with TV Guide, Vernoff once explained the draw of MerLuca as how easy it was. "Andrew DeLuca is a wonderful surprise in Meredith's life. He is surprising to her on every level. And I think the biggest surprise for her is how much easy joy this relationship elicits," Vernoff said. With things now getting harder for the pair, the relationship may not have the foundation to last and could instead crumble.
Perhaps this week was the beginning of the end. DeLuca may be sexy and fun, as Meredith said. But is that enough to make things last? She'll explore that idea in the next episode, but fans should probably at the very least prepare themselves in case there is actually trouble in MerLucaland.