When propositioning someone for a threesome, there are few worse outcomes than the one Amelia Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone) runs directly into during the Grey’s Anatomy season 16 premiere. As “Nothing Left to Cling To” comes to an end, Amelia enters the office of Grey Sloan OB-GYN Carina DeLuca (Stefania Spampinato) to gauge her interest in group sex. Amelia leaves with the startling knowledge that she’s pregnant — very, very unexpectedly pregnant. Although Grey’s doesn’t come out and say it, it’s all but assured Atticus “Link” Lincoln (Chris Carmack) is the father.
Although Amelia is shocked, viewers shouldn’t be — at least if they were playing close attention earlier in the 2019 premiere.
After 16 years on television, Grey’s is particularly good at dropping subtle breadcrumbs in an episode. A light-but-tender exchange isn’t just a sweet scene, it’s the building block for an end-of-episode tragedy. A quick moment of honesty between two doctors isn’t a passing chat, it’s the foundation for a life-changing romance (ask Amelia and Link). “Cling” has one of those such leading conversations when Amelia talks to ex Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) about his postpartum girlfriend Teddy Altman (Kim Raver). Teddy is having a tough time.
“Motherhood is hard no matter what, but giving birth is a beast,” Amelia tells Owen. “It’s a beast that changes your whole body and your whole mind and your whole heart forever. Hormones are insane. Just be patient.”
Amelia’s small motherhood monologue accomplishes a few necessary tasks to make the looming pregnancy revelation work. First, it surreptitiously connects Amelia and pregnancy — two things that usually couldn’t seem more separate — in your mind. Then, it signals to you that Amelia has been pregnant before. Finally, it reminds you why Amelia would be so gutted to learn of her pregnancy by the close of “Cling.”
When Amelia talks about labor changing your mind and heart forever, she is speaking from experience. When Amelia was in the fifth season of Grey’s spin-off Private Practice, she became pregnant with the baby of her dead fiancé (Wes Brown). In 2012’s “And Then There Was One,” Amelia learns her baby, who is a boy, will be born without a brain. Although Amelia is devastated to find out her child will have a terminal genetic disorder, she decides to carry the pregnancy to term. She plans donate her son’s organs for medical purposes, turning an unimaginable tragedy into some small beacon of hope for dozens of other families.
However, that goal means Amelia needs to allow Private doctors to harvest her son’s organs before he officially dies from his disorder. Between a painful birth and the premature death of her baby, Amelia is left shattered. There are few sadder episodes of television than Private's fifth season finale, “Gone, Baby, Gone,” which witnesses Amelia's labor and the death of her child.
Although we never find out if Amelia gave her “unicorn baby,” as she calls him, a name during Private Practice’s run, her move to Grey’s Anatomy clarifies that mystery. The baby’s name is Christopher, as she says on ABC's flagship medical show. Amelia’s grief over Christopher's abrupt death complicates her first marriage with Owen during season 13. Despite Owen’s desire to expand their family, Amelia doesn’t share those same feelings due to the trauma of her past. It’s a fact she loudly announces in 2016’s “Why Try to Change Me Now,” alienating her even further from Owen.
That is what happened when Amelia was considering a pregnancy with a man she was fully, legally committed to.
Three seasons later, Amelia is expecting an unplanned baby with a guy she desperately wants to date casually (she expressly tells Link as much earlier in “Cling”). Link is the kind of guy Amelia wants to plan threesomes with — not custody agreements and college funds. But, no matter what she chooses, it’s time for some serious conversations with Grey Sloan’s most strapping doctor.
No wonder Amelia is so very stunned.