The doctors and nurses at Seattle Grace have had a rough season so far, but perhaps none more so than the normally optimistic and cheery Arizona. In the plane crash that opened the season, the doctor was forced to amputate her leg due to injury and continues to cope. Actress Jessica Capshaw spoke with TV Guide about tonight's new episode, which will find her character continuing the struggle after developing phantom limb syndrome.
"It's completely terrifying. When we finished the table read, everyone was like, 'Whoa!' It's really creepy," Capshaw said of her character's new affliction. "It's really tonally different than a lot of the show. It kind of hits on a dream sequence that's lovely, but then it takes a sharp turn into this nightmare. I think it's incredibly compelling."
Phantom limb syndrome not only produces the sensation of a missing limb, but the crippling pain that goes along with it, something that Capshaw confirms will seriously inhibit Arizona's ability to work. "It's about the connection between your mind and your body, and there are different therapies that you can go through to try and come to terms with it. She's going to have to go through those, and yet, because of her not wanting to deal with it, and her feeling like she can keep working, she's bringing it to work with her and it's hard to be operating on someone when you're feeling excruciating pain in your leg like someone's cutting it off," the actress explained.
The affliction has proven to be a tenuous subject for Arizona and her partner Callie. "She's in denial with Callie. They're in a sweet spot right now, so I don't think she really wants to go back into the dark place and bring Callie back into the dark place with her. As Callie said a couple episodes back, 'It's always about the leg. It needs to stop being about the leg.' So she doesn't want to bring it up with her. She's ready to move past it. Her mind is ready to move past it, but now it's her body and her mind that are making it impossible. She ends up going to Owen (Kevin McKidd), because he recognizes in her what he recognizes in a lot of his military buddies and amputees, so he ends up helping her to find therapies that might make it easier," she said.
Still, the actress remains optimistic about the relationship between the two characters and the series' realistic portrayal of a couple in love dealing with a difficult issue. "I think that the most remarkable thing that you can say about them is that they are like any couple who love each other," Capshaw said. "They're still together. They're working on what they have to work with. It's challenging. Even when Arizona was blaming Callie for everything, there wasn't a love lost. It was never gone, it was just impossible for Arizona to see her way out of her grief. For me to play Arizona that way, in the first part of the season, was so hard because it's so unlike her. But that's what her circumstance made her. It's really just about moving on through your own stuff and finding your way back to being able to give your attention to that love."
Don't miss the new episode of "Grey's Anatomy" tonight on ABC!