Grey's Anatomy: 3 Theories on What's Happening With Alex's Mother

On Grey's Anatomy, Alex and Jo have finally managed to figure out their rhythm after the drama around DeLuca's assault and Jo's husband Paul settled over the last two tumultuous seasons. After the dissolution of canon couples like Callie and Arizona and Meredith and Derek, Alex and Jo might be the last hope for Grey's fans. But since this is Grey's Anatomy, their relationship is tested again. When April offers to plan their wedding, Jo and Alex look over their bank accounts to figure out their budget. After checking his account, he freezes Jo out. We eventually learn why: Alex's estranged mother hasn't been cashing his support checks.

Actress Lindsay Wagner, best known for her role on Bionic Woman, plays Alex's mother, Helen, in the upcoming episode, in which Alex and Jo go looking for her in Iowa. We don't know much about Helen, except that she's been grappling with schizophrenia since Alex's teenage years and that her ex-husband was an abusive alcoholic. Before we definitively discover her whereabouts in the next episode, let's break down a few theories about what might be going on with her.

1. She passed away.

This is the bleakest and least likely scenario since we're going to see Alex's mother in the present day, after all. Wagner will probably not snag a guest star role on the medical show just to play a lifeless corpse. Then again, she may simply appear in a flashback closer to the present. If it actually happens, Helen's death would deeply affect Alex, who's recently had to let go of a deeply emotional cancer patient case. It would be a catalyst for Alex to fall into a depression or act recklessly again.

2. She's in critical condition.

If Grey's wanted to amp up the drama, we might see Alex's mother with a critical health condition (either due to her schizophrenia or an unrelated disease), possibly struggling in her home, on the streets, or at an institution. Alex may offer to take in his mother or move her closer to Seattle, which may or may not cause a rift between him and Jo. Alternatively, Helen may pass away after seeing Alex one last time, which would be typical of the Grey's drama that we know and have grown to love.

3. She found help to keep herself afloat.

Helen may have found help to grapple with her schizophrenia in a healthy way, perhaps even securing a job or reconciling with her other children. But this doesn't really add any stakes or dramatic tension to the situation. Something's bound to go awry. Helen might be doing well but may feel like she needs to sever ties with Alex or vice versa. In the latest promo, Alex shoots Jo an irritated look when she urgently asks him what happened when he looked into the house. There's a possibility that Helen might not even be at her house and that they're going to have to do a little more digging to find her.

Alex has shown tremendous character growth over the last few seasons, as evidenced by the stark difference between how Jo and Olivia perceive him. Over the years, he develops from an immature intern with frat-boy tendencies to a responsible surgeon — who cares for kids! Whatever happens, the show will now have an opportunity to dig deeper into Alex's past and shed more light on the topic of mental illness.