Now that we’ve properly analyzed the preview for the next new Grey’s Anatomy (Season 8, Episode 17: “One Step Too Far”), it’s time to look ahead to the end of Season 8. What else can we expect? And how will the season change if some original cast members don’t come back for Season 9?

There will be lions. In a photo from Patrick Dempsey’s (Derek Shepherd) Twitter, a very manly-looking lion showed up on the Grey’s set. Since the episode is titled “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (Season 8, Episode 18), and because TVLine confirmed it, this stud will be featured in the story line.

There will be sexual assault. As we reported yesterday, Sandra Oh (Cristina Yang) let it slip that the show will be handling the very serious topic in an upcoming episode. As Wetpaint Entertainment exclusively revealed, Switched at Birth star Vanessa Marano will play the victim of kidnapping in Season 8, Episode 20.

Owen & Cristina’s marriage crisis. Sandra spills that she sees very little hope for the success of Owen (Kevin McKidd) and Cristina reaching a happy conclusion. Expect tons of gushing tears and a pile of used tissues by your couch come April.

If some or all of the original six cast members don’t return for Season 9:

MerDer’s dream house. If Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey) and/or Patrick Dempsey decide that Season 8 is the end of their Grey’s journey, then show creator Shonda Rhimes says she has a plan for their story line: Finally, they’ll move in to the “dream house” we’ve been hearing about since Season 1.

Fellowships on the horizon. It has been confirmed that a “late April episode” will follow Meredith, Cristina, Alex Karev (Justin Chambers), Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams) and April Kepner (Sarah Drew), as they interview for fellowships across the country. This leaves a lot of room for the former three to exit the show gracefully. Just in case!

Catch an all-new Grey’s Anatomy on Thursday, March 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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