Navajo and Soboba actor Robert I. Mesa (The Man Who Built America) made his debut on Grey’s Anatomy in the third episode this season, “My Happy Endings,” as intern James Chee and has now been bumped to a recurring cast member, according to Variety. Mesa is the first indigenous doctor on the ABC medical drama in its 17 total seasons.
Chee was initially introduced as one of Grey Sloan’s newest interns, looking to embark on their careers in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. He spent his first episode being hazed by neurosurgeon attending Tom Koracick, played by Greg Germann (Ally), and forced to spend his day doing data entry – only to come to the startling conclusion that the system was not complying because all the patients had died of COVID. Mesa’s next appearance will be made in the April 15 episode, however, it will not be his last, as he is scheduled to appear in several more episodes this season.
The April 15 episode, “Sign O’ the Times,” will follow suit with its preceding episodes, handling events that are applicable to the real world, as its logline indicates: “Maggie will treat a patient wounded in the Seattle protests while other doctors struggle to help a COVID denier (who presumably has COVID),” via Variety. This monumental season of Grey’s Anatomy has introduced the pandemic from the perspective of frontline workers, as some of their own – including the show’s star, Meredith Grey – have contracted COVID. Drifting in and out of consciousness, Meredith has spent her time recovering from the virus on an imaginary beach where she is visited by past characters who have died, including her late husband, Derek, played by Patrick Dempsey (Enchanted), her best friend, George, played by T.R. Knight (The Flight Attendant), and her sister, Lexie, played by Chyler Leigh (Super Girl).
Mesa’s credits include appearing in Mary Kathryn Nagle’s (Wasaja) Manhatta. He has also appeared as Tecumseh in the series produced by Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic), The Men Who Built America: The Frontiersman, Robert Rodriguez’s (Spy Kids) From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, AHC’s Gunslingers, and PBS’ N. Scott Momaday: Words From a Bear. The future of Grey’s Anatomy is currently unclear, as star Ellen Pompeo (Station 19) negotiates her contract and showrunner Krista Vernoff (Grace) plans for both a series and season finale.