When Grey's Anatomy returns from its two month-long hiatus on Thursday, Jan. 18, it'll find itself in markedly different landscape.
Picking right up where the fall finale left off in November, the long-running ABC drama will dive headfirst into the story of Jo (Camilla Luddington) finally facing her estranged, abusive husband Paul Stadler (Matthew Morrison), who popped up in the last episode's final seconds with a menacing grin that stopped the surgeon dead in her tracks.
Of course, in the months that Grey's has been dark, Hollywood—and the world at large—has been gripped by a ongoing conversation about sexual assault, harassment, and the way women in every industry are treated, overall, lending a sort of prescient timeliness to the serious storyline.
"It was a great finale, it's an even better premiere. It's very exciting, very intense," star Kevin McKidd told E! News on the white carpet at ABC's 2018 Winter TCA Press Tour party. "It's an intense episode, especially with the Paul Stadler character coming back to haunt Jo's character. It's a really powerful episode."
"Camilla does an incredible job in the next two episodes of that. Really does an incredible job with an issue that's actually
very timely," his co-star James Pickens Jr. said, adding, "It's interesting the timing of everything, but obviously the conversation has been what it's been over the last two, three months, so I think this a way for folks to dialogue about it. And the way that we've been telling stories for the last 14 seasons, I think it puts a different kind of platform to it. And Shonda's been brilliant at doing that, so I think it's going to open up some discussion on some whole other different kind of paradigm, so it should be interesting."
The two-episode arc, which also involves a guest appearance from One Tree Hill alum Bethany Joy Lenz as Jenny, Paul's current girlfriend/likely victim, will certainly be an intense one, but the stars are quick to point out that the overall lightening up of the show that's taken place since former writer Krista Vernoff returned as showrunner for season 14 will continue. And it will bring with it some good times for McKidd's poor Owen, who has been through the wringer this season with ex-wife Amelia's (Caterina Scorsone) brain tumor and the return of his presumed-dead sister, Megan (Abigail Spencer).
"I think he's going to have some fun finally. He's always chased this dream of being a father and having a child and having a family unit and I think his sister coming back, and all the guilt he carried with him for so many years, has all been lifted," McKidd told us. "So suddenly he's going, 'Wait a minute. I can actually just enjoy myself a little bit and smell the roses and enjoy life' instead of always chasing this dream of a family. So I think it's been to play Owen's lighter side and see him be kind of single because he's had a rough road."
For more from the pair, including whether or not they hope to make some cameo appearances on the upcoming untitled spinoff, be sure to check out the video above!
Grey's Anatomy returns Thursday, Jan. 18 at 8 p.m. on ABC.