'Grey's Anatomy': Kim Raver Says Season 16 Is Just the Start of the 'Roller Coaster Ride' (Exclusive)

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When Grey's Anatomy kicks off its 16th season next month, the first episode will hearken back to the good ol' days.

"It is quintessential Grey's with a lot of answers, a lot of questions, a lot of humor, some tears and it's just the beginning," series star Kim Raver told ET of the Sept. 26 premiere episode at Disney/ABC's All-Star party at the Television Critics Association summer press tour earlier this month. "Imagine you're in the seat of the roller-coaster ride and you've just gone down the first dip."

"That's the genius of [showrunner] Krista Vernoff, that she's going to put all those pieces together, because that's the fun of it too," she praised, referring to the slew of cliffhangers at the end of last season. "You have to explode the greatness to find the jewels." (OG Grey's cast member James Pickens Jr. warned the first episode back "tests everybody.")

In May's season 15 finale, Teddy (Raver) and Owen (Kevin McKidd) declared their love for each other while Teddy gave birth to their daughter, Allison. With the reunited couple starting a new chapter together and raising a newborn, could Owen be ready to put a ring on Teddy's finger?

"I don't know what they are!" Raver exclaimed. "I mean, literally, as she was giving birth, he's professing his love and she's trying to digest that. But it's like, what's with the timing?! As a viewer, I'm watching it, like, there's Koracick (Greg Germann) in the baby room, eating his sandwich! I was like, 'Oh my god, poor Koracick.'"

"I love that, and I hope the audience loves that too because that's the sort of thing where you're like, 'What is happening?' So I think that is a great springboard for what we're entering into," she continued. "Look, part of me feels like Teddy and Owen have worked on themselves for so many years and have been headed towards this, and I want such incredible things for them because I'm a hopeless romantic."

But we certainly can't forget about the Koracick of it all. The neurosurgeon was seen happily putting together the nursery for Teddy's baby, while Teddy and Owen were reuniting in the delivery room. "The other part of me loves the whole Koracick thing, because he's funny and he takes such good care of her and there's such an odd way about him," Raver said with a laugh. "But, she loves him."

Grey's Anatomy
ABC

A mother of two in real life, Raver expressed excitement over exploring what new motherhood looks like and means for Teddy, who is successful and capable when she puts on the doctor's coat but less so when she's off the clock.

"Me as a mother, I understand how it is the most rewarding thing, but it's also incredibly confusing and challenging and you're trying to figure out how to nurse," she said. "I love that you have a badass cardiothoracic surgeon who is so good at what she does, and then she's in a world where she has no idea [what she's doing]."

Asked what she's most looking forward to exploring in Teddy's new beginning, Raver revealed she's "excited to play the comedy" of motherhood -- "the s**tstorm that has entered into her life." 

"[She's gotten] everything that she's wanted and then what do you do with that? I told Krista, 'We always see everything so perfect in Hollywood. Everything is so good. Wouldn't it be so great to see the underbelly of Teddy literally in the deep end?'" she said, confirming that viewers will see "totally" see her have breakdowns as a new mom. "And over the smallest things. We're not just seeing Teddy arrive at the hospital and dropping the baby off because everyone does it so easily [on TV]. It's so much harder than that. We're definitely going to see that."

Raver, who's entering her sixth season on Grey's, has high hopes for the upcoming season, promising fans that the start of the season imbues "all of the things we love about Grey's Anatomy, all in that first episode of the season." "This season is going to be filled with so many things we love about Grey's, where you're laughing and crying at the same time," she elaborated. "It's the feels."

"There were moments where all of us at cast members -- I love when we read it together because we're all experiencing it together -- there's the moments of like, 'Oh my gosh! That's really happening!' and laughing out loud where literally tears are pouring down our faces to, 'Wait, what?!' So I think that, from the first table read, you can tell it's going to be a really amazing season," the actress said with a chuckle. 

With Grey's reaching yet another milestone with its landmark 350th episode, slated to air in November, Raver spoke about the significance of primetime's longest-running medical drama reaching rarefied air.

"I remember on 24 when we hit the 100 mark, that was, at the time, such an incredible accomplishment and it still is. But to hit 350 is really like a Babe Ruth lightning-in-a-bottle moment. I feel so grateful, because it's not only the gratitude of being at 350, but to also really love your job, that's incredible," Raver marveled. "Not to sound corny, but I really love the group of actors and writers that I'm working with, so I'm happy to go to work everyday. The combination of that and 350 episodes... maybe one informs the other."

Grey's Anatomy returns Thursday, Sept. 26 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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