Station 19has been fleshing out the backstories of the men and women in the firehouse with noteworthy flashbacks since it's been back, and on Thursday's episode -- the first of a two-part event centered on a disastrous Seattle blizzard -- viewers will finally get to meet Travis' (Jay Hayden) late husband, Michael, for the very first time.
Played by Mean Girls alum Jonathan Bennett, Michael is seen in flashbacks during pivotal moments of his relationship with Travis, from the tense conversation they have with Travis' parents about their engagement (watch ET's exclusive sneak peek above) to their emotional wedding day. Michael, you'll remember, died on the job as a firefighter.
For Hayden, getting to explore Travis and Michael's marriage for an episode was a gratifying experience. He revealed that when Bennett was cast as Michael, he couldn't help but laugh. "Jonathan and I have been friends in this town auditioning against each other for years, mostly in comedy," the actor tells ET, before praising Bennett's "positive energy on set." "When he walked into the table read, we both started laughing so hard. We gave each other a big hug and I was like, 'I'm so glad it's you.' And he's like, 'Me too.' ... And also, it was great to finally put a face to Michael, who Travis has been talking about in every episode for two seasons straight."
Hayden, 33, also opened up about discovering different shades to Travis by playing out aspects of his relationship with Michael that ultimately informed the actor on what made his character tick.
"It was great to find out what their domestic life was like. The role we play as husband and wife, or husband and husband, or wife and wife. The patterns that we slip into. This one does the dishes, this one likes the couch really clean. This is how when one person gets angry, this is how the other one calms them down. Sometimes it's with a touch, sometimes it's with a look, sometimes it's with words," Hayden says. "It was nice to kind of find out who they were. It was nice to see a little more of a tender side from Travis when it comes to Michael. It was great to have scenes with Travis' mom and Michael, and watch that relationship, and how we all played off each other. That helped me understand Travis better."
Meet “Michael” on @station19 THIS Thursday on @abcnetwork - No better way to join the extremely talented cast of...
Of course, Station 19 wouldn't be Station 19 without a few medical emergencies to take care of. One of the victims seeking the help of firehouse 19 amid the snowy blizzard is a woman named Pilar, played by Phylicia Rashad, who is trapped under an embankment and unable to get out to safety. Travis, as it happens turns out, is her only hope of getting out alive.
"People are stranded and helpless. If you aren't well-equipped for that kind of weather, it can get very dangerous. That's what the setting of this week is," Hayden previews Thursday's episode. "There has been so much snowfall and such extreme weather, that now it's like, what do you do? What do you do as a first responder, an emergency responder, a caregiver, or a surgeon? What do you do when that kind of emergency hits and there are people in need?"
And there's been more cross-show romances this season between Station 19 and its flagship series, Grey's Anatomy, first with Jackson (Jesse Williams) and Vic (Barrett Doss), and now with Carina (Stefania Spampinato) and Maya (Danielle Savre). Could a Grey Sloan doc catch Travis' eye?
"Travis needs some love," Hayden says with a laugh. "It's one of those cases where they work right down the street from each other. They go to the same restaurants, they mingle at the same bars and they run into each other a lot. They kind of cohabitate together. Maya and Carina have started getting involved, and maybe Travis at some point will find his way into Grey's as well. But I leave that up to [showrunner] Krista [Vernoff] because she's the boss on that one."
"I would be lying if I didn't tell you that a lot of people ask about Travis and Schmitty," he hints. "I believe Krista would love for me to not comment on that yet. Jake [Borelli] and I are friends in real life so we would both really like that. I really hope that [Levi] and Travis get to share the screen at some point soon."
As for the current state of the firehouse, things are extremely messy at the moment (see: Andy and Jack reverting to being "friends with benefits," Sullivan's abuse of pain medication, Pruitt's mortality) -- and it's not going to get any easier.
"There are so many relationships going on because they're a family. We spend been way too many hours together and now we're starting to all have secrets from each other. There's secret relationships going on. There's feelings about one another that maybe we're not sharing not only with each other, but maybe with our own selves we're in denial about," Hayden says. "It's getting very complex, and usually when that stuff starts going on, something's about to erupt and explode."