The Grey's Anatomy firefighter spinoff is back in action four months after leaving us all with bated breath, wondering if Andy Herrera (Jaina Lee Ortiz) and Captain Robert Sullivan (Boris Kodjoe) both came out of their cliffhanger crash without so much as a scratch, amid a violent Seattle windstorm that brought other people closer together. When the show returns Thursday, the rest of the Station 19 crew scramble to find and rescue Andy and Sullivan, not knowing if what they'll find is tragedy or a miracle.
"When we last left everyone, they were in the middle of the windstorm, which if you've been watching Grey's Anatomy, has already been long since resolved. But on Station 19's timeline, at least at the beginning of our episode, the windstorm is still sort of finishing up its last few big giant gusts," showruner Stacy McKee previewed in a chat with ET. "We will definitely [have] a pretty direct pickup in that moment to see the aftermath of what happened, and how they're doing in that aid car, and how they get out of that particular scenario, if they get out of it."
But seriously, do Andy and Sullivan survive the crash?
“I wish I could say who lives and who dies, but unfortunately, per Shondaland, I could get in a lot of trouble," Ortiz told ET recently at the Disney-ABC all-star party at the Television Critics Association press tour in February, before describing the return episode as "amazing." "And you just never know. Honestly."
“Coming back as a ghost has its challenges, so hypothetically speaking, if [Sullivan] were to come back, he would suffer from PTSD for sure," Kodjoe joked to ET. "But then again, they’ll probably get closer because of the experience, hypothetically speaking. But the cliff was pretty high. There’s life, there’s death, there’s emotions, there’s definitely tears. You’ll definitely cry."
Prior to their accident, Andy and Sullivan bonded on a deeper level, with Sullivan sharing a deeply personal story from his past about the death of his wife years ago that took place on the same street they happened to be driving on. If both survive the crash -- and fingers crossed, they do! -- going through a life-and-death ordeal like this could very well bring them closer.
“Anyone who has gone through a traumatic experience like that, and if they’ve done it together, I think that creates a bond between those people and you’re sort of glued for life," Ortiz teased. "It’s a life situation that you never forget and it stays with you forever. I feel like it can intensify certain relationships, but it can also break some."
“Anytime you can go deep it’s fun for an actor, and the way they painted the character is multi-layered," Kodjoe said of Sullivan's arc. "At first, we see one side of him and then we understand why he is who he is, which is fun to play. There was a past and there was a different Sullivan before his wife died and people now understand why he’s such a harda**. Now, we’ll see where his growth takes him in case he should survive.”
Ortiz hinted there will be even more "juicy relationship drama" for all the characters in the coming weeks, not just Andy -- if she makes it out of her current situation, of course. But she waxed poetic about where she saw the Station 19 heroine going in her love life, amid the tangled romantic web she finds herself in with Ryan (Alberto Frezza) and Jack (Grey Damon) still in the picture.
“Andy had a little too much fun in the first season. I think she will be on a journey of self-exploration and she will be growing into her independence, and also realizing the independent woman that she will become after living on her own, being away from her dad," Ortiz mused. "It’s a new chapter, a new life for her, almost like a rebirth. I think we go through that in real life, so how can you not relate to it? It’ll be exciting for her.”
While Andy may be taking a slight break from romance, for the time being, Vic (Barrett Doss) and Fire Chief Lucas Ripley (Brett Tucker) are hot and heavy with their secret relationship. When asked about the surprising new couple, Ortiz shared her thoughts on why Shondaland romances such as this should be seen as empowering.
"I’m very reserved about characters dating their bosses, but at the same time, it’s Shondaland and no matter what, the woman is always the powerhouse in the situation. She knows what she wants. She knows what she deserves. She goes after it unapologetically and that’s that; it’s what she wants at the end of day," Ortiz eloquently explained. "I feel like every female on the show has this really strong sense of ability to proclaim that in all of their relationships. That’s a good thing. We don’t see the men taking advantage of the girls. If anything, we see the girls being the initiator and saying, ‘You know what, I don’t care if I seem to be a slut or a whore, I’m going to be a person.’ Because when men do it, it’s OK. But once a woman does it, she’s labeled. It’s great! Female empowerment.”
"With JoBeth, it gets extremely juicy. You do not want to miss it," she previewed, pausing before offering one intriguing nugget: "I'm very surprised during my first encounter with her. It’s a surprising, shocking first encounter.”
But back to Thursday's midseason return. McKee promised that the episode -- which includes a four-month time jump to align with the timeline on Grey's -- will put viewers on an "epic journey."
"We just screened it for the cast and crew last week and everyone walked out of it just jarred because they were like, 'I feel like I've just watched a movie.'," McKee shared. "Whilethe big push is the adrenaline and the action and the jeopardy of the situation, I've got to tell you, especially if you tune in for that last 15 minutes of the show, we have so much awesome, hilarious, sexy, juicy stuff happening.
"There are big twists and swings that happen for all of the characters that have almost nothing to do with the crazy action that they've been through [and] are just as powerful," she teased.
Station 19 returns Thursday, March 7 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.