Those watching the current series of Grey's Anatomy will be surprised to hear that the show's creator Shonda Rhimes has dubbed it “the season of romance”.
Two episodes into series nine and the cast of the medical drama are dealing with the fallout of the plane crash that left Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) and the gang stranded in the woods.
The crash ultimately claimed the lives of two much-loved characters, Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh) and Mark Sloan (Eric Dane), and it also, as we just learnt, came at a significant physical cost for Arizona Robbins' (Jessica Capshaw) and subsequently left her marriage to Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) in tatters. It also put a cloud over the surgical future of hotshot neurosurgeon Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey).
It's a dark start for longstanding fans of the medical drama – and a long way from love – but hang in there, says Rhimes.
“We've been calling this season the season of romance and talking about playing up the romance of surgery and the romance between characters and the romance of friendships and really mining that as much as we can,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “It's not going to be a dark season.”
Rhimes says we can look forward to estranged couple Cristina and Owen (Kevin McKidd) making amends and Callie and Arizona getting their “mojo” back.
“I feel like one of the things we're going to be seeing this season is Cristina and Owen finding their way back to each other. It's not going to be easy and it's not going to be quick, but I think it's going to be really beautiful. I'm happy because I love them, so I'm excited,” she told TV Guide.
“Callie and Arizona are going to have a fun romance-y, sexy love life again ... I stated in the Writers Room that Arizona could not lose a leg unless we were going to see how a person missing a leg could be sexy and fun and romance-y. So get ready for it – Arizona is gonna get her mojo back in a big way.”
As for Meredith, over the years she has survived a bomb scare, a drowning, a gunman and now a plane crash. Her baby was taken away from her (and eventually returned) and now her sister has died – should we be worried about what's in store for the title character this season?
“You're going to be surprised at the Meredith you see. I think there's a lot of growth there for the girl who drowned, put her hand on a bomb in a body cavity, the girl whose husband was shot in front of her.
“She's grown in a number of ways and the way that she's coping with the plane crash is very different from the Meredith you would have seen coping with the shooting and the Meredith who was coping with the bomb guy exploding – she's a different person at this point.”
To further set minds at rest Rhimes promises there will be no funerals this season and instead says viewers can look forward to a wedding. And thank heavens for that.
Greys Anatomy, Channel Seven, Tuesdays 9.40pm