ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy returns for Season 9 on Thursday at 9pm. Who survives the plane crash and what will the new season bring for our favorite surgeons? Kevin McKidd (Owen Hunt) addresses the aftermath of the tragedy and offers his insights on what the future holds for Owen and Cristina.

Shonda Rhimes (series creator) has said that the season premiere is going to be a flash forward that drops the audience into the story a few months past the plane crash. Can you talk about what challenges Owen is dealing with as the season opens, professionally and personally?

He’s going to keep everybody together, keep everyone on track and recover. He’s trying to keep his hospital together. It’s tough. The key element of your hospital. Lexie has died. People are leaving. People are changing. People are in a different place. Derek, his top neurosurgeon, has problems physically with his hand after the crash. So it’s a lot. It’s a lot for him to manage this. He does a good job but it weighs on him heavily, to try to keep the hospital afloat and functioning. But I think he steps up to it, yeah. He does a pretty good job. Owen’s good with difficult, traumatic situations, I think, so he manages to keep himself together.

I think you’re right that he’s good in those difficult situations. What about personally? It’s been confirmed that Cristina is leaving Seattle to do her fellowship and I’m wondering what Owen’s response is to that? Does he have an influence in that decision? Does he support that decision? What’s the status of their relationship?

You know, they’re a complicated couple, Owen and Cristina, and they’ve had a lot of problems going into the finale last year, as we know. They were very distanced from each other. So Owen is trying to get through to Cristina and trying to reach her because he loves her so much. But there’s a distance and in a way this crash has created even more of a distance between him and Cristina. So in the first few episodes you see him try to reach her but it feels like there’s very much a closed door there. And it’s sad for Owen and it’s sad for Cristina, I think. Owen gets it, too. He understands the reasons why and he’s trying to be patient, I think. So that’s where they’re at in the first few episodes.

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I thought it was a really pivotal moment last season when Cristina told Meredith that Owen is her “person.” And I’m wondering if we’re going to see that play out at all in season nine and maybe do Cristina’s priorities shift? As a result of the plane crash or the experiences she has in her fellowship? Are we ever going to hear Cristina tell Owen that he’s her person?

I don’t know yet. It’s still early days in the season. So, I hope so. I think it’d be nice for Owen to have that information. I think he’s always felt like a second-class citizen a little bit in the relationship, that’s part of why everything that happened to them last year happened. So I think it’s a key piece of information that Owen needs to hear. When that happens, I don’t know, but I agree. It would change Owen’s view a lot on everything, if he knew that. That’s the thing dealing with Cristina. She’s complicated. She’s a complicated person. But he loves her. They’ve always had an issue with communication. I just hope they can figure it out and start to communicate in a more healthy way.

I do, too. You said something interesting. Because you’re right. Last season got really crazy, especially towards the end. I’m wondering about your take on something. Cristina called Owen her person, they had that encounter in the on-call room, and then she promptly told him that she’s leaving. I think a lot of fans really questioned what that was all about, but as you said, Cristina is complicated. What did you make of that whole sequence of events?

I think that even though Owen and Cristina kind of don’t fit, they do.  They’ve got this weird push/pull thing. They’re so glued and connected to each other. And it’s more in the episode.  I think they knew that they needed to have some time apart or something. There’s still a lot of damage there. I think the writers were able to kind of explain that these people are deeply connected but they can’t be together for various reasons. Very emotional reasons.  So that kind of battle in their psyches, they need and want and love each other and yet they can’t be together. And I think that was a physical expression of that.

Do you think that some of those issues from last season are going to circle back again this year? Have we heard the end of things like the abortion and the infidelity? He wants children, she doesn’t want children. Is that going to circle back again or have we moved on in the wake of the plane crash?

Certain things are going to take a backseat for awhile until the plane crash is dealt with but then I don’t know. I certainly believe that those issues that still exist, those core fundamental differences, of worldview, if they have a chance of makin’ it through this they have to really deal with those things. Really deal with them, come to peace with them. I don’t know when that will be or where that will end up, but I’m sure it will be interesting in ways we least expect. Cristina and Owen tend to have a really amazing way of surprising you, surprising themselves. They come to quite interesting, pivotal realizations, cathartic moments. They always seem to be for and with each other. I think that’s part of why they’re so connected and meant to be.

Shonda Rhimes is calling this season the Season of Romance. I’m wondering: does this apply to Owen and Cristina? They’re in different cities; they’re in a difficult point in their relationship. Do they find their way back to each other and do you think they can find lasting happiness together?

I hope so. I really do. I’ve always loved this couple. It’s too early for us to know that. It’s gonna take awhile for them to bridge the gap. But I think there’s already, even in the first few episodes, there’s little markers, little hints. It looks over, for Cristina and Owen, but things aren’t really over.

I like that. You know, in that first episode, I’ve got to think that both Owen and Meredith are feeling the absence of Cristina pretty deeply. Are there any Owen and Meredith scenes in that first episode? I’m wondering if you think Meredith will ever come to accept Owen’s role in Cristina’s life and to really understand that deep connection that Owen and Cristina have and what they mean to each other.

They don’t really have much to do with each other. They always tend to keep a healthy distance. I do think that Meredith has kind of accepted that what Cristina said is true. Owen is her person now. There’s been an evolution in Meredith and Cristina in that realization. There’s a lot more mutual respect, I think is the right word (between Owen and Meredith). They both miss Cristina so much. It gives them kind of a shared thing. I don’t think there’s much interaction between them, if that’s what you’re asking. Kind of a tacit agreement between Owen and Meredith.

You’ve said that the plane crash is going to affect Owen in some unexpected ways. I don’t know if this has any relevance at all but it occurred to me to wonder if Owen’s Post Traumatic Stress might rear up again because of all of this or maybe he’s affected in other ways by the plane crash.

In other ways but also he can help the doctors in a way. He has certain information, certain experiences with PTSD that stretch right back for him. He’s no stranger to trauma. I think the effect that he can have is quite profound as the chief. He’s actually lived and breathed loss and pain, these kinds of traumatic things for a long time. So I think we’ll see Owen really step up to that, to being able to help in a very Owen way. Not touchy feely. You know what I mean? Do what’s needed to be done in that moment. What people need, he kind of has an understanding of that.

Don’t miss the return of Grey’s Anatomy Thursday, 9pm on ABC, and check out the Grey’s Anatomy official page for more info.

(Image courtesy of ABC)

Janalen Samson

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV