Grey's Anatomy's Jessica Capshaw Teases Arizona's New Love (It's Not Mer!), Reflects on Sara Ramirez' Exit

After sitting out the first two episodes of Season 13 to spend a little extra time with her newborn daughter, Jessica Capshaw returns to Grey’s Anatomy this Thursday (ABC, 8/7c) and, man, does she hit the ground running. Not only is Arizona caught in the middle of the still-simmering Alex-Andrew drama (the former is her partner in pediatric crime and the latter is her roomie — awkward!), but she finds herself strapped into the driver’s seat of the episode’s main medical story. On the bright side, all the chaos leaves little time for her to dwell on the fact that her ex-love and baby mama Callie (Sara Ramirez) is now living 3,000 miles away in the Big Apple with their daughter Sofia.

Below, Capshaw previews Arizona’s calamitous comeback, drops a hint about her new onscreen romance, and reflects on the departure of her longtime leading lady.

TVLINE | You missed the first two episodes of the season. Did it feel like school had started without you?
[Laughs] It did! It absolutely did. I was texting them, “What’s going on? What’s happening now?” They would still send me the scripts, though, so I remained tethered.

TVLINE | Was it weird to come back and not have Sara there?
Yes. To your analogy, it does feel like you’re going back to school, and there are things that are a bit different from the way they were before. But, obviously, [Sara leaving] was a bigger one. So definitely you feel the absence of any incredibly strong performer who is no longer there anymore.

TVLINE | Did you know she wasn’t returning when you shot your last scene together in the finale?
No, I did not.

TVLINE | Do you feel like you need closure on the Callie/Arizona storyline? Or are you content with how it ended?
I don’t know. It was left open-ended. In the Shondaland world, there is still a character named Callie who lives in New York City. But I don’t know what the closure is yet.

TVLINE | The preview for this week’s episode confirms that Arizona is pissed at Alex for assaulting Andrew. Is there more going on there than her just looking out for her roommate?
It’s funny, when I read the scripts that I wasn’t in, I felt like I wanted to know what Arizona was doing [when the Alex-Andrew melee went down]. Outside of Callie, Arizona has been closest to Alex. So I was kind of wondering if Alex would [reach out] to her. We find out in the episode that she heard what happened [while in NY], but she has no idea just how bad it is [until] she returns to work. And, when she sees just how bad it is, it really fires her up. And it worries her. Because anyone who can do something like that needs some help. Needs some assistance. [Laughs]

TVLINE | Does she feel caught in the middle?
She gets to sort of ride the middle. There’s an understanding that she might be able to both be upset at Alex and sad for Andrew.

TVLINE | Shonda Rhimes has said Arizona will be getting a new love interest this season. What are your sources telling you about when we’ll meet her?
[Laughs] My sources are telling me that it’s not going to be too far away. We had to wade through a little muck first. But I do feel that Arizona has certainly waited long enough.

TVLINE | Is it going to be a new person or a character already on the show?
I think it’s got to be a new person, right? What am I going to do, start making out with Ellen [Pompeo]? [Laughs]