PREVIOUSLY ON… | While trying to make a little extra cash cleaning out the diner’s heretofore hidden back room, Caroline and Max discovered a window that opens onto the street… and had an epiphany that just may revive their fledgling cupcake business.
COMING UP NEXT | The pair’s literal breakthrough leads to a scaled-down version of their boutique: “a cupcake walk-up window in Williamsburg that’s open from 2 in the morning to 4, for the drunks,” says series co-creator Michael Patrick King. “The success of the window, in its small but very potent beginning, is going to open their eyes to the possibility that maybe they can be successful.” Elsewhere, “Oleg and Sophie have split up and are trying to be friends, whatever that means for this incredibly dysfunctional couple,” he says, and Han will deal with the twin “joys” of a visit from his mom and getting a new love interest.
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | The season won’t be all buttercream and bottom lines for our favorite waitresses: Max will find herself in a long-term relationship with “a hard-ass pastry chef,” the first guy who really gets her, King says. “Max has all these bad boys, and they’re really hot. This time she’s going to find a friend who is also hot.” But, King warns, this dashing doughboy may not be exactly who he seems.
RETURN DATE | Monday, Sept. 23 at 9/8c (CBS)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Oliver & Co. managed to thwart part of Malcolm Merlyn’s “Undertaking,” but Tommy tragically lost his life during the disaster, while his father (seemingly) died at Arrow’s hand.
COMING UP NEXT | Having had enough of the “vigilante” label, Oliver decides “he needs to be a symbol of hope for people — and part of that means adopting the moniker of Arrow,” says showrunner Andrew Kreisberg. On the crimefighting front, Ollie will have his hands full with a DC-rich rogues gallery, while in salvaging the tainted Queen Consolidated, he’ll find a nemesis in Isabel Rochev (Firefly’s Summer Glau). “Their scenes have a lot of fun banter,” raves Kreisberg, mum on whether they’ll partner in, ahem, other ways. Elsewhere: Felicity continues to be adorkably “uncomfortable in dicey situations”, Roy scores a game-changing face-to-hood with Oliver’s alter ego and someone else’s debut as Black Canary actually marks “one step in a larger journey” for Laurel.
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Not only will the infamous Suicide Squad make itself known with the Episode 2 introduction of Bronze Tiger (Spawn’s Michael Jai White), but boss lady Amanda Waller herself will surface in the Diggle-centric Episode 6, “Keep Your Enemies Closer.” Kreisberg says of the yet-to-be-cast character, who has previously been brought to life by the likes of Angela Bassett, CCH Pounder and Pam Grier, “We’re excited to introduce yet another version that will hopefully stand up to the previous ones.“
RETURN DATE | Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 8/7c (The CW)
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
PREVIOUSLY ON… | After Vincent engaged in a beastly brawl with Gabe, he was captured and airlifted away by a Muirfield team commanded by… Catherine’s biological father?!
COMING UP NEXT | Picking up three months later, “You’ll see the toll [losing Vincent] has taken on Catherine,” says EP Sherri Cooper. As a result, kid sis Heather — who in the finale learned their pop isn’t really their pop — “is still trying to figure out, ‘Do I tell her? Or do I not?’ She assumes Cat is having a reaction to their dad’s accident”… and/or a “traumatic something else” that happens in their lives. Vincent’s whereabouts, meanwhile, are more (or less) quickly established, but how will his lady love possibly track him down? “You’ll realize there was one lead she could follow up on,” Cooper teases. “It’s a cool, Agatha Christie-like moment where you’re like, ‘A-ha!’” Might Cat get an assist from the other beast in her life? “Gabe was shot to pieces, but he got a second chance at life, and that affects a person’s point of view,” says Cooper. “He’s ‘born again.’”
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Though the show is dropping the procedural element, we’ll still see Cat and Tess work cases that “are related to the greater mythology,” says Cooper. OK, but why is Tess subjecting her partner to a lie detector test early on in Season 2?!
RETURN DATE | Monday, Oct. 7 at 9/8c (The CW)
THE BIG BANG THEORY
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Raj experienced a breakthrough with the fairer sex when he managed to hold down a conversation with Penny while sober. Leonard, meanwhile, abandoned Sheldon and Penny for the summer to go work in the North Sea with his idol Stephen Hawking.
COMING UP NEXT | The season picks up near the end of Leonard’s Summer at Sea, which means viewers will get a glimpse of the bonding Penny and Sheldon have done in his absence. “There may be a little hugging,” teases exec producer Steve Molaro. “They have some really sweet scenes together.” Raj, meanwhile, is trying to harness his newfound oratory power. “He can now speak to women without alcohol, but that doesn’t mean he’s good at it — he’s not,” Molaro says with a laugh. “And he’s still heartbroken about Lucy and sort of picking up the pieces and trying to move forward.” An upcoming episode centered on an MIT-style scavenger hunt gave Molaro and his fellow writers the opportunity to play around with some unique character pairings. “Amy and Howard are one of those,” he confirms. “Without telling you exactly what it is, I will tell you they find something very specific that they bond over, and it’s quite charming.”
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | A major professional development will have Sheldon reeling, although the nature of said news remains a mystery — even to Molaro! “We’re still arguing about it right now,” he laughs.
RETURN DATE | Thursday, Sept. 26 at 8/7c (CBS, one hour)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Hector Santiago, a resident of the Bitterman Projects, shot Mayor Poole. Santana’s girlfriend was caught with his drugs, and she agreed to testify against Santana after he ordered a hit on her. Santana wound up under arrest when Frank and the NYPD raided the projects. At season’s end, the entire family went on a beach vacation.
COMING UP NEXT | Danny and Jamie will both be challenged by their partners (played by promoted series regular Marisa Ramirez and Pretty Little Liars’ Vanessa Ray), and Danny will question his passion for the NYPD lifestyle. But Reagan family patriarch Frank will struggle the most in the upcoming season, as he deals with the aftermath of the Bitterman Projects drama and is faced with tough decisions in the workplace. (“We like to challenge him,” hints executive producer Kevin Wade.)
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER |The Sopranos’ John Ventimiglia will return in Season 4, this time as an NYPD bigwig.
RETURN DATE | Friday, Sept. 27 at 10/9c (CBS)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Linda sold Bob’s espresso machine to pay for Gene’s baseball camp, sending the Belcher patriarch into a rage and Tina into extreme caffeine-withdrawal.
COMING UP NEXT | As executive producer Loren Bouchard divulged to TVLine at Comic-Con, Season 4 will feature an episode titled “The Kids Rob a Train,” in which the Belcher kids and Regular-Sized Rudy hold up a wine-tasting train. Also, this year’s holiday episodes will feature big-name guest voices such as Enlightened’s Molly Shannon at Halloween, Parks and Recreation’s Aziz Ansari at Thanksgiving and Police Academy’s Bobcat Goldthwait at Christmas. Will Forte, Kevin Kline, Megan Mullally, Tim Meadows and Ken Jeong will return to voice their recurring characters, and they’ll be joined by Bob‘s newcomers Kathryn Hahn (Parks and Recreation) and Rachel Dratch (Saturday Night Live).
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Direct from the mouth of star Eugene Mirman: The Thanksgiving episode will feature — wait for it — a turkey. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.
RETURN DATE | Sunday, Sept. 29 at 8:30/7:30c (Fox)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Booth hastily (and awkwardly) called off his engagement to Brennan after Pelant threatened to kill a handful of innocents if he failed to do so, leaving his would-be bride heartbroken. Elsewhere, Sweets felt responsible for the unintentional role he played in Pelant’s latest killing spree.
COMING UP NEXT | The action jumps ahead several months, where Booth and Brennan’s relationship is on the verge of buckling under the strain of The Lie. “The first episode will clearly revolve around how Brennan and Booth deal with the fact that the wedding was called off,” shares exec producer Stephen Nathan, who confirms that the star-crossed lovers will eventually mend fences and (hallelujah!) tie the knot during Season 9. And have no fear — this won’t be some rinky-dink, half-assed affair. “We’ve been waiting over eight years for this and we really want to deliver the wedding that everybody hopes for,” assures Nathan. “It’s our intention that when [viewers] get an invitation, it’s well worth wearing a clean suit and buying a nice gift.” Elsewhere, Sweets takes a guilt trip to the inner city to explore a new job opportunity, and Hodgins is reunited with a surprising family member.
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Something happens in Episode 2 that rocks Cam’s world — and subsequently impacts her burgeoning romance with Arastoo. “It’s not a disease or anything like that,” Nathan notes. “But it’s something she will have to contend with for [the rest of] this season.”
RETURN DATE | Monday, Sept. 16 at 8/7c (Fox)
THE CARRIE DIARIES
PREVIOUSLY ON… | After breaking up with Sebastian, Carrie and her buddy Walt moved into Larissa’s NYC loft for the summer; Walt kissed Bennet; Dorrit lost her virginity to Miller; Mouse gave in to Wes’ charms.
COMING UP NEXT | The show will split its time more evenly between Castleberry and the Big Apple as it explores “what makes [her] Carrie,” says executive producer Amy B. Harris. “So much of that is Manhattan. The fact that she never cooks or buys groceries is going to have some funny ramifications for her in an episode.” Carrie also makes a Sexy new friend named Samantha (played by Lindsey Gort), and encounters a potential love interest (played by Chris Wood) — though Harris maintains that “Sebastian is very much still in her mind. She’s struggling to figure out how do you move on from someone when you still love them.” Speaking of her ex, he’ll be going through a tough time following their split. “[Sebastian’s] mom will make some big decisions that are going to make his life a lot harder,” teases the EP. “At times, he’ll make some very bad decisions for himself” — with cougar love interest Molly Sims? — “as he feels like he’s lost Carrie.”
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Sorry, things are still platonic between Bennet and the underage Walt when the season begins. The newly out teen “is really struggling to figure out who he is as a gay man without having very many gay experiences, but really loving his life in New York and being able to be out in the world,” says Harris. “But he’s pining, to some degree, for Bennet.”
RETURN DATE | Friday, Oct. 25 at 8/7c (The CW)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | On the heels of a slightly bumpy patch — during which his lady love got kissed by a handsome stranger and stealthily pursued an out-of-town job — Rick decided he still liked it and thus sought to put a ring on it, popping the question to Kate in the final seconds of the finale.
COMING UP NEXT | “Real relationships are not compromised because one person is having success in their career,” Stana Katic notes, perhaps hinting at Beckett’s decisions regarding marriage and the D.C. job. Once those issues are resolved, the show jumps ahead a few months, where the repercussions are proving “more complicated” than expected, Katic shares. Joining the Season 6 mix, you’ve got House‘s Lisa Edelstein (appearing in three episodes as a D.C. crimesolver), Yancey Airas (above) as an elite crimefighter and The Pacific‘s Joshua Bitton (recurring as a 12th precinct newbie that Esposito and dad-to-be Ryan get to razz). “They’re willing to take storytelling risks this season – and I think we’ve got to,” Katic observes. “We’ve got to shake it up.”
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Beckett’s Moby Dick — the slimy Senator Bracken (played by Jack Coleman) — “will come back,” says Katic, “though I don’t know when, and I don’t know how.”
RETURN DATE | Monday, Sept. 23 at 10/9c (ABC)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Shay and Severide’s attempts to have a baby were overshadowed by the arrival of his now-pregnant ex, Renée. Dawson and Mills broke things off, leading the young firefighter to consider applying for the Chicago PD.
COMING UP NEXT | Sarah Shahi (who is now a regular on Person of Interest) will return for an episode to resolve Renée and Severide’s sticky sitch “in an effective way,” assures executive producer Danielle Gelber. But her bun in the oven comes with “a surprise twist… that’s going to really impact [Severide and Shay’s] close friendship and Severide’s relationship with Renée.” Meanwhile, as Casey tries to move forward after Hallie’s death, “Unexpected things happen… that will really rivet his focus away from that [tragedy].” Now that he’s on the mend, will there be romance for the firefighter and a certain newly single paramedic? “Casey and Dawson are going to continue to be quite a complex duo,” Gelber hedges. “Their very strong friendship is always going to inform everything that happens between them. And yet, there will be some emotional and romantic sparks at some point, too.” As for Mills, whether or not he will commit to the police department “is going to be a question that hangs over the first few episodes,” reveals Gelber.
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Although spin-off Chicago PD doesn’t debut until midseason, there will be plenty of cross traffic between the shows this fall. In addition to Antonio Dawson and Hank Voight, “some of the characters we’ve created and actors we’ve cast in [Chicago PD] will appear in the first 13 [episodes] of Chicago Fire,” says Gelber. “Chicago Fire people will be on the [Chicago PD] storyline, as well.”
RETURN DATE | Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 10/9c (NBC)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | The Replicator who taunted Hotch’s team throughout Season 8 — an FBI wonk who had turned to the Dark Side — was hunted down and killed via his own homemade booby trap — but not before he snuffed unit chief Strauss.
COMING UP NEXT | Picking up months later, "Hotch has been very busy" filling Strauss' shoes, show boss Erica Messer notes. But that changes in Episode 3 when Esai Morales (Caprica) debuts as Matt Cruz, a new unit chief who arrives possessing a mysterious "caring" relationship with JJ. "People will wonder, 'Did they have an affair? What's going on?'" Messer says. "And all of that will pay off in our 200th episode, when we deal with the time JJ was away [during Season 6].” Guest stars on tap for Season 9 include Camryn Manheim (The Practice), David Anders (Alias), Eva La Rue (CSI: Miami) and Sarah Jane Morris (NCIS).
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | “A present day case where she’s up against her old hacker world” will tee up an origin story for Garcia, taking us back to 2004, when she first met Hotch. During that tale, Messer shares, “We’ll finally meet the guy who owned her heart long before we met her.”
RETURN DATE | Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 9/8c (CBS)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | While working a case centering on a Dante-inspired murderer, Morgan went missing. The fate of Brass' MIA daughter Ellie was also left up in the air.
COMING UP NEXT | "In the very first frame of the premiere, we will see a casket and our CSI family gathered at a memorial service, in mourning," reveals executive producer Don McGill. "The fundamental question posed is: Who’s in the casket? Then we almost immediately flash back to three days earlier and pick up right where we left off in the finale." And brace yourselves, because someone will die. "People will be surprised who it is,” McGill asserts. “And there will ramifications as the season progresses.” In more upbeat news, the 300th episode, filled with new flashbacks, coming — and Marg Helgenberger is returning for the milestone. (George Eads, however, will not take part due to some behind-the-scenes drama.)
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER |CSI’s upcoming reunion between former Cheers cohorts Ted Danson and John Ratzenberger will not disappoint. "There are just some great scenes between Ted and John," McGill promises. "It was really electric."
RETURN DATE | Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 10/9c (CBS)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Sherlock’s only love, Irene Adler (guest star Natalie Dormer), was exposed as his greatest foe, Moriarty. Ouch.
COMING UP NEXT | Dormer’s character may be locked up, but she’ll be back. “As we come into the season, [Sherlock is] not obsessing over [Moriarty],” says executive producer Rob Doherty. “But it’s something that we want to revisit over the course of the second season. We’ll find a way for Moriarty to get up to some more bad stuff.” But first, it’s London, baby! The Season 2 premiere travels to Sherlock’s motherland when he is called to help Inspector Lestrade (British actor Sean Pertwee) with a case and ends up crossing paths with his estranged brother Mycroft (guest star Rhys Ifans of The Amazing Spider-Man). “He really had no intention of seeing his brother or talking to him or even telling Joan that he exists,” previews Doherty. As such, “It’s not a very happy reunion, at least initially. But over the course of the episode, we try to find out what drove the brothers apart, what they have in common and what are their differences.” The chance meeting will also make Sherlock “suspicious that Joan wants to have a meal with Mycroft to learn secrets from his childhood, which is not true.” Speaking of the P.I.-in-training, an unexpected request from the son (Smash‘s Jeremy Jordan) of the surgical patient who died in her care will force Watson to examine her feelings of guilt.
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Sherlock’s brother will pop up again in Episode 6 or 7, but this time, he’ll be the one making a trip as he travels to New York.
RETURN DATE | Thursday, Sept. 26 at 10/9c (CBS)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Brian and Stewie accidentally cloned themselves while traveling to Las Vegas. Chris began dating a wealthy Rhode Island girl, prompting the Griffins to join a country club.
COMING UP NEXT | Showrunner Rich Appel remains tight-lipped about one of Season 12’s biggest twists: the death of a Griffin. “That’s really happening, and [the victim] will be one of the main six,” he says cryptically. “You’ll just have to tune in.” The rest of the season will include a “politically timely” episode in which Lois’ millionaire father leaves his fortune to Chris, prompting Peter to divorce Lois and marry Chris (yes, his son) in order to get his hands on the moolah. Other Quahog craziness: Unlucky Stewie will contract herpes, Peter and Quagmire form a Simon and Garfunkel-esque folk duo, and Cleveland returns to Spooner Street. Listen for this season’s guest voices — Liam Neeson, Two and a Half Men’s Ashton Kutcher and Jon Cryer, Conan O’Brien, Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom) and Adam Levine (The Voice) — all of whom will play themselves.
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | If you thought Quagmire was the series’ most obvious sexual deviant, think again. This season, the letchy lothario will date a woman (voiced by American Dad!’s Rachael MacFarlane) who Appel says is “even more confident and inventive than he is.”
RETURN DATE | Sunday, Sept. 29 at 9/8c (Fox)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Rachel nervously waited for word on whether she landed the lead in a Broadway production of Funny Girl, Brittany gained early acceptance to MIT and Will and Emma tied the knot.
COMING UP NEXT | The Oct. 10 Finn tribute — which reportedly will be Rachel-free until the final gut-wrenching act — will be an exploration of “grief on every level,” previews co-star Kevin McHale (Artie). “You’re going to see us dealing with his death in different ways.” Life at McKinley will eventually go on, though, and with it comes new characters (including pop star Demi Lovato as Santana’s NYC-based girlfriend) and new pairings (Artie and Kitty!). “At the end of last season, Kitty was kind of helping Artie get into college and dealing with his mom and all that,” McHale points out. “When we were shooting, that I kind of felt like something was going to happen there.”
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Rumor has it that a cover of Katy Perry’s smash single “Roar” will be prominently featured in a fall episode.
RETURN DATE | Thursday, Sept. 26 at 9/8c (Fox)
THE GOOD WIFE
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Alicia decided to join forces with Cary in creating their own rival firm, Peter was elected governor and Diane remained torn between two loves: the Supreme Court and Kurt McVeigh.
COMING UP NEXT | Alicia will keep her intent to defect a secret from her Lockhart Gardner colleagues, at first. “We want to get the audience wet with this difficulty of betraying your firm,” exec producer Robert King said back in July. “[It’s] the quiet before the s–tstorm.” (Graham Phillips — aka Zach — possibly pinpointed the arrival of said ‘storm’ when he likened, via Twitter, the coming season’s fifth episode to Game of Thrones’ infamous “Red Wedding” bloodbath.) And despite the professional tension/rivalry that will soon exist between Alicia and Will, King says “there’s a chance” Season 5 could find the unrequited pair parlaying their considerable sexual chemistry into a full-fledged relationship. “In an ideal world, they would be The Couple,” King concedes. “Alicia and Will have this passion and they can’t figure out whether it’s about sex or really commitment. The difficulty is never getting some air to explore whether they’re soul mates or not. If they did, would they find out that they’re not? They’re a little afraid of that, and we’re going to see hints of that.” New blood this season includes Ben Rappaport (as Alicia and Cary’s colleague at Florrick Agos & Assoc., Carey), Melissa George (as Peter’s in-house ethics czar) and British actress Juliet Rylance (as Kalinda’s love interest.)
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Her ties with Kalinda still tenuous at best, Alicia “starts relying more and more on Eli” for friendship, King shares. And if he’s not available? “We’ll see her leaning on her family a bit more, and that includes [Zach and Grace],” adds fellow EP Michelle King. “They’re growing up, so she’s able to discuss more adult things with them.”
RETURN DATE | Sunday, Sept. 29 at 9/8c (CBS)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Despite a nail-biter of a delivery, Mer and Der celebrated the birth of their healthy son Bailey; Alex and Jo shared their first kiss; a newly engaged April ‘fessed her feelings to Jackson; and two couples — Cristina/Owen and Arizona/Callie — broke up. Oh, and Richard was electrocuted in the hospital’s flooded basement.
COMING UP NEXT | Richard’s uncertain fate will be resolved in the two-hour premiere, which picks up right after the events of the finale. Expect “interesting repercussions” for April and Jackson in the wake of her declaration, teases series creator Shonda Rhimes, noting, “They’ve definitely got some challenging times ahead. She’s engaged to [Matt], and he’s with [Stephanie]. And it’s not as if they’re behaving in the most mature manner about this.” Callie and Arizona, meanwhile, have a “large amount of work to do,” although the “other woman” in their relationship — Hilarie Burton’s Lauren — won’t be around to further complicate things. Rhimes was mum on the future of Cristina/Owen, saying only that their post-breakup storyline will “not retread old ground.” (News that Sandra Oh is leaving at the end of Season 10 suggests that any reunion will be short-lived.)
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | The new season will find Mer and Der tackling big-picture issues, namely: “Is it possible to have it all? And what does ‘Having it all’ mean?” teases Rhimes. “And if you do have it all, does that mean you’re not doing anything well, that you’re just doing a lot of some things and not all the things perfectly?”
RETURN DATE | Thursday, Sept. 26 at 9/8c (ABC, two hours)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Juliette recovered her memories and had a tentative reunion with Nick, Adalind became pregnant with what’s probably the spawn of a Renard (but which one?), and Eric Renard plotted to have Nick turned into a zombie and entombed in a crate.
COMING UP NEXT | The two-part Season 3 opener finds a zombified Nick as cargo on a plane bound for Europe — but “whether it lands or not is another issue,” teases series co-creator David Greenwalt. Expect the beleaguered hero to engage in some terrible acts while he’s one of the walking dead – and then, once recovered, to be tortured by the knowledge of what he’s done. “There will be physical, emotional and moral residual effects,” says co-creator James Kouf. “He’s really not the same person that you had in the first two seasons.” Bummer. How about we end on some happy news? Rosalee and Monroe are getting married! (Maybe.) “Nobody knows for sure yet. So many things can get in the way,” Kouf teases. Oh, well we can always rely on Wu for comedic relief, right? Not necessarily; the show bosses say that upon learning of the Wesen world, the sarcastic sergeant will have a “rougher road” to acceptance than did Hank. “It’s more of a breakdown road,” Greenwalt jokes.
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Per Geenwalt, this season will include “dangerous, sexy mermaids,” a vengeful Wesen, an exorcism episode and the appearance of Meisner, a shadowy figure who before now has only been alluded as being somehow involved with the royals. “But we’re going to actually see him in Season 3,” Kouf promises.
RETURN DATE | Friday, Oct. 25 at 9/8c on NBC
HART OF DIXIE
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Three Bluebell faves — Zoe, Wade and George, all newly single — set out to find themselves over the summer, with two of them even leaving town. Meanwhile, Lemon vowed to let love back into her life and Lavon and Annabeth went public with their romance.
COMING UP NEXT | Season 3 picks up five months after the finale and finds "no one where we expect them to be — both physically and emotionally," showrunner Leila Gerstein reveals. Zoe, for her part, had "a wonderful summer" in New York, while George — whose on/off love connection with the darling doc "has run its course for the foreseeable future" — used his time away to "realize that he let Tansy go too fast and should have fought for her," the EP shares. And next we see Wade, he’ll still be plugging away at the Rammer Jammer alongside Lemon, who is enjoying "a mysterious secret relationship with someone." (This handsome gent, perhaps?) As for Annabeth and Lavon, "We love them!" Gerstein gushes. "We’re putting that relationship front and center." (But expect Lavon’s cousin to create tension for the twosome.)
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | "We’re growing our world" even more in Season 3, Gerstein teases. "We'll meet Brick’s mother, [Zoe's father] Harley Wilkes’ family and also Annabeth’s parents for the first time." Don't get too excited, though: Zoe doesn't have any siblings running around town. "Harley doesn’t have other kids," the EP assures; the new faces are “just Zoe's cousins."
RETURN DATE | Monday, Oct. 7 at 8/7c (The CW)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | As Kono ran off to China with Adam and Danny reunited with Gabby, McGarrett visited Wo Fat in prison — having learned that his mother had once, mysteriously, done the same! But just as he arrived, unseen forces came after the enemies, working their way through the cell’s steel door…
COMING UP NEXT | Who's knocking on Wo Fat's door? "If they made it that far, they’re pretty formidable. And if Wo Fat is scared, that’s a big deal," says showrunner Peter M. Lenkov. In short, "The people on the other side are a payoff to a larger story." With regards to Kono's absence (she'll appear in “a bunch of” early episodes but won't rejoin the team until about midseason), Five-0 "will feel fractured, like a three-wheeled car" with a key player MIA. Enter Chi McBride (Human Target) as Lou Grover, a SWAT Captain with whom Steve will at one point reluctantly be partnered. "If people thought McGarrett was ballsy and lived by his own rules, they haven’t met this guy yet," Lenkov attests. "He's going to give McGarrett a run for his money." Also ahead: More on the Doris/Wo fat connection ("It's not the obvious answer"), a Chin Ho flashback episode, McGarrett comes to regret encouraging Catherine to work for Billy’s security firm, and an hour that revisits Pearl Harbor through the eyes of Steve's late grandfather.
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER |Lost fans can count on a fun in-joke — "a little deserted island reference" — when guest star Jorge Garcia shares scenes with Daniel Dae Kim in Episode 3. Plus: We may get a song from Carol Burnett, when the TV icon pops up as Steve's aunt.
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Friday, Sept. 27 at 9/8c (CBS)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | A bomb originating in Brody’s car caused mass casualties at Langley. Carrie, convinced her lover was set up, helped him flee the country.
COMING UP NEXT | Carrie (once again back off her meds) and Saul (now the acting CIA director) have some ‘splainin to do to a Senate committee investigating the terror attack, which left the CIA a literal and figurative shell of its former self. “The CIA itself is on trial,” notes exec producer Alex Ganza, who says a theme of Season 3 is “the cost that being an intelligence officer exacts on the people in that career.” Brody will resurface in Episode [spoiler] with a drastically altered appearance. “He's the most wanted criminal in the world, so he has to lay low,” Damian Lewis explained in July. Disappearing, however, isn’t an option for the fugitive’s emotionally wrecked family, particularly estranged wife Jessica and daughter Dana (the latter’s struggle is a major focus in early episodes).
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | The first two episodes are noticeably lacking in 24-style action, save for one super-suspenseful and ultimately tragic sequence involving Quinn.
RETURN DATE | Sunday, Sept. 29 at 9/8c (Showtime)
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
PREVIOUSLY ON… | As Barney and Robin’s nuptials approached, Ted made plans to move to Chicago while the real love of his life – the Mother (played by new series regular Cristin Milioti), at last! – was seen buying a ticket to Farhampton. Elsewhere, Marshall accepted a judgeship position without telling Lily, just days before their move to Italy.
COMING UP NEXT | The show’s farewell season will take place over the course of Barney and Robin’s 56-hour (destination) wedding weekend, but there will be plenty of flash-forwards and flashbacks — including a trip to the time between “the night Lily told [Ted] about the locket in the box [and the day they left for the wedding],” previews executive producer Carter Bays. “The events of that week will have a lot to do with where Ted’s head is at in terms of Robin and Barney. He’s had quite a week.” Also on tap for the goodbye tour: A poker game for the groomsmen, a glitter-filled dance, slaps, a possible Robin Sparkles encore and a 200th episode that reveals some “very exciting information”! Adds EP Craig Thomas about that last tantalizing bit: “There’s a way in which we get to know the mother more this season, and that episode is a good indication of it.”
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Robin and Barney will have their hands full when their relatives show up in Episode 3. “There’ll be some tough family stuff for them to deal with, but they’ll get through it,” promises Bays, adding that John Lithgow’s return is a “really good Barney-and-his-dad” installment.
RETURN DATE | Monday, Sept. 23 at 8/7c (CBS, one hour)
LAW & ORDER: SVU
PREVIOUSLY ON… | A relaxing day off for the SVU detectives turned into a hunt for William Lewis, a sexual predator talented at using legal technicalities to avoid jail time. When Benson returned home for a much-needed staycation, an out-on-bail Lewis grabbed Liv, held a gun to her head and took her to the bedroom — leaving Olivia's fate up in the air.
COMING UP NEXT | Executive producer Warren Leight says the two-hour Season 15 premiere finds Benson alive, but not well. "The most harrowing episode" of SVU to date ("Even case-hardened crew members were staring at the monitor in shock," Leight notes) kicks off a season-long arc that deals with Benson’s traumatic experience, including the effect it may have on her relationship with Det. Brian Cassidy. SVU‘s Season 15 police blotter also tackles racial profiling, military rape and sleazy politicians.
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Several of the drama's past guest stars will be back for brief stints, including Arrested Development’s Jeffrey Tambor as Ben Cohen ("The lawyer we love to hate," Leight jokes) and Go On’s Laura Benanti as Amaro's wife Maria.
RETURN DATE | Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 9/8c (NBC, two hours)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Jane narrowed down the list of Red John suspects to seven names: Visualize Self-Realization Center leader Bret Stiles (played by Malcolm McDowell), CBI director Gale Betram (Michael Gaston), CBI agent Raymond Haffner (Reed Diamond), G-man Reede Smith (Drew Powell), Homeland security agent Bob Kirkland (Kevin Corrigan), Sheriff Thomas McAllister (Xander Berkeley) and forensic analyst Brett Partridge (Jack Plotnick).
COMING UP NEXT | That list will get shorter and soon. “Some of them will be knocked out as suspects early on, others will remain,” says executive producer Bruno Heller, who confirms that Red John’s identity will be revealed this fall, launching the show on a new path that will set up the exit of Amanda Righetti and Owain Yeoman’s Van Pelt and Rigsby in the spring. “Once Moby Dick has been killed, what happens next?” muses Heller. “You have to tell the story about how Patrick gets back to shore. … We have a great story for that saga, because it begins a whole new saga. Where does he go from there? How does he live with what he’s done? Can he find happiness? All of those are big questions we are going to explore.” Resolving the Red John mystery also means big changes for Jane and Lisbon, who have to find “a new way to relate to each other” now that their common mission is gone. “We’re going to pull them apart and put them back together again.”
RETURN DATE | Sunday, Sept. 29 at 10/9c (CBS)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Axl graduated from high school. Brick graduated from elementary school. And at loooong last, Sue passed her driver’s test.
COMING UP NEXT | Axl heads to college (just 45 minutes from home) and winds up with a “nightmare” roommate who shows him “what it’s like to live with someone messier and grosser than he is,” says creator DeAnn Heline. (Though their dorm room won’t be too heinous at the start of Season 5, “the mess will grow over time,” she promises.) Brick, meanwhile, enters middle school panicked about “the legend of the bathroom and his fear of swirlies.” Even more unsettling? He’ll also become interested in a girl for the first time. “Because he’s so socially awkward, the whole family has to get involved” in the quest to help him maintain contact with the gal in question, Heline teases.
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | “Brick makes his own Jell-O,” says Heline. “It does not go well.” The youngest Heck child also gets caught up in something of a Ponzi scheme involving school-fundraising swag. Meanwhile, the family gets a dog — which, Heline notes, “eventually ties in to Frankie’s feelings of being underappreciated by the family.”
RETURN DATE | Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 8/7c (ABC)
THE MINDY PROJECT
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Mindy and Pastor Casey made plans to go on a humanitarian trip to Haiti together. Danny slowed down his reunion with Christina and had a moment with Mindy in the hospital lounge.
COMING UP NEXT | Both Mindy and her holy hottie are together at the start of the comedy’s sophomore season, but… “Eventually, I think anybody who watches the show will know and understand that they may have to go their separate ways for a while,” says executive producer Jack Burditt. Plus, Mindy Kaling’s alter ego has to be free to romance the many guest stars — including Justified’s Timothy Olyphant as an aging skateboarder and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Glenn Howerton as a lawyer with whom Dr. Lahiri develops a friendship “that will eventually turn into something more,” Burditt previews. But what about Mindy and Danny?! “The friendship is strong,” he says. However, “There’s no plan, at the immediate time, to go any further with acknowledging the attraction.”
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | After James Franco’s Dr. Leotard comes and goes as Mindy’s fill-in, Happy Endings‘ Adam Pally shows up as a new physician “who may not have been Danny or Mindy’s first choice to join the practice,” Burditt says.
RETURN DATE | Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 9:30/8:30c on Fox
PREVIOUSLY ON… | The family bonded (even more so than usual) during a trip to Florida to celebrate the life of Phil's late mother. Claire, meanwhile, pondered re-entering the workforce by accepting a job at her father's company.
COMING UP NEXT | Now that gay marriage is legal in California, where the show is set, “the conversation comes up” for Mitch and Cam, executive producer Christopher Lloyd tells TVLine. "They see friends getting married and breaking up, so it becomes a hot topic for them, as well as for the rest of the family." Over at Casa Dunphy, Claire's new career will be a bit of a "fraught situation, because she’s working with her dad, and she doesn’t want to be seen as the girl who got the job [for that reason]," Lloyd explains, adding with a laugh: "It also means that the house is more run by Phil than it’s ever been." Elsewhere, Haley is "determined to put herself on some kind of path” and Alex copes with having Luke and Manny at her high school — which is also where Cam is now teaching.
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Cam's new gig comes with an added treat: a position as the high school football coach. "We’re doing three episodes that lean pretty heavily on that story," Lloyd shares. "It's really funny." Bonus Bonus Spoiler: In the first half of the season, the fam will take another trip "to an exotic locale, to be named later."
RETURN DATE | Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 9/8c (ABC, one hour)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Gunnar proposed to Scarlett, Juliette mourned her mother, and Deacon and Maddie learned that he was her biological dad – a revelation that played a part in the season-ending car crash involving Rayna and a way-off-the-wagon Deke.
COMING UP NEXT | The accident leaves Deacon “facing an injury that might jeopardize his career,” says showrunner Dee Johnson. “[And] the same applies to Rayna.” Once the First Lady of Country Music is finally out of danger, she “comes away feeling very much like it’s time to perhaps move on from this relationship that has tethered her for many, many years,” Johnson adds. (Maybe that’s why she finds herself often in the company of Jeff, a record-label exec played by Rules of Engagement’s Oliver Hudson?) Juliette, too, will be romanced by an “off-the-charts wealthy man” named Trey (Twilight‘s Charlie Bewley), while Johnson promises we’ll know Scarlett’s answer to Gunnar’s big question within the first few hours of the season. Meanwhile, Scarlett’s BFF Zoey (newcomer Chaley Rose) and TV singing competition runner-up Layla (Sharknado‘s Aubrey Peeples) arrive in Music City, each hoping for fame.
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Prepare for a bunch of black boxer-brief sightings, because Chris Carmack’s conflicted Will is going to try to shag away his identity problems. “He’s trying really hard not to be what he believes he is, deep down,” Johnson previews. “He’s trying really hard to make it all go away by hooking up with members of the opposite sex as often as he can.”
RETURN DATE | Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 10/9c on ABC
PREVIOUSLY ON… | In the wake of the deadly manhunt for Ilan Bodnar, DoD investigator Parsons went after Gibbs hard, citing a pattern of rule-bending behavior — while it was revealed to Vance that the CIA had in fact killed Arash Kazmi. Tony, Ziva and McGee tendered their resignations, while Gibbs got pulled into a top-secret op; in a four-month flash-forward, he was seen training a rifle on FBI agent Fornell!
COMING UP NEXT | The season picks up right where the finale left off, and over the first two episodes fills in the “missing” months, sheds light on Gibbs’ mysterious gig (“If he takes this mission, the slate for NCIS will be wiped clean,” hints show boss Gary Glasberg) and also paves the way for Cote de Pablo’s exit. (“I hope it’s as cathartic for the fans as it was for me shooting it,” says Michael Weatherly; read more about Ziva’s farewell story.) All of that “sets up the season, which has the thematic aspect of ‘unlocking demons’” both figurative and literal, says Glasberg, by introducing a “pretty interesting adversary that will carry through the season.” On the lighter side of things, giving a face to McGee’s new girlfriend Delilah (Big Bang Theory’s Margo Harshman) will tee up “terrific triangle stuff with Abby,” Palmer’s plan to adopt delivers some “twists and turns” and Glasberg has a cryptic “something fun” on tap for David McCallum’s Ducky later in the season, “But I’m going to hold off a bit before I say more about that.”
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Around midseason, NCIS will celebrate its 250th episode with “something that the show definitely hasn’t done before,” Glasberg teases. “It’ll be unique, I promise you that!”
RETURN DATE | Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 8/7c (CBS)
NCIS: LOS ANGELES
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Sidorov tortured Sam — and when last we saw he was going at Deeks even more brutally! — to secure intel on Quinn. (At least Deeks planted one on Kensi before all hell broke loose.)
COMING UP NEXT | The question obviously isn’t if Deeks and Sam get out alive, but how. Promising a "big surprise" in the premiere (which picks up right where we left off), show boss Shane Brennan says, "Just when we think they’re about to be rescued, maybe they’re not. It gets pretty brutal for the guys." As such, expect ramifications that "ripple very deeply into the season — not just for them, but for their relationships with others” — including, yes, Deeks/Kensi. "Their relationship goes to a new level, to a place that a lot of these shows don’t go," Brennan hints. All told, NCIS: LA is looking at its most intricately planned season ever. From premiere to finale, "We know every turning point," Brennan notes, "and it really is quite powerful."
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Miguel Ferrer not only is now featured in the title sequence, but Granger is placed in "very serious jeopardy" in the milestone 100th episode, which is titled "Reznikov, N” and "focuses pretty squarely on Callen, his past and his journey."
RETURN DATE | Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 9/8c (CBS)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Schmidt was forced to choose between a now-unattached Cece and Elizabeth, while Jess and Nick decided to make a go of coupledom.
COMING UP NEXT | The title of the Season 3 premiere is “All In,” which “should give you an idea where their heads are at,” exec producer Brett Baer says of Nick and Jess’ relationship mindset. “They are 100-percent committed.” Of course, challenges — including a Mexican misadventure, Winston and Schmidt’s continued disapproval and the arrival of Jess’ havoc-wreaking sister — promise to keep things interesting. Schmidt will sorta-choose between Cece and Elizabeth, but don’t read anything into Merritt Wever’s relatively brief three-episode commitment. “That doesn’t give you the full picture of the decision he makes,” Baer cautions. “There are a lot of complications that occur, and it has resounding resonance for the season.” Winston, meanwhile, will be “unsettled” by the return of Coach (Happy Endings‘ Damon Wayans’ Jr., who’s back for at least six episodes), previews fellow EP Dave Finkel, adding, “Coach was always the person in his life who held his feet to the ground.”
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Winston makes a new friend — but there’s a four-legged twist! “He ends up adopting his girlfriend Daisy’s cat,” Finkel reveals. “But it’s too easy to just say ‘Winston gets a cat.’ It’s a little more complicated than that.”
RETURN DATE | Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 9/8c (Fox)
ONCE UPON A TIME
PREVIOUSLY ON… | After Tamara and Greg — acting on behalf of the mysterious “Home Office” — disappeared with Henry into a portal, Emma, Snow, Charming, Rumple and Regina boarded Hook's ship to venture to Neverland, where they’re fated to confront the one they “all should fear”: Peter Pan.
COMING UP NEXT | Being a realm where you never grow up, "We feel like Neverland makes people confront their pasts," says cocreator Eddy Kitsis. "Plus, it's like a jungle, so it's magical yet at the same time dark and sexy." Just be wary of he who lords over the place. As cocreator Adam Horowitz notes, "If The Dark One is afraid of someone, you should probably listen to him!" Our intrepid travelers will have to deal with one another as well. "They all have this baggage and history that we've built up over two seasons, and you see it all come out," Kitsis says. (Meanwhile on the romantic front, "The feelings between some of these characters will be hard to deny.") Back in Storybrooke, Belle's role in the larger arc "becomes clear early on and is something we're really excited to reveal," says Horowitz, while Neal "has a big problem," injured and stranded as he is in Fairytale Land. Asks Kitsis: "How is he going to get back?"
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | NBC’s Revolution lent Giancarlo Esposito (aka The Magic Mirror) back to Once, but to what end? Says Horowitz, "If the Evil Queen is going to find out that a sleeping curse [on Snow White] was broken, who better to deliver the news?"
RETURN DATE | Sunday, Sept. 29 at 8/7c (ABC)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Kristina was gifted with a clean bill of health after a battle with breast cancer, while Sarah kinda sorta chose Hank over Mark. Amber, meanwhile, opted to give Ryan a second chance, Crosby and Jasmine learned they were expecting and Victor officially became a Braverman.
COMING UP NEXT | Buckle up, Joel and Julia, because you’re boarding a romantic roller coaster. "We've never really done a story where we've looked at one of these marriages in jeopardy," executive producer Jason Katims notes, "and we do explore that this season” through the Grahams’ relationship. (Look for Lost‘s Sonya Walger and The Office‘s David Denman to complicate the marital woes.) Elsewhere, Amber and Ryan begin to contemplate their own union, and the newly single Sarah — who's now managing an apartment building — comes into this season working on herself ("as opposed to her relationship with Hank or anybody else," the EP explains) for a change. Finally, an in-remission Kristina will strive to "realize some of her dreams that might have been put on the back burner" — aka a bid for public office.
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Believe it or not, what brings Ray Romano's polarizing Hank back into the picture isn’t “him being in a relationship with Sarah or trying to be in a relationship with Sarah," Katims reveals. "That's something we'll explore, but it's not how we launch the story."
RETURN DATE | Thursday, Sept. 26 at 10/9c (NBC)
PARKS AND RECREATION
PREVIOUSLY ON… | The people of Pawnee decided to recall City Councilwoman Leslie Knope, while Tom learned that Rent-a-Swag is about to face some serious competition. And a little ditty about Ron and Diane: They're having a baby, y'all!
COMING UP NEXT | The townsfolk will get their recall opportunity — and soon! "The vote happens right around Halloween," executive producer Mike Schur shares. "By that point, Leslie's already been made aware of the fact that Ann and Chris may be leaving" — details here — "so this first chunk of episodes is really about [Leslie] emotionally dealing with [that]." Ron, meanwhile, will be embracing impending fatherhood. "We're not going to tell any stories where he is super freaked-out about being a dad," the Parks boss notes. Instead, there's an episode where "Ron realizes that he needs to make a last will and testament, because he has a family now." Tom — who'll find himself romancing Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany — will be in a "battle for his life" when it comes to his mysterious Swag competitor. ("The person who is behind the new store will make sense to the people who've been watching the show," Schur hints.)
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER |Parks will airs its landmark 100th episode with an installment co-written by Schur and series star Amy Poehler. "We didn't want to be super meta about it," the EP laughs. "We just wanted it to feel like all of our characters had reached a milestone in their lives, so that was the idea of the story going in. It's a really good story with a lot of juicy stuff in it."
RETURN DATE | Thursday, Sept. 26 at 8/7c (NBC)
PERSON OF INTEREST
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Finch led Root (and thus Reese and Shaw) to the Machine, which had been hidden within a nuclear facility, only to realize that the numbers-cruncher had orchestrated its own relocation to parts unknown; Carter went on the lam (and sprung Elias from a prison transfer) after HR threatened her son. As the finale closed, Reese and Finch, Special Counsel’s Hersh and Root each got calls from the Machine.
COMING UP NEXT | The physical location of the MIA Machine “is not of paramount importance” as Season 3 gets underway, says exec producer Greg Plageman. Instead, he says you should ask, “What is it up to? What sort of organism is it becoming? And is it expanding beyond the parameters of what even Finch designed?” That said, Hersh’s unseen lady boss (who goes by the code name Control and could be revealed by November sweeps) “is very interested in what happened to the Machine, and considers Root (new series regular Amy Acker) instrumental in perhaps finding it.” On the good guys’ side, Shaw (Sarah Shahi, also now a series regular) is still “disillusioned” by her government’s betrayal and thus “isn’t giving her allegiance to anyone right now,” but will “help us out when she feels like it.”
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Plageman promises “fantastic material” ahead for Taraji P. Henson’s compromised Detective Carter, who is now “out there on the wing a bit, trying to figure out her next move.” As she does so, watch for some backstory reveals that explore “what happened in her personal past, and how she wound up where she is today.”
RETURN DATE | Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 10/9c (CBS)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | With Jimmy and Sabrina settling into their life as a married couple, Virginia was forced to come to terms with her role as Hope’s grandmother (with Sabrina assuming the role of Mom) — despite having essentially raised the child for the first few years of her life. Burt, meanwhile, discovered Maw Maw’s estranged centenarian mother was alive (!) — a fact Maw Maw promptly forgot when the Gollum-esque woman died (!!) on the Chance family toilet (!!!).
COMING UP NEXT | Virginia and Burt’s obsession with TV lawyers leads to them sitting second chair for attorney Wally Phipps (Lou Wagner) during a trial. Elsewhere, Molly Shannon joins the cast for three episodes as Maxine, a Type A businesswoman who purchases Howdy’s and immediately starts exploring additional uses for the space during off hours. This leads Sabrina to hatch a plan that involves Jimmy’s fledgling career as an artist. As new showrunner Mike Mariano puts it, “We explore the idea of putting yourself out there in life, and what that means.”
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Brace yourself for “a high-concept Christmas parody.” Pressed for details, Mariano keeps cryptic: “It might look like a popular children’s special. That’s all I want to say for now.”
RETURN DATE | Friday, Nov. 8 at 9/8c (Fox)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | The Initiative happened. (Enough said, right?) Declan died as the result of yet another of Conrad’s schemes, leading Jack to nearly off the Grayson patriarch — but he was stopped the nick of time when Emily revealed her true identity to her childhood love. Elsewhere, Victoria's long-lost son resurfaced and Nolan was arrested on suspicion of being involved in Padma's death.
COMING UP NEXT | New showrunner Sunil Nayar describes Revenge's revamped Season 3 as "two major seasons, with one mini-season smack in the middle of it. We’re starting with the flash-forward [to Emily's wedding] that will pay off in spectacular fashion in December, and then we’ll have three amazing episodes in January that will launch us into our final eight." Expect to see Emily "more invested than ever" in her charge against the Graysons ("Especially after everything that happened last year with regards to three of her favorite people: Aiden, Nolan and Jack") and a "new conception" of Aiden that is no longer "so Emily-specific." After a brief spell in jail, Nolan's "desire is to just live life to the fullest and to capture every moment in the way that only he can" — aka by slutting it up! Fans will also learn "how Charlotte's pregnancy played out, and see how both it and Declan's death really affected her," Nayar teases.
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | "In the premiere, we will establish what happened with Emily and Jack immediately following her great admission," Nayar assures. "They haven’t really been in touch, and there’s a lot left to be resolved for them when we pick up." Once that's been taken care of, viewers can look forward to a "new dynamic between the two of them, one that is incredibly vital but incredibly unexpected."
RETURN DATE | Sunday, Sept. 29 at 9/8c (ABC)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Aaron and Rachel turned the power back on, inadvertently setting the stage for a nuclear missile attack against Atlanta and Philadelphia (…by the Cuba-residing President of the United States?). Neville overthrew Monroe, who was set free by Miles, and Nora was killed in The Tower chaos.
COMING UP NEXT | Things aren’t looking so good for Charlie & Co.: It’s three months later and two major cities have been destroyed, the power is out again and the pendants aren’t working. As a result of all that destruction, the Matheson clan is "fractured," says creator Eric Kripke. "Charlie splits up from the family" — and gets tangled up with bounty hunter Adam (played by Gossip Girl‘s Patrick Heusinger) — while "Rachel has a complete and total nervous breakdown. We pick up with Season 2 and Rachel is just coming out of what was a very serious, occasionally catatonic state, and is fragile as she has to face this new threat." That new Big Bad would be The Patriots, "an insidious conspiracy of people who are draping themselves in the American flag, but they are not America." Neville and Jason will meet one of their members, Secretary Allenford (Soul Food‘s Nicole Ari Parker), when they travel to the East Coast to find Julia Neville and witness the nuclear missile devastation firsthand. Monroe, meanwhile, is "indulging in women and alcohol, trying to drink and screw away the pain," previews Kripke. "He’s in a much grungier, grimier place, as are all our characters. We really tried to take ‘the Noxzema clean’ out of the show this year."
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Look for Aaron to fall for Rubicon alumna Jessica Collins’ "devoutly religious" Texas resident.
RETURN DATE | Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 8/7c (NBC)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | The venerable Olivia Pope 1) learned that Fitz killed Verna, 2) was outed as POTUS’ mistress and 3) was unexpectedly reunited with her father aka B613 boss man Rowan. (“Dad?!”) Elsewhere, David got his job back as U.S. Attorney, and Jake was thrown in “the hole.”
COMING UP NEXT | Though one would suspect that Pope & Associates will swing into action to “fix” Olivia’s PR nightmare (“It’s all Washington, D.C. is talking about,” Darby Stanchfield previews), we must remind: Scandal never plays by the rules. Picking up minutes after the finale, “What happens [next] happens in a surprising way,” says show boss Shonda Rhimes. But surely this will further squelch Liv and Fitz’s paused romance, right? “I can’t talk about their path,” Rhimes hedges, “but Fitz and Liv have an inexplicable attraction to one another, and people may be surprised to discover what certain motives are in [creating] the situations they’ve been in. [Their romance] is not finished.” That said, “When we come into the season, Mellie does have things managed on the marital front.” There’s also this to look forward to: “Even more than the first episode, the second is just a shocker,” Stanchfield promises. “I always think that I’m a little bit smarter than I am, that I have an idea how it’s all going to play out, and it’s not played out that way at all.
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Yes, Kate Burton will be back and recurring as VP Sally Langston (sorry, CBS’ Hostages!), and no, you have not seen the last of wet work specialist Charlie.
RETURN DATE | Thursday, Oct. 3 at 10/9c (ABC)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | As Marge and Homer’s anniversary approached, she accidentally signed up for a website that arranges extramarital affairs. There she met Ben (guest-voiced by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane), who fell for her due to their shared love of British TV dramas. Meanwhile, a few Springfield residents helped Homer restore an old steam train for Marge.
COMING UP NEXT | Season 25 has big surprises in store, executive producer Al Jean reports. “We took this milestone as something that no scripted show in primetime has done before, so we’re really trying to honor it,” he says. The season opens with a Homeland parody (Saturday Night Live alum Kristen Wiig will voice Carrie), during which Homer attends a nuclear convention and comes back a bit… different. Other highlights from the season include the Oct. 6 Halloween “Treehouse of Horror” entry (which features a couch gag designed by Guillermo del Toro) and a crossover with Futurama that finds Bender traveling from the future to kill Bart. Also, listen throughout the season for guest voices Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men), Rachel Maddow (MSNBC), Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover), comic-book legend Stan Lee, Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Judd Apatow, Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives), Will Arnett and Anderson Cooper.
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | In a January episode, Monty Burns will try using Google Glass to spy on employees, but “Homer gives his [set] to Marge and then realizes that he can see what she is seeing all day — and discovers there are some things he shouldn’t be seeing,” Jean says, laughing.
RETURN DATE | Sunday, Sept. 29 at 8/7c (Fox)
SONS OF ANARCHY
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Jax was finally successful in his efforts to dethrone Clay. What's more, he was able — with a little help from Gemma and Juice — to frame the ousted president for the murder of Big Bad Damon Pope, resulting in an incarceration. Tara, too, was arrested, for her involvement in the death of a prison nurse, while Bobby vacated his seat as SAMCRO VP.
COMING UP NEXT | A controversial twist in the Season 6 premiere "is truly the catalyst for the final act of our morality play," Sons creator Kurt Sutter shares, adding that the development “sets everything in motion” and eventually leads to “the final season and what I see as the ultimate comeuppance of everything, in terms of the series." In the interim, might time behind bars be exactly what Clay needed? The ex-prez starts the season believing he's on a "redemptive path… There's a certain amount of resignation and understanding of who he is and the things that he's done; he'll try to go out with a little bit of dignity," Sutter says. Donal Logue's vengeance-seeking ex-Marshal Lee Toric, however, has different plans for Clay — most of which involve his flipping on the club. And sorry Jax/Tara fans: The semi-estranged couple's impending reunion is described by the showrunner as "loving, but very sad."
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Juice's internal grieving process over his many "betrayals" of SAMCRO will "continue to play out in fits and spurts throughout the season," Sutter teases. Expect to see the misguided biker on both the receiving and giving ends of some serious pain early on.
RETURN DATE | Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 10/9c (FX)
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Metatron expelled all the angels from Heaven and turned Castiel into a human. Sam continued his efforts to close the gates of Hell by curing Crowley, but Dean discovered that completing the trials would kill him, and begged his brother not to go through with it. Unfortunately, Sammy didn’t know how to stop what he started and collapsed in agony.
COMING UP NEXT | No surprise here: Sam survives. But why he does is a secret that the elder Winchester will hold on to — and one which may cause a rift between the brothers. “You’re going to find Dean, in the beginning of this season, in a slightly different position, one where it’s his decision driving great importance and weight on their relationship,” previews executive producer Jeremy Carver. “It’s a heavy weight to bear, and it has a great effect on their relationship.” There’s also angel mayhem on Earth for the brothers to contend with, including “a lot of players for the throne of who’s going to rise to the fore here,” including Battlestar Galactica alum Tahmoh Penikett’s injured warrior angel. Cas, meanwhile, is adjusting to life as a human by “eating, defecating and fornicating,” deadpans his portrayer Misha Collins. On the more quirky side, Felicia Day’s Charlie returns in Episode 4, which goes back in time to reveal “the first Men of Letters ever to occupy the bunker,” teases Carver. So what were they up to? You know, the usual — like “learning the truth behind the events that lead to The Wizard of Oz books. It’s a lot of fun and heartfelt.”
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Penikett’s Ezekiel isn’t the only heavenly creature we’ll be meeting. “We’re really delving into the individual characters here, and we found really interesting, really neat angels,” says Carver. “Wherever we can dive into Biblical references, we do and then we turn that the way that we need. Some of the angels that we see…have deep roots in angel mythology.”
RETURN DATE | Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 9/8c (The CW)
TWO AND A HALF MEN
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Alan and Jake went on a father-son bonding trip before Jake moved to Japan. Walden dated a PYT (played by Lizzie McGuire’s Hilary Duff) but wound up falling for her hot grandma (Taxi’s Marilu Henner).
COMING UP NEXT | As previously reported, Charlie Harper’s never-previously-mentioned lesbian daughter Jenny — played by Joan of Arcadia aka Amber Tamblyn — will show up in at least five episodes this season. Despite not having much of a relationship with her pop, the cad’s spawn is “like her father,” says executive producer Jim Patterson. “Her goal in life is to have some fun, much to the chagrin of Alan and Walden. She’ll add some trouble into the house. Where things were nice and calm with just the two guys living there, she’ll bounce in and out and turn their lives upside-down every so often.” The departure of original cast member Angus T. Jones means an off-screen Jake will continue to be stationed in Asia “where, because of the time difference, he thinks it’s tomorrow. He thinks he’s in the future,” EP Don Reo says, laughing. (For the record, Patterson adds, the show is giving Jones “an open door to come back whenever he wants.”) Meanwhile, Walden and Alan “will for the first time on the show together be single at the same time, which will allow them to go out picking up women and go on dates together.” But can Alan possibly have eyes for anyone other than his longtime crush Lynda Carter — who will guest-star as herself in a story based on Jon Cryer’s own admiration of TV’s Wonder Woman?
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Alan and Lyndsey’s break-up will stick… but that doesn’t mean they won’t continue to hook up, even though she’ll have a new boyfriend. “Alan will basically be her mistress,” Patterson jokes.
RETURN DATE | Thursday, Sept. 26 at 9:30/8:30c on CBS
THE VAMPIRE DIARIES
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Stefan — who was revealed to be Silas’ doppelganger — was locked up at the bottom of the ocean, Elena chose Damon, Katherine became human and Bonnie resurrected Jeremy (but remained a ghost herself).
COMING UP NEXT | The new season picks up three months later, following a (relatively) quiet summer. But this is Mystic Falls, so peace doesn’t stand a chance, particularly with Silas posing as Stefan. “We’re going to explore this phenomenon of the doppelganger and how and why they exist in our mythology,” teases executive producer Caroline Dries, who also previews the arrival of a “legitimately Bigger Bad” down the road who is “scary and creates a new dynamic.” On the romance front, Elena and Damon’s honeymoon period could be disrupted by her friendship with a fellow college student (played by Melrose Place‘s Shaun Sipos), while Caroline remains focused on Tyler even as she connects with upperclassman Jesse (Greek‘s Kendrick Sampson). Speaking of Tyler: While the EP won’t reveal when the hybrid returns, she does promise it will be “in a very beautiful, appropriate moment” — and with “a little bit of attitude” about needing Klaus’ OK. Lastly, Bonnie and Jeremy experience some connectivity issues that not even AT&T MiFi can resolve. Explains Dries: “The external conflict is, ‘I can’t touch you,’ and the internal conflict is, ‘I actually have feelings for you, but I can’t talk to you about it.'”
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Mystic Falls’ favorite busboy is getting a juicy storyline following his return from Europe. “[Matt is] not a peripheral character this season,” teases Dries. “He really has an interesting, intriguing storyline this year. We are introduced to it briefly in the season premiere.”
RETURN DATE | Thursday, Oct. 3 at 8/7c (The CW)
THE WALKING DEAD
PREVIOUSLY ON… | Andrea died, the Governor fled, budding sociopath Carl killed an innocent kid and Rick welcomed the surviving citizens of Woodbury into the prison.
COMING UP NEXT | Carl’s disturbing behavior serves as a wake-up call for Rick in Season 4. “He repurposes himself towards raising Carl and Judith, and protecting them emotionally instead of physically,” explains exec producer Robert Kirkman. “He’s trying to make sure these kids don’t lose their humanity. That’s almost the central theme of the season.” Also serving as a role model of sorts for Carl will be Michonne. “That relationship is something of a focus for the entire season,” Kirkman reveals. “I wouldn’t say she’s a [mother figure] to him, but it’s a friendly relationship; they’re almost like peers.” Regarding the whereabouts of The Governor — who was conspicuously missing from the extended trailer that unspooled at Comic-Con in July — Kirkman promises that when the baddie eventually resurfaces, “He’s going to be a very different character.”
TVLINE BONUS SPOILER | Don’t assume that Daryl and Carol’s slow-burn courtship will eventually give way to a great love affair. “There’s every chance that it’s actually a no-burn and these two people don’t get together,” Kirkman maintains. “Daryl and Carol are very different people. These are two very damaged individuals, and that leads them to connect in a very serious emotional way. But it still remains to be seen whether that’s actually going to spiral into a romance.”