Station 19 will absolutely embody COVID-19 for the "lowest" season but

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(Warning: the following contains spoilers for the season 4 premiere of Station 19. Read at your own risk!)

Station 19 recorded Season 4 just seconds from where Season 3 left off, and Andy (Jaina Lee Ortiz) was shocked to see her undead mother in front of her. After a severe panic attack, Andy gathered enough to hear that her mother had suffered from depression and left Andy when she was nine to fight fires in New York. Pruitt (Miguel Sandoval) had the parts put together. Though he wasn't a perfect man, this encounter with her mother Andy revealed how much her father had done to provide her with a family despite her mother's absence, just in time to deliver the eulogy at his funeral that broadcast became Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elsewhere, we've seen how COVID-19 affects Ward 19 as first responders are separated from their loved ones and have to provide care while trying to maintain social distance guidelines. Some of the firefighters are sleeping in the fire station while others are moving in together, like Montgomery (Jay Hayden) and Hughes (Barrett Doss). This will create a fun dynamic while it's still awkward between Miller (Okieriete Onoadowan) and Hughes while Miller is still trying to figure out how to tell Hughes that he is in love with her. Of course, he's not the only firefighter in Station 19 who will find it difficult to stay away from someone he loves. Andy and Sullivan (Boris Kodjoe) decided to split for 90 days so that the former captain could better manage his sobriety.

Will they make it How will COVID complicate the lives of these firefighters and will it affect their ability to interact with the Gray Sloan doctors? TV Guide spoke to Station 19 executive producer and director Paris Barclay about what to expect from season four, which he describes will be the deepest season the show has ever made.

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Andy kind of rejects her mom on this episode, but we see her mom still signed up for Pruitt's digital funeral. Can you talk about how much Andy's mom will play a role in the coming season?
Paris Barclay:
I think Andy will never forget her mother, but she makes a decision that she honors Pruitt's sacrifice and that is what this final scene is about. She looks beyond her mother and what her mother did or didn't do, and focuses her attention on Pruitt. The last speech she gives in the motel room shows that she is nearing the understanding that Pruitt really gave her a lot. (He) gave her a life and gave her a career. So that will be much more in focus than the mother.

Andy and Sullivan split for three months. What does this trip look like at the beginning of the season?
You will find your way. They'll struggle, they'll have their ups and downs as they go through the breakup period, but basically we just see that period begin when Season 4 begins.

What does Sullivan's trip look like if he's not a firefighter and quits his job at the private company?
That is the question he asked himself in this first episode. He has to find a way. He has to find a place to be. He has to find a life for himself. He has to face the consequences of his actions. And I think the first few episodes of the season are about how he navigates which is a really interesting story for us because we really like to dig into drug addiction and what it means, but it will also really impact both his relationship , his career and all the people who used to be his team. So his struggle will be a huge part of future history.

Can you talk about how the pandemic will affect firefighters in the future and how they are changing their jobs based on everything that is going on?
One of the many brilliant things that Krista Vernoff and the writers have done this season is (she) opting for COVID and really trying to bring home the cost of the first responder community. This is a story that wasn't told, and I don't think it's told that vividly. They take our first responders, our doctors, and our firefighters who people already love and put them in a situation that creates immediate turmoil for them personally and for the people they love – and it's a powder keg. I think Krista and the writers found a way to go much deeper with the characters by really bumping into it and accepting and embracing what is happening in the real world today. This season is by far the deepest we've ever done.

Jaina Lee Ortiz, Ward 19

Dean says he knows what to do about these feelings for Hughes this episode. What does that mean exactly?
I think Dean has a lot of obligations that are tearing him apart. He has an obligation to his child. He decided to really go ahead and continue to be there for this baby and raise this child. So that's an obligation. He has an obligation to his family, and he knows a relationship with someone in that family, which is the Ward 19 family. A relationship with someone in this family could somehow break that. I think he will try to balance these things out. I think he will not be as successful as he would like.

In the meantime, Montgomery and Hughes move in together. What can we expect from these two this season?
I wish I could say we're just going to have fun, but we're going to have mostly fun … Vic and Travis are a comedy team together, but they're also a love team. You have a very close relationship and a very close brother and sister relationship. I think that is where a lot of fun springs from, but they will also face some pretty dramatic situations in their own lives and their humor will not go away. I mean, even in these dramatic situations that would tear an ordinary person down, they are not ordinary people. And so they will continue to sparkle even in difficult times.

With added pandemic filming precautions, will we see fewer crossovers with Grey's Anatomy this season?
I think we'll see about the same amount of crossovers as we did last season, maybe a little more. We're very much in tune with the two shows, with our security protocols. How we protect our cast and crew is of the utmost importance … it's more important than shooting the show itself. We need to ensure a safe environment so we are very in sync. We talk weekly about what we do and how our shows work together. So it didn't affect our ability to change actors. We just stole Stefania, but we had to because the relationship with Maya is so, so loved. It's our great romance right now. So we had to steal her and now she will be on Ward 19 regularly. I think both shows will be better for that.

Station 19 continues on Thursdays at 8 / 7c on ABC.

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