'The Catch' Boss Talks T.R. Knight's Role, Season 2's Lighter Tone

THE CATCH - The Hammer -MARCH 16 -MIREILLE ENOS, T.R. KNIGHT- Publicity-H 2017
Nicole Wilder/ABC

T.R. Knight is making his triumphant return to Shondaland in season two of The Catch, but surprisingly, it wasn't anyone from Grey-Sloan Memorial that helped engineer his return. It was actually The Catch series regular Elvy Yost, who plays computer-savvy investigator Sophie Novak and who is a close friend of Knight's.

"When I sat down at dinner with Elvy for the first time, she said, 'I'm bringing love from T.R. Knight,'" showrunner Allan Heinberg tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I hadn't heard from T.R. since he left, and she just opened the door to renewing our friendship."

Heinberg, a producer on seasons three through six of Grey's Anatomy, says he and the rest of Shondaland had given Knight space since he exited the medical drama in season five amid cast drama. "We all understood when he left and why he left and respected his decision. It was the best thing for him at the time. It's been seven years — it's been a while," Heinberg says. "We've all changed and grown and I never stopped loving him. He's one of the most talented, engaged humans I've been lucky enough to work with."

Over a boozy dinner while filming season one of the series, Heinberg proposed Knight play a character he had just introduced via a line of dialogue in an early episode. "I just said to T.R., 'Would you want to come on and play Alice's [Mireille Enos] baby brother? I don't know if it will be at the end of this season or the beginning of next season,' and he said, 'Would that be okay with Shonda [Rhimes]?'"

After Heinberg relayed the conversation to Rhimes, the pieces fell into place. "We all got back in touch and we all fell back in love," he explains. "We were all sort of being polite in giving each other the space to pursue other avenues, and so it was especially sweet to have him come back in a completely different role and for it to be every bit as special and as magical, and I hope we'll be able to do more with him going forward."

Knight, who will recur throughout the season, is just one of several changes in store for The Catch. Among the more notable alterations is a renewed focus on the fun, romantic elements of the show. That will be much easier now that investigator Alice and her con man fiance Ben (Peter Krause) are working on the same side. Heinberg says that change in direction also came thanks to the addition of castmember John Simm late in season one.

"The tone of the show shifted when John Simm joined us and it made such a huge difference," Heinberg says of the British actor, who plays the mysterious benefactor behind Ben's elaborate cons. "The antic spirit of that character really affected the entire show ... [which] became so much more fun to write. We just wanted to create more space to feel that way throughout all the episodes. I remembered going back over the break and watching the episodes that we had done in season one and feeling restless during the procedural scenes and wanting to get back to the characters I loved and wanting to get back to the soap and wanting to know more."

That also means season two will go heavier on the caper and lighter on the procedural aspect of it all. "We're going to find out a lot about Alice Vaughn's past, who she was before she met [her business partner] Val [Rose Rollins], how she and Val got together," he says. "We're going to meet the man she was about to marry before she met Ben. Bringing him back into the picture is going to create all kinds of complications with Ben."

The Catch season two premieres Thursday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.