'Grey's Anatomy' Star Previews Lighter (Yet Intense) Season 13

GREY'S ANATOMY S13E01 Still - Publicity - H 2016
Eric McCandless/ABC

GREY'S ANATOMY S13E01 Still - Publicity - H 2016

ABC's Grey's Anatomy returns Thursday with what star Sarah Drew says will be a lighter tone than the turbulent 12th season of the Shonda Rhimes medical drama.

"We've done a lot of laughing at table reads," Drew tells The Hollywood Reporter of the first five episodes of season 13. "It's definitely a fun season — though it is super intense for Alex!"

Indeed. When Grey's returns, Alex (Justin Chambers) will find himself in hot water around the hospital — and with the police — after brutally attacking Andrew DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) whom he feared was taking advantage of his drunk girlfriend Jo (Camilla Luddington).

Meanwhile, April and Jackson (Jesse Williams) are settling in to being new parents after Ben (Jason George) came to the rescue and performed an emergency cesarean section and saved April and her baby girl. (Don't worry, the baby's name will be revealed in the season premiere.)

"We're very much in the throes of being new parents and being uncoupled but also every moment is super tenderized by this tiny creature they're both madly in love with," Drew says. "They still have feelings for each other; they've always had for each other and I'm not sure those will go away soon."

To hear the actress tell it, April and Jackson's journey, at least early on, will focus on how to be around one another since they're technically both single parents.

"The big question is: What does it mean to be home? How do they work this joint custody when the baby isn't sleeping through the night? How do they navigate those waters and be respectful while trying to love their daughter?" Drew says.  

As April and Jackson navigate their new roles as parents and explore the new limits of their relationship, the actress continues to hold out hope for the couple — though they have a lot of feelings to work out.

"I feel like some of the hurt that happened from April going to Jordan … that hurt runs deep and has yet to be atoned for in some way or healed in some way," she says. "I don't know what it would take for that to be healed. She's never fully owned that and apologized for it. But they also have huge differences in their belief system and some of the ways they want to parent their child. The love runs deep but there are issues and it's a question of whether they can conquer them or not."

Grey's Anatomy returns Thursday at 8 p.m. on ABC. Stay tuned to THR's The Live Feed for more coverage after the season premiere.