The fall finale of Grey's Anatomy ended with the residents of Grey Sloan Memorial in jeopardy after a car crashed into Joe's Pub, directly over where they were having post-work drinks. It'll be all hands on deck to save them, and the other Joe's patrons, in the two-hour crossover event with Station 19 that kicks off Thursday, Jan. 23.

While the residents are undoubtedly in the most physical distress, other members of the Grey's team are going to have a hard time dealing with the crisis on the emotional front. Jo (Camilla Luddington) essentially kidnapped a newborn from Station 19; Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) found out Link (Chris Carmack) might not be the father of her baby; Bailey (Chandra Wilson) suffered a miscarriage mere hours before the car crash; and Ben (Jason George) was also in the bar when the crash happened.

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On a lighter, but messier, front — Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) found herself in a surprise love triangle after Cristina (Sandra Oh) sent her a "package" in the form of an Irish pediatrician (Richard Flood). The new doctor, who isn't afraid to stand up to Meredith, comes just as she and DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) are on the rocks and his presence is going to make Meredith question (even more than she already has) whether DeLuca has what it takes to be her partner — her equal partner.

TV Guide spoke with Grey's and Station 19 showrunner Krista Vernoff at the Television Critics Association winter press tour earlier this month about what to expect from the premiere, and how this latest tragedy is going to shake everyone up.

Richard Flood, <em>Grey's Anatomy</em>Richard Flood, Grey's Anatomy

A car through the bar hits about midway on the scale of Grey's disasters, but it's the first major, personal, trauma for these residents. How are they going to cope in the aftermath of this particular disaster?
Krista
Vernoff: That's so funny to hear you phrase that that way. I think that that's how the fans think of the hospital, but I don't think the show has ever played — maybe Cristina, making like a sideswipe once or twice. What did she call it? Grey Sloan Mercy Death or something, but I don't think we've ever played the characters as aware that more disasters happen in this hospital than in most hospitals. I mean you have a line here and there, but they don't walk down the halls in fear for their life all the time. Although, if you looked at how frequently there are disasters, because it's a TV show, in reality you might. These residents are for sure traumatized. Some of them are injured; that plays through in the Grey's Anatomy premiere. This accident is impactful, for sure.

When we talked before the season premiere, I said how much I love MerLuca, and you've spent most of Season 16 tearing them apart. What is next for them? Will they ever have hot moments in an elevator again?
Vernoff: If this were the final season of the show. I might have gone a different path, but when you've got another 50 hours at least of TV to fill, hot in an elevator does not sustain a dramatic storyteller's need to tell dramatic stories.

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What about the "package" from Cristina? How is that going to complicate things in the back half of the season?
Vernoff: It's a complicated gift. He's a complicated gift. He's a sexy Irishman, who is a widower and a father of two. It feels like the perfect character for Meredith to ask herself the questions that many of us and many fans have been asking since "MerLuca" became a thing. Could this man ultimately be enough for Meredith? Is he enough of a grown-up, is he enough of an equal? You need someone to come in and play the role of "grown-up equal" to ask that and answer that question, and that's all I can tell you.

Bailey and Ben lost the baby in the fall finale of Grey's Anatomy. How will that be affecting them in the back half of the season?
Vernoff: It is a really big loss, and it profoundly affects both of them for the remainder of the season. It's a very real, painful loss.

You threw in a twist about the paternity of Amelia's baby in the fall finale. Why make that situation even more complicated than it already is?
Vernoff: Was it complicated? Because [Link and Amelia] seemed like a really sweet lovely, couple. I think it's complicated now, and I think it's complicated in a way that will force Amelia and Link into difficult, really difficult, conversations and complications. I'm curious to see where they're going to land.

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Will this resurrect an Amelia/Owen-centered love triangle, or is she romantically over him at this point?
Vernoff: I would say sort of somewhere in the middle. I don't know that we're resurrecting a love triangle. I also don't know that I would say that she's 100% over Owen. I don't know that those two ever, get 100% over each other. This is a little bit of a mess, and we've probably had more conversations in the writers' room this season about whose baby that is going to end up being than anything else.

What are you most excited for fans to see in the back half of the season?
Vernoff: I'm excited for fans to see Richard's story. Richard has a really dramatic storyline coming, and he's incredible. Jim Pickens is incredible, and, oh man, I watched a cut last night that was just — I mean, like my heart ached. He's amazing, and I'm excited for fans to see it.

Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9/8c on ABC.