An unexpected romance is raising eyebrows on Grey’s Anatomy.

Over the summer, a Grey’s Anatomy-Station 19 crossover romance was teased and as the season 16 premiere revealed, that new couple was Grey’s doc Jackson (Jesse Williams), fresh off a devastating breakup with Maggie (Kelly McCreary), and Station 19‘s Vic (Barrett Doss), still grieving the death of her fiance, Ripley (Brett Tucker). Jackson and Vic’s mutual attraction quickly escalated from innocent flirtation to a steamy makeout session in a Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital exam room in last week’s episode.

The burgeoning relationship between the two unlikely characters was an unexpected development for fans, as well as the actors. “It certainly adds a whole other dimension,” Doss, who plays Vic on the Grey’s firefighter spinoff, tells ET of the new romance. “Maggie and Jackson and Vic, you get to see this whole different version of them when they’re in this specific context and I think it adds some dimension to everybody’s stories.”

Ahead of Thursday’s episode, Doss spoke with ET about finding out her Station 19 character would be embarking on a new relationship with Jackson, her initial thoughts on the surprising pairing and how messy things may get for the new couple.

ET: When did you first find out that you would have a big crossover arc on Grey’s Anatomy?

Barrett Doss: I knew that I would be doing at least the first episode of Grey’s of the season over the summer, but I didn’t know quite in what capacity. [Grey’s executive producer] Krista [Vernoff] let me know when I had our meeting after she was given the job of our showrunner. It would’ve been sometime in June, and I found out that I’d be getting to do a little bit of Grey’s this season, which was so exciting.

Now we know the new Grey’s Anatomy-Station 19 crossover romance is Jackson and Vic. Did it come as a surprise to you that your character was part of an inter-show relationship?

It was a total surprise to me! I think that it’s a really interesting pairing actually, and I’m as excited as everyone else is to see where it goes. But, I was totally surprised. Coming off of last season for our show [Station 19], I didn’t know what was next for Vic. Her story — through the end of our season — had sort of wrapped itself up and I didn’t know what was going to be next for her, and I was really excited to see that there was something new on the horizon as far as storylines go. I was surprised to see that it was a romance, but I was also excited at the possibility of showing a different side of her, a different way of dealing with the trauma that she had experienced.

How do you feel Vic has evolved from the grief of Ripley’s death to where we see her on Grey’s?

There has been a time jump, but what’s so cool about the way that this romance has started to play out, is that we’re really only seeing part of it. I’m excited for when Station 19 picks up again and you get to see Vic’s experience of this relationship from her point of view, if that is where it’s going. I have no idea where this storyline’s going honestly and I’m excited to see, but I think we do get to see more of how she’s dealing with the loss of Ripley in context to Station 19. And then, how this experience with Jackson has taken her by surprise. Whether or not it actually continues, we don’t know yet; I don’t even know yet.

It’s been a really interesting journey to figure out and justify for myself how somebody goes from losing someone who she very much saw as the love of her life into how do I move forward with my life? Is it possible to find new love? Is it possible to connect with somebody who you might not expect to be connecting with? And also, how do you find happiness out of something? What is grieving? I mean, it can be so many things and I think part of grieving is moving on and trying to find the happy wherever you can get it. And so, I’ve been doing some research and talking to a lot of people about their experiences with loss and I think that this is actually more common a story than you might think.

What does Jackson represent to Vic right now?

Vic, as we’ve seen through the first few seasons of Station 19, she lives in the now. She’s always been a person to act first and think later. So whether or not she’ll deal with the consequences of this choice emotionally or otherwise, I think we’re going to have to wait and see. But at this point, Jackson is a friend and he’s someone who makes her happy. I think that when you’re dealing with a loss of great significance, sometimes that’s the most important thing. When I’m not sitting alone at home in a dark room, where do I want to be? I want to be with someone who’s going to make me happy. There’s room there for somebody who… For right now, the relationship seems fairly uncomplicated for her and she’s also, again, acting first and thinking later.

In last week’s episode, there was a bit of an awkward encounter between Vic and Maggie. Will we see them have a heart-to-heart at some point? Is that something you would like to see?

I would. I actually don’t know yet, honestly. I’m excited for the opportunity to work more with Kelly McCreary. I love working with Kelly. I think she’s fantastic. They do have an awkward relationship, a pretty complicated relationship and I would love to see where that could lead between these two women who are so different and have all of this interconnection between them. Of course, Maggie literally declaring Ripley’s time of death and on top of that, Vic dating her ex. So I think there’s going to be a lot of really interesting complications coming for them, but yeah, I can’t say too much more about it.

It’s already a messy situation, but it seems like it’s going to get even messier. How does Vic navigate these waters?

Yeah, it’s pretty complicated. It’s fun as actors, and it’s so great to work with such awesome performers like Jesse and Kelly. I’m just happy to get the opportunity to tell this story because it’s funny and awkward and tragic and sad. It deals with a lot of real-life issues that people would rather not talk about. Sometimes the grieving process is both the loss of a relationship and the loss of a lover and it becomes complicated. I’m happy to be able to tell a story that a lot of people want to see. I think people were expecting to see Vic experiencing the loss of Ripley and this surprised a lot of people. I’m looking forward to the opportunity for people to see the other side where she’s at emotionally.

What has been the reaction so far from fans?

I love how engaged the fans are with the show and in the relationships. It’s so thrilling to see how excited they are about all parts of it, whether it’s anger or shock or joy or the excitement for the happiness of these two characters [Jackson and Vic] who they could never imagine being together. Hoping that they both can be happy is really generous. It’s been a pretty even mix, honestly, and I’ve been happy to see that because it is complicated, it is messy. I think it did take a lot of people by surprise but I’m excited by the passion, which people have responded to, just because it is hard. It was surprising to me too. Getting on board with it and understanding more about what’s going on beneath the surface with Vic, it has been exciting and I’m excited for the fans to see it too.

Station 19 isn’t back until midseason, but you hinted that we’ll get to see more of Vic’s side of this burgeoning relationship with Jackson. Can you elaborate further or is it still early days?

It’s definitely still early days. I can’t say too much more about it, but what I can say is you’ll definitely see Vic dealing with the aftermath of her loss [following Ripley’s death] and how that impacts her in a day-to-day way. There’s a lot of stuff to look forward to but we do get to see Vic’s point of view and more of her internal life as we start our season, so maybe it’ll give people some of what they’re looking for.

With Krista running both Grey’s and Station 19, have you noticed that there’s more synergy between both shows creatively and that there’s more interconnectivity with storylines?

There’s more interconnectivity in the story. How these two shows can really even grow from each other, I think, will be really awesome.

Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC, with Station 19 returning midseason.


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