Credit: ABC/Richard Cartwright

Arizona finally returns to Grey Sloan during Thursday’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy, but she’s coming back to quite the predicament.

While Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) was visiting Sofia in New York, her former mentee Alex (Justin Chambers) beat her roommate DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) within an inch of his life. Suffice it to say, Arizona will be torn upon her return. But good news is on the horizon as Arizona will finally be getting a new love interest. EW turned to Capshaw to get the scoop:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Arizona comes back to hospital in the midst of a lot of drama. How does she feel about what happened between DeLuca and Alex?

JESSICA CAPSHAW: I think ultimately — and why it’s such a great story — is that everyone feels conflicted. That’s the best part: There’s nothing conflicting about someone being hurt, so everyone feels for DeLuca because there’s nothing to not feel for. But at the same time, for such a beloved character with such a complicated history and tone to him, for Alex to be the one who assaulted him is just so heartbreaking, because you know him, so you know it was a mistake. Of course that causes friction and creates the drama. That’s what Arizona feels at the beginning — her love of Karev, their friendship, their professional relationship and having helped him at the beginning, and then her compassion and how she feels for Andrew, it’s her roommate, and just caring that he was so badly hurt.

How do you think this changes her relationship with Alex?

Maybe this is art and life coming together, but Justin Chambers is such an incredible actor and such an incredible human being. The nuances that he layers into his acting and the way that he portrays things, I don’t know that Arizona necessarily interprets of him going back to his thuggish days. My understanding was always how upset she was for having done it and jeopardized his career. Ultimately she knows, on some level, the pain that he has and the mistakes that he’s made. You can’t kick a dog that’s already down, and he is down. It’s not like he’s gotten away with it.

As the trial nears, how will the Alex-DeLuca situation further divide the hospital?

It becomes wondering who’s on whose side, who has to pick, if someone has to pick, and if someone has to pick, who that someone is, and what they mean to both of those people.

How is Arizona dealing with co-parenting across country?

I really do think that at the end of last season, there was such a dramatic episode where it was about the tug of war, the push-pull of the relationship, fighting over their child, and having to go through that courtroom stuff. It was really intense. By the end of it, when they stood back, I think that Arizona did this really compassionate thing, which was that she tried to make it work for everyone. Ultimately, I think that we are meant to be left with the idea that that was a lovely thing for her to do, and there’s a lovely place in New York that she paints a bit of a picture of when she returns where things are good, that in the land of Grey’s, in that universe, there exists a New York where Sofia, Callie, and Penny live that Arizona gets to be a part of and shares in. You’ll see Sofia coming back and forth, and that relationship still exists and is healthy.

After years of working together, is it weird for you to come back to set and Sara Ramirez not be there?

I know! That’s the thing, I’ve been there for — I actually think this month marks my eighth year in real time. I remember doing my first episode, and it was in October. I was thinking about that the other day: “Oh my gosh, eight years!” On some level, I actually still feel kind of new to it all, because our stories change so much and we get fresh starts all the time. There have been quite a few people who have come and gone while I’ve been there. Of course, you absolutely feel it. I think you feel it most at the table reads and feel it obviously in the scenes. Sara and I didn’t work together all that much last year; towards the end we did, but they were on to telling different stories. But yeah, you always feel it when someone is not there anymore.

We’re going to be seeing Arizona dating. What can you tease of her new love interest? How is this relationship different from the one with Callie?

I don’t really know, but the conversations that we have had, I think that — again, eight years later, I think you’re a whole other person. Of course, if you start actually looking at all the things that have happened to Arizona over the past eight years — she’s lost a marriage — there have been so many things that have happened. I always think of it, when we get these fresh starts, I always go back to who she was in the beginning, because I think it says so very much about her — that very dedicated, unwavering, “this is who I am, there is no apology for it” person. Inherent to that is an ability to really enjoy your life in a real way. So many people walk around feeling conflicted about who they are, and it obviously lends to self doubt and a bit of murkiness about who they think that they are. I think Arizona has never had that. She always seemed really clear to me. I love that about her. I think that’s actually a really exciting person to start teaming up with other people and seeing how that relates to other people. I hope that she ends up getting into a relationship with someone who can feel really confident, totally full, funny, sexy, exciting, and excited. There’s a lot fertile ground for that bloom in.

There was some trepidation about dating again at the end of the season, which provided a lot of comedy. Do you think that will be the case again this season as Arizona dips her toe back into the dating pool?

Since we already played that, I think it would be exciting to imagine, over hiatus, she was coming back at this with lots of wind in her sails. It should be a little bit more fun. It’s always been fun for me, because it just makes me giggle, but every time you learn a little bit more about Arizona’s sexual history, there’s always been this very brash, committed, and fully confident type of person. It’ll be fun to see what that is like now. The relationship between Arizona and Callie was so wonderful when it was wonderful, and then another element came into play, so we were playing all the things that were about the grief and the post-traumatic stress of crashes and divorce and all that. There’s now more of a blank slate and a little more room to have fun without feeling sorry that you’re having fun. I think that’s what ends up happening — you get divorced and you almost feel guilty for having fun with someone else, because aren’t you supposed to still be married? She’s not married anymore. Not only is she not married, but her person is now happily with someone else and in a whole different state. It feels to me that there’s completely free rein to have a very, very exciting step off into a new life.

With that in mind, do you think there’s hope for Callie and Arizona, or is it time for them to move on and find happiness?

I’m lead to believe that yes, that is where we’re at. I think everybody wants to see — I don’t even think it’s up for debate, right? I felt very much that the Penny and Callie relationship was so lovely, and they’re such incredibly talented actress — watching them, their chemistry and the relationship they created was really wonderful. Again, in our Shondaland universe, they exist somewhere being happy, and so I think there is definitely room for Arizona to be happy as well.

Justin mentioned he’d like to see Arizona and Alex working in the clinic together. Is that going to happen?

Oh, he just wants to work with me more. [Laughs.] We all love working together. We wouldn’t want to miss out on being able to work together just because he’s not able to be on the peds floor. That’s actually really fun. I’m so grateful. I wasn’t necessarily sure what Arizona’s medical evolution was going to be, but it’s so cool now because I think it’s true, but I’m not completely positive, that she’s actually the most certified doctor of them all with more specialties and does more things than anybody. That’s exciting. She gets to be able to step in on the peds ward, she can step in on the OBGYN ward, the fetal medicine ward, so it’s fun. Maybe she’ll head over to the clinic.

Now that you’re in season 13, is there anyone you’re getting to work with more this season that you haven’t before?

She’s a dear friend of mine, so it’s actually really fun: Camilla [Luddington]. I haven’t really worked with Camilla as much in seasons past, but I have been able to work with her quite a bit this season. I’ve loved it. I love working with her, she’s fantastic.

Have you heard the online rumblings that fans are pushing for Sasha Alexander to play Owen’s sister?

Yeah, I know! I thought you were going to say pushing for her to come on and play my love interest, and it’s funny because we have laughed about that. There are certain lines you cannot cross when you’re best friends. I just do not think you can be making out! [Laughs.]

No, as Owen’s sister!

Yeah, it would be amazing. You know what? Kevin [McKidd] and Sasha are friends too, so that would be super fun.

Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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