September 1, 2015 | 12:32PM PT
Elizabeth Wagmeister @EWagmeister
“Grey’s Anatomy” returns Sept. 24 with its 12th season, and when the new episodes begin, the ABC medical drama is going back to its roots.
Season 11 said goodbye to Patrick Dempsey’s Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd, and the new season picks up three months after the finale and will be lighter in tone. In fact, romance is in the air for Season 12.
Alex (Justin Chambers) and Jo (Camilla Luddington) are living together in their new loft; Owen (Kevin McKidd) and Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) are exploring whether they’re just friends or friends with benefits, which a source close to the show playfully compares to a high school couple making out all the time; and Callie (Sara Ramirez) and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) are still apart, but their friendship will take on an entirely new level of maturity because they both start dating new people.
“Christina (Sandra Oh) left, and for me, that was the most profound change. I thought to myself, If I can figure out what to [sic] without Christina in there, then I will be okay,” Rhimes recalled, alluding to producing the upcoming season without Dempsey. “The beginning of last season was the most challenging for me, and once I knew that we could do that, I felt like we could do anything.”