‘Station 19’ EPs Break Down Jack’s Future After Season 7 Premiere: ‘There’s a Ticking Clock’

Showrunners Peter Paige and Zoanne Clack also preview Andy’s journey as captain and what’s next after Travis’ big reunion

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Grey Damon in "Station 19." (ABC/James Clark)

Note: This story contains spoilers from the “Station 19” Season 7 premiere.

The seventh and final season premiere of “Station 19” revealed the fate of beloved firefighter Jack Gibson after he collapsed during the tragic accident at the firefighter’s ball in the previous finale. After performing emergency surgery and saving his life, Dr. Amelia Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone) broke the news to newly-promoted captain Andy Herrera (Jaina Lee Ortiz) that her friend and colleague sustained a life-altering brain injury that will bench him from field work permanently.

The episode, titled “This Woman’s Work,” ended with Jack waking up after surgery and congratulating Andy on her promotion — and asking when he would be back on duty.

New “Station 19” showrunners Peter Paige and Zoanne Clack — taking over after Krista Vernoff’s exit last season — teased that the twist doesn’t mean Jack (Grey Damon) will exit the series, but his journey helps exemplify the uncertainty firefighters face on a daily basis.

“In a lot of cases, there is a ticking clock on their career, which oftentimes is chosen out of passion,” Paige told TheWrap in a recent interview alongside Clack. “Nobody becomes a firefighter to get rich … it ain’t a money job. You do it because you want to be of service to your community, and there are often external limits imposed upon that.”

“Pretty much every season we’ll do a tour with five different fire stations. During the most recent one, the guy who was taking us around — a media relations guy who used to be on the field — was telling us about the physical and psychological toll that firefighting can take on you,” Clack added. “Sometimes you just have to get out. You want to stay with your brethren, but it just gets to a point where you have to find out what’s next. So we’re exploring that [with Jack] this season.”

The season premiere had plenty of big headlines, including Natasha (Merle Dandridge) officially keeping her job as fire chief after landing in controversial waters, Andy kicking off her tenure as captain of 19, Maya (Danielle Savre) and Carina (Stefania Spampinato) deciding to foster a baby they saved during the ball and Travis (Jay Hayden) hooking up with his ex Emmett (Lachlan Buchanan) after he came back into town following his father’s death — behind the back of Travis’ new boyfriend (Rob Heaps).

Read on for more on what’s next for the firefighters as “Station 19” heads toward its conclusion.

TheWrap: Andy has officially become captain, and she finds herself haunted by Jack’s voice helping her work through the insecurities of stepping into that leadership role. She eventually asserts that she’s the best person for the job. Why have her go through that internal struggle?

Clack: I think her struggle for the season is how she’s going to lead. She’s gotten this captaincy at the end of last season. So she’s wondering is she going to be a captain like Maya was? Is she going to be like Sullivan (Boris Kodjoe) was? Is she going to be like her father? Her journey is trying to find who she is [going to be in that role]. By having Jack pushing her along through that, it was part of her finding the beginning of that [journey].

Paige: I think that something most of us can relate to is that when you’re in a mid-level management role, there’s a lot of armchair quarterbacking that goes on … Then suddenly you get to step into that leadership role and it is humbling. Suddenly you are making this decision and suddenly everyone is looking to you for guidance or leadership or direction. It is a shocking investment, I think on some level Zoanne and I are using Andy to comment about us stepping into these positions. I think it’s really important to acknowledge that it doesn’t come easy.

We wanted a way that came out of the “Grey’s” universe vocabulary, which that very much does, to dramatize Andy’s interior struggle. I think it’s just such a delightful one. Jack is the perfect voice for that, he’s been with her since the Academy. He is that push-and-pull and happy to needle her and provoke her, both humorously and earnestly. He was the perfect opportunity for us to tell a really moving interior story in an external way.

There were a lot of big moments in the premiere, but Maya and Carina deciding to foster the baby they rescued fulfills this long dream of theirs to explore parenting together. What can you tell us about how this milestone changes the relationship?

Clack: I would say just brings them closer.

Paige: I will say this, I created a TV show literally called “The Fosters.” Zoanne adopted one of our children. It’s something very important to both of us. And it is never a straightforward path.

And of course Travis and Emmett reunited during the episode — as Emmett mourned the loss of his father at the ball — and hooked up! What does this mean for Travis’ current relationship, and how long can we expect Emmett to stick around?

Paige: You’re going to have to watch Episode 2 to find out. I wish that I could just give you a full download. But you know, these characters don’t always make things simple for themselves.

In Episode 2, Travis goes to Emmett’s father’s funeral. I’ll tell you that.

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ABC’s “Station 19” stars Jason George as Ben Warren, Danielle Savre as Maya Bishop, Josh Randall as Captain Sean Beckett, Barrett Doss as Victoria Hughes, Merle Dandridge as Fire Chief Natasha Ross, Boris Kodjoe as Captain Robert Sullivan, Jaina Lee Ortiz as Andy Herrera, Carlos Miranda as Theo Ruiz, Stefania Spampinato as Dr. Carina DeLuca, Jay Hayden as Travis Montgomery, Grey Damon as Jack Gibson, and Pat Healy as Michael Dixon. (ABC/James Clark)

Looking at things from a larger perspective, Shondaland’s slate has been revolutionary in its approach to inclusive storytelling, pretty much from the beginning. “Station 19” sees Natasha retaining her position as fire chief, and now Andy is getting to embody this role of captain. Two women of color in charge of big roles in their profession. How does it feel to lead the charge in writing these stories?

Clack: I feel like my whole life has been towards this goal. I came up in Shondaland, and we’ve gotten to express a lot of that through “Grey’s Anatomy” and through [Shonda Rhimes’] other shows more and more. And I feel like, as the world has evolved, we’ve been able to tell more in-depth stories. When “Grey’s Anatomy” first started, it was enough to just have a Black chief of surgery and Black head of cardiothoracic. And now we’re really talking from their experiences, and how that experience of being a Black person or a Latino woman or whatever, really changes the outlook of how they perform the job, which has been a wonderful journey to participate in through the years.

Paige: It is absolutely true that, like, if you see it, you can be it. My whole career has been about exemplifying that, from when I was an actor (on “Queer as Folk” and other roles) until “The Fosters” and “Good Trouble.” All of that is about supporting these full, complicated images of queer people and people of color, so that audiences can understand them better. So queer and people of color can aspire to different things, or know that the universe is open to them. That’s been a real privilege and it’s very satisfying.

“Station 19” airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. Episodes are available to stream the day after they premiere on Hulu.

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