Brothers & Sisters
For the storytellers of Brothers & Sisters, jumping ahead a year in time offers a jolt of creative energy, but also poses a challenge for the season premiere.
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"There are a lot of things we need to catch the audience up on, and there's a lot of closure we need to acknowledge and let the audience share in," executive producer David Marshall Grant tells TVGuide.com. "We are doing a lot to deal with that finale and get us into a place where we feel that we understand what happened and move beyond it, just as the Walkers are beginning to move beyond it."
Season 4 ended with a massive car crash that seemed to seal the fate of departing cast member Rob Lowe's Robert McCallister and left William Walker's ex-mistress Holly (Patricia Wettig) in similarly critical condition. Plus, Saul (Ron Rifkin) revealed that he was HIV-positive and Justin (Dave Annable) and Rebecca (Emily VanCamp) came to a crossroads in their young marriage.
The events of the finale are still very fresh in the minds' of the characters, but Grant says the jump in time will quickly allow them to move on and grow. "We are starting these characters in new worlds," he says. "These characters are really trying to reinvent themselves or to get through some really significant hurdles," he says. "I think we're going to really hold these characters' feet to the fire in terms of figuring out what they need to deal with and what they need to get past."
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So, how will that reinvention work? Let's break it down character-by-character.
Kitty (Calista Flockhart)
The season premiere is really her story, as she comes to grips with finally letting go of Robert. "She's not only without Robert McCallister, but she's without the life she knew," Grant says. "We open with her trying to maybe understand who she is now. She has to rediscover herself and that will lead to more varied experiences for Kitty." Those experiences include being offered a job by the Republican National Committee and a new romantic relationship with Jeremy Davidson (Army Wives), who is unlike any guy Kitty has dated. "We're not going to see the Kitty that lives in rarefied air and wears Prada dresses and rides in helicopters," Grant says.
Nora (Sally Field)
When the season starts, Nora's gone back to work at a flower shop. "For Nora to be working anywhere is a huge step for her. I think she's exploring what it's like to spread her wings," Grant says, noting that Nora too may find some romance. "Nora wants to get out of the house and I think she's finally admitted that she wants a man in her life. She's had a lot of possibilities over these seasons, but I don't think she's ever been ready." Nora won't stay in the flower business long, however: This season she'll take a job hosting an AM radio show called "Ask Mom."
He ended last season wanting a break from his troubled marriage with Rebecca. Even though he talked of going to Haiti to help with earthquake relief, the show resumes with Justin returning from another tour of duty in Afghanistan. Changes in him are instantly noticeable. "He is going to be returning a man," Grant says. "He's been a troubled person on our show. He's never really been able to figure it out in some ways, but I think, over the year, he has. He's become a big source of help to his family now, and he's become more a part of the solution than the problem."
Holly and Rebecca
Even though the new mature Justin wants to patch things up with Rebecca, he won't be so lucky. Emily VanCamp is leaving the show after a two-episode arc to wrap up her character's story. Her problems with Justin are compounded by a new health issue plaguing Rebecca's mother, Holly, following the accident. "Rebecca's episodes are going to try to really honor her relationship with Justin, which has been very important for us," Grant says. "And they also honor her relationship with Holly. It's an exciting story, and a heartbreaking one."
Saul revealing that he has HIV could have been a dark and gloomy story line, but Grant says he isn't looking at it that way. Rather, Grant wants to continue to explore Saul's intergenerational relationship with Kevin (Matthew Rhys) and Scotty (Luke McFarlane) by having Saul and Scotty open a restaurant. "This season is a way of examining a man who grew up in very different times come to terms with what he missed out on so he can move forward in the most positive and exciting way," Grant says. And Uncle Saul is also getting a love interest: 7th Heaven's Stephen Collins. "We're focusing on Saul's search for intimate connection. The fact that he's HIV-positive is going to complicate that search, as if it wasn't complicated already," Grant says.
Kevin and Scotty
Despite a season-long attempt to adopt a child last year, Kevin and Scotty are still baby-less after another surrogacy fails. After that and the accident, Kevin shuts himself off from Scotty, throwing himself into his work as a pro bono lawyer. "He's hung his own shingle and he's taking a lot of clients who can't afford lawyers," Grant says. "He's much more about being a lawyer for people who need him, because he now appreciates how the fickle finger of fate can hurt you." When one of Kevin's clients needs a place to stay, however, Kevin and Scotty's wish to adopt is revisited. "That's an important new shift for them and I think it's great to tell a story about raising child who isn't an infant," Grant says.
Sarah (Rachel Griffiths) and Luc (Gilles Marini)
Sarah will debate what to do with the Narrow Lake land, which could lead to a lot of money for all the Walker family members. Luckily, her rocky love life seems to be on solid ground. "They're very much in love. It's become a great relationship for us," Grant says. "They seem to have the same kind of chemistry as Scotty and Kevin, and it's just been really fun to watch." Look to see a lot of Luc, as he has become an underwear model. Also, his mom will pay the Walkers a visit this season.
Brothers & Sisters returns Sunday at 10/9c on ABC.