'Grey's Anatomy' Tackles Domestic Violence 'Head-On'

When it returns next month, Grey's Anatomy promises to tackle the issue of domestic violence in a big way. Season 14 will resume the stand-off between Jo and her ex-husband, Dr. Paul Stadler -- played by Matthew Morrison.

The show's executive producer, Krista Vernoff, told reporters at TVLine that the violent history between these two doctors will be front and center as the show goes forward.

“We are facing the issue of domestic violence head-on,” Vernoff said. “My hope is that women will come out of this story feeling empowered. I’m really proud of this story. I’m really proud of the work that we’re doing.”

It won't be an over-simplified battle between a woman and her demons, however. A still from the forthcoming episode published on the site reveals that Stadler's eerie smile has been replaced by a more subdued look. As Stadler gets more screen time he'll have a chance to resume manipulating his wife, making it all the harder for Jo.

Stadler was first introduced at the end of the show's thirteenth season. Jo had been putting off the divorce because she feared letting him back into her life in any way. Just before the mid-season break, she resolved to separate from him once and for all.

Stadler is played by Matthew Morrison, famous for his role as Mr. Schue on Glee. The actor has a history of playing gentle, likable characters, which made him an odd choice at first as the estranged, violent husband of Jo. He has an opportunity going forward to showcase a whole new skill set as a performer. Morrison told a reporter from The Argonaut that Paul Stadler would play "a big role" in the rest of the season.

Grey's Anatomy returns on Jan. 18.