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Big news: Eddie (Vanessa Ray) and Jamie (Will Estes) have finally confessed their love for each other after years of squad-car bickering and flirting. In the season 8 finale, the two announced at a Reagan family dinner their plans to marry. The scene was shocking, then heartwarming — and also left viewers wondering, What is going to happen next?

Indeed, that was on executive producer Kevin Wade’s mind when he mapped out the new season. “This idea that they’d be engaged to be married, and yet still riding together as cop partners — we had to address that right at the top,” Wade says. Adds Ray: “Like anybody in a relationship, you think, ‘Nothing’s going to change, right?’ They’ve been together all these years, they know each other inside and out…. But what they’re constantly coming up against is ‘Man, it has changed.’”

But here’s the bigger news: Eddie’s coming to dinner with a seat at the table between Jamie and her almost sister-in-law, Erin (Bridget Moynahan). Wade doesn’t mince words about the impact on one of Blue Bloods’ most sacred traditions. “It’s an injection of nitrous oxide into that dinner table,” he teases with glee. “It throws off the balance — in a good way.” Ray, meanwhile, is excited about bringing some comic relief to the proceedings. “[Eddie] is very unaware of the fact that she’s comical,” says the actress. “She’s so earnest!” (Expect her to rave about the peas.)

Back in the spring, Ray was nervous about the shake-up, but as she settles into the series’ new dynamic, she’s become thrilled by it. “It feels like I’m on a new show,” she gushes. “Before, it was like, Will and I against the world. Now it’s this huge collaborative effort.”

Blue Bloods returns for season 9 on Friday, Sept. 28, at 10 p.m. ET on CBS. Check out an exclusive first-look photo above.

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