9-1-1‘s last episode of 2018 ended with a hellish holiday cliffhanger, setting the stage for some exciting — and terrifying — events to come in the new year. TVLine spoke with showrunner Tim Minear about the fall finale’s many twists and (re)turns, but first, a quick recap:
Athena’s invited Bobby to move in with her, which somehow pivoted to him proposing (and her accepting!); Eddie reluctantly welcomed Shannon back into his life, thus fulfilling Christopher’s one Christmas wish; and we learned that, unbeknownst to Maddie, her abusive ex (played by Jennifer Love Hewitt’s real-life husband Brian Hallisay!) has finally managed to track her down.
Below, Minear previews what 2019 holds for Maddie and her ex (“It’s time for the other shoe to drop”), Bobby and Athena (“I’d be very worried”) and the rest of Los Angeles’ finest uniformed men and women:
TVLINE | Before we dive into the fall finale, I need to applaud last week’s episode. What inspired you to tell Hen’s backstory?
That was Ryan [Murphy]’s idea. He felt it would be beneficial for the audience to learn about these characters and the cases that broke them. And we’ll be doing more of those this year. When we did TCA this year, I said that every member of our ensemble could be the star of their own show, and episodes like this prove that. Aisha [Hinds] is a star.
TVLINE | Agreed on all fronts. Now, that was some solid casting of Maddie’s ex in this finale.
Right? He’s good.
TVLINE | It didn’t immediately occur to me that they’re married in real life. To be honest, my first thought was, “How nice — a Client List reunion.”
That’s funny. I actually think of it as a reunion of The Inside. I did a procedural for Fox about 10 years ago called The Inside, which was about the serial killer unite of the FBI, and I gave Brian Hallisay his first job on TV. I knew him, so when I realized he was married to Jennifer, that’s when I got the idea. I’ve always thought he was a wonderful actor. He has a certain masculine charm, but he can also be incredibly creepy. I just thought he’d be perfect, so the fact that he’s married to her is a plus.
TVLINE | I have to imagine their familiarity with one another will result in some great performances.
I absolutely believe it does.
TVLINE | How much of a presence will her ex have moving forward?
We’re definitely going to tell that story. We’ve been teasing it for the first 10 episodes, so it’s time for the other shoe to drop. It won’t drop the minute we get back, but it’ll drop shortly thereafter.
TVLINE | In addition to being physically abusive, the guy also seems like a psychological threat.
Well, Maddie is no fool. She’s an intelligent woman, so he obviously needed to have charisma and some psychological power in order to keep her down for so long. It took her a while to get away.
TVLINE | On a happier note, Athena and Bobby are engaged. If this was any other show, I feel like Athena would have said it was too fast. But this is 9-1-1, where there’s no such thing as “too fast.”
[Laughs] Of course. And that’s something we debated about in the room: Is it too fast? My feeling was that, considering everything Bobby has been through, it isn’t too fast. He’s a 50-year-old man who’s been through some stuff, she’s a woman who’s already lived her life and has a family. Why wait when you know? I think they’re both in their sweet spot in that moment.
TVLINE | Decisions made during the holidays don’t always stick. Should we be worried about either Bobby or Athena changing their minds?
Oh, I’d be very worried. What are you talking about? If you’ve followed anything I’ve done in the past 20 years, you know that the moment everything is perfect is when I’m going to give you the shovel.
TVLINE | True. Eddie also reluctantly reunited with Shannon this week. What does their path look like?
What was important in this episode was to show a different side of Shannon. A mother who walked out on her special needs kid is not a hugely likable character to begin with, so I wanted to show that Eddie — as great as he is — isn’t perfect. He admits to Buck that he ran out first. He re-enlisted when he didn’t have to in order to avoid dealing with the situation, and he left her alone to cope. These are just human beings trying to do as best they can with the situation they’re in. Eddie and Shannon both have feelings for each other, and they both love that little boy, so I’m crossing my fingers for them.
TVLINE | I’m enjoying getting to know Buck outside of his relationship with Abby. What are your plans for him?
Buck has decided that his relationship Abby is over — after several months of her not being there — and that it’s time to figure out who he is without her. I don’t think he really knew who he was before. He felt like he was coming into his own in that relationship. He’ll continue to grow, and we’ll keep giving him new challenges. The situation with his sister is going to play heavily into part of his story in the second half.
TVLINE | I know he literally wrote her a breakup letter, but I have to make sure: Abby and Buck’s story is definitely over?
Who knows what the future will bring. As I’ve said, the door is always open for a Connie Britton appearance. She’s busy with Dirty John — and sometimes American Horror Story. I didn’t want to sell that relationship short by just getting rid of it. I thought it was necessary for it to be difficult for Buck to let her go.
Your thoughts on tonight’s episode? Hopes and predictions for the second half of Season 2? Grade the fall finale below, then drop a comment with your full review.