Monday’s episode of 9-1-1 gave Buck a glimpse into his potential future — and he did not like what he saw.
Following another daring rescue, Buck proposed a group outing to celebrate, but the humble hero found himself drinking alone while everyone else was busy with their significant others. (Or in Eddie’s case, the pursuit of one.) This led Buck to strike up an unlikely friendship with a retired firefighter named “Red,” who never settled down and started and family because his life was consumed by his job.
Finding Red’s story far too relatable for comfort, Buck decided to reconnect the old man with his lost love, a plan that took a tragic turn when she forgot who Red was halfway through their conversation and kicked him out of her house. It was so heartbreaking, in fact, that Red literally suffered a heart attack and wound up in the hospital. He was eventually discharged in dramatic fashion, even getting to ride in the captain’s seat on a firetruck one last time… before he died.
During an emotional follow-up chat with Maddie, Buck admitted to feeling lonely, which she suggested might have something to do with a certain hair icon who broke his heart two seasons ago. Buck admitted to “sometimes” thinking about Abby, but that she isn’t the only problem. He’s worried that he’s going to die alone like Red, a fear which Maddie shuts down immediately. “He didn’t have a sister,” she said. “He didn’t have me.”
TVLINE | When I heard that we were getting a Buck-heavy episode, I was expecting action. This was a nice emotional surprise.
One of the things that I’ve always enjoyed about Buck is the way he can flip between the two. He can be the action hero, but he also has this huge heart. It was a really fun episode for me to get to shoot. There was that taste of action at the beginning, but then it became more about his journey of self-discovery and working out which direction his life is headed in.
TVLINE | Even though the subject matter was pretty heavy, you and [guest star Jack McGee] seemed to be having a good time together.
Oh, absolutely. The heavy subject matter is the most fun stuff to work with. It’s the meaty things, it’s the things that you get to get stuck in. And to work with someone like Jack — who not only has this incredible body of work but was also a New York firefighter before he became an actor — was such a lovely, informative experience that I’ll look back on very fondly.
TVLINE | I had no idea he’s a former firefighter in real life. So that final scene in the hospital hallway must have been really emotional for him to shoot.
Oh, the whole thing. And because he’s an east coast firefighter — and there are differences between them, in terms of terminology and things like that — he kept making little digs in a very fun and loving way.
TVLINE | This episode changed the way I look at Buck’s interactions with other characters. For example, he seems to be at his happiest when he’s with Christopher, but is a part of him sad that he doesn’t have a son of his own? Like he’s just borrowing him?
Absolutely. Wow, that’s actually an interesting and lovely way to think about it. Often the people with the biggest smiles can be struggling the most. I hadn’t necessarily thought of it that way, but now that you say it, you really do see that in Buck. He’s this amazing ball of energy around other people, but they’re not really “his” people. He doesn’t have anyone else who’s “his,” and everyone else in the firehouse does have that person, that crutch.
TVLINE | And his co-workers clearly have no idea that he feels that way.
Well, you don’t necessarily check on those people. You just assume they’re all right. So while his closest friends are all off doing their own thing, it isn’t seeping in that there’s a person being left alone in the middle of that who maybe needs a friend and a partner right now.
TVLINE | I was surprised to hear Buck bring up Maddie leaving in the past. Are there still unresolved brother-sister issues there?
There are a lot of family issues that we’ll hopefully get into at some point. They’ve always leaned on each other, so the idea that of her leaving him at any point would leave some hurt and pain inside of him, I would imagine. So there’s something left over from that, but obviously their relationship is moving beyond it.
TVLINE | Speaking of moving on, I kind of thought Buck was over Abby. Is that not the case?
He’s moved on on the surface, and even in some deeper ways, but he just never got any closure. Until you get that closure, I don’t know if it’s possible to completely move on. As much as you can quiet the questions in your head, they’re still scratching around somewhere. So he’s not waking up and pining over her, but there are questions that have led to some doubt about his self-worth. There are still questions to be answered from his point of view.
TVLINE | The kind that can only be answered with a face-to-face chat?
Yeah. We saw him send her a letter in the second season, but we don’t know if he ever heard back. So as far as we know, that was it. There are definitely conversations to be had.
What did you think of this week’s 9-1-1? And what’s your take on Buck still needing “closure” with Abby? Drop a comment with your thoughts below.