9-1-1 finally gave Buck a formal origin story on Monday — and it was even darker than we could have imagined.
Still reeling from the discovery that he and Maddie had an older brother who died of cancer, Buck also learned this week that he was only conceived in the hopes that he would be a bone marrow match for Daniel. The Buckleys’ twisted (and way-too-common!) plan worked for a short time, until Daniel eventually relapsed and died, at which point the family moved away and never spoke of the tragedy again.
A series of flashbacks to Buck and Maddie’s child- and young adulthood expanded upon their tight-knit relationship, including how Maddie almost told Buck about Daniel when she first left home to attend nursing school in Boston with Doug. (Ugh, Doug.) We also saw that the siblings almost ran away together years ago, but an abusive Doug made it clear what he would do to Maddie if she left. (Again… Ugh, Doug!) She did, however, gift Buck her beloved Jeep so that he could leave town and start over — a gift that eventually took him to Los Angeles.
Below, Oliver Stark breaks down 9-1-1‘s long-awaited “Buck Begins” episode, including the moment he looked in the mirror and thought, “Oliver, you’ve made a huge mistake.”
TVLINE | I was starting to wonder if Buck would ever get a “Begins” episode. He was so young when we met him, I didn’t know if he’d have enough of a backstory.
[Laughs] I agree, right? Buck had just started at the firehouse in the pilot, and we were sort of figuring everything out through his eyes. So I didn’t know if [a Buck origin story] would be a necessary thing, but then [showrunner Tim Minear] was like, “I’ve got this idea for it.” I understood why it was needed. It immediately made so much of what we know about Buck make sense.
TVLINE | What was your reaction when you first saw it all unfold in the script?
More than anything, actually, I was impressed that [the writers] were able to come up with something that encapsulated so much that we’ve seen of Buck over the years. The more I thought about his past behavior, the more I was like, “Oh, now it makes sense why he’s always doing these things, and why he’s got this hero complex.” I thought it was brilliant. I also didn’t know that some families really do have babies for this reason. It was very eye-opening.
TVLINE | Yes! I had to Google to see if that was true, and they really do!
The way Tim put it to me was, “They basically have a baby for parts.”
TVLINE | Before the truth came out, the fans had some wild theories about Buck’s family secret, including that Maddie was actually his mom.
[Laughs] Yeah, I’m not quite sure why so many people latched onto that one. She’s really not that much older than him, so there would have been a lot of darkness to explore there. It’s safe to say that was never going to be the secret. … I did see a couple of people absolutely nail what it was, at which point I wondered, “Who in the writers’ room has a secret Twitter account?”
TVLINE | Did you get to meet any of the actors who played Young Buck?
I met the middle one, the skateboarding one. He’s 14, so he’s just this cool kid who would probably be going around on his skateboard anyway. The coolest part of seeing these [younger versions] was seeing my birthmark made up on all of their faces. Like, “There you go. Now you’re me.” Because it’s been spoken about on the show so much, it would have been quickly flagged if we had left that out.
TVLINE | How is this experience going to affect Buck moving forward?
It’s important to know what it is that’s holding you back, so the fact that he can start to understand why his relationship with is parents has always been so fraught, and why he’s always felt this lack of belonging, he can finally start to move past it and heal and mend these relationships and reestablish these connections. As shattering as it was to learn the news, it’s only going to be good for him. We’ll see a new, more accomplished Buck because of it.
TVLINE | He’ll have plenty to talk about in his next therapy session.
Yes, and I think that’s actually a really important thing for the show to touch on. Whoever you are, whatever you’re going through, if you have the privilege of being able to go to therapy, it’s a beneficial thing. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. We saw him keeping it a secret in the first few episodes, but I love that the whole firehouse knows he’s in therapy now. It’s a good message to put out there.
TVLINE | I’ve always liked that about Buck, he’s strong yet sensitive.
Absolutely. They’re not mutually exclusive. You can be one thing in one moment, then another thing in the next, and they don’t take away from one another. People have many facets to their being.
TVLINE | One of those facets being Buck’s incredible 2015 Peru look. Can we talk about that for a minute?
[Laughs] I was very keen on pushing the boat on that and making it an extreme phase in his life. But once I had it all on — the leathery tan, the highlights in my straightened hair — I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, “Oliver, you’ve made a huge mistake.” I think it accomplished what we were trying to do there, though. He was trying to find himself, literally trying on different hats throughout the episode to find his place and his purpose.
How do you feel about Buck’s twisted backstory, now that we have the complete picture? Grade the special episode below, then drop a comment with your thoughts below.