As the wife of a first responder, Karen Wilson is used to hearing stories about the 118, but she’s never gotten to see the team in action… until now.
“Karen is usually just there to offer insight or support, so this episode was shocking to me,” Tracie Thoms tells TVLine of Monday’s 9-1-1. “They like to keep things under wraps on this show, but when they blocked out my available days, I was like, ‘That’s a lot of days!’ Then I finally read the script, and I just sat there with my mouth open. I couldn’t believe it. To see that Karen was in the middle of a big crisis was thrilling. And then I got nervous and overwhelmed and humbled. All of those emotions flood in, because suddenly you learn that the people you work for believe in you and trust you in a way that you didn’t even know they did.”
This week’s episode put Thoms’ character front and center when an explosion at her lab resulted in a near-death experience — and she was one of the lucky ones.
“I’m very proud of how she handled herself,” Thoms says. “She could have panicked, but she didn’t. She had the presence of mind to know the dangers ahead of her, so she was able to save more people. She also got to see the 118 in a way she’s never seen them. How lucky for her that Bobby should be the one to come around the corner — that her family should save her.”
Thoms never truly felt that Karen was in mortal danger (“I would hope they would tell me something like that before I get the script”), but she admits that the thought did cross her mind: “This is a very dramatic show. They’ll kill anyone off. They have to keep it fresh and keep the audience on their toes.”
The episode also took us back more than a decade, offering glimpses into the earliest days of Hen and Karen’s relationship, which turned out to be a full-circle experience for Thoms on multiple levels. “First of all, Aisha Hinds and I have known each other for about 20 years,” she says. “We’ve known each other through a lot of things, so that made this all easier to play.”
Thoms also sees a lot of her younger self in flashback-Karen. “I used to be very Type A and buttoned-up,” she says. “I graduated summa cum laude from Howard University with a 3.96 GPA. I was very, very strict with myself. I was very much like Karen. I understand her. But things happen in life that teach you not to sweat the small stuff. It was fun that this was Karen’s journey, but also mine. It was fun to see how far I’ve come, and how far she has come in terms of how she views the world and learned to let love into her life in a way that she wasn’t able to do even 10 years ago.”
The whole experience helped Hen to realize that she didn’t want to go back to medical school if it meant no longer being a firefighter. She loves her life as it is, and she doesn’t want anything to change — a sentiment Thoms certainly shares. “Their partnership is a beautiful thing to watch,” she says of Hen and Karen, “and a beautiful thing to play.”
Your thoughts on Monday’s Karen-centric hour? Season 6 thus far? Whatever’s on your mind, drop it in a comment below.