9-1-1 returned from its four-month hiatus on Monday with a bang — several, actually — as the 118 dealt with a surge of electricity hammering Los Angeles, including one bolt that left a beloved character down for the count.
A particularly devastating call at the end of the hour resulted in Buck being struck by lightning, and to say that things aren’t looking good for Oliver Stark‘s character would be a grave (sorry, too soon!) understatement.
“He got hit by lightning, and his heart has stopped,” executive producer Kristen Reidel confirms to TVLine. “We’ll see in the next episode that getting your heart restarted is not a thing that happens immediately. There is definite concern, and not just the immediate concern of ‘Oh no, is Buck OK?’ There are also long-term concerns, like what the after effects of this will be.”
(For what it’s worth, a promo for next week’s episode reveals that Buck will find himself in an It’s a Wonderful Life-style coma dream. So to paraphrase Nashville‘s Juliette Barnes, don’t throw dirt on his grave just yet.)
Grade Monday’s shocking premiere below, then read on for some teases of what’s still to come, courtesy of Reidel: When will Team Grant/Nash get to the bottom of the big Wendell mystery? How will Hen and Karen eventually react to Denny and Nathaniel’s secret? And which member of the 118 will be most significantly impacted by Buck’s tragedy — you know, besides Buck himself?
Buck’s brush with death is going to affect everyone differently, but if we’re specifically talking about who will be “hit the hardest,” that’d be Bobby and Chimney.
“Bobby has already lost two kids, and in a lot of ways, Buck is also his kid,” Reidel says. “Seeing him in that hospital bed is going to be hard. As for Chimney, he was about to walk up that ladder, so he’s looking at Buck in that bed and thinking, ‘Oh my God, it could have been me!'”
Overall, Chimney is dealing with a “complicated mix” of emotions as we head deeper into the back half of the season. “He’s worried about Buck, but he’s also just looking at life itself differently now. What if that had been his final moment? It’s one of those things that really changes you.”
THE PARENTS, TRAPPED
Of course, Chimney will have to juggle his guilt with the added stress of unexpectedly having his estranged father in town. (Thanks for the warning, Albert!) In fact, we got our first taste of that drama this week, when Papa Chimney loudly vocalized his disapproval of Buck being a sperm donor — a revelation to which Buck’s parents had a surprisingly positive reaction.
“We’ve been wanting to bring the Buckleys back to town, but it felt like we needed a little something extra, because their last episode was all about these giant family secrets,” Reidel says. “The only thing that would be more complicated than the Buckleys coming to visit is them and the Hans visiting at the same time.”
The question is: Are Buck’s parents really supportive of his decision to donate his sperm, or were they just saying that to defend him against Mr. Han?
“I think it’s something in the middle,” Reidel says. “After the events of ‘Buck Begins,’ they realized they’ve made some mistakes with their kids. This was them genuinely wanting to not make those same mistakes again, not wanting to push their kids away by judging them harshly. You see that from the moment they walk into Maddie and Chimney’s house. They’re just going to bite their tongues and say all the nice things they can think of, and they’re going to make this the best visit ever — right down to their love for that backsplash.”
Speaking of that backsplash, Maddie and Chimney were clearly the busiest characters during this hiatus, because their formerly haunted house has gotten some serious upgrades.
“We talked a lot about how we wanted their house to feel,” Reidel says, giving full credit to set designer Sinead Clancy. “We just wanted it to feel like a happy place that these two people who have been through so much would get to live in and raise their little girl.”
Switching houses for a moment, we also need to talk about Denny, who’s still secretly in communication with his biological father.
“He’s going to keep that secret a little bit longer,” Reidel says. “He’ll try to keep it as long as possible, but fate is going to intervene, Hen and Karen are going to find out, and they are not going to have the best reaction. Because not only is Denny keeping secrets from them, but so is Nathaniel. There will be some fallout to deal with there.”
The premiere also found May getting involved with Bobby and Athena’s investigation into Wendell’s mysterious death, with the latter going undercover as a curious patient at the shady rehab facility.
“We’ve joked that the family that solves crimes together stays together,” Reidel says. “Wendell was a very important person to Bobby, and therefore he was an important person to this family. I love seeing May, now as an adult, getting to be in that circle of trust.”
We’ll find out the truth about Wendell “sooner rather than later,” Reidel says, promising that “we’ll finally know what actually happened to Wendell that night. Bobby will get some answers and a little bit of closure, and we as the audience will get to know Wendell in a way that we haven’t until now.”
EASY COME, EASY GO
And here’s a little bonus scoop: Don’t get too used to having Albert around. You’ll see him again next week, but then “he’s going to go back to Korea with his parents for a little while,” Reidel reveals.
Your thought on Monday’s premiere? Hopes for what’s next? Drop ’em all in a comment below.