SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains spoilers from Fox’s “9-1-1” Season 6 spring premiere on Monday, entitled “In a Flash.”
The sixth season of Fox first-responder drama “9-1-1” returned Monday after a months-long winter hiatus, with an episode in which almost everything goes surprisingly right for the 118 — until it goes horribly wrong.
Before the bad came the good, when Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and Chimney (Kenneth Choi) hosted their families at their new house with daughter Jee-Yun. Maddie was expecting her and Buck’s (Oliver Stark) parents, and imagining that they would be quite judgmental and rude, as they have been in the past. Chimney, meanwhile, had invited only his brother Albert (John Harlan Kim), but got a surprise visit from his estranged father and stepmother, as well — immediately assuming they would be even harder on him than Maddie’s parents would be on her.
In a shock to everyone involved, the visit went very well, with both sets of parents apologizing for times when they acted inappropriately — and they then went on to behave themselves.
“It felt like, after everything that we have put them through, Maddie, Chimney and their families, it felt like the surprise was that bad things would not happen — until we get to Buck,” “9-1-1” showrunner Kristen Reidel told Variety. “That was also a big part of it: that family gathering is the thing you’re expecting to go wrong. But instead, they find a way.”
Watching everything go so well for Maddie and Chimney, and his parents accepting his choice to be a sperm donor for a friend, puts Buck in a really good place himself: “Buck has that lovely moment where he’s just like, this is the life I imagined that a family would be when I was a kid,” Reidel said. “It was just a little sweet thing for him to see the families come together, before the big turn at the end.”
Yes, that big turn at the end. Due to the dry thunderstorm rolling over Los Angeles, the 118 deals with a series of lightning strike emergencies throughout the episode, the last of which sees Buck struck by a bolt himself while atop a ladder — left literally hanging, and seemingly dead, by the close of the hour.
Reidel teases that this will lead to a big episode for Buck next week involving “dying and coming back.”
“Buck has been on this journey this year to find out the purpose of his life and what he requires to be happy and the kind of person he wants to be,” the “9-1-1” executive producer said. “And it just felt like nothing really focuses you like dying — or so I’m told. It’s just this idea that at any moment, any of us could die, right? You can walk into the street and be hit by a bus. So the idea that time was limited and we should spend our time on what matters and make ourselves happy and worry less about what everybody else thinks — that’s a huge part of Buck’s story, in general, on the show.
“He’s always been a person who defines himself by how other people see him,” Reidel continued. “And so dying and coming back, it’s an important lesson for him to learn that how he sees himself is the most important thing. And it harkens back to the thing Bobby says to him in the first episode of the season, which is: You can be alone and be at peace.”