We’re only two episodes into Ryan Murphy’s new procedural, yet we’re already pushing 9-1-1‘s three very capable leads to the background in order to give Buck — yes, “I’m a punk who knows what he’s lost” Buck — the main story line. Con: There is most definitely not enough Krause in this episode. Pro: At least “Let Go” feels much more like an established show and less like an hour of clunky introductions. After watching episode 2, though still ridiculous and leaning on certain clichés, I’m convinced the series should’ve ditched the pilot and started here. Last week was more of throat clearing, now we get a real taste for how 9-1-1 is going to work. Which is mostly okay, if you’re into procedurals!
The episode opens with two young guys, Chad and Devon, in line for a roller coaster at an amusement park. We’ve already seen enough of this show to know that something horrible is about to go down. Sure enough, the lap bar holding Chad and Devon in their seats isn’t properly latched and Chad goes flying. The three roller coaster cars are left hanging upside down on a loop, while Devon hangs from the lap bar. Poor Chad is long gone and Buck scurries up to the top of the coaster to make sure Devon doesn’t follow suit. Buck urges Devon to reach up and grab his safety strap, but Devon, with the entire amusement park filming him on their phones, is freaking out. Buck reaches out his hand and he promises Devon that he won’t let him fall, all he has to do is reach out. Devon tells Buck that he can’t. He lets go and falls to his death.
So, I guess the lesson here is never, ever ride a roller coaster, or go to an amusement park, or ever leave your house, maybe. Thanks, show! This is super fun.
It’s Buck’s first loss in the field and it hits him hard. It becomes a national news story, and everyone is hailing Buck as a hero for the people he did rescue that night, but Buck can’t shake the guy he lost. A surprisingly moving chat with Athena doesn’t help (she tells him they wear uniforms so that when they take them off at the end of the day, they can let go of what happens on the job). Nor does an outpouring of female attention. Is the hot firefighter hero single? Inquiring minds want to know!
One such female paying attention to Buck on the news is our own Abby Clark. She’s still moved by Buck’s gratefulness after the home invasion call. Most people forget she exists, he called her a hero. And thanks to a little confidence boost from Clara, Abby’s mom’s new nurse who is already The Best and needs to stick around forever, Abby decides to give Buck a call. She could tell that he’s hurting just from how his voice sounded in those interviews. The two of them have a very nice talk in which Abby tells Buck that not everybody wants to be saved, and Buck is again grateful for Abby’s help.
Before you start wrapping your mind around the thought of Abby and Buck becoming a thing, there is a complication. Buck freezes during the next call and finally gets that heart-to-heart with Bobby we’ve been waiting for. What’s the use of a veteran/rookie firefighter pairing if there aren’t going to be heart-to-hearts? Buck was going to be a Navy SEAL, but he wasn’t too keen on becoming a machine and turning his emotions off. Bobby is glad Buck isn’t able to turn his emotions off, they make him a better firefighter. Umm…I don’t know if that’s necessarily true, but it sounds nice. Since Peter Krause says it, I believe it! Bobby gives Buck the number for a trauma counselor.
Surprise! The counselor is Taylor Townsend — er, Autumn Reeser! Another surprise! After a few minutes of a very unproductive therapy session, she and Buck have sex! On the therapy couch!
What is this show? Don’t question it, just go with it. (Recap continues on page 2)
Whatever kind of therapy that was, it does get some of the kinks out. On the next call — which for the third time in a row entails rescuing someone from great heights — Buck doesn’t freeze up. While Bobby distracts the would-be jumper with a silly story about proposing to the love of his life on the Eiffel Tower (it’s all made up, but it does get me interested in Bobby’s actual love life), Buck climbs down from the roof of the building and knocks the guy safely onto his balcony. They call it “The Maneuver,” which is a very dumb name, but it works!
That win paired with a visit from Devon’s sister apologizing for yelling at Buck during Devon’s memorial, and also informing Buck that Devon was depressed and suicidal, help Buck to move on. The depression twist seems like a cop-out on what could be a very complex, emotional issue for Buck to tackle, but 9-1-1 doesn’t seem all that interested in complex. And so there it is: There was nothing more Buck could’ve done. Some people just don’t want to be saved.
The news helps clear Buck’s head for his second call from Abby Clark. This time, she’s asking him on a date. It’s all very sweet, and honestly, even through the phone these two have chemistry. Buck turns her down though — he actually likes Abby a lot and doesn’t want to mess things up with her because of his issues. Which include sleeping with his therapist. Why he would tell Abby about that on their second phone call, no one knows, but he does tell her that he feels safe talking to her, and he doesn’t have anyone like that in his life. For now, could they stick to phone calls? You guys, I don’t know if it is Nurse Clara telling Abby she’s a hot pumpkin spice latte that a young firefighter would like to burn his tongue on, or if it’s Abby’s stellar pink glasses, but I think I am into this possible relationship. What is happening? Is this what 9-1-1 does to people? IS THIS MY EMERGENCY?
Elsewhere, Athena is still dealing with the fallout of her husband coming out to their kids. Her teenage daughter May is faking sick so that she can stay in bed. Athena is eating meals with the firefighters to avoid awkward dinners at home. Things seem less icy, but they are not completely thawed.
Athena and Michael head to couples therapy — not with Taylor Townsend — and things do not go as Athena hopes. She’s angry, and doesn’t like being made a fool, but she does admit that deep down she knew Michael was gay. She wanted to share a life with him so badly, she ignored it. She also tells Michael that she’d be okay with a sexless marriage, because it wouldn’t be a loveless one. That set-up won’t work for Michael, who finally tells Athena that he’s met someone else.
Athena takes all the anger and pain she’s feeling and puts it into her work. In a great scene, Athena tracks down a burglar who slipped away from her during a call earlier in the episode. She tricks him by pretending to be interested in hooking up, and then chases him down and cuffs him. Nobody makes Athena look foolish! She says it to the burglar, but we all know she’s talking about her husband.
She makes her way home after an exhausting day. It will just be her and the kids for dinner that night. Athena goes to wake up her daughter…and finds empty pill bottles strewn all over May’s bedroom and May unconscious on the floor. Athena becomes the caller on the other end of Abby’s line. She needs help! May has overdosed.
It’s 9-1-1‘s little gut punch to send us off reeling until next week.