By Maggie Fremont
April 30, 2019 at 12:07 AM EDT
Jack Zeman/FOX
S2 E16
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Last we saw Captain Bobby Nash, he was being informed—during a nice date night with Athena, no less!—that things he said in his interrogation during the bank robbery ordeal raised some red flags and the LAFD would be investigating. So, as Bobby faces a panel that will determine his fate in the department, we get to see how he landed at the 118 and what his first few months there were like. Yes, friends, like Hen and Chimney before him, Bobby Nash is getting the 9-1-1 backstory treatment. I have to say, I’m am into these. Give me all the emotion, you know?

Okay, I take that back. The one thing in the world I hoped to never see again was the horrific night Bobby’s wife and children died because of a fire he accidentally caused while drunk and high. But 9-1-1 does not care what I want—we’re going back to St. Paul in 2014, on the night of the fire. You may think that there’s no possible way that incident could get any worse than it was the first time around, but you would be wrong. This time we watch as Bobby sees his wife, badly burned, get rushed into an ambulance and then we have to witness him as he sees firefighters bring out his children’s lifeless bodies. Oh, and then Bobby has to sit around and watch his wife suffer from her burns and lie to her about their kids, only for her to eventually die, too. It is gutting and awful and may 9-1-1 never bring us back to this night again.

Of course, Bobby relives this night every single day. Not long after, his boss at the St. Paul fire department is reviving him on the floor of a bar where he’s decided to have his latest bender. Bobby is in a bad way, people. His boss has some harsh words for him: He knows Bobby is trying to punish himself since the fire department is overlooking some details of the case and won’t fully accept Bobby’s confession (sure, Bobby left the space heater on, but there were lots of code violations in the building that led to it going up in flames), but newsflash, dude, surviving that fire THAT KILLED 148 PEOPLE is the punishment—now, he needs to make his life worth something.

This is how Bobby finally ends up in Alcoholics Anonymous, attempting to gain control of his life. The night Bobby gets his six-month chip, we see his sponsor give him a very familiar tiny black notebook. Bobby’s reached the 8th step of the program: It’s time for him to make amends. It’s this night that he vows to save a life to repay every life that was lost in the apartment fire. He just needs his boss to take him off desk duty and put him back in the field. He’s ready. He needs this. The chief gets it, but it’s not Bobby who he’s worried about being ready. He doesn’t think Bobby’s fellow firefighters are ready to trust Bobby with their lives just yet. And so Bobby has an idea: Get him transferred somewhere else. Out of St. Paul. Anywhere.

Welcome to Los Angeles, Bobby Nash!

Bobby’s wish is granted and he ends up as the Captain of Station 118 in the Los Angeles Fire Department. Both Hen and Chimney are already there (as well as familiar faces from their flashback episodes, Tommy and DeLuca). Apparently, 118 has been having a tough time keeping a captain around, so on Bobby’s first day, the crew is placing bets on how long the guy will last. In a truly boss move, Bobby has been sitting in the firetruck listening and pops out at the best time to tell them he’s not going anywhere, and he’ll put some money on that. The man is laying down the law.

Immediately, he gets a taste of weirdo Los Angeles rescues like a palm tree trimmer getting stuck in a palm tree, a woman having an allergic reaction at a hair salon and getting her head stuck in seated hair dryer, and, most memorably, the leader of a cockfighting ring getting pecked by one of his roosters. Fun fact: The rooster rescue is where Bobby and Athena first meet. He hands over Maurice the Rooster. Athena is not pleased.

Anyway, it seems like Bobby’s actually having a great time—which is the problem. Just shy of one year sober, Bobby goes to a seedy bar and drinks. The next day he finds himself at a church (remember season 1 when Bobby was always at church with his little notebook?) explaining to the priest that he doesn’t deserve to be happy, that he is never allowed to forget what happened and he did, even just for a moment. Bobby is punishing himself over and over again.

All of this brings us to a tiny, family-owned restaurant that’s having some financial troubles. The husband, Victor, sends his wife and teenage son home one evening and then the next thing we know, there’s a 9-1-1 call about a fire at the restaurant and the son is trapped inside after returning for his computer, and Victor has run in after him. Station 118 is on it. Well, they try to be. Before Bobby can even give out orders on the scene, DeLuca decides to run into the fire by himself. He’s been giving Bobby a ton of trouble since the day the new captain arrived, but this type of insubordination is too much—DeLuca could hurt himself or one of the other firefighters by not listening to orders.

Regardless, Bobby runs into the fire and pulls Victor out, just as DeLuca is hauling the teenage son from the back. Everyone is safe and sound, but back at the station, Bobby lets DeLuca have it. As it turns out, DeLuca was up for the Captain position and he feels like Bobby stole it right out from under him. The guys have words, DeLuca mouths off once again, and so Bobby fires him. He’s not playing around, you guys.

But this is Bobby Nash we’re talking about—the man believes in second chances. He reveals to Hen that he talked to the Chief and had DeLuca suspended and sent to another station. That wins Hen over, and she invites Bobby out for drinks with Chimney and Tommy. Things are going smoothly—they’re even comparing scars, which I guess is a thing firefighters do—until Bobby suddenly needs to leave.

He goes back to the restaurant. He has a hunch. You know who else has a hunch? Athena Grant. The two of them do a little investigating until there’s no doubt: Victor must have set this fire in order to get some insurance money. You can imagine that arresting Victor in front of his wife and son just as he is being released from the hospital doesn’t go over well, and it wrecks Bobby. He heads back to the church for some counsel because he feels like such a hypocrite. How can he, of all people, be turning this man in for doing whatever it takes to save his family when Bobby failed his own?

The priest gives him some good advice about earning his team’s trust by showing them what kind of man he can be, and so Bobby sets out to be the best captain possible. He’s sticking to his AA meetings, he’s being tough but fair at the firehouse, and he’s really getting into cooking. That last thing is crucial because it leads to Bobby instituting a house tradition that we know and love: Family dinner! The man is cooking gourmet meals for his team, what an angel person. He’s truly taking care of his new family.

Eventually, 118 bids farewell to Tommy and hello to Evan Buckley and we return to present day. Bobby has to tell his team that he’s been suspended while the LAFD looks into what happened in Minnesota. Things were kept off his record and had there been full disclosure, he most likely never would’ve been hired in the first place. The team is appropriately devastated and thinks Bobby’s record since being the captain of 118 should stand on its own, but Bobby knows that what’s happening is fair. So he puts on his dress uniform and faces the panel.

As to his fate with the LAFD, we’ll have to wait and find out. I mean, he’s going to be fine, right? He’s our dad. Dad has to be fine. That’s the rule that I just invented, you’re welcome.

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