You may think you know how many ridiculous ways a citizen of Los Angeles may find him or herself literally stuck in something, but the powers that be behind 9-1-1 believe that you have no idea.
But they do. Oh, they do.
There are some obvious “I’m stuck” calls, like a woman in a car accident who needs the firefighters to use the jaws of life to set her free. But that’s about as “normal” as it gets. For instance, might you enjoy seeing a drunk girl get her head stuck in the tailpipe of a truck? You get to see that! What about a security guard chase some vandals on a rooftop only to get stuck in between two buildings? You get to see that, too! If that’s not your speed, a man changing money in an ATM vault gets locked inside and starts sending notes on people’s receipts in order to get rescued. That really happens!
I honestly enjoy 9-1-1‘s typical framework in which it tries tying all of one episode’s rescues to a theme — it’s kicky — but do you ever think someone is like, “Hey, isn’t it weird every call on this shift has to do with someone being stuck in something?” Someone should. Meta can be fun, too!
As great as these increasingly insane rescues are, the whole point of this “stuck” theme is to illuminate how many of our main characters are feeling emotionally trapped or stagnant in their own lives. This is television, after all! Bring on the emotional turmoil please and thanks.
Take Chimney, for example. Chim is feeling pretty great after getting another “all-clear” from his neurosurgeon (ah-ha! he hates being “stuck” in that MRI machine, get it?). Thank goodness we’re circling back to the fact that Chim got a piece of rebar shoved into his brain NOT THAT LONG AGO. It felt like we had breezed through his miraculous recovery only to forget it ever happened. On his way out of the hospital, he bumps into his ex-girlfriend, Tatiana. Who is now pregnant. And married. She apologizes for basically ghosting the dude while he had the aforementioned piece of rebar in his brain and tells him that seeing him so close to death really changed her life. She went on a 10-day retreat and found herself. Suddenly, the rebar in the brain is the least ridiculous thing about this entire situation.
Chimney walks away upset from the encounter. He’s the one who had the life-altering experience, but Tatiana is the one who altered her life. His has stayed exactly the same, save for that tiny scar on his forehead. The emotions don’t totally kick in until after a call goes bad. A young man is planning a very twee Ring Pop-based proposal for his girlfriend at the local mall (why, sir, why?), and decides to get down on one knee while still on the escalator and when he gets to the top, he falls through where maintenance had been working the night before. It’s probably penance for using the phrase “I love you to the moon and back” in his proposal. People of Earth, do not do this.
I shouldn’t joke because, well, things get pretty bad. The team comes to his rescue — he’s trapped underneath the escalator with a giant gear shoved into his leg — and all looks well as Chimney works his magic and then pulls him out. But the guy has lost a lot of blood and crashes. Chimney tries to revive him, but Mr. Ring Pop Proposal dies there, in the mall. It’s an insane tonal shift, even for this show.
Anyway, the loss hits Chim hard. Why did he survive and not this guy, someone who had so much to live for? It’s Bobby who finds his firefighter upset and tries to comfort him. Chim has a lot to live for too. He knows Chim doesn’t want to talk about what happened to him, but by pretending that it didn’t happen, he’ll never get past it. If those kind words don’t do the trick, Chim also takes solace in Bobby’s big, capable arms. Seriously, do they get bigger every episode? That’s not a complaint.
So, Chim sees Tatiana one last time. He thanks her for not pretending to want a relationship just because he, you know, had that rebar in his brain. It was harsh, but it was the best thing for him. Chimney is inspired by her, and the two part on good terms. He gives her a copy of his firefighter calendar as a parting gift. It’s time for Chim 2.0!
Over in the police department, Athena’s dealing with the notion of being stuck in life, too. Her captain has news for her: That promotion to lieutenant that Athena’s always wanted, well, it’s available now. She was repeatedly held back by her old misogynistic captain, but a new day has dawned and the job is hers if she wants it.
But does she want it anymore? Most people assume that, yes, of course, she does. She’s worked so hard her entire life to move up, to make more money, to be recognized for how good she is at her job. Her captain sure assumes it. Her ex-husband definitely does. But Athena isn’t so sure. It’s only after some pillow talk with Bobby that she admits her true feelings about the whole thing (man, Bobby and his arms are really working hard this episode!). Yes, at one time she measured her success by her career. She was young and ambitious, but now that she’s older and has a family — can’t she be satisfied with what she has? She doesn’t feel stuck in her life. She likes her life. She gets to go out on the streets and do work she cares about and then come home at the end of the day and be with her family. No paperwork, no post-shift work. The things that made her feel trapped before don’t make her feel that way anymore. She’ll pass on that promotion, thank you very much.
There’s also Eddie Diaz. He’s not feeling emotionally “stuck” per se — he loves his life with his son. You guys, they have a whole morning routine and somehow watching them exercise together shattered my heart into a million pieces. Even though Eddie would never think of Christopher as a burden, he does find himself in a tough spot. Because of Christopher’s cerebral palsy, finding some type of home care has been complicated. For now, they’re, ahem, stuck carting Christopher off to Eddie’s grandmother’s — sadly, abuela is frail and winds up in the hospital! — or scrambling to find someone else to watch him. At one point, Christopher ends up at the fire station for the day. It is adorable. That kid can have all the fire station montages he wants — especially if it includes Bobby and His Arms (yes, they are capitalized now) having him try some grilled cheese sandwiches.
But Eddie and Christopher shouldn’t have to live like this forever. Who should come to their rescue but Buck. His bromance with Eddie knows no bounds. He watches Eddie with his son, he hears from Eddie’s aunt about how amazing Eddie is as a single father, and Buck decides to help. He calls in reinforcements by way of…Carla! Carla, you may recall, was Abby’s mom’s home care aid and she has been sorely missed this season. Carla knows all the ins and outs of the paperwork Eddie needs to take care of, and she is more than happy to help him figure out a better situation for Christopher. Things are looking up for Eddie! Another person comes unstuck.
That just leaves Buck. Buck is all out of sorts because Maddie, now finished giving us all a lesson on the meaning of “stuck in a rut” via voice-over, has announced that she’s moving into her own place. She appreciates that her little brother took her in and convinced her to stop running from her ex and start over in L.A., but she needs to do this on her own. Plus, she’s only moving a few minutes away. Still, Buck is upset over the whole thing.
Almost everyone he relays this news to is like, “Of course she wants to move, she is living in the apartment of her little brother’s estranged girlfriend.” Finally, it dawns on Buck that living in Abby’s apartment is maybe a little weird. It’s especially weird once he starts thinking about how they rarely even speak anymore thanks to time zones and cell phone issues and just life, generally. He realizes that Abby is out there living her life and is incredibly happy, and all Buck is doing is waiting for her. His life is on pause. The kid is stuck.
Something tells me he won’t be for much longer.