Credit: Tyler Golden / FOX
S2 E5
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Newsflash: People can be terrible! Okay, so that’s not news, but it is the truth. It’s also our Theme of the Episode. Not as fun as Humans Getting Stuck in Things, but what can you do? Our first responders have to deal with some real demons out there, which of course they do because they are good people and heroes and have a very high tolerance for jerks.

The Porch Pirate from season 1 is back, but she’s upgraded her scamming to accident insurance fraud (until she gets into a real accident). There are also those hideous people who protest funerals for whatever bigoted reason moves them that day. The leader of the group ends up almost suffocating when his own colostomy bag gets backed-up (that’s right, he’s choking on his own shit) and he refuses medical treatment until an all-white EMT team can arrive on-scene. Hen, Chimney, and Eddie end up working on him anyway once he’s passed out because they are better humans than most.

But we are gathered here today because there are two main Awful People who personally affect our Non-Awful People. Let’s start with what’s going on with Hen.

Hen and Karen are enjoying a glorious afternoon at the park with Michael and their kids (it’s nice that Hen is staying friendly with both Athena and Michael, no?), when who should arrive but Number One Awful Person: Eva. Eva walks right up to little Denny (he has no idea she’s his birth mother) as if there isn’t going to be a problem with it. Thankfully, Hen and Karen notice before she can actually talk to the kid. They tell her to back off; she gave away all of her parental rights. She knows this, but surprise — Denny’s biological dad never did, and he’s standing right behind her. She finally told him he has a son and he wants to meet Denny.

Okay, so yeah, Eva is extra awful.

Hen and Karen hear from their lawyer that the biological father, Nathaniel Green, has a strong case if he really wants to take Denny. They start to spin out. Eva is only doing this to get back at Hen for leaving her because she thinks Hen still loves her after that slip-up. Hen brought her back into their lives. And so Hen decides she’s going to take care of it.

She trails Eva, unsure of what she’s actually going to do but knowing she can’t sit and wait for her son to be taken away from her. She sees her buy drugs and go into her motel room. Hen starts banging on the door, she wants to be let in. And then through the window, she sees that Eva has passed out on the floor with a needle in her arm. Hen breaks into the room, sees Eva basically dying and takes a pause. She could just let Eva die and never have to deal with her again. Hen even gets up and walks toward the door. But you guys, Hen is not one of the Awful People we are here to discuss (although that pause was pretty long). She calls 911 and when Eva comes to, Hen informs her that she also called Eva’s parole officer. She’s headed to the hospital and then right back to prison. Do not pass Go. Do not collect 200 dollars.

Still, Eva isn’t really the problem anymore: Nathaniel is. Hen has Athena do a background check on the guy and it turns out, he isn’t so awful. Yes, he had a rough patch after his wife died and he started drinking, which landed him in rehab with Eva, but since then he’s lived a model life. If he wants Denny — for visitation or more permanently — it might be hard for a judge to deny him that right. So good thing he’s not awful, huh? He meets with Karen and Hen and tells them that he can see Denny has a good life. They are his parents — they should decide what’s best for Denny. So maybe Nathaniel is sticking around but in a totally cool and not at all scary or heart-breaking way? That’s the best outcome we could really hope for!

Elsewhere, Maddie is getting to see Awful People up close and personal because she gets to live out everyone’s dream and go on a ride-along with Angela Bassett, excuse me, Athena Grant. Maddie is having trouble dealing with people calling her and being rude and angry and generally pretty… do I have to say it again? You know what kind of people are on her 9-1-1 dispatch line. So Maddie’s colleague, Gloria — the “Celine Dion” of the office, apparently (they all think she’s great, but we see her hanging up on callers for no real reason, something Queen Celine would NEVER do) — suggests she goes out and puts a face to the people calling to better understand their state of mind. Because…I don’t know, we needed Maddie to start meeting other characters somehow?

Anyhoo, they end up on a ride-along which they begin by chatting about their mutual acquaintances and generally singing each other’s praises. Athena calls Maddie “Buck-ette” which only Athena could really get away with. It’s a pretty stress-free ride-along is what I’m getting at. They run into some Awful People (the Colostomy Bag Bigot, for one) and then decide to stop for lunch. That’s when things take a turn.

Yes, Awful People ruin lunch, too. Of course, they do!

Athena’s go-to Chinese restaurant is mysteriously closed when they arrive, but she notices that something is amiss. She goes inside and finds that one of the cooks has been shot. He’s bleeding out next to the phone. Athena has Maddie come in and work her ER Nurse magic (also known as medical training) and she brings the guy back from the brink. He’s surprised to see them there — he tried calling 911 and they hung up on him.

Hm, that’s weird. Could this hang up be related to the hang-up spree we watched Gloria go on earlier in the episode?

Maddie and the rest of the dispatch crew eventually discover that Gloria is no Celine Dion. She hung up on this guy because she couldn’t understand him and she’s hung up on thousands more over the past eight months. Is Gloria an Awful Person, too?

It sure seems like it. The woman gets fired and threatened with jail time and she goes off on Maddie. “Snitches get stitches” the old woman yells with a straight face. This show, you guys! Gloria’s next move is to start harassing Maddie. She incessantly calls and texts her. Maddie tries to ignore it, but when Gloria, in her car, calls Maddie through the 911 dispatch line (she impersonates a police officer in order to be patched through directly), she can’t simply hang up. Gloria has gone off the deep end.

Just as Maddie is informing Gloria that it is against the law to both call 911 with no emergency and impersonate a police officer, Gloria runs off the road and ends up in a bad accident. Maddie is still on the line, but Gloria can’t hear her. She thinks Maddie hung up, which is what she deserves. The woman breaks down. She knows what she did was wrong, but eight months ago, on the same day she was served with divorce papers from her husband, she got a 911 call from a woman hiding under her desk at work as a client walked through the office shooting people. Gloria couldn’t help the woman, she could only listen. It was too much for Gloria and before the inevitable happened, she hung up the phone. And she felt relief. Relief that the tragedy wasn’t her problem anymore. So she kept hanging up.

I mean, she still deserves to be punished for what she did, but she isn’t a truly Awful Person. She is a Troubled Person Who Did Awful Things. There’s a scale, is what we’re learning.

Of course, what we’re also learning is that we shouldn’t be disheartened by the awfulness in the world. Angela Bassett tells us that there’s good out there, and when we find it, we should hold on to it.

If that pep talk doesn’t do it for you, replaying Athena telling Maddie “your brother’s boss is my boo” over and over might do it. Athena and Bobby forever!

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