When a show opens with “eventually, everything dies,” you know you’re probably not going to have the best time. Real bleak, 9-1-1!
Last season, 9-1-1 leaned hard into the idea that “the crazies always come out on Halloween,” but this year, they’re taking a more metaphorical approach: Everyone has a ghost; we’re all haunted by something. Don’t get me wrong, there are still people climbing out of graves (gravediggers who fell in!), ghosts calling 911 dispatch (oh, we’ll go there), and an extended scene in which they have to put down a police horse that will bring you to tears (a sentence I never thought I’d write), because this is still 9-1-1 and it is bananas, always and forever. But most of the “haunting” being done is the emotional kind.
Take Eddie, for example. His ghost? His wife. Unfortunately for him, he’s found the perfect school for Christopher, but before they’ll grant him admission, they need to meet Mrs. Diaz. There’s no getting around it— Eddie has to call up his wife, whom he hasn’t seen in two years, and ask for a big favor. Suddenly, Eddie’s own personal ghost is standing at his front door.
Meet Shannon Diaz! Fun facts: She left Eddie and Christopher to go take care of her sick mother and then never came back, she blames Eddie’s time in Afghanistan for ruining their marriage, and she is still legally Eddie’s wife! All cool stuff, right? Almost immediately, Eddie and Shannon have an argument that you can tell they’ve had before. Repeatedly.
Still, when it comes time for her interview at Christopher’s potential school, Shannon shows up. Eddie waits outside the school so he can apologize for getting off on the wrong foot. Plus, Carla had a talk with him in which she pointed out that a man who wants nothing to do with his estranged wife typically doesn’t pick up his entire life and move to a new city just 30 minutes away from where the estranged wife lives. Carla cuts through Eddie’s b.s. faster than anyone: He still loves Shannon. She also tells him that “a boy needs his mama,” which, like, sure, but also maybe not if that mama is detrimental to his well-being. You don’t know every mama in every situation, Carla. Then Christopher walks out as Wolverine for Halloween and I forget everything else I’m doing. He. Is. So. Cute.
Back to the parking lot confrontation. Shannon admits that she needed to leave because she felt overwhelmed by the guilt that she could’ve possibly been responsible for Christopher being born with cerebral palsy. Eddie admits that he and Christopher miss her. And then they smash faces. And then they pull away because maybe they shouldn’t be doing this. AND THEN THEY SMASH FACES AGAIN. So this whole ghost scenario is less of a haunting and more of a sexy reconciliation, I guess.
Things don’t work out so well for Hen and her ghost. Hen is haunted by her father, whom she hasn’t seen since he walked out on her when she was nine. Karen gets a call that Hen’s father is in the ICU and Hen’s number was the only one he had on him. It’s all a huge shock to Hen because she literally has not heard from him since the day he left. And sadly, she never will. His injuries are severe and machines are keeping him alive. They called Hen because it’s up to her as next of kin to decide whether or not to keep him on life support. It’s an impossible decision for her to make because she doesn’t know him at all and also because she wonders if there’s a small chance he could wake up and they could finally meet.
Hen goes back and forth. When she and Karen go to his home to see if they can track down some sort of will, she finds that her father kept articles about her and had photos of her. She’s both moved and angry.
Things come to a head during the aforementioned horse call. A police horse gets spooked during an outdoor Halloween party — some sort of clown’s face catches on fire and, you guys, that’s not even mentioned again — and he’s hurt so badly, everyone, including the cop who rode him and cared for him, knows there’s nothing they can do. The horse is suffering and the best thing is to put him down. Obviously, this hits Hen hard and she’s unable to administer the drugs to do this — Bobby knows and takes over for her. But seriously, I’ve never seen this horse before and I immediately started crying during this scene. After Bobby accidentally murdering his entire family, this is probably the saddest thing that’s happened on this show. And even that is a close call!
After the horse incident, Hen knows what she needs to do — she can’t let her father suffer. She goes to the hospital and says a teary goodbye, in which she forgives him and then lets him go. Ugh, this is all so sad. Send me back to that blissful time when it was just grave diggers being buried alive! (They survive, so that joke is totally fine.)
And then there’s Buck. Buck is super into ghosts. Maddie answers a call full of static from a hiker who has been injured on a remote trail. The team arrives at the closed down trail and gets to work. When Buck and Eddie repel down the side of a cliff where they think the hiker fell, they find a cell phone…but it is next to a skeleton. Did a ghost call 911?!
Before things get too supernatural, they hear a man calling for help not too far from the skeleton. Oh, this guy must be the one who talked to Maddie, right? But no, the man tells them he couldn’t call 911 — when he fell over the cliff, he didn’t have his phone on him. So…DID A GHOST CALL 911?
Things get spookier. Athena gets involved once she hears about the whole thing from Bobby. You see, she has a ghost haunting her, too: When she was nine, a little girl in her neighborhood went missing and she watched as it destroyed the girl’s parents — she promised herself that she’d become a cop, figure out what happened to that girl, and give the parents closure. She never solved that mystery, but perhaps she’ll have better luck with the ghost hiker. She visits Maddie and they discover that there was a 911 call made by the cell phone found near the skeleton back in 2011. When they play that call, Maddie instantly recognizes it — it’s the same exact call she took from the hiker the other day. Only, when they go back and play Maddie’s call there’s no voice on the other end. They decide it’s just some glitch in the system but, you guys, I think a ghost called 911.
Athena keeps working the cold case and eventually figures out the skeleton’s identity. She tracks down the man’s wife and tells the woman that no, her husband didn’t leave her seven years ago — he died. It’s an emotional moment, of course, but the woman thanks Athena for finally giving her closure. And just like that, Athena’s ghost is gone, too.
All the talk about not knowing what happened to your loved one and waiting around for them to come home strikes a chord with Buck. He decides he needs to have a sit-down with Carla, who apparently is the only person holding all of these firefighters together. Buck knows that Carla will tell him the truth, that she knows Abby better than anyone. The truth isn’t good news: Abby isn’t ready to come back to this place, she isn’t ready to face the memories here and who knows when she will be. It hits Buck: Abby isn’t the ghost in this situation, he is. He’s the one haunting her apartment, unable to move on. Carla doesn’t say, “I see dead people,” but she definitely should have.
Buck finally decides he’s done waiting around for Abby to come back. He writes her a letter ending things in which he tells her she’s his ghost story, which is weird if Abby hasn’t seen this episode of 9-1-1. Buck is moving on, he’s ready to figure out who he is without Abby. He moves out of her apartment to really send the message home.
Honestly, I get why he needs to move out but it feels like a mistake — that apartment is gorgeous. Come on, Buck!