By Rosy Cordero
December 02, 2019 at 09:00 PM EST
FOX
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Warning: This article contains spoilers about Monday’s episode of 9-1-1.

There wasn’t a dry eye at the firehouse on Monday night’s 9-1-1 fall finale, but what does it all mean for the remainder of the Fox drama’s third season? Series co-creator Tim Minear spoke to EW about the show’s tenth episode, titled “Christmas Spirit,” and where they’ll pick up when the drama returns in 2020.

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ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This episode was so emotional, but the toughest situation to cope with is Michael’s (Rockmond Dunbar) tumor diagnosis. Why did you decide to take him on this journey?
TIM MINEAR: I’ve been wanting to do something with Rockmond for three seasons. I think he’s so great on the show, and he’s a great touchstone for Athena. I love that portrayal of this kind of functional broken family, and I love his relationship with Bobby (Peter Krause). I love everything Rockmond does.

Michael is not a first responder so sometimes — other than sort of the kitchen sink personal stuff — it’s difficult to come up with a really dramatic story for a character like that. So I’ve been threatening to drop things on him, break his leg, sever his spine … If I love you, then that means that something terrible is going to happen to your character, because I need a reason to have you on the screen. So that’s kind of what it comes down to.

When I saw the scene in [the episode] “Rage” [this season] during the traffic stop, he was just such a standout. When he sits Harry [Marcanthonee Reis] down and has the talk with him about how to interact with the cops if he gets pulled over. And then there’s even a moment in there where Michael was telling Bobby, “When I was out there on that road and that gun came out, I just kept thinking how grateful I was that you were here in case something ever happened to me.”

So, I wanted to explore that some more. The idea that Michael is entrusting his beloved family to [Bobby]. This was a way to continue that idea and tell that story a little more deeply, but also to give these characters a personal emergency that fit into the show.

Hen (Aisha Hinds) has really been going through it this season. The end of the fall finale gives viewers hope that things might be clearing up for her. What can we expect from her the remainder of the season?
What’s in the future for Hen [and her wife] is they’re going to explore the idea of fostering these kids who need them. I mean, adoption may be in their future. They’re no strangers to adoption; Denny’s adopted.

I think for a lot of the characters on the show by the middle of the season, Michael notwithstanding, they’re sort of coming through a dark patch and into the sunlight a little bit. This does not mean that they won’t face any more challenges in the next eight episodes.

I think what the audience loved and what I loved about the season finale last year is that it ended on a very high note. They’ve gone through so much and it just made them tighter and stronger and now they know better. So I’ll keep throwing bricks at them and making them stronger.

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Will Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) finally be able to leave her dead, abusive husband Doug (Brian Hallisay) in the woods?
I wanted to make sure that we didn’t just ignore or forget about what she’s been through. I also didn’t want to say, “Once you violently stab your abusive husband to death, you’re fine.” So, I wanted to tell a story of her having to cope with the way it is, not just what it was.

Her trying to fix Tara [Ellen Hollman] was destined to fail from the beginning. That story was about her realizing she can’t save somebody else, and that she needs to stop talking about Doug as though he just died.

In [the episode] “Fallout,” when she’s talking to the therapist, she’s saying, “Doug died. I survived he didn’t.” What she didn’t say was, “I killed my husband” until she came back to him at the end of the episode. So, this episode is really her facing that head-on. Looking at it in the eye and leaving it in the woods where it belongs, and walking away.

With everything going on with Michael, can we assume Bobby is clear of all cancer danger?
I think we can rest pretty easy with Bobby right now. I mean, for me it was, “You never know.” But, you know all his tests have been clear. And from a writerly point of view, for me, it was about kind of the head feint of having you worry about Bobby so that I can hit you with a Michael thing.

The holidays are ahead and fans would surely appreciate one more gift from you, what can you tease about the final eight episodes of the season? Will Ronda Rousey‘s Lena come back and become Eddie’s (Ryan Guzman) love interest, at all?
You’re going to have to take that up with Twitter. Twitter was not happy with Lena moving in on Eddie. For me, Lena was never intended to be a love interest for Eddie. She was just somebody that could kind of give him a different point of view on things because she wasn’t in the inner circle.

But you never know who it might be…

Does this mean Eddie will definitely be getting a love interest?
I don’t think you can walk around looking like Ryan Guzman and not have a love interest.

Okay, back to the dish then!
There are so many good and juicy things. I’m really excited that we’re going to be telling an Eddie origin story. We’re going to tell the story of what it was like for him when he first learned of Chris’s diagnosis, the difficulties that ended up in the dissolution of his marriage, and also we’re going to see how he won that Silver Star in Afghanistan.

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