You would think that combining the drama of Fox’s 9-1-1—a show that’s taken the mantle from CBS’s dearly departed Zoo as the wildest program on network TV—with Halloween would be a recipe for ridiculous disaster. If the show’s version of Valentine’s Day involved a sex-addicted firefighter nearly choking to death on a date and a woman trying to carve Angela Bassett’s heart out, imagine what they could do with the spooky holiday.
Well, here’s a twist: Monday night’s Halloween-themed episode, “Haunted,” was surprisingly low-key by the show’s collapsing-hotel standards. To be sure, there were a few frights and one really depressing animal death, but for the most part 9-1-1 eschewed its silliest vices in favor of firefighter character development and emotional exchanges. I suppose that’s also kind of scary: Imagine if this show tried to take itself this seriously all the time.
Still, there’s some fun stuff to sift through from “Haunted,” so let’s break it all down.
The Wildest Shit That Happened on 9-1-1 This Week
“Haunted” began in a place you might expect: a graveyard. A woman was visiting the tombstone of her dearly departed husband to give him an update on her life. Turns out she’s selling the family house—and her husband must have been really enthusiastic about the Los Angeles real estate market, because right after she said that, AN EXASPERATED ZOMBIE MAN JUMPED HER.
“Anything under $250,000 would be criminal,” the zombie husband said.
Just kidding—it wasn’t the reanimated corpse of her husband, or a ghoul who just so happened to have its rotting finger on property trends. The soot-covered man was actually a graveyard worker who got trapped underground when a sinkhole formed around his worksite. The zombielike groans were him gasping for air.
Still, for a brief moment, this poor lady was indeed spooked, and she delivered a hilariously appropriate emergency call that was probably super unhelpful.
Whenever Halloween rolls around, I suppose 9-1-1 operators anticipate getting a few calls where people just scream on the other line, the same way mall Santas anticipate getting puked on by at least one child. ’Tis the season, ya know?
Elsewhere in Los Angeles, there was a sick Halloween party happening on the streets, with glow sticks and everything. The DJ was even playing an EDM remix of John Carpenter’s Halloween theme, a true banger that said, “I stan for the classics,” but also, “How do you do, fellow kids?”
Unfortunately, this very hip Halloween party went down the tubes when one partygoer inadvertently set someone else on fire—the kind of thing that’s totally avoidable when you’re not spewing flames from your mouth. In the ensuing chaos, a policeman was knocked off his very good police horse, City Slicker, who began running through the crowd.
In the fracas, City Slicker apparently sustained a nasty leg injury—9-1-1 didn’t actually show this happening because while burning humans is kosher, the show draws the line at horse violence—and with animal specialists over an hour away, the best course of action was for our firefighter protagonists to euthanize the poor fella. Now, 9-1-1 is often silly and profoundly stupid, but animal deaths are a big weakness for me, so I’m not afraid to admit that City Slicker’s final moments were really hard for me. Especially when his human partner said things like, “He’s a good boy. I just don’t want him to suffer anymore” and “When you wake up, you’re gonna be in a field of sage and you can just run forever.” AND ESPECIALLY WHEN CITY SLICKER MADE SAD HORSE GROANS.
9-1-1 pulling the Sad Animal Death card was a low blow. This was supposed to be the silly Halloween episode, not the sad horse hour! Nothing will ease my pain—not even curating a playlist of techno-themed Halloween theme remixes from YouTube.
And now, some episodic awards.
Best Firefighter Halloween Costume: In keeping with the John Carpenter theme, firefighter Eddie (Ryan Guzman) was a big fan of Escape From New York. I respect the commitment.
Best Non-Screaming Emergency Call:
This sounds ridiculous out of context, but the caller technically wasn’t lying. The bats were real! And they were flying into power lines and instantly combusting!
Most Painfully On-the-Nose Halloween-Themed Quote: Again, 9-1-1 is never subtle, so even in regular conversations characters were throwing out words like “ghost” and “haunted” for no discernible reason other than this episode really needing to hammer home the Halloween theme.
The best of these extremely overt moments was when Buck (Oliver Stark) was talking about finally getting over former emergency responder Abby (mostly because Connie Britton doesn’t seem to be coming back, and is living her best life on American Horror Story: Apocalypse) and tried to collect his thoughts. “I felt like I was being haunted by this memory of her, but maybe I’m the ghost,” he said. WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?
Most Earnest Oliver Stark Live-Tweet:
Congrats, you wholesome little snack!
Come back next week for an episode that is legitimately titled “Buck, Actually.” [Whispers.] It’s going to be about Buck and his post-Abby dating life.