This week’s episode of 9-1-1 was called “Buck, Actually,” which is important for two reasons. One, it meant we were getting an hour focused on the show’s best character: Buck (Oliver Stark), the firefighter and reformed sex addict who’s finally beginning to accept that emergency dispatcher Abby (Connie Britton) probably isn’t coming back and he should start dating again. And secondly: Wow, they really went and named an episode “Buck, Actually.”
But actually, “Buck, Actually” dealt with a lot more than just Buck’s love life. In typical 9-1-1 tradition, every character and every emergency this week was bit by the love bug, as if it was mandated by some unseen elemental power in the show’s universe—[cough] writers—that every 9-1-1 call must correspond with how the firefighters were feeling at the time. If you’re an avid 9-1-1 consumer, or a frequent reader of The Ringer’s 9-1-1 Watch blogs, you’re probably nodding along, because why wouldn’t this happen on this show?
With that, let’s break down the best emergencies and spontaneous sparks of romance from “Buck, Actually.”
The Wildest Shit That Happened on 9-1-1 This Week
At the start of “Buck, Actually,” there is traffic on the 405, which is not exactly shocking news for Angelenos, who have coined the match between the city’s two Major League Soccer teams as “El Tráfico” because these types of situations are as certain as the sun setting every evening. What is causing the traffic jam, though, is, uh, unique.
This is Lola, and Lola is absolutely wildin’ the fuck out on this highway sign. As she explains to our firefighter heroes, she is pissed off at her husband, Norman, who doesn’t “see” her anymore and, now that their kid went off to college, she is feeling fed up with their marriage. In a perfect bit of timing, the show cuts to Norman jammed on the other side of the freeway, turning off his car and running toward a food truck to grab a bear claw before he sees a video of the incident and is like, Oh shit, that’s my wife!
The man of the hour, Buck, tries his best to calm down Lola by bringing up his own problems: “You have a Norman, I have an Abby,” he says. First of all, Buck, let it go, man; Connie Britton is not coming back this season. Also, you saying her name might make sense to 9-1-1 viewers, but this naked lady up on a sign doesn’t care that you’re just blurting out a seemingly random woman’s name.
Thankfully, Norman arrives just before Lola does anything drastic—she legit pulled out a gun!—and started telling her how he really feels. “I see the girl who used to sneak out to the beach bonfires and listen to the Psychedelic Furs and the Cure,” Norman says, which sounds a lot like a scene in Call Me by Your Name. “I see the girl who once drank nine shots of Jäger and woke up without a hangover.” It was at this point I shot up from my couch—nine shots of Jäger, and no hangover? Does Lola have superpowers? Is 9-1-1 part of the Marvel TV Universe?
But before I can compartmentalize these thoughts any further, Lola is brought down and then arrested by policewoman Athena (Angela Bassett). But at least the spark in her marriage with Norman is back:
Those conjugal visits are gonna be spicy.
Elsewhere in the romance hour, two doofuses doing their best Bonnie and Clyde tried to rob a local gas station. It was an immediate, Gatorade-fueled disaster.
9-1-1 often pulls its wackiest emergencies from real-life news; the inspiration here is less from a specific instance as much as an amalgamation of those gas station robbery fails that pop up every couple of months and go viral on YouTube. Obviously, even a couples robbery isn’t cute. What is cute about this moment was the genuine affection one gas station worker, Earl, has for his coworker, Ruth. He body-slams one of the robbers like a linebacker because he cares about her. “I was only thinking of you, Ruth,” he says. (Aww!)
Normally, I’d suggest not trying be a hero when dealing with armed robbers, but this is how one of them tries to escape from the cops:
I don’t think Earl was ever in any real danger, and once again: love wins. And now, time for some weekly awards.
Best News Graphic:
Don’t worry, #BlindNorman can see clearly now.
Worst Made-Up Phrase: Firefighter Chimney (Kenneth Choi) and new emergency responder Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) are basically dating now, even if they aren’t ready to admit it. They jammed to some karaoke this week alongside a perplexed Buck, who was understandably shook that his coworker had essentially started going out with his sister while he wasn’t paying attention. But the most couple-y moment of all is what Chimney and Maddie do on the weekends: They celebrate “Buffriday,” in which they order a lot of different takeout and treat it like a glorified buffet line.
Again: When you and an attractive person of the desired gender are literally nicknaming weekly shared traditions and spending every Friday evening together, you are BASICALLY DATING. Thankfully, by the end of “Buck, Actually,” they make it semi-official by having a much-needed heart-to-heart and going to the movies together. Personally, I stan Chaddie, though “Buffriday” could use some workshopping.
Peter Krause, my guy, what the hell is this?
After having spontaneous karaoke bathroom sex with hotshot news reporter Taylor Kelly earlier in the episode, Buck says he wants to look for something serious. The dude doesn’t wanna get back to his former sex-addict ways. With that in mind, he goes to dinner with this gal:
She sorta looks familiar, right? Well, that’s because she’s Ali, the woman Buck and fellow firefighter Eddie (Ryan Guzman) rescued from the collapsing hotel in the Season 2 premiere—she had blond hair back then and had just been propositioned by her Harvey Weinstein–esque boss. It’s cool, though: 9-1-1 Karma decided that he should fall out of the hotel and plunge to his death, so he’s out of the picture.
I say this without a hint of sarcasm: I did not see this coming for Buck—and I’m mildly impressed that 9-1-1 expects its viewers to remember what happened multiple episodes ago—but I’m happy for him.
Best Clarifying Oliver Stark Live-Tweet:
OK, look, this viewer should probably know that Maddie is Buck’s sister and not an ex-girlfriend—but the show did introduce her by having Buck accidentally run in on her taking a shower. That was a very weird way to unveil a sibling!
9-1-1 is unfortunately on hiatus for one week, but it’s setting up the next episode to be another doozy: A landslide is gonna put a family in danger. (The 9-1-1 call: “The whole mountain just came down into our house.”) This feels like another emergency that’ll take up the entire hour—but I do hope we find out how Buck’s date with Ali went. I also stan Buckli, and no, I will not workshop that nickname.