This is the third week of 9–1–1 Watch, the recurring blog celebrating Ryan Murphy’s emergency-responder procedural that promises at least five “WTF!!!” moments per episode. In my short time writing this blog, it has become clear that with each toilet baby, with each snake decapitation, a community is growing. We the thrill-seekers are banding together, reaching out across the digital void to grab onto one another and ask, “How is this a TV show?” So this is for all the 9–1–1 heads out there, the folks who wonder how a show can ever hope to top itself after driving a steel rod through a main character’s head or crashing a plane in the Pacific Ocean. (I’m assuming the season finale will be semi-apocalyptic in nature, and I can’t wait.)
However, by 9–1–1’s adrenaline-junkie-freebasing-cocaine-and-penning-a-script standards, Wednesday night’s episode, “Point of Origin,” was by far the tamest to date. All that happened was a dance floor collapsing at an Indian wedding, a power line falling into a pool while an unsuspecting kid swims on a floatie, a dude getting trapped in a car wash’s giant brush, and Connie Britton having phone sex. This was its slow week. Let’s break it all down.
The Wildest Shit That Happened on 9–1–1 This Week
We start with the aforementioned wedding — or really, the lead-up to the wedding, as the bride and groom get dressed up and nervously chat with their friends. Shout-out to the bridesmaid who opens the episode with a casual: “Do you love him?” Great question to ask on a wedding day!
Everything’s going smoothly, until the bass drops.
When our firefighter heroes arrive on the scene, we learn that 16 people died and one was impaled. I appreciate 9–1–1 having the restraint to not show the impaled person on screen. (The newlyweds, thank heavens, are safe.) Our resident sex-addict firefighter, Buck (Oliver Stark), also learns about a still–commonly practiced Indian custom with the nuance you’d expect. “So this wedding, it’s an arranged marriage. That’s a trip, right?” Never change, Buck.
In addition to being a coitus connoisseur, Buck’s had an ongoing “thing” with Abby (Connie Britton), the emergency dispatcher that the show loves to remind you is extremely single. Their arrangement is basic: They talk on the phone about their feelings, which suits Buck because he assumes they’ll have sex if they meet in person — never mind the fact Abby is an individual who can make her own choices and decide who she wants to have sex with; but whatever, Buck’s dumb. On Wednesday night, he and Abby finally meet.
“Oh, a snack,” Abby definitely, immediately thinks.
Unfortunately, their meet-cute isn’t under the best circumstances: Abby’s mom, who has Alzheimer’s and lives with Abby, left home in the middle of the night, and Buck offers to help with the search. (This gives them an opportunity to have an unreal conversation on the road about Abby’s nonexistent sex life, which we’ll get to later.)
Because they’re goddamn heroes, during their search for Abby’s mom, they decide to respond to another emergency situation — a car crashed into a power line, which subsequently fell into a family’s pool. The nanny’s dead in the water, and a little girl survived only because she was on a floatie. On my life, I promise you that Buck’s first idea for rescuing the kid was to jump on another floatie.
To my great disappointment, Abby talks him out of this clearly stupid idea, and they save the kid in a more conventional way, using a rubber hose (rubber doesn’t conduct electricity) to guide her to the edge. The sparks didn’t stop flying, however, because Abby and Buck were hitting it off. More on them later.
Remember Bobby (Peter Krause), the somber firefighter chief who definitely lost his family in a fucked-up way because in a previous episode he was shown having dinner in the dark by himself, talking to imaginary people?
This week we learn what exactly happened, but not before Bobby tells a priest, “I murdered my own family” as 9–1–1 cuts to a commercial break. That’s not exactly true. In a flashback that takes place five years ago in Minnesota, Bobby is a firefighter with substance-use issues — he’s nothing if not a collection of stereotypes — who has two painfully cute kids and a wife and they live in an apartment complex. Because he needs to feed his addictions, he rents a second apartment in the same building, where he curls up with a space heater and slams booze and painkillers. This is a man who will go to extreme lengths to hide his alcoholism, but not extreme enough that he’d consider renting an apartment in a separate building than the one his family lives in.
One night, Bobby forgets to turn off the space heater in his second apartment, and because the building doesn’t have a proper sprinkler system, the whole thing burns down. (Bobby survives because having locked himself out of both apartments, he was sleeping on the building’s roof, and he was easily rescued by firefighters. Obviously.) In all, 148 people die in the fire — including Bobby’s entire family. It’s like Manchester by the Sea times 49.33 (literally). Also, between the space heater in 9–1–1 and the Crock-Pot in This Is Us, television’s putting popular appliances on the spot lately.
So, that was Bobby’s week. Thankfully, not all emergency situations on this 9–1–1 installment are that aggressively bleak. The final emergency the team responds to is an employee at a car wash getting wrapped around one of those giant brushes. It’s probably not professional of the crew to rewatch the footage of the guy getting spun around like laundry, but they get a nice moment of levity, and they deserve it. Plus, the guy didn’t die, so he’s fair game for a roast.
The Buck doesn’t stop here, though. When we return to that story line, Buck and Abby have agreed to go back to their old arrangement. However, when Buck calls her at night, she’s open to trying phone sex. And this is the shot that ends the episode.
9–1–1 has no television equals. Now, some weekly awards:
Worst Bridesmaid Encouragement: “I’d pray for a good divorce lawyer.” Um, I’d pray for a better friend!
Best on-the-Nose Dialogue: Courtesy of Abby: “I’m so much better when it’s somebody else’s emergency.”
Best Reminder That Connie Britton’s Character, Abby, Is Single: Aside from the fact Abby almost exclusively wears overalls? Probably this exchange between her and Buck, which really happened:
Abby: “It’s been a while since I’ve been out on a date.”
Buck: “How long? A few weeks?”
“Try more like almost a year.”
“What? I mean, that’s not possible. Who do you have sex with?”
“You’ve not had sex in almost a year?”
“No, I haven’t had sex in a year.”
“Not even with yourself?”
“Probably. … It’s just really hard to feel sexy with your mom dying in the dining room.”
Hang on — “probably”???? Abby, if you had sex with yourself, you would KNOW it. There aren’t gray areas there.
Come back next week for a 9–1–1 Valentine’s Day episode, in which Buck and Abby go on a proper first date — and he chokes on bread and needs CPR! Also, Angela Bassett is attacked by a vengeful Valentine’s Day murderer. (THIS IS NOT A JOKE!)