If there’s one thing you need to know about Evan Buckley, it’s that he will never leave anyone behind.
That has been true of Buck his entire life after a childhood spent feeling neglected and forgotten by parents who failed him. But that only pushed Buck to work harder and to achieve something for himself.
And 9-1-1 Season 4 Episode 5 shed some light on the story of Buck. And what a story it is.
Thus far, all of the ‘Begins’ stories have been beautiful hours that give us a greater sense of the characters we’ve grown to love over the past few years. And it allows us to see who they were before they found their family at the 118.
For Buck, his adolescence was spent doing anything he could to be noticed.
Unbeknownst to Buck, his parents were in a constant cycle of grief, denial, and blame, and it caused them to disregard their other children. None more so than Buck, whom they looked at and were constantly reminded of the other child they couldn’t save.
Many theories were floating around about why Buck was never told about Daniel’s existence. And one of our TV Fanatic readers got it right when they predicted he was savior baby—a baby born to provide bone marrow to save Daniel’s life.
As we know, Daniel eventually passed, and the Buckley parents never got past that pain, leaving Maddie and Buck to raise themselves essentially.
It appears they were present and provided shelter, food, and basic necessities. But gone was the warmth and the love that children need growing up. That was replaced with an annoyance and indifference that had Buck striving to prove his worth for the rest of his life.
The one constant in Buck’s life has always been Maddie. And though we’ve gotten glimpses of their relationship since Maddie arrived in LA, it was nice to see that sibling bond and how it played out through the years.
Maddie did her best to protect Buck and show him the love he was so desperately looking for growing up. But there came the point where the best thing she could do for Buck was let him leave and try to forge his own path.
The idea of Buck bouncing around from place to place and job to job is entirely on-brand with Buck. He is a curious guy who likes adventure, so naturally, he would become a mixologist in Peru with a hip haircut.
He tried, and he tried until he found the thing he knew he needed but couldn’t quite figure out how to obtain.
The 118 provided him with the stability, devotion, and love he’s been searching for his whole life. They have his back, support him unconditionally, and they see him for who he is.
He loves, and he gives his all to everything he sets his mind to. It’s what makes him a tremendous firefighter and an even better person.
Even when you want to shake him and tell him to stop because he’s a little too reckless, you have to admire his courage because everything with Buck comes from a good place and comes from his good heart.
Seeing the coldness of his childhood, Buck could have turned out a million different ways. But he always had Maddie there to ground him and let him know that he was valued and appreciated.
For as much as the hour was about Buck, it was also a showcase of the Buckley siblings and their bond. And again, another look into the nightmare she went through for all those years with Doug, who isolated her and threatened to derail her relationship with Buck.
But it’s pretty clear nothing can truly tear the siblings apart, and it’s nice to see this kind of family dynamic on the show. Siblings are your first friends, and they’re the ones you turn to when you’re afraid to disappoint your parents or confide in them.
Maddie was Buck’s rock, and he hers in many ways. Maddie sent Buck away to find something better for himself. And when she needed something better for herself, Buck is the one she went to.
It may take some more time for Buck to work through things, and he should take his time handling his feelings regarding the fact he has a sibling he never knew, he was born to help save someone, and everyone lied about it his whole life.
One heart to heart with Maddie is not going to erase that pain, and hopefully, the show allows that continued processing to play out throughout the season. Because even though he understands there was nothing he can do, he’s just now being forced to grapple with his guilt and his grief about Daniel’s death.
And it’s going to be a bumpy road sorting through all that.
Flashbacks interspersed with the present-day were used to significant effect here, as Buck did what Buck always does; he fought like hell to save someone. And he did it because that’s what Evan Buckley does.
He saves, and he fights. And he’s found that thing he was always destined to do, and he’s damn good at it.
Athena said it best:
Athena: Well, I'm sure whoever you saved is just glad you were being Buck.
Buck: I don't even know what that means.
Athena: You never give up. That's what being Buck means to me. But whatever you do, don't stop.
Odds and Ends
- It feels like it’s been a while since we’ve seen a five-alarm fire on the show, and this one was very intense. And that rescue storyline could have been a whole episode in and of itself.
- Buck had some interesting jobs over the year, but we were robbed not getting to see cowboy Buck because I know he pulled it off beautifully.
- It was subtle, but every time we checked in with Maddie throughout the year, she was sporting an injury or a bruise, and it just breaks your heart all over again for what she had to endure during that time in her life.
- Oliver Stark continues to shine this season, and he did a fantastic job playing Buck throughout the years. He gets some really run and rich material to explore on this series, and he always nails it.
What is there to say about the Buckley’s at this point? Time will tell if they’ve had time to change and repair their relationships with both Buck and Maddie, but at least now that the truth is out, they can have some open conversations and at least make an effort to fix what has been so badly broken for a very long time.
That was quite the emotional hour, and I didn’t even touch on that Maddie and Buck montage at the episode’s end, which had the tears freely flowing for me.
I’m very interested to see what you guys thought about this installment and if it lived up to the hype.
Were you surprised to learn about Buck’s childhood?
Do you think Buck and Maddie will be okay?
Leave all your comments down below, and let’s talk this out together. And please watch 9-1-1 online right now so you can join us!
Whitney Evans is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.