After the past two character-centric episodes, it took a minute to remember that our favorite firefighters are still dealing with the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd on Station 19 Season 4 Episode 15.
However, for us, it's been a year since Floyd's murder, and it's weird to think about the difference, or rather the lack of a difference, 365 days make.
So even though the penultimate episode of the season takes place in the spring of 2020, it still feels like something that could have happened months, weeks, or even days ago.
As always, Barrett Doss killed it as Vic struggled to deal with her parents' apparent nonchalant attitude over everything that's been happening lately.
To her, they were more concerned with the fate of their restaurant than the state of the world or what she, as a Black female first responder, has been going through.
Vic: Can we just take a second?
Lenya: A second for what?
Vic: To talk about this.
Lenya: To talk about what?
Vic: This, how absurd this is. We should be talking about this. Why do we not talk about anything? Why do we not talk about anything ever? How are we just fricking cleaning up our restaurant that was burned down by rioters who hijacked a protest?
Lenya: Because it has to be done, Victoria.
Anthony: Because it’s our life.
Vic: I know it’s your life. You keep saying that. Dad, your mom died and you went back to work. My fiancé died, and I went back to work because that’s what we do, but is it working? I’m really asking. I know you worked your asses off my entire life, and you didn’t have time for all that touchy-feely stuff, but really for just once, for one second can we just acknowledge that something awful has happened? And all of this was precipitated by the repeated murder of Black people by law enforcement, but we’re not gonna talk about that either. That’s ridiculous. Breonna Taylor was killed. She was a Black female first responder. I’m a Black female first responder. In another world, that could have been me. Tiny circumstantial differences and that could have been me. Do you get that? And news of her death didn’t even break until two months after the fact because clearly no one cared about it. And I have spent the last three weeks trying not to feel my feelings, trying not to center myself, so that Miller and Sullivan and Warren and maybe even you Dad, maybe even you could feel your feelings. But I haven’t been able to sleep through the night since I heard what happened to her. I go to bed with a kitchen knife in my nightstand, which I know it outrageous because a kitchen knife is no match for a bullet, but I need something, just anything to help me feel safe at night. But of course you wouldn’t know that. You’d have to have checked in on me even once in the last, god, I don’t even know how long. But even if you had checked in on me, I probably would have pretended everything was fine because bizarrely that’s what we do in this family. And I just don’t think it’s working for me anymore. I am sick and I am sad, and Dad, I’m scared. And I don’t know how you’re not.
Anthony: We are. I am.
Vic felt that her parents adopted this view of seeing the world through rose-colored glasses, always brushing past the uncomfortable or painful things that happened in their lives, never stopping to talk about it or their feelings.
But for Vic, that was no longer working.
Ever since Breonna Taylor, a Black female first responder like her, was murdered, she's been holding all of this about heartbreak and pain and fear in, and seeing her parents relatively calm after rioters burned down their restaurant was the straw that broke the camel's back.
And try as she might, she could no longer keep quiet and had to feel her feelings in their entirety, which led to a flawlessly executed monologue from Doss.
It all came tumbling out in a jumbled stream of consciousness, but it's something Vic has needed to say to her parents for a very long time.
She always assumed her parents never had the difficult conversations with her growing up because they didn't want to address the ugly reality of what was right in front of them or deal with the pain.
However, as the episode progressed, Vic learned that all her parents have ever tried is to protect her.
They didn't discuss certain uncomfortable topics not because they didn't want to deal with them but because they wanted to protect her.
Vic: What is all this?
Lenya: Your accomplishments, your professional accomplishments. Your other stuff is over there.
Vic: It’s like my whole life’s in here. I’ve never even seem some of these.
Lenya: How would you have? You’ve hardly even here anymore. When you are, you just grab your perogies and go. And since your dad and I spend all this time without you, we brought as much as of you as we could here. I watched an interview with Breonna Taylor’s mother. Couldn’t sleep for a week. I know I could never truly understand what it’s like for you to navigate this world as a Black woman, and I would never even pretend I could and I have experienced nothing remotely similar to this, but what I do understand is being the mother of a Black daughter. You don’t think I don’t know you could have been Breonna Taylor? I’m your mother. This is what I’ve always known. I’ve known since you were 5 and a cashier accused you of stealing the candy, the one I just bought you. I’ve known since you were 11 and came home crying because the girls at school wouldn’t stop touching your hair. I’ve since before you were even born when my parents kicked me out of the family for marrying a Black man and refused to meet my perfect little girl.
Parents make decisions on what they believe is best for their children, and this is what Anthony and Lenya thought was best for Vic.
They may not have been around as much as either they or Vic would have liked, but they did work hard to provide Vic with the kind of life that she deserves.
And the reason they never stopped to tell Vic why they were making these sorts of sacrifices was that they thought she already knew.
The end of the installment, where Lenya told Vic about where the Greek tradition of smashing plates came from, and all of them, Travis and Theo included, started smashing the plates, was a beautiful moment.
It symbolized the honoring of the Black men and women killed by the police and a new chapter for Vic and her parents.
They can't change the past, but if the fire accomplished anything, it gave Vic perspective on where her parents were coming from.
They may not always say how they feel or discuss the painful things in life, but they do understand and love her, and when it counts, Anthony and Lenya show up for their daughter.
A great example was when the reporter was intent on vilifying the Black Lives Matter rioters responsible for the fire that burned down the Hughes' restaurant, but Anthony and Lenya refused to let the reporter spin the story that way.
They made sure the reporter knew that human lives were more important than any property damage, even their own restaurant, and made sure the reporter knew that the story was never about their destroyed restaurant.
Reporter: You all must be horrified that a neighborhood mainstay and small family business was destroyed by protesters.
Reporter: Rioters, terrorizing our city, costing our taxpayer dollars all in the name of a movement that cares nothing about them. Care to comment?
Lenya: Yeah, our comment is let it burn because justice needs to be served, and if this is what it takes to make people care and make those officers held accountable and any officer who did it and any city who allowed to do it, then let it burn.
Reporter: What about the property that’s been damaged?
Anthony: Property doesn’t equal life. You can rebuild a restaurant, but you can’t bring back someone who’s been killed, so if you’re asking, if you’re positing that society should be more upset about the value of a property than murder, I think you need to reevaluate how you’re walking through this world. Being scandalized by property damage but now the taking of a human life, that’s a problem.
Reporter: You’re simply fine with your business being burned to the ground?
Vic: As my parents said, this isn't about our restaurant. This is about the people whose lives were taken.
The point of the story was that Black men and women are dying, and if people are more scandalized by property damage than the deaths of human beings, then they had their priorities wrong.
It was a great way and inspired choice for the series to connect what happened to the Hughes to the larger context of what's going on in the world and the impact of Breonna Taylor's killing on someone like Vic. So kudos to the writers on all fronts.
Elsewhere, Maya and the rest of Station 19 navigated the emerging fine line between being activists and firefighters.
There would be no conflict in a perfect world, and our favorite characters could be both simultaneously.
However, as everyone is learning, sometimes you have to make compromises.
At first, it was that Station 19 couldn't wear the BLM shirts at the medical tent, and then it was that the city pulled their permit, so they, as firefighters, couldn't go offer first aid to any injured protesters.
It sucked that Station 19 had to fall in line, but there are times in life where you have to do things that you don't like because of your job.
It's not always fair or right, but it's just the way it is, so it was great that Maya and Dean found a workaround this time.
Maya: They’re pulling our permit for the medical tent.
Dean: They can do that?
Maya: They just did. Apparently, tensions are too high, and the city wants to present a united front. They don’t want SFD to appear to be on a different side than PD.
Dean: The side of helping people.
Andy: That’s bull. We should go anyway.
Maya: We can’t.
Dean: Can't or won’t?
Station 19 could still go to the protest tomorrow and help out at the medical tent, just as civilians with medical expertise.
It was a clever way to handle the situation, as the city didn't explicitly say they couldn't attend the Black Lives Matter protests on their own time out of uniform.
If Dixon found out, he may not be too happy, but the city can hardly discipline an entire firehouse for what they legally do in their free time without it backfiring on them in the public eye. It would be a PR nightmare; you can trust me on that.
Some stray thoughts:
Sullivandy seems to be in a great place in their marriage finally, but the promo for the season finale has me worried about the couple. What exactly did Sullivan do that's so terrible? Does it have anything with him pressuring Dean to drop the lawsuit? Inquiring minds need to know.
Maya and Carina are getting married. It's fast, but when you know, you know. Plus, Carina can only legally stay in the US if she and Maya are married, so it does put a clock on things, but we need some light, so let's enjoy the wedding.
Jack finally admitted that he's not feeling it with Inara. At first, it was all about rescuing her, but now that there's no crisis, Jack isn't feeling that spark. The right thing to do would be to break up with her, but he's a good guy and may want to stick it out. Not the right move, Gibson.
Does anyone think Vic and Theo will get back together before the season ends? Travis accepting Theo's apology was a start in the right direction, and after hearing how Vic's been feeling, he wants his best friend to be happy, and if that means Theo, Travis might be open to it.
So what did you think, Station 19 Fanatics?
What's your take on how the series incorporated the killing of Breonna Taylor?
How amazing was Barrett Doss?
What are your hopes for the finale?
Don't forget to hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. If you missed the penultimate episode, remember you can watch Station 19 online at TV Fanatic.
Jessica Lerner is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.