Athena's desire to become a police officer was always rooted in the disappearance of Tanya Kingston. And now, some forty-five years later, the case comes full circle for her, as Tanya's disappearance and death are brought to her doorstep yet again.
9-1-1 Season 6 Episode 3 dives into the aftermath of the revelation that someone buried Tanya's body beneath her childhood home. And It's a jaw-dropping reveal that shocked Athena, Bobby, and viewers.
It's an emotionally taxing hour, anchored by powerful performances across the board that give a real sense of this storyline's pain, anger, and complexities.
TV Fanatic was honored to speak with Angela Bassett and Peter Krause separately to talk about this hour and 9-1-1 as a whole. The veteran actors were lovely to talk with, and I appreciated their candor. Enjoy this one, fanatics!
The dramatic and heartbreaking reveal at the end of 9-1-1 Season 6 Episode 2 was a shock to fans and Bassett as well, who wasn't aware this was the direction the story would lead when the series initially introduced Tanya's story.
Bassett explained, "I had no idea it would take this turn, but I'm not surprised because our writers do that from time to time. They will revisit an incident. They will revisit characters. It's really organic. Some of it's really organic.
"We can have someone new, and you think it might be a one-off, but because of the casting and what they bring and some magic that happens, it gets ideas going. That's one thing that I love about the show. Never over, potentially.
"It was a great opportunity for us to revisit Athena's origin line, that story that plagued her, that pushed her forward in her career choice and who she is as a woman. And also, because Athena is that cop, she's also that person who crossed her little line when it came to her daughter.
"Another child, and bullying, being bullied. Or her son with the cop, that treatment. We know that Bobby and Athena are going through the empty nest syndrome, but also on the other side, on the other hand, there are the aging parents returning to their second childhood.
"Their independence is being tested, and you still drive. Do we take the keys? Do we get help? Do we get a home attendant just two hours a day, just a few hours, a few times a week? How far down the road do we look into this? Because we know that life has its expiration. Life and relationship sometimes happen and have an expiration date."
For his part, Krause told me, "I thought that it was great that they looped back to this storyline. And one of the fun things about 911 is that we get to do the crazy emergencies and get into the personal lives of the characters, but also, once in a while, Athena and Bobby get to do some sleuth work together.
"That serious heart-to-heart with RJ Wagner and Stephanie Powers, and this one obviously is very personal to Athena. This is a darker episode where her father's stroke accident with the garage.
"They have to dig up the foundation, and they find these old bones, and it becomes very personal for Athena where her father gets implicated, and she's terrified that he could have had anything to do with it.
"And I think that Bobby just loves her parents. And even though he does have some friction with her mother, played by Beverly. He loves working with her, and I don't think Bobby suspects her father at all.
"So he's got a different attitude about it, but I think that fear really strikes Athena hard. And so Bobby is there for her, as they're always there for each other."
And that wonderful Bathena dynamic is on full display during this hour as the two work together to find out what happened to Tanya and bring some closure to her sister, who harbors so much pain and grief.
Bobby and Athena are the backbones of the series in many ways. And both actors have a strong appreciation for that relationship.
"I appreciate that he appreciates her," Bassett said when asked about the duo. "He gives her freedom and space. He's a quiet person. He's not heavy-handed with his ideas, but he's very, very supportive of Athena.
"But he's also a rational thinker and gives another perspective, especially maybe when it comes to the kids or when it comes to work. He's probably used to managing kids because his crew, or the 118, are a pack of characters both on and off-screen. And Bobby, like Peter, is very grounded and rock solid.
"I really appreciate that, and I have a fun appreciation of him. This is our sixth season, and the relationship on and off screen continues to grow and evolve. So, the real, mutual respect, appreciation, and warmth toward both character and actor. Love it."
This hour taps into what makes Bathena so special; as Krause told me, "I love that they're both first responders and that they deal with difficult things on the job, but then they also have difficult things come up in their own lives. Obviously, Bobby's haunted by his past, and now this in a very different way.
"Athena is kind of haunted by hers. This is going to give her some closure. And again, I am fond of them doing sleuth work together. But again, this is a darker episode in terms of the storytelling, but I think audiences will appreciate the way the story's told and that we deal with some flashbacks and times.
"So you get to see young Athena, and I think the structure of this is really fun. The writers did a nice job."
With such dark material throughout this hour, I was curious about what it's like for the actors to shoot, and both Bassett and Krause gave such eloquent responses.
"Well, sometimes you feel it at the end," Bassett told me. "Your body does tend to feel it near the end. It's exciting because you have this opportunity to play something rich and sink your teeth into it, so that's exciting. But by the time you get to day 10, 11, and the running, you really feel as if you've gone through something because you have.
"But it's satisfying, rewarding, and appreciated in the way our world of 911 is structured because it's not only about the emergencies that happen outside of ourselves, the emergencies that happen in our own hearts and lives, under our own roots.
"A lot of times, it's not forgotten. It's a big part. The personal emergencies are a big part of our storytelling. Just when you thought you were going to save the day for somebody, you need to be saved, which is very true to life."
Krause explained, "Every day of work on 911 is a little bit different. And like I said, this episode, I think it's going to play nicely. I don't know that audiences have seen anything as personal and dark as this on 911. So in regard tonally, I think that it's a little bit of a shift. We've seen dark things on the show before, but this one's personal."
While the 118 is back in Los Angeles, they will reunite soon enough. Bobby somewhat struggled amongst the changes last season, and Krause had a fond admiration for how that storyline came to be, stating, "I think that for Bobby, in particular, he was upset with himself or hiring somebody who cost lives. And so Bobby felt very responsible for that.
"And one of the nice things last year was having Eddie sort of absolved Bobby of feeling responsible for that. There's no way that Bobby could have known and all that. And as much as Bobby has tried to be there for his team, it's also nice to see when team members show up for Bobby.
"So I appreciated the scene that the writers wrote last season with Eddie coming to Bobby's emotional rescue, if you will, and keep him, even though he didn't know he was doing it at the time, but keep Bobby from spiraling downward into alcoholism."
Those 118 dynamics are such a substantial part of the landscape of the series, and the chemistry between the characters is one of the series' greatest strengths.
" I enjoy it when we get to use our innate playfulness that the cast has, that the firehouse cast has and that when we are allowed to bring all of that to screen, I think that you sense that on the show, how much we enjoy working with each other," Krause said.
"Whether it's playful or even in the midst of something that's very tragic, and there's some gallows humor. I think that really captures the essence of the firehouse team."
Bobby's journey throughout the series has involved many ups and downs. They've given Krause a lot to play with, but when asked what stories he'd like to see Bobby tackle in the future, his answer was both insightful and hopeful.
"I don't know. I've gotten to do a lot, and I do feel like the Bobby Nash storyline is one of redemption of a person who's having a difficult time with himself," Krause began. "And then through the power of forgiveness, both within his family at work, the 118 and his family at home, Athena's family.
"I think he's come to forgive himself and accept his past as part of the fabric of his life, but he is going to move forward. And again, it's a story of redemption, and he's going to lead a positive life, and he's going to love both his families, his family at home, and his family at work.
"And to me, that's always been the most important thing about the character of Bobby Nash, that it is a story about redemption, about how people in the world frequently stumble, and Bobby Nash on 911 is the keeper of addiction and struggling with his relationship with a higher power.
"So that's what makes me as an actor happy about playing this role is that it is a story of our redemption."
As far as what's on the horizon for both Athena and Bobby as 9-1-1 Season 6 moves forward?
"I think Athena could just be surprised by situations she finds herself in," Bassett stated. "It's always something with the kids as they are becoming more and more independent and the husband's away.
"So, I'm going to be as surprised as the audience to find out, to see what Athena will go through. But I don't know, I'm always pleasantly surprised with what our writers come up with, so I don't get too nosy. I like surprises."
And for Krause, he's as curious as the fans are about one particular postponed vacation.
"Well, I don't know at this point whether or not Bobby and Athena are going to get to go on their honeymoon, so that's a question I'd like to... We'll see," Krause said.
"That could be dependent on time and money and whether or not we can get down to Mexico and use the tanks down there to create some sort of at-sea disaster. I mean, we haven't really done a Titanic-like disaster. We had the airplane go down, but we haven't had a cruise ship, so..."
9-1-1 airs on Mondays at 8/7c on FOX.
***This interview has been edited for length and clarity.***
Whitney Evans is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.