If there's one thing you can always count on, it's a wild and crazy 9-1-1 midseason finale.
The Santa Ana winds brought not only the bizarre but the sad on 9-1-1 Season 6 Episode 9, as Bobby dealt with a personal tragedy and Denny threw Hen and Karen for a loop when he questioned them about his birth mother. We also got Maddie and Chimney maybe finding their forever home in the most unlikeliest of places.
Heading into the hiatus, we caught up with 9-1-1 Executive Producer Kristen Reidel, who broke down all of the critical plot points from the hour and looked ahead to what we can expect when the show returns.
Bobby has a very tough and emotional time dealing with his sponsor's death. And after his death, he kind of goes into investigation mode. Can you speak to his headspace throughout the hour and where this will lead him heading into the back half of season six?
Yes. A person's sponsor is a huge part of not just their life but their support system. And losing Wendell, he lost his sponsor, he lost his friend, and it's a tricky time for Bobby because of that.
But I think that his going into investigative mode is a sort of way for him to focus and channel his grief into a plan of action. And we will see that in the back half of the season. The investigation will continue because it's very important to Bobby to know what happened to Wendell and to understand how he ended up in that field.
I think the healthiest thing that Bobby does is that he doesn't go it alone. So what we'll be seeing with him in the back half is Athena is involved in that investigation with him, and even May is involved a bit, and it becomes almost a family project to find out the truth.
That's so interesting because that was my next question: if Bobby was going to learn from the past and lean on Athena and his family to navigate this next step, which it sounds like he will be.
Yeah, I feel like we've seen Bobby and Athena's relationship evolve on that front. There was a time, in season three, that if these sorts of things had happened to either of them, their instinct would've been to go it alone.
But as we saw earlier in the season with Athena in Florida and now Bobby here in LA with Wendell, that relationship has grown and matured and developed into a true partnership where they feel like, "I can lean on this person for anything." And so that is what is very much a Bobby and Athena partnership story there.
And we'll also get to see a little bit of Wendell and his relationship with Bobby and understand that dynamic a bit more.
Switching over to Maddie and Chimney, they started the season getting back together. And in the winter finale, they seem to have found a place they want to call home. I like the idea of them taking this home that was a bit broken and turning it into something beautiful for their family.
Can you walk me through the decision to have them find their home in a bit of a non-traditional way?
Well, we had always talked about that, that they would find the place somewhere through their jobs because the LA real estate market is really awful. But also, it's kind of the thing you said, which is that Maddie and Chimney have had difficulties and traumas separately and together.
And that, in a way, we talked about the house is a metaphor for their relationship. That a place that once was filled with such sadness could be a happy place again, a place full of love and the laughter of children, and be a home again to a family.
Will we get to see the renovation process there?
Not entirely. We do get a couple of months off in between. And so the house is in much better shape by the time we find it again. But there will be a little bit of fun with the house. The house may have a slight history that even Maddie and Chimney are not aware of yet, that we'll find out in a later episode.
Buck has committed to a journey of self-discovery this season. Why did you feel like this was the right time for him to work on himself?
It felt like Buck was in relationships where he got left a lot. And then, we told the story about his childhood and him just feeling like he wasn't important and he wasn't worthy.
So his relationship with Taylor was a turning point, I've always felt, with Buck in that he was in a relationship. And he made mistakes, and she made mistakes, but he had to have this moment of realization of, "You know what? I'm not happy, and so I should be the one who leaves."
And that felt like a change in Buck, and that's what catapulted him into this season, was wanting to understand himself. Because I think you have to do that before you can understand the kind of person you want to be with. And so his journey this season is him discovering who he is and who he wants to be for himself.
Not because other people will like him or because other people will be proud of him, but for Buck. When Buck looks in the mirror, how does he like the person he's looking at? What needs to happen for him that he can say, "I'm Buck, and I'm enough?" And so that's sort of the journey that he's on.
Then with that is the larger kind of question that we asked in, I think it was episode two, of why are any of us here? What is the point of all this? And I think by the end of the season, Buck will find an answer.
And his storyline has now gone into this sperm donor situation. Can you tell us what led you to go that route with the sperm donor and how we'll continue to see that play out?
Well, it comes from that idea of Buck feeling like he has to be valuable to other people if that makes sense. And that even dates back to him being born to be a donor for Daniel. And so I think he sees himself as, "What can I do for other people?" And so he said yes to this sperm donor thing from a very selfless place.
He's like, "These people need something. I can give it to them. Why wouldn't I do that? Why wouldn't you help someone?" But I think the thing he's going to come to realize is there is an emotional cost to that, and he's got to figure out what does he want going forward in this sperm donor baby scenario. And not what other people want.
What does Buck want for himself? And being able to figure that out and then say it.
Hen had a very interesting journey this season with medical school, the lab explosion, and ultimately turning back to the 118. Then she and Karen are thrown off guard during this hour when Denny asks about Eva.
Can you expand upon what they're feeling about Denny's curiosities and how they reconcile their complicated feelings about Eva when addressing his curiosities?
I think that they love their son very much, and they want to be honest with him and give him the answers that he's seeking, but in a way that he can process at the age that he's at.
For example, when Danny asks about Eva being sick, which, as we all know, she was on drugs and went to prison. But they've coated it a bit for him because that's a thing that they'll get to. They never lie to him, but they only give him as much truth as it sounds like he's ready to hear.
I think the best way to do it is to let the kid lead you, and they'll tell you what they're ready to know. And so it's always a little bit of a delicate balance that they're trying to strike, but they never want to lie to him, and they never want to make him question his place in the family.
That makes a lot of sense. And speaking of Denny, the kids on the show are growing up so fast. And it hit me seeing Chris in the prior episode, going off to a school dance.
We've seen a bit of that give and take with Eddie and Christopher this season as he continues to grow. And Eddie grows as well, and their relationship evolves. Will we continue to see that journey between the two in the back half of the season?
The kids on the show, it hits me every now and then. Sometimes I have to go back and look at old episodes for a variety of reasons. And it never fails to hit me that, "My God, you really have watched them grow on television."
I look at May, Corinne, from the pilot to now, and she's just such a lovely and smart and capable young woman, but you're like, "She was such a baby." And so I kind of feel that about all of them. And also, they've all grown into tremendous actors, which you don't always know when you're casting little kids.
But yeah, I think that Eddie's relationship with Christopher is a very complicated one, as we've seen. But there is something about watching him become a young man and Eddie having to take the training wheels off and let your kid grow up. And I think that's probably hard for every parent.
Last season was very heavy in a lot of different ways, especially in the back half. And this season has also seen its fair share of drama, but there's also been a lot of lighter moments. Was it important to you to find a good balance between the two this season?
It was. I always think that the show works best when we throw some hope in there. We throw in some happiness.
It's a lot of different tones, and it was definitely a kind of mandate at the start of the season for ourselves. Let's do the drama and let's do the heartbreaking moments, but let's balance it so that it's still a hopeful show and a show that you walk away from every week feeling a little good.
And some of the musical notes, I have to say, this season with certain scenes, have just worked really well and brought out the happiness or the different emotions you're trying to go with in a scene.
Yeah, I love when sometimes you find the right song for the right moment, and it's just the best feeling. Sometimes we figure that out in post, but sometimes we know when we're writing it.
When we did the Athena in Florida episode, we knew that that was Nina Simone when we were breaking the episode before we even broke anything. I remember we would sit in my office, and I played it, and everybody was like, "Oh my God, that's the song."
And then the editors are always constantly finding great stuff, and I'm like, "Oh my God, that's so brilliant."
What can we look forward to when 9-1-1 returns in the new year?
There's going to be a lot of action and drama, as always, but we have a couple of episodes coming up that are maybe a little different, things we haven't had an opportunity to do before. And so we've got a pretty offbeat one. I would call it a two-part opener, maybe?
The end of the first episode kind of goes out on a big cliffhanger, and then the second episode is a little kind of trippy. And I hope everybody will enjoy it, because I think it's a lot of fun and also emotional.
***This interview has been edited for length and clarity.***
You can watch 9-1-1 on Mondays at 8/7c on FOX.
Whitney Evans is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.