9-1-1 Season 6 Episode 11 Review: In Another Life

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There is something to be said for an hour of television that is both what you expected and surprising.

Buck was never going to die because that's not how they've been building his character arc throughout 9-1-1 Season 6. But he was due for a breakthrough. And what better breakthrough than a near-death experience?

9-1-1 Season 6 Episode 11 was a twisted time, truly, a fantastical hour that saw coma dream Buck floundering around, trying to find the meaning of his life, while in the real world, those who love him most had to deal with the fear that their Buck may never open his eyes again.

Christopher Visits - 9-1-1 Season 6 Episode 11

The premise for this hour is incredible, and it makes a lot of sense considering Buck's character development from 9-1-1 Season 1 Episode 1 to now.

When we met Buck, he was a brash, cocky man-child willing to jump headfirst into any situation -- consequences be damned. And that sounds brave from the outside looking in, but it can be crazy dangerous for not only Buck but others, as well.

Struck Down - 9-1-1 Season 6 Episode 10

And as we continued to learn about Buck over the years and learned the story of his family, everything slotted into place. A life of abandonment led him to the 118, where he finally found a purpose: helping people. He found a family who accepted and loved him without expectations.

But even having that family and security now, he's still struggled with his self-worth and feeling the forever sting of that rejection from his parents. A lifetime of feeling like you're not good enough isn't something you can magically get over.

So, what's a way to show Buck his importance and what his entire existence means to others? Well, you can kill him for a second, send him into a coma, and then trap him in a dream deep within his subconscious, where he lives a different life with a loving family that alters his life in various ways.

Again, that's a great premise, but a premise is nothing if you can't follow through with the execution. And it's up to you to decide if they delivered.

Jumping around from real-time to the dream means getting two different stories happening concurrently, which is fine, except the real-time emotions of Buck's situation get lost in the upheaval of the dream.

Working On Buck - 9-1-1 Season 6 Episode 11

9-1-1's bread and butter will always be its cast and the chemistry between them. Sure, they can pull off high-octane emergencies and dabble in the comedic bits and whatever else, but those central relationships have always made the series shine.

Buck is quite literally the one person in this series who has a connection to everyone else. And at the end of 9-1-1 Season 6 Episode 10, he's dead. He's in full cardiac arrest, and when they get him to the hospital, he's still unresponsive until they can shock him back.

Doctor: We'll do our best!
Eddie: Do more!

It's devastating and traumatizing for the 118 to watch him taken away, knowing full well the magnitude of what has just happened. Getting struck by lightning isn't like getting zapped when you take a plug out of the wall.

Seeing the four remaining crew members huddled up, physically and emotionally supporting one another, is as heartbreaking a moment as they come. But there's no real way to keep leaning into those emotional beats when so much of the hour takes place in the dream world.

We're not even able to get individual scenes with everyone sitting beside Buck and willing him to wake up. Instead, there are fleeting moments here and there, but it feels like there could have been so much more. Not that what we got was terrible, because the coma dream was so necessary for Buck to get the bigger picture.

But man, did I want so much more in real-time.

Carrying Him To Safety 9 1 1 Season 6 Episode 10

Much of the 118 reactions are centered around Bobby, which tracks, especially considering what he's been dealing with recently. He's just lost Wendall, and now he's on the precipice of losing not just a team member but someone whose become like a kid to him.

But the series hasn't always consistently displayed this relationship, especially recently, and the heavy-handedness they do in repeatedly telling us that Buck is like Bobby's son sometimes feels a bit much, even if I can understand the sentiment.

Bobby and Buck's relationship is a centerpiece of the series in many ways.

And while Bobby gets the brunt of everyone's worries outside in the real world, we don't spend much time with Maddie or Eddie, who are undoubtedly the two most influential people in Buck's life.

Maddie gets her moments to be in the room, but you'd think they'd take a moment to highlight their relationship, which has been so profound for Buck since she came to Los Angeles and since the literal minute he was born.

And she does feature in the coma dream, so it's not as if her presence is entirely muted.

But a scene with Maddie clinging to Buck's hand and telling him what he's meant to her, especially as the dimensions of their adult relationship have matured and strengthened one another, would have been poignant and powerful.

Then you have Eddie, whose absence is glaring throughout the hour, even though, again, for how the hour is structured, it does make sense on a surface level because Eddie's life falls apart since he never met Carla (via Buck, of course). So, I get it, but it still feels wrong.

Buck Takes A Breathe - 9-1-1 Season 6 Episode 10

9-1-1 has a series of pairings and dynamics that are so essential to the fabric of the show, and Buck and Eddie's is one of them. Having him so far removed in the hospital scenes feels like an odd choice.

The one time he does get a moment is when he sneaks Christopher into the room to see Buck, which is probably the most moving moment of the hour. He and Christopher share good and bad memories that will link them for life. And for Christopher, Buck is the very manifestation of what it means never to give up and just keep swimming.

Hey, Buck. It's Christopher. I know you're sick, but it's only temporary. And you're gonna be okay. That's what all the machines are doing. Making you better. But wherever you are, you have to come back. Wherever you are right now, you have to come back.


His words to Buck are simple, yet they are genuinely the spark within his coma brain that gets him to the hospital, where his journey to return home takes off.

So, while I'm glad they highlighted that relationship and its overall importance to Buck's life, it's a shame there wasn't more time to highlight others.

I just kept wishing we could get more while recognizing that what we were getting was still good. But I think it would have only benefited the story even more to feel the emotions of the people who love Buck most.

Coma dream Buck is a sight to behold in his sweaters and khakis, a full-fledged teacher utterly loved and doted on by his family. Being a teacher fits Buck and makes complete sense for his personality. The guy who likes to fix things, literally devoting his life to the betterment of the youth, is totally on brand.

Once Buck mentioned Daniel in the previous hour, it seemed pretty obvious he would appear in the dream, and he's included here in a way that I wasn't expecting. He's a sort of spectator in the world Buck crafts, and they choose not to harp on him as much, instead letting him exist within the confines of the dream.

With Daniel alive, the Buckleys are a family full of hope and joy and Buck's biggest fan. Buck feeds off that at first, completely content to ignore everything he knows is wrong with this reality in favor of enjoying a beer, a nice couch, and the warmth of his father and brother by his side.

It's the domestic comfort Buck has longed for, and you can't blame him at first for wanting more. If Doug didn't show up, who's to say Buck wouldn't have wanted to stay there longer in the beginning?

Buck going to Chimney was the right move because Chimney's also a person who's been in a coma, and some of the best moments of the hour are Buck, Chimney, and Hen getting a chance to play into these different versions of themselves, but still feeling connected to one another.

Chimney & Hen Get Prepared - 9-1-1 Season 6 Episode 10

The quest to figure out what Buck has to learn to return to his people is made all the more real when Bobby shows up and forces him to confront what matters most to him. Buck is a good man, and he's made such strides over the years in becoming a person that could make Bobby proud. But does he truly feel that? Can he see that?

When he looks in the mirror, what does he see? Does he see the man who sets out to save people daily, loves unconditionally, and strives to be better? Or does he see the man who couldn't save his brother and was never enough for the people meant to love him the most?

Buck: Do you know what's happening to me in there?
Bobby: Depends on how you look at it. You could be dying. You could be fighting for your life. It's kinda up to you. Which way you leaning?

The coma dream allows him to confront many fears while also forcing him to acknowledge what actually matters. Living a life always seeking validation from others is no life. It's a recipe for pain and heartache. But if you look within and see yourself for who you really are, that's something else entirely.

And Buck gets to do that eventually, realizing what one decision in his life did for the betterment of others and himself and how the person he is NOW, not what he could have been or should have been, has been enough.

Look, it's a roundabout way of getting Buck to see what everyone else sees, but that's life. You will always be your biggest critic, and I can appreciate that right before Buck wakes up and returns home, they have Daniel morphing into him because those words really belong to Buck. They've been ingrained in him for so long.

Buck Lends A Hand - 9-1-1 Season 6 Episode 8

But he fights back, breaks free, and goes home to those who love him.

We've all got feelings about the Buckleys, but at the end of the day, they were two people stuck in a perpetual state of agony who didn't do right by the children who did nothing wrong. They're choosing this time to do better and be better, and that's on the people they wronged to extend them that grace.

That goes for Chimney, too, who learns more about his father and chooses to extend an olive branch instead of shutting him out. And again, that is his choice.

Chimney would have been justified in keeping his distance if that's what he decided, but it feels like Buck's near death, learning more about his father, and Jee's joy at spending time with her grandfather has him seeing things through a different lens.

Life is nothing but a series of choices, and hopefully, these choices are healthy for everyone in the long run.

Buck Ponders - 9-1-1 Season 6 Episode 7

They put this hour on the back of Oliver Stark, and he delivers here as he often does. He has to do a lot of acting without words, quietly going from satisfied to confused to scared and back again. He's got a whimsical look in his eyes at times that quickly changes to pain and longing.

And as much work as Buck does, there's still a lot of the season left and probably more questions he needs to ask himself as he continues to ponder this crazy little thing called life.

Odds and Ends 

  • Coma dream Bobby appreciating that he married THEE Athena Grant was a fabulous moment. Bathena forever remains the gold standard for 9-1-1 ships.
  • Coma dream Buck lamenting his guilt over shunning Christopher's search for Eddie while running home was a cute little moment. Can we get more Buckley-Diaz moments before the end of the season? We've been very patient and good this year, and I think we deserve it.
Unimpressed Hen - 9-1-1 Season 6 Episode 10
  • Speaking of the Buckey-Diaz family, it was impossible not to tear up listening to Christopher talk and watching Eddie cry. I'll never get over what a powerful moment that was in the narrative of this hour. 
  • Bobby and May's relationship is so sweet, and it's nice to see how much she's embraced Bobby as a second father. She loves and wants to protect him, and seeing how they care about each other is so lovely.
  • I'm glad they gave Buck a chance to say out loud that he understands his parents did the best they could. It was a choice I'm happy they gave him in a moment where he was saying it for himself and not for anyone else's benefit.
  • So, Buck only needs a few weeks to recover after his heart stopped for three minutes and he was in a coma for days? The next time I see Buck in turnouts, months better have passed in the timeline!
  • The Chimney and Hen banter in any life is exactly what I would expect.
Bobby Grieves - 9-1-1 Season 6 Episode 9
  • All those callbacks to earlier seasons drive home the point that Buck joining the 118 set so many things in motion. It's one thing to know that one decision can change the trajectory of your life, and it's another to see it and feel the broader ramifications.
  • Buck going from not wanting to pick the wrong couch to letting his mom pick out a couch for him is certainly a decision that was made.

Alright, guys, what did you think about the 9-1-1 alternate universe hour? Was it everything you had hoped? Or did it feel like a few things were missing?

Drop a line below and let me know what you thought about Buck's trip through his dream and what you hope to see on his continued journey! 

As always, you can watch 9-1-1 online via TV Fanatic, so you don't miss a minute of the action!

In Another Life Review

Editor Rating: 4.3 / 5.0
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Rating: 3.9 / 5.0 (97 Votes)

Whitney Evans is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lover of all things TV. Follow her on X.

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9-1-1 Season 6 Episode 11 Quotes

Maddie: It was an accident.
Buck: No. No, that's what you used to say before. I missed the signs last time, I'm not doing that again.

Doctor: We'll do our best!
Eddie: Do more!

  • Permalink: Do more!
  • Added: