[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the 9-1-1 Season 5 finale “Starting Over.”]
Bobby (Peter Krause) nearly drinks but doesn’t, after a well-timed visit from Eddie (Ryan Guzman) — who’s back at the 118 by episode’s end! Buck (Oliver Stark) breaks up with Taylor (Megan West) after realizing he’s stuck in a cycle of mistakes. Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) returns to work at the call center, and things are looking up for a reunion when she and Chimney (Kenneth Choi) bump into each other. Plus, Hen (Aisha Hinds) and Karen (Tracie Thoms) renew their vows.
Co-showrunner Kristen Reidel breaks down the finale and teases what’s ahead.
I’m proud of Buck for breaking the cycle of mistakes and ending things with Taylor. What might this mean for his love life going forward? Is he going to make smarter decisions or is he at least on the path to do so?
Kristen Reidel: I think he’s definitely hopefully on the path to do that. We’ve made jokes certainly on the show about Buck 1.0 and 2.0. Buck’s realization in this finale is that maybe he needs to be Buck 1.5: He’s not wild, crazy, love ‘em and leave ‘em Buck, but he’s also not “I’m gonna stay in a relationship that isn’t healthy for me” Buck. It’s OK to be alone, which I think was an important realization for Buck to have, and it needed to come from Buck. Hopefully next season we will see him continue that journey towards being a better Buck, a happier Buck.
Yeah, he might need to be single.
Yeah, I think he might need to be single. He might need to maybe go on some dates and not immediately fall into a relationship with somebody. But a big part of it is Buck just needs to be honest about who he is and what he needs and not accept less.
Bobby almost drank. Talk about the decision to bring him that close and the way you did.
It’s been a rough year for everybody, and I think especially for Bobby. It was kind of simmering under the surface, honestly, going all the way back to Harry [Marcanthonee Jon Reis] getting kidnapped, where Bobby is the guy who carries everybody else’s weight on his shoulders. He worries about his family. He worries about his team. But he does it in a very quiet way and so you almost don’t notice that the pot is simmering until right as it’s about to boil over. Honestly, the last time or the first time that Bobby started down this road of addiction, it was after a back injury, so it’s not a coincidence that a roof fell on him in Episode 16 and he came to the brink of almost drinking again in 18.
How worried should we be about him drinking going forward?
I don’t think very worried. Look, at the end of the day, Bobby’s an alcoholic, he’s always going to be an alcoholic. But he came to the brink and a friend was there that pulled him back. Then, you didn’t see it on television, but I’m telling you right now, Bobby immediately went to a meeting, and I think even he would recognize how close he came and would take steps to avoid those pitfalls again in the future.
That conversation with Eddie was so good, especially after the one earlier this season.
Bobby has been there for Eddie all along. Whenever Eddie’s been struggling, Bobby’s always been there, a sort of sage advisor. And after everything that Eddie’s been through, he was in a healthy enough place to recognize that Bobby might not be OK, which I think actually says a lot about Eddie’s journey as well. For him to show up and say, “You’re a good man and you saved my life,” was the thing Bobby most needed to hear in that moment.
Eddie’s back at the 118. Is he in a better position now than he ever has been to be a firefighter, given what he’s faced since leaving?
Absolutely. I think for Eddie, the job got to be a little bit too much of his coping mechanism, that the way he avoided his problems was with the work. Now he’s back at work and it’s just work. It’s just a job that means a lot to him and is important to him, but it’s not a coping mechanism for him anymore so that he can be free and go and do the job but have the tools to deal with whatever else is going on in his life and it doesn’t have to be this toxic brew that it had built into.
What did you want to do with Maddie and Chimney’s relationship, from breaking them up offscreen to putting them in a place at the end of the finale where it seems that a reunion could happen?
It just felt like with everything that they had been through being apart for six months, they needed to find their way back to each other in a gradual way. They each needed to heal and forgive, not really each other as much as themselves. I feel like you sort of saw baby steps along the way since they’ve been back in LA. And so them happening to run into each other at the end at their favorite food truck is just kind of a sign of they’re always gonna find their way back to each other one way or the other.
It sounds like the new call center is going to be ready just in time for a new season with that mid-September date.
Are there any major changes planned?
That’s something we still need to figure out, but I think it’s gonna look a little different than what people were used to for the first five seasons.
When did you know that you wanted to wait until the finale to have everyone back where they belong — with Chimney, it obviously made sense to return right away, but for Maddie and Eddie?
It was a thing that we sort of went back and forth on. I’ll be honest when I watched 16 myself for the first time, that moment where he’s back with the 118, it just kind of felt like, Eddie’s back. But we did want a feeling of resetting our universe at the end of the year, given all of the tumultuousness of the season with Eddie leaving the 118, Maddie being gone, Chimney being gone. It just felt like that wanted to be our drive for the end of the season, putting everybody back together and in a good place.
Speak of in a good place, when did you know you wanted to end the season with Hen and Karen’s renewal? I loved it.
That was something that we had talked about pretty late in the game. We always like to end our seasons on some sort of fun event — we’ve done May’s [Corinne Massiah] graduation party, Eddie graduating and becoming a full-fledged firefighter in Season 2 — an opportunity to just have everybody in the same room together. We just didn’t really know what it was gonna be this season, but it felt like after everything that Hen and Karen have been through, honestly throughout the first five seasons of the show, seeing the two of them come together and heal with Toni [Marsha Warfield] and recommit to each other, the right ending for this year.
Bobby and Athena’s (Angela Bassett) cruise — will they get the break that they deserve?
They will go on a vacation together, and they will get some time together. But it’s 9-1-1, so there will be a 9-1-1 twist to that vacation.
Is Lucy (Arielle Kebbel) sticking around with the 118? It seemed that way at the end.
It’s a question right now. We love Lucy and we would love to keep her as part of the 118 if we can. But it’s so hard to know right now what next season really holds.
May’s going off to college. Does that mean that we won’t see her as much next season?
I think we will see May and get a little glimpse into college. She will definitely be still a very important part of the show.
How did you want to use the call center to set her on her path?
It was seeing May become an adult. She joined the call center right out of high school, and with everything that happened in the world, not just in the call center, she grew up really fast. I think it’ll be interesting to see how she adjusts to college because she’s going to be a freshman with people that haven’t spent two years dealing with life and death emergencies.
Could this possibly be one of the last times we see Albert (John Harlan Kim)? I know John’s busy and I liked the little nods to his roles.
[Laughs] Yeah, we did have a little fun with that. Look, we love John and we would love to have him back. … Time will sort of have to tell on that one.
Is there anything you can tease about the sort of disaster that could kick off Season 6?
Our hope is — and obviously we’re still super early days — to have a season like what we did in Season 3, to have a large-scale disaster like that, because I do think that the tsunami was the best disaster we ever did.
9-1-1, Season 6, TBA, Fox