Season 5 of 9-1-1 ended its three-part season premiere with episode 3, “Desperate Measures”. Sadly, it was by the far the weakest episode in Season 5 to date, and arguably one of the weakest endings to any of the three-part season premieres to date, and may have been one of the weakest 9-1-1 episodes that we’ve seen in a long time.
At the start of the episode, the frantic search for Harry (Marcanthonee Reis) is on. Athena (Angela Bassett) and Michael (Rockmond Dunbar) strike out on their own, trying to track down serial-rapist-turned-kidnapper Jeffery Hudson (Noah Bean). The strongest and most heart-warming part of the episode had to be Athena and Michael bonding over searching for their son, and mocking Hudson mercilessly after Athena relieved him of his, ahem, weapon in a terrific moment of poetic justice.
From here, it’s all downhill. It was so heartwarming to Bobby (Peter Krause) visibly worried about his stepson who he treats as his own, especially the moment when he relies on his faith to re-centre himself in the chaos. However, it was so disappointing to see him undermine the Autonomous Zone by violating a clear physical boundary when community members clearly communicated that first responders were not welcome to enter. Rather than have him speak to members of the Autonomous Zone and come to an understanding to help the wounded man, he simply removes the physical barriers and enters the space without consent.
This brings up the next point about what made this episode so problematic. The entire way the show handled the storyline of the Autonomous Zone. This entire storyline was presumably based on the incident that occured in Seattle following a shooting inside the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. The writers of this episode clearly misunderstood the entire point of Autonomous Zones and areas where police are prohibited from entering, and the entire concept was treated with nothing but mockery and derision. This was a great opportunity to tell an interesting story about an Autonomous Zone and it was completely wasted. The only possibly redeeming moment was that the entire community came together to find Hudson almost immediately.
Eddie’s (Ryan Guzman) storyline also ended in an unsatisfying way. The previous episodes had set up a very interesting, very important story about Eddie’s PTSD, and Buck’s (Oliver Stark) supportive attitude. However, the story went in a completely different direction by explaining Eddie’s panic attacks over the last two episodes as a response to him no longer wanting to be in a relationship with Ana (Gabrielle Walsh). This may have been for practical reason’s on the actress’s part, but it’s still disappointing to have the show drop the ball like this.
Finally, Maddie’s (Jennifer Love Hewitt) storyline culminating in her surrendering her baby at the 118 was also a huge missed opportunity. The decision to have this character have postpartum depression was a brave one, especially considering how much stigma still exists around the condition in the real world. Granted, it may very well be that this was also for the practical reason that Love-Hewitt recently had a baby of her own and is now on maternity leave, but there were definitely other options that the writers could have taken this story, like having Maddie seek longer-term help that requires her to be away for a time.
Ultimately, although it was great to see Harry back with his family, this episode ended a lot of very promising storylines and character development in ways that were incredibly unsatisfying especially considering what we’ve come to expect from the show. Hopefully the season can get back on track in upcoming episodes.
9-1-1 airs Mondays 8/7c on Fox.