From Bobby and Athena's spontaneous wedding to Buck's traumatic injury, the entire episode kept fans entertained from beginning to end. While we were happy to learn that Chimney and Maddie are finally going to give the idea of a romantic relationship a shot and that Hen and Karen are thinking about expanding their family together, there are still plenty of questions left unanswered. Will Buck be able to work again? Will Eddie's heartbreaking loss affect his role at the firehouse?
ET exclusively spoke with showrunner Tim Minear following Monday's sophomore closer, who broke down all the biggest moments and teased what's in store for season three.
ET: Tim, we have to first discuss the intense scene with Buck (Oliver Stark) being pinned down by a fire truck. Seeing as he's become such a fan-favorite character, were you at all nervous about how viewers would react to you putting him in that dire of a situation?
Tim Minear: No! Actually, I don't. (Laughs.) It's funny. I always see reaction online, like, "Why do you keep trying to hurt Chimney (Kenneth Choi)? Why are you trying to hurt Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt)? Leave them alone!" The thing is, if I left them alone it'd be the most boring show on television. If your favorite character is diminished on my show, you should be sending me thank you cards. Because what that means is, they're going to get more screen time, and we're going to dive deeper into who they are.
The thing with Buck was actually a last-minute addition to the script. I mean, we did have him pinned under the fire truck, we did have him imperiled in the middle of the story, but the idea of saying he may never work again, that was a late addition. I think it just made it so much stronger and so much better, and I think Oliver has never been better on the show. His scenes after he wakes up in the hospital, his scene with his sister [Maddie], his scene with Ali (Tiffany Dupont), his stuff when he comes back to the firehouse to celebrate Eddie's (Ryan Guzman) end of probation. Oliver has never been better, so I was very excited going forward. Plus, Buck having a crisis that's not about sex? I think is good.
Shooting that whole fire truck scene in downtown Los Angeles must have been insanity...
Yes, we shot all that stuff over the course of two nights. The first night we blew up the fire truck and shot some of the driving stuff, which really took half the night to get it right and do it safely. And then a lot of confrontation with the bomber, the civilians running in, the whole standoff of it, which is a big set piece, was all shot in one night. So it was quite intense.
There was obviously a lot going on. That moment where you have the bystanders come in to help rescue Buck was very powerful. Why did you think it was important to showcase the community coming together like that?
It's interesting, that was initially not my idea. It was an idea that had been pitched in the writers' room by a couple of people. We found online, I think it was in New York, civilians coming in and lifting a subway train off of somebody who was trapped under one. We all thought that was such a great image. The problem with that, for us, was, how do you do a 9-1-1 call where the person is saved by civilians? There would be no reason to call in our people.
So, that idea just kind of sat on the shelf, we couldn't quite figure out what to do with it. And then when we got to this episode, it was like, "Oh, that thing where the civilians run in and help lift the subway car, let's make it a fire truck and show the civilians showing their support for the first responders." We took a play with that idea a little bit in some other forms in other episodes, but it just felt like a great culmination. To me, that's the most emotional moment in the entire episode. It's like a Field of Dreams moment, it is so good. That's also a lesson in, if you have a good idea, and you don't know where to stick it, don't force it in there, the time will come for that.
We learn towards the end of the episode that Buck may actually have to undergo a second surgery, which is terrifying because his job is on the line. What can you tell us about where this is all going?
What I can say is, Buck is going to be too eager to get back on the horse. He is so afraid of losing his identity and who he is that possibly the biggest threat to Buck is not the accident itself, but his impatience. So, that's something we'll be exploring in season three. He is the character going out of season two in the most perilous position.
Fans were excited to see Carla Price (Cocoa Brown) come back, at the hospital with Buck. That being said, is there any chance that maybe we could see Abby Clark (Connie Britton) return?
Not at the moment. Connie signed on for one year and that was always the plan. But as I have said numerous times, she is welcome back any time. I would love to see Abby come back. And I would have loved to have seen Abby standing over Buck's bed when he woke up after surgery.
That would have been great! But I do like Buck's new girlfriend, Ali, too. What can you tease about how their relationship develops next season? There seems to be some tension between them now.
We thought there was a lot of chemistry between Ali and Buck from the earthquake episode on. Fans seem to like her reappearing at the end of "Buck, Actually" so we kept it in the water. There were mentions that she was around, and then when you see her in the finale, it's very clear that they're in the very early stages of the honeymoon period of their relationship. They're in a pretty comfortable place, and I thought it was important to have a character in this episode who didn't choose this life -- the episode's called "This Life We Choose" -- to really get a perspective from an outsider of how scary that life could be. She's not jumping, it's not the end like season one where Abby goes off to travel or something. It's just Ali is a possibility for him. She is somebody that's with him.
I also have to bring up that scene with Buck and Eddie and the social media influencer. That moment was such a fun homage to the fans who can't get enough of "Buddie." What do you think about all the love coming in for those two on social media?
I love it, which is why I kind of tipped my hat to it in that scene. You see the comments scrolling on the side of the screen, about how cute they are together. I think it's great! And I don't want to bait the audience on unrealistic expectations, but we acknowledge that the chemistry is there, because it is there.
Can fans expect more Buck and Eddie scenes in season three?
Of course! I mean, they are great friends. Buck left [home] to make sure he was at Eddie's end of probation ceremony. They are the best of friends. And I think that what we might see is, Buck bonding with Eddie's son, Christopher (Gavin McHugh), a little bit.
Eddie is going through a lot after the devastating loss of his wife, Shannon (Devin Kelley). When we spoke with Ryan Guzman, he brought up how the show hasn't really explored Eddie's PTSD yet, from his time in the Army. He also pitched the idea for Eddie to use MMA as an outlet, since Ryan has real-life fighting experience. Could those be things incorporated into Eddie's storyline next season?
I haven't really thought specifically about the PTSD, but I do feel like when I created Eddie at the beginning of the year, I made him too good to be true. Like, he's perfect. He's Ryan Guzman, he's handsome, he's a single dad who has the most adorable son on the face of the earth. He is kind, he is thoughtful, he's just perfect. So, one of the reasons to strike him with tragedy towards the end of this season with Shannon's death is so I can go in different directions with Eddie next year. Him going a little crazy might not be a bad thing.
He has talked to me about his MMA fighting. I will say, I may have incorporated it sooner but Ryan injured himself this year. He was doing, I think, MMA training, and somebody caught him in the back of his knee and blew his knee out. In the last couple episodes, we shot, ironically enough, in "Careful What You Wish For," Ryan could barely walk when he was shooting those scenes with Devin. He was having to sit down and be iced in between setups. But I do like his idea of MMA fighting between the police and firefighters.
Fans were introduced to additional members of Eddie's family in the finale. Are we going to see more of them moving forward?
We might. They live in El Paso, but I thought it was important to start to bring that in the foreground a little bit. It had been mentioned that when Eddie was a young newlywed he was living in El Paso with his mom and dad and his sisters, and he kind of left Shannon there to go off and join the Army. She was kind of alone with Christopher, with his family. I think those elements kind of explain the breakdown that she had. It's always important to expand the universe of each character and really kind of create full worlds for them to exist in.
Speaking of full worlds, the finale ties up nicely with Bobby Nash (Peter Krause) and Athena Grant (Angela Bassett) tying the knot at the courthouse. What went into the decision for them to get married now?
That felt like the most natural thing in the world to me, that that's where this episode would end. It mirrors not only the end of season one, where they sit down across from each other on their first date, and there's a whole world of possibilities there. It also mirrors the way he proposed to her on Christmas, and it encapsulates a big part of the themes of the show, which is, these first responders know that you don't sit around planning life -- you live it, because it can change in a moment.
Everyone really loved the "Begins" episodes this season. Will there be more for season three, and who do you plan to focus on?
Yes. Right now, Kristen Reidel, who is my genius collaborator and executive producer and writer on the show, pitched me an Athena story that I am excited as hell about. So, that will definitely be one of them.
Looking ahead to season three, will all the main characters be back for season three? And will we see any new faces?
Yes, confirmed! I hesitate to tease new faces because deals aren't in place but in the writers' room, we've been talking about bringing back some faces that you've seen and incorporating them into some stories. We also think representation is incredibly important. It's also not something we have to force. It's actually been one of the easiest aspects of the show because it's a diverse world on our show. It's great to see all kinds of representation. But there is always the opportunity for more representation because we have so many guest characters. I can actually think of a couple of things right now that I'm planning ... it's important and we love that about this show. I think we're proud that it feels so organic because it is.
What else can you tell fans to hold them over before the new season begins?
After watching the finale, I just hope that the fans feel even more in love with all these characters than they did at the beginning of the season. Our writers' room starts this week. We're back in the writers' room, and then we'll start shooting probably in mid or late July. And I can say that if you love season two, you will love season three.
In addition to season three of 9-1-1, Fox announced over the weekend that the network has also greenlit a spinoff series. Titled 9-1-1: Lone Star, the spinoff will take place in Austin, Texas, and star Rob Lowe. The two-night premiere will kick off Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020.
"The beauty of having a hit drama like 9-1-1 from the genius minds of Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear is it allows you to explore thrilling stories as told through an array of distinctive characters," said Michael Thorn, President of Entertainment at Fox Entertainment. "In 9-1-1: Lone Star, they've given us a special opportunity to expand the franchise into new territory -- literally and figuratively -- and we're thrilled to have the incomparable Rob Lowe headline this new iteration when it joins our schedule next season."