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The Reality Behind '9-1-1': Yes, Men Have Faked Engine Trouble on their Airplanes and Then Proposed (Twice, At Least)

By Tori Preston | TV | February 8, 2018 |

By Tori Preston | TV | February 8, 2018 |


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Before we dig into the crazy reality behind the crazy fiction of 9-1-1, I gotta say: Last night’s episode was an improvement! I think the show works best when the emergencies are coming fast and hard, the way they did in the series premiere — and when the “personal lives of the main characters” parts of the episodes are ALSO filled with insane emergencies (instead of overwrought personal drama). Which brings me to our (not so) reoccurring segment…

Where The Fuck Is Kenneth Choi?

He’s back! And… fine? Look, I don’t know how much time is supposed to have lapsed since the show premiered. I think part of the show’s whole aesthetic is that time is meaningless. It slows down when you’re responding to a crisis, but then the crises blend together and a night can go by in a flash. So I don’t know how long it’s been since “Chim” got a (factually accurate!) piece of rebar through his skull. It’s been 3 episodes — but that could represent 3 weeks, or 3 months, or 3 fucking years for all I know. I mean, how long have Buck and Abby been phone-boning? I DON’T KNOW ANYMORE. Point is, Chimney is back with nothing to show for his injury other than a slightly pink circle on his forehead and vague claims that the doctors pronounced his recovery miraculous. So… everything is fine, OK? It’s so fine that the firehouse threw him a party to celebrate! Did they order a cake shaped like his head with a bar sticking through it, as a painful-yet-delicious reminder of the traumatic event that almost took his life? You bet your ass they did! And Athena was there, and Buck invited Abby, and the men were all totally jelly that their boneheaded new recruit was stepping out with Connie Britton’s Fantastic Hair. Me too, guys. Me. Too.

(Side note: I looked up “cakes shaped like heads” and it turns out cakes shaped like babies emerging from vaginas are a whole thing. Just so you know.)

So, onto the life-threatening events our first responders first-responded to in this Valentine’s Day themed episode!

— The episode opened with a dude flying his girlfriend over LA in a little Cessna. He fakes an engine problem to get her to read the emergency manual to him, where there is a check list… which he has doctored to be a wedding proposal. She’s so overwhelmed with fear and surprise that she passes the fuck out. He pulls an emergency landing on a golf course, where he’s met by the firehouse crew. It looks like the girlfriend has suffered a heart attack, but really it’s a case of Broken Heart Syndrome (which is real!) brought on by the combination of stress and her medication. They inject her with whatever, she wakes up, and she’s fine. So fine that she accepts the proposal… then slaps her idiot boyfriend because DUDE. THAT’S A SHITTY THING TO DO TO THE PERSON YOU LOVE.

Which means of course the “Fake Engine Trouble Proposal” is real. In fact, it’s been done at least twice.

The show copies these proposals almost identically, except for the passing out bit. But honestly, if I thought my boyfriend was going to kill me in a plane crash, and then I found out he actually was trying to marry me, I might suffer an almost heart attack too. And then I’d dump him.

BUT ANYWAY. What else happened?

— Buck is so nervous on his fancy dinner date with Abby that he chokes on some bread, and she’s such a badass that she gives him an emergency tracheostomy while waiting for the ambulance. I couldn’t find any real life examples that mirrored the episode perfectly, but I mean. People choke on food. Sometimes other people have to cut their windpipes open and insert tubes. Point is, Abby continues to be a magical unicorn person.

— Bobby and Chimney respond to a call from a whispering man who thinks he broke his back. They arrive at the location, only to find a woman in a robe and a man who has just gotten home and surprised her, but no injured quiet people. Fishy, eh? So they take a look around back and bingo — there’s ANOTHER dude in his tighty whities who took a blind jump off the balcony to avoid being caught. He suffered what’s called a “Casanova Fracture,” which is apparently common around Valentine’s Day. The catch? The injured man is actually the woman’s HUSBAND. They’d been separated, and she had a new boyfriend (the guy who arrived late). But I guess old flames die hard, because she’s still sneaking around with her ex. And after his injury, it seems like they might be calling off that divorce! Ain’t love something?

— Athena also had a heck of a night. She responded to a massive car accident that had traffic blocked … trapping an organ transport that was needed at the hospital for an emergency transplant. So she grabs the dude and his cooler, turns on her flashy lights, and 2 Fast 2 Furiouses him to the hospital in time to save a 16-year-old girl’s life. Of course, Athena assumed she was delivering a heart. It was actually a kidney. Oh well!

This is another emergency that I couldn’t quite verify, but I did find this interesting article about how self-driving cars could exacerbate the shortage of organs, because apparently we rely on traffic accidents to provide organs for transplant. Which… are we supposed to be rooting for people to die in traffic accidents now? I don’t know what to think, but I’m just gonna blame Google and be done with it.

— It turns out Athena wasn’t too far off with her “heart transplant” assumption, however! Her other big call of the night actually DOES involve a heart transplant … in that the caller wants to cut out Athena’s heart and transplant it into the body of her cheating-ass boyfriend, whom she’s just butchered. THIS IS THE GOOD SHIT, 9-1-1! KEEP IT UP.

The story unfolds over the course of the episode. First there’s a seemingly innocent Valentine’s Day date, where a woman has made a home-cooked meal for her boyfriend. But when he gives her chocolates rather than jewelry, things start to go off the rails. She had some sort of plan, and he’s not living up to it. So they fight, and he tries to leave… because she’s not his only girlfriend, and he’s got a second date lined up that night.

Athena responds to a noise complaint to find the heartbroken woman seemingly bereft after finding out the truth about her boyfriend (who supposedly has left). Athena sees that there is no fight currently taking place, so she comforts the woman (even giving her a business card with her number on it). Then she leaves… and the woman heads to the closet where she’s got her boyfriend tied up and murders him with a butcher’s knife.

Then she calls Athena back to the house, in order to thank her — and Athena at this point starts sensing that something about the lady is seriously off (probably right around the time she name-drops what cleaner works best on blood). Athena finds a shit ton of anti-psychotic meds in the medicine cabinet, then starts snooping around the apartment… eventually wandering into a craft room, where the butchered boyfriend has been SUPERGLUED BACK TOGETHER.

I mean, who even has a craft room, amirite?

Anyway, Crazy Lady thinks if she can just transplant Athena’s kind heart into his body, he’ll be the perfect man. Because that’s totally how dead bodies work. Oh, and also? She used his phone to reach out to all of the OTHER women he’s been seeing and invited them over for extra murder. One of them is already tied up in the basement. The other one? She starts pounding on the door while Athena is taped to a chair, giving her just enough of a distraction to rip herself free with her massive arm muscles (seriously, Angela Bassett’s arms are my fave character, next to Connie Britton’s hair) and smash the Crazy Lady in the head with a bottle of bubbly.

So, is ANY of that based on real life? I seriously don’t know. I mean, I found this case where a guy superglued a woman’s lips together, suffocating her. There are also a surprising number of stories where people superglued their partner’s genitals as revenge for cheating (vaginas AND penises — and no, I don’t recommend you read those links. Or this one. Seriously, there are a lot of crazy glue stories out there.). I also found this story about a woman who planned to eat her date’s heart. She reportedly told the cops, “I’m a loon” — which explains it all, really.

From what I can tell, the most REAL emergency was definitely the airplane proposal. But I don’t care. I loved all the emergencies this week — and it wasn’t just that love was in the air. It was because this episode finally returned to us a version of 9-1-1 where the adrenaline is pumping, and the main characters are actual heroes (rather than negligent wrecks who maybe killed an entire apartment building full of people). Keep it up, writers!

Also, did anyone else wonder if Bobby might make a play for Abby after that whole “let’s grab some hospital coffee then bond over Choke Boy’s unconscious body” moment? I mean, the previews show Abby and Buck kissing in real life next week. But if Bobby can burn down an apartment building, he can TOTALLY hit on his underling’s hot lady friend. Only time will tell …



Tori Preston is deputy editor of Pajiba. She rarely tweets here but she promises she reads all the submissions for the "Ask Pajiba (Almost) Anything" column at [email protected].



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