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911 Cocky Chim (1).png

'9-1-1' Recap: Meet Bobby's Replacement... Interim Captain Han!

By Tori Preston | TV | May 7, 2019 |

By Tori Preston | TV | May 7, 2019 |

911 Cocky Chim (1).png

This week 9-1-1 returned to form with an episode chock full of the crazy/real emergencies you all know I love the most. And I can’t wait to dissect them for you! But the episode also balanced the emergencies with plenty of character drama, which I am going to tackle first — mostly because Chim put on sunglasses and got real cocky this week and BE STILL MY HEART:

That’s right: While Bobby is suspended, Chim has taken over his duties as Interim Captain Han, who is “a monster”, according to his teammates. Turns out that while Chim is busy strutting around the firehouse and trying to fill Bobby’s shoes, everyone else has been running to Bobby for advice — including Chim himself! Poor Bobby had planned on using his time off to plan a wedding worthy of the living goddess Athena, but even if he’s not on duty officially, he’s still doing a lot of emotional heavy-lifting around the station.

Chim’s struggle between being a friend and a leader culminates in an absolutely beautiful scene between Kenneth Choi and Aisha Hinds, who remind you that not only are they, individually, THE BEST — but their on-screen partnership is the backbone of this show. In a nutshell, Chim blames himself for a particular death (more on that in a moment), and Hen comes to his apartment to check on him and tell him it’s not his fault. Then she confesses that she always believed he would make a good captain, but selfishly she worried that once he did succeed, he wouldn’t be content to be a lowly paramedic — or her partner — anymore. And then Hen cries, because they’re totes BFFs, and it’s cool if you cried too. I won’t judge.

Speaking of tears, Maddie goes through a mini work crisis as she realizes being a 9-1-1 operator may not be enough for her. She wants to help people, the way she did as a nurse, but feels like all she does now is pass people off to other helpers and never knows if the people who call her end up OK or not (which is a complaint her predecessor, Abby-with-the-Connie-Britton-Hair, shared in the pilot). So her supervisors invite a lot of her former callers to come and surprise Maddie, to show her just how much of a difference she makes and how important it is for people in the middle of a crisis to have a calm, dependable voice staying with them and giving them hope. It’s cheesy AF but effective — especially because the scene features a lot of familiar faces: the woman who gave birth during the earthquake, the dude in the shipping crate during Christmas, the woman who threatened to jump off the overpass… AND GODDAMN GLORIA, the former 9-1-1 operator who was busted for hanging up on people. She’s mostly there to admit that she was wrong and that Maddie is a much better operator. Because, you know, she doesn’t hang up on people.

And finally, Eddie’s not-so-estranged wife is back this week. First, she thinks she’s pregnant and asks Eddie if he wants to get back together with her for realsies. And when he finally decides he’s ready to take that step, she tells him that she’s not pregnant and not ready to be a wife again. And then she gets hit by a car and dies. Chim made the call to hold off on intubating her so Eddie could spend more time with her on the way to the hospital, but afterward, he wonders if he made the right call or if he withheld treatment that could have saved her life (that’s why Hen went to his apartment to be like “Naw, she was dead either way. You did fine, dude, and also I love you.”). I feel like I should care more about Eddie’s pain, but mostly I’m just worried about his adorable son Christopher.

PHEW. That was a lot, right? And I haven’t even told you about the dude dipped in chocolate! So let’s talk about the emergencies:

A Whole Lotto Trouble
The episode opens with people scrambling to purchase lotto tickets for an $860 million jackpot, when suddenly hundred dollar bills start raining from the sky. As the same people start scrambling to pick up all that cash… a body falls from the sky and lands on a car. The man who somehow survived his 20-story leap is the same man who dumped all that money in the air — a lotto winner who claims the money ruined his life. It’s the perfect way to open an episode called “Careful What You Wish For” and of course it’s inspired by real life. As I’m sure you’re aware, there’s no shortage of lotto winners who wound up miserable thanks to their winnings. The public nature of winning the lotto — your picture, holding that giant check, all over the news — means people hound you for money. Marriages fall apart, kids get spoiled or turn to drugs. And suddenly having a lot of money doesn’t mean you know what to do with it. While I’m not sure if this particular story is based on the life of Billie Bob Harrell Jr, who won a $31 million jackpot in 1997 and took his own life 20 months later, I think Harrell summed it up best when he told his financial adviser shortly before his death, “Winning the lottery is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”

That’s Some Real Life Willy Wonka Sh*t
So, a man falls into a vat of molten chocolate while touring a confectionary factory with his students. But because it’s fancy rich chocolate, it’s heavy AF and puts a lot of pressure on his body, which could cause him to lose consciousness and drown. Not to mention the fact that every time Buck and Eddie attempt to pull him up, it acts like quicksand and sucks him back down again. Chim has a genius idea (read: Chim calls Bobby for help) and starts mixing cocoa butter into the vat to temper the warm chocolate and increase the viscosity, allowing the rescuers to pull the man to safety.

And look, this was so specific that I sorta figured it had to be inspired by real life — but I didn’t expect to find so many inspirations. In my cursory search I found at least three people who died in vats of chocolate: A worker was knocked into melted chocolate in a New Jersey factory in 2009, and another fell into a vat in Pennsylvania in 2002. More recently, a Russian woman fell into a vat at a factory outside Moscow in 2016.

We’ve Got A Serial Bomber
This is a bit of a cheat because what we got in this episode was just the start of a story that will be developing across next week’s season finale. A couple is celebrating their 25th anniversary the same way they always do (same flowers, same dinner reservations), so the wife is delighted to find a surprise package waiting for her on the porch. And then it blows up in her face! She survives, though she’s gravely injured, and at first it seems like an excuse to show Chim bucking protocol and slipping back into his paramedic role rather than acting as a captain.

But then, at the end of the episode, Athena and Bobby overhear a news report about a second mail bomb and realize they are dealing with a serial bomber. Sadly there are plenty of inspirations for a story like this. Last year 14 pipe bombs were mailed to prominent Democrats around the country by a Trump supporter in Florida (nicknamed the #MAGAbomber), and earlier in 2018 a young man in Austin mailed 4 package bombs, killing multiple people, and then detonated an explosive in his own car to avoid being apprehended by police. So far, the 9-1-1 bombings resemble the latter scenario, but we’ll know more next week in what I’m really trying not to quip “is sure to be an explosive finale.”

Tori Preston is the managing editor of Pajiba. She tweets here. You can also listen to her weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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