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9-1-1 shark attack (1).jpg

'9-1-1' Recap: Freaky Facelifts, Freeway Sharks, And WHO JUST GOT STABBED?!

By Tori Preston | TV | March 19, 2019 |

By Tori Preston | TV | March 19, 2019 |

9-1-1 shark attack (1).jpg

9-1-1 returned last night after a three-month winter hiatus, which was good news in and of itself. But better yet, the show returned to form with an episode full of unimaginable, batsh*t crazy emergencies — the kinds of gross weird memorable cases that had been largely missing in the first half of the season, as the show turned its focus more on the lives of the first responders.

This episode right here? THIS is why I love this show. What am I talking about? Oh let’s see…

The episode opens with a woman getting prepped for a facelift in a plastic surgeon’s office. She inhales the general anesthetic, gets knocked out… and then wakes up to find her entire medical team passed out around her. Worse yet? HER FACE IS FALLING OFF.

Hold onto your lunches, people…

YES! Now THAT is how you do a cold open, my friends!

It turns out that some nearby construction caused a leak in one of the internal pipes that provides the anesthesia, causing the gas to spread through the office and knock everyone out mid-procedure. Her doctors had just enough time to cut her face off but not to reattach it, and the only reason she woke up so fast was because, unlike everyone else, she had an oxygen tube in her nose. Of course, she wasn’t the only injured party in this whole mess. The hapless construction workers were also knocked out by the gas… and one of them fell over onto his own table saw.

There’s a lot going on with this story, and I wasn’t really able to find a singular real-life inspiration for it. Beyond the obvious, of course:


Instead, let’s break it apart. Doctors passing out during surgery is a documented problem. Sometimes it is fainting due to the horrible injuries/medical oddities that even THEY’RE not prepared to witness — though in one example I found, a doctor and nurse both passed out due to fumes coming off the patient themselves. Of course, Googling “facelift gone wrong” is no help unless you want to trawl through ranked lists of bad celebrity plastic surgeries. However, amidst that trawling I did find this video, in which UK famous person Katie Price was filmed during an “awake facelift” and… yeah, I think that may have been part of the horrifying inspiration for this segment, actually.

Free Willy, But Make It A Shark That Attacks His Keeper

The next emergency upped the ante by dropping a tiger shark on the freeway thanks to a freak truck accident and ended with Bobby’s crew strapping that shark to the front of their fire truck and driving it into the ocean AFTER PRYING SOME DUDE’S ARM OUT OF ITS MOUTH. With the “Jaws of Life”, natch. And like, I could explain this further, but I choose not to. They staged a shark attack on a f*cking freeway, like this is some Syfy original movie, and this plus the freaky facelift all happened IN THE FIRST 15 MINUTES OF THE EPISODE.


Honestly, I’m impressed that the series waited until season 2 to tackle a shark attack (on land!), but that’s just the sort of level-headed restraint I’ve come to expect from this show. And while I am thoroughly shocked — shocked I tell you! — that I was unable to find ANY real life basis for the literal landshark attack, I did find something that may be the inspiration. Apparently, there’s been a growing trend of fake viral photos showing sharks swimming on roadways during hurricanes, and these hoaxes have to be debunked because apparently Facebook users are unfamiliar with Photoshop.

Athena Catches A Kidnapper

The final case spans most of the rest of the episode. Maddie receives a 9-1-1 call from a boy named Stevie, only to have the call interrupted by Stevie’s father, Eric. He says his son was simply upset about being grounded, and there’s nothing wrong. But Maddie, a survivor of domestic assault, isn’t convinced — and dispatches Athena to check in on the child’s welfare. Athena talks with Stevie, who reiterates his father’s version of events, but Athena’s gut tells her there’s something more going on. So she stakes out the joint and has Eric’s trash collected for testing — which reveals the fingerprints of a missing boy who is several years younger than Stevie. It all ends in a chase that has Stevie trying to save the boy from his father, who follows them to a train station. When he’s cornered by the other officers, he pulls a knife on the boys and uses them as a human shield… until Athena arrives ON A TRAIN and rescues them with the ultimate one-liner:

The twist is that Stevie himself was kidnapped when he was younger, and had lived with Eric long enough to believe the man was his father. He learns that his real name is Jacob, and that he’s got parents coming to pick him up who had never given up hope. And while I imagine this scenario was inspired by real events, it’s hard to pinpoint any particular case because there are SO many kidnappings in the news. Which is sad and terrifying enough for me, thank you.

But What’s Up With Our Favorite First Responders?

The rest of the episode mostly deals with Athena’s parents coming to town for a visit, and her mom… SUCKS. She doesn’t approve of Bobby, never approved of Michael, and — more importantly — doesn’t approve of any of Athena’s life choices either. Which, like… does she NOT know her daughter is Angela freakin’ Bassett? Sit down, Ma, you’re done.

That family drama took up the bulk of the focus, but in the background a bigger story was brewing. Maddie comes to Chim to show him the divorce papers she finally going to be serving to her abusive ex, Doug — and then asks him on a date! YAY! The only problem is that Chim is still hanging out with… HER EX. Doug has gotten close to Chim in order to monitor Maddie, and it’s all fine as long as Chim keeps reporting that there’s no progress in their relationship. But when Chim calls him to cancel their plans because of this date, Doug finally decides to escalate.


That’s the cliffhanger, and the promos for the next week tease a funeral. But, like, I refuse to believe 9-1-1 is going to kill of Chim. He survived a rebar through the skull! How could a few measly stab wounds take him down?

But if I’m wrong… I RIOT. Who’s with me?

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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]. You can also listen to her weekly TV podcast, Podjiba

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