There are two things that I know to be true: 9-1-1 loves to run with a good solid theme, and no theme is theme-ier than Halloween! Except maybe Christmas, but that doesn’t involve possible ghosts. Well, except for A Christmas Carol, I suppose. But does it involve zombies? Nope — that’s Easter. OK, I’m getting myself turned around, but the point is that 9-1-1 went full-on spooky this week… and I guess they have a bright future of holiday-themed episodes ahead of them. Can’t wait for Buck to chainsaw a tree off of someone on Arbor Day!
This week’s episode was titled “Haunted” because I wasn’t kidding about the ghosts, and neither were they! And the result is one of the most ridiculous episodes the show has ever produced (which is saying something), and also probably the most genuinely, emotionally moving episode as well (just wait ‘til I get to the bit with the horse!). Some of the ghosts are metaphorical — the choices we make, the memories we have, the things that haunt us, etc. For Buck, he spends the whole episode trying to decide whether he should give up on Abby (“You’re my ghost story, Abby” — on-the-nose voiceover is on-the-nose), only to realize that the memory of her isn’t haunting him. Instead, he’s the ghost… THAT’S LINGERING IN HER APARTMENT. So he moves out, finally.
(But for the record: I haven’t given up on you yet, Connie Britton. I’m still waiting!)
Hen is haunted by her absentee father and the hopes she had of meeting him. Hopes which come true in the worst, most unhelpful way possible when she’s summoned to a hospital… where he’s being kept on life support, and she’s the only family member left to decide whether to pull the plug or not. She hasn’t seen him since she was 9, so she’s essentially being asked to make a life-or-death decision about a complete stranger. Which is basically her day job — and yet, it’s not an easy choice for her to make. And then fate hands her a horse, and she realizes she needs to put her dad out of his suffering (this will make sense soon, I swear!).
Eddie is haunted by his absentee wife, whom he has to reconnect with for Christopher’s sake. With Abby’s old friend Carla’s help, Eddie has found an exciting school to enroll his son in — but they require an interview with both parents. And in order for her to help, she wants to talk to Christopher — which Eddie is reluctant to agree to, at the risk of confusing the boy even more. They both have baggage to unpack, and we finally learn the history of their separation. She felt abandoned while he served in Afghanistan. She blames herself for Christopher’s cerebral palsy, wondering if she did something wrong while pregnant. She left them in Texas to take care of her mother in LA because she needed a break. Eddie thought she’d come back eventually, but she didn’t. She thought he’d come with her, but he didn’t. But now we know why he moved to LA himself, after being apart from her for 2 years! Anyway, by the end of the episode they start making out. Which is great and all, but what you REALLY need to know is that Eddie dressed up as Snake Plissken for Halloween… and Christopher was Wolverine!
And that’s mostly it for the personal not-real ghost stuff. Now let’s get to the haunted emergencies!
How To Pull A Man From An Early Grave:
A woman is visiting a grave when she’s scared by a ZOMBIE! Just kidding, it’s not the walking dead — it’s just a gravedigger who fell in a sinkhole, and he needs help because his companion is still stuck down there. Bobby’s crew arrives, but have a hard time rescuing the man since the ground is still highly unstable (“eggshells and bubble wrap” is the go-to description). So Hen hops onto the conveniently located backhoe and literally DIGS the man out of the ground. And then the backhoe also falls into the hole, because GHOSTS!
So, funny story: graveyard sinkholes are definitely A THING. While 9-1-1 blamed theirs on that giant earthquake from the season premiere, hurricanes or heavy rains would be more likely to impact cemeteries. Here’s a weirdly fascinating account of a series of sinkholes that appeared in a cemetery in (I’m not even kidding) Gravesend, Kent back in 2014. “Now visitors have been warned to tread carefully - as holes may be lying underneath a mere ‘carpet’ of grass,” the article states. That seems safe.
This is the big, overarching case of the week. It starts when Maddie gets a call about a hiker who has hurt his leg and needs rescuing. It turns out the guy fell over a cliff by the beach, making him extra hard to track down. Bobby sends Buck and Eddie rappelling down the rocks, and they almost immediately discover a body! And by “body” I mean “skeletal remains” because this body is like 7 years old and def not their dude. But there IS a phone near that body, making Buck think that maybe the body’s ghost called for help… until they hear a voice literally calling for help from someplace nearby. Bingo! That’s their victim!
Only the thing is: the victim didn’t call 9-1-1. He dropped his phone when he fell. So who called Maddie? Athena decides to take up the cold case herself, because…
… so she and Maddie meet up to listen to the 9-1-1 recordings. First, they listen to calls related to those cliffs from the timeframe they believe the body originally died. And as they listen to one call in particular, Maddie thinks the recognizes the voice as the person who called her about the hiker! But when they pull up that call, they only hear Maddie’s end of the conversation — there is no other voice, only static. Sure, it’s probably just a completely normal glitch in the system… or maybe Buck has been right all along and IT’S A GHOST!
Eventually, DNA evidence reveals the identity of the body, so Athena is able to go to the man’s wife and tell her what happened. In this case, it’s the wife who has always been haunted by not knowing where her husband went. You see, her husband was an ex-con, and people tried to convince her that he’d left her to return to his life of crime, but she’d always believed in him. So as sad as it is to find that he has been dead all this time, it’s also a relief because her faith in him was valid.
As for real-life inspirations, there’s no shortage of stories about hikers falling off of cliffs — usually while taking photos where they shouldn’t. Just last week two people fell off an overlook in Yosemite National Park and died. What I didn’t find was any particular story where a body was discovered while searching for another person, though it’s not hard to imagine how that could happen. I did find a lot of news stories about bodies being discovered that are believed to belong to a missing hiker — so the only leap in logic is imagining what would happen if they actually did belong to someone else entirely.
“The Bats Are Real!”
If we had a zombie fake-out earlier, than chalk this case up as a vampire fake-out. Basically, people are attending a haunted house type thing when suddenly a cloud of bats descends. Which is creepy enough, but then some of the bats start running into power lines and bursting into flames and IT’S A WHOLE THING. People stampede, the first responders worry about rabies, and it’s all because apparently some idiot decided to build the haunted house on a bat habitat during a mosquito epidemic. Story-wise, it mostly seems like a cheap way to fit in something extra creepy, as well as a throwaway Trump zinger, but factually the only thing I could find are some reports that, uh, some typically harmless vampire bats are starting attack humans thanks to deforestation and habitat destruction. Sleep tight!
The One About The Horse
Get ready for the sadness! The last emergency I have to share takes place at what I think is supposed to be a Halloween parade, but it looked more like a rave… only with kids? It was all very confusing. Anyway, there’s a cop on a horse working crowd control, and he starts talking to a little girl who is dressed up like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz because, duh, horses are cute. And then a nearby fire-breather spooks the horse, and all hell breaks loose. The horse bucks the cop and then runs, but ends up gravely injured. It’s too heavy to lift, and it will take too long for a vet to get there. The best help Hen can offer is a mixture of sedatives and morphine to ease its pain, and put it to sleep. The cop, in tears, wants his partner to stop suffering. But Hen finds herself unable to inject the drugs, because she’s still thinking about whether she can pull the plug on her father. So Bobby does it for her.
Meanwhile, a line of cops and firemen all link arms to honor this fallen horse officer, and the little girl cuts through to hug the sad cop while he tearfully cries “He’s my friend!” And y’all, THIS IS THE MOST MOVING THING THIS SHOW HAS EVER DONE. And if the episode didn’t have you in tears, then how about this real-life Houston cop who stayed by his horse partner’s side when it too was injured on the job?
Who expected the Halloween episode to hit all the feels? Not me. But now I wanna hug a horse.
Header Image Source: Fox