Well folks, it’s that time of year again: Halloween-themed TV time! And no show knows its ways around a juicy theme quite like 9-1-1, which is why I had high hopes for last night’s installment. Would the sixth episode of the season bring back the loopier, real-life emergencies I’ve come to love — and set some of the personal drama on the back-burner for a change? YES! So let me dispense with the character storylines first, and then we can dig into the tricks and treats of the episode.
Buck finds a cooler reception than he’d hoped for from his colleagues at Station 118 when he finally returns to the job. Bobby keeps making him stay behind, Chim and Hen are sympathetic, but it’s Eddie’s cold shoulder that hurts the most — because he accurately points out how selfish Buck was acting. Buck’s lawsuit was a way to make himself feel better, and he never once thought about the impact it would have on the station. He has a lot to learn about team work, which is why Eddie ultimately forgives him for his mistakes — because forgiveness is also what it means to be a part of a team. By the end of the episode even Bobby and Buck manage to make up, so I think we can safely put this whooooole chapter behind us.
Another plot thread that’s all tied up? Maddie’s weird stalker thingy! She’s been continuing to both befriend and monitor her personal trainer, Tara, in the hopes of getting to the bottom of those mysterious 9-1-1 calls. And the thing is, Maddie is probably correct about Tara’s husband being abusive, but Tara isn’t ready to acknowledge it and Maddie can’t force her to take that step. Things come to a head when Maddie encounters Tara while on a date with Chim, and Chim quickly realizes that something is fishy (for example: Tara thinks Maddie is a nurse, not a 9-1-1 operator). When Maddie finally fills him in on her special project, Chim is aghast — and he compares the way Maddie has inserted herself into Tara’s life to the way Maddie’s psycho ex-husband Doug lied to Chim. You know, before he stabbed my precious and abducted Maddie. Anyway, Maddie’s still processing that harsh dose of truth when Tara shows up at the 9-1-1 dispatch, ready to file a complaint against our girl. Turns out she, too, thought something was fishy during that date encounter, and went to Google her client — only to realize that Maddie isn’t who she claimed. Luckily Sue finds a way to smooth things over, so Maddie hasn’t been fired just yet — though her future as an operator is dependent on her going to counseling and getting a psych eval. What both Sue and Chim recognize is that Maddie’s unhealthy obsession was just an outlet for her own trauma, which she’s still dealing with. Those scars don’t heal overnight — but that also doesn’t excuse her playing vigilante and crossing other people’s personal boundaries.
As for Chim? He made a new friend!
A Bad Omen
The first case of the night involved a recreation of Hitchcock’s The Birds starring a couple of punk kids and a (nearly literal) murder of crows in a corn maze. Bobby’s team was called in to rescue two boys who had attacked a crow — and been attacked in return. Hen seems to relish the chance to spin crow factoids into an urban legend of sorts to spook the boys (and, it turns out, Chim as well), but most of what she says is true: Crows have been proven to hold grudges and remember the faces of those they think have harmed them, not to mention the fact that yeah — they’ll attack a human if they feel threatened. In order to rescue the kids, Hen has them disguised to mask their identities, and then the whole crew sneaks out slowly… except that Chim makes direct eye contact with one of the birds, and it proceeds to haunt him for the rest of the episode. GIVE THOSE TWO A SPIN-OFF!
The Children Under The Stairs
Of course it wasn’t all spooky, superstitious fun this week. Instead, the show created its own very disturbing version of a haunted house that was sadly inspired by true events. A man handing out candy to trick or treaters opens his door to find a bruised, sickly looking girl — only to realize it’s not a costume when she collapses into his arms. The girl, it turns out, was just one of a dozen or so siblings that had been chained in a basement by their parents — all of them dirty, dehydrated, and severely malnourished. Athena was able to figure out where the girl had escaped from by looking for the least-festive house on the block, and what she discovered inside was the stuff of nightmares. In the end the kids were all rescued, and the parents arrested for child abuse and endangerment.
In January 2018 a 17-year-old girl called 9-1-1 to summon police officers to her home in Parris, CA, where they discovered her 12 siblings shackled inside. Her parents, David and Louise Turpin, were arrested and charged with torture and child endangerment. The situation in the episode mirrored so closely the details of the case that were released to press, from the passing religious references to the parents’ disbelief that they’d done anything wrong. In fact, the only thing the show seems to have really changed was the house itself — which in reality looked far less menacing, and more like any other pleasant suburban home.
Yes, That’s A Real Body In That Windshield
The most interesting case of the night was interwoven throughout the episode, and served to illustrate just how hard it can be for emergency personnel to separate real crimes from simple decorations this time of year. A woman is driving along a deserted road at night when she accidentally hits a cyclist, hard enough to give herself a concussion — and drive the poor victim straight through her windshield. When the woman recovers from the accident she… drives straight home and parks her car in her garage like nothing’s wrong. She ends up driving around with him like that for two more days, because she’s so completely confused from her injury that she doesn’t see him. Meanwhile no one in her life has bothered to ask her why she’s wearing two different shoes and sporting a softball-sized bump on her noggin, but onlookers are starting to suspect that the body through her windshield is more than a Halloween prank when they see his legs start moving.
Yup, dude is STILL ALIVE! Various people call 9-1-1 to report it but nobody is able to track down the car until Halloween night, when Buck just so happens to pull into the same gas station as the lady in question. In fact, it’s the way he chases her down and saves the cyclist’s life that finally convinces Bobby to let Buck do his dang job already, so it’s a happy ending all around — which is more than I can say for the real life case that inspired this emergency.
On October 26, 2001, a former nurse’s aide named Chante Mallard struck a homeless man named Gregory Glen Biggs with her car, then left him embedded in her windshield and parked her car in her garage. A few days later, after he died, Mallard called a couple friends and they left Biggs’s body in a nearby park. She was ultimately sentenced to 50 years in prison for his murder. This might actually be one of the few times that 9-1-1 made a real event LESS crazy for prime time.
Finally, I don’t know if I’m just late to the party with this, but I noticed the first trailer for the upcoming Texas-sized spin-off, 9-1-1: Lone Star, airing during the commercial break last night. Take a look!
*whispers* needs more Chim and that crow…