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911maddie (1).jpg

'9-1-1' Recap: Merry Christmas To All... Except Maddie

By Tori Preston | TV | November 27, 2018 |

By Tori Preston | TV | November 27, 2018 |

911maddie (1).jpg

Nobody rocks a theme better than 9-1-1, and last night’s holiday-themed mid-season finale had it all: Christmas miracles, Christmas gifts, Christmas romance, Christmas emergencies… and a dude getting knocked off his roof by his own Christmas decorations. BAH HUMBUG.

The focus this week was on the love lives of our various responders (except Hen, who just had her own damn episode), and there were some big revelations. Bobby is shocked when Athena asks him to move in with her, looking like a (rein)deer caught in the headlights. It leads to some lovely character moments for the two of them, as they process his reaction. Athena talks to Michael about it, and he cements his World’s Greatest Ex status by reminding her that he too knows what it’s like to adjust to happiness after keeping a secret for years. And just a reminder: Michael was secretly gay, while Bobby secretly BURNED DOWN AN APARTMENT BUILDING WITH HIS FAMILY IN IT. Moving on.

Ultimately Athena wants to take their relationship to the next level, but she may be moving too fast for Bobby, who is kinda panicking. And I’ll be honest — during Bobby’s heart to heart with Hen about it, I thought he was on the verge of dumping Athena. Which made me realize that 9-1-1 has kind of written itself into a corner with their relationship, because if they do break up, I’M TEAM ATHENA ALL THE WAY. This is not a “oh, they’re both great” situation. I mean, I like both the characters, and if they hadn’t gotten together I’d probably continue to like both characters no matter what. But if Bobby hurts Athena, he’s dead to me.

So it’s a good thing he comes around and by the end of the episode proposes to Athena with a big ol’ diamond ring, because she’s worth it. And while I wanna be like, Dude, that’s a hell of a leap from “moving in is moving too fast” to “eff it, let’s get hitched,” I’m willing to let it slide because dammit, it was the perfect cheesy romantic ending for a Christmas episode.

Oh and by the way, apparently Fox is trying to make “#BATHENA” a thing, and it’s… fine, I guess?

Another rocky romance faces Eddie, who has been banging his estranged wife Shannon in secret - but, like, lovingly? It seems they are on the road to reconciliation, except for one thing: Eddie is hiding it from their son Christopher, to the point where he makes Shannon sneak out of the house rather than let her see her own son. It’s, uh, not good. And when she confronts him about it, he acts like she’s trying to use sex as a transaction to gain access to her son or something. Mostly, she knows she screwed up when she left them, but she doesn’t know how to fix their family — she’s taking his lead. And Eddie may be able to forgive her but doesn’t know how to trust her (so maybe don’t sleep with her?!). On top of which, Eddie even admits that she wasn’t the only one who had run away — he himself did it when he chose to re-enlist in Afghanistan after Christopher’s diagnosis. Basically, they are both wrong and this is a whole lot of drama for a relationship I basically don’t know or care about. But then Christopher tells his dad that he asked Santa to find his mom for him, and that’s the kick in the ass Eddie needed to invite Shannon over to surprise their son Christmas morning. It was pretty cute… but not as cute as when Santa’s elf thought Buck and Eddie were a couple. IF ONLY.

Speaking of Buck, Chim finally gets fed up with his freeloading ways and kicks him out, knowing full well that means Buck will land back in his sister’s lap. Luckily Maddie already had an air mattress prepared, because she knew it was only a matter of time. Chim feels bad about it though, and wants to make it up to her by buying her a Christmas tree with Buck - only Maddie, who apparently used to love Christmas, is not into it this year. Turns out last Christmas was a major turning point for her, as she finally chose to leave her husband after he beat her up once again.

And the BIG revelation this episode is that we finally see her ex-husband Doug… because he’s in town, and clearly stalking her. Or, more precisely, he’s stalking Chim! At the tree stand, Chim meets an overly handsome, overly friendly guy named “Jason Bailey” who helps him pick out a tree. Then, later, he encounters the same man at the video store while he’s shopping for a DVD of Die Hard (Chim’s holiday back-up plan consists of giving Maddie Chinese take-out and Die Hard, because he’s the best). “Jason” bumps into him, then offers to pay for the movie AND gives Chim extra cash when Chim realizes his wallet is missing. By the end of the episode, we see in a flashback to Maddie’s last Christmas that “Jason” is, in fact, Doug… and now he’s parked outside of her apartment with Chim’s wallet in his hand.

We all knew it would only be a matter of time before Doug showed up on the scene, and I kinda figured that would be the mid-season cliffhanger. What I didn’t see coming was that he would target Chim rather than Maddie directly — or that Chim would be so oblivious to all the signs that this guy is clearly a creeper being creepy. C’mon, Chim, don’t be so gullible! Luckily, I figure nothing bad can happen to Chim for at least another season or two, by television rebar-skull metrics.

Whenever Doug does meet Maddie again, there should be some pretty solid chemistry on display… since the actor playing Doug is Jennifer Love Hewitt’s real-life husband, Brian Hallisay! Showrunner Tim Minear spoke with The Wrap about the process of introducing Doug as a sort of twisted Christmas Angel figure, and the decision to cast Hallisay, saying:

“Well, to be honest with you, I gave Brian Hallisay his first job at least 10 years ago on a show I did for Fox called ‘The Inside,’” Minear said. “It was literally his first network show acting gig. And I thought he was great. So when I realized that Jennifer was married to Brian, and then in talking to Brian again, I realized that — why not? I always thought he was a great actor and he just seemed right for the part. So it wasn’t any kind of shock guest star. It was nothing like that. I thought he would be great for this. So it was serendipitous.”

Serendipitous… LIKE A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE. Sorry, sorry. OK — on with the emergencies!

Attack Of The Killer Snowman
What a cold open! The episode begins on a very festive suburban street, where one homeowner is jealous of all the attention his neighbor is getting for his light display. So he climbs up on his roof to set up a HUGE inflatable snowman in a last ditch effort to get the crowd’s attention. And it works… when they all see the snowman blow up and knock the man off the roof and onto an inflatable manger. Yes, this was all an excuse for a “Baby Jesus broke his fall” joke, basically.

While I didn’t find any real-life killer snowmen, it’s true that thousands of people every year wind up in the hospital with holiday decoration-related injuries (often sustained while intoxicated, natch). In fact, falling while decorating is so prevalent, one man decided to incorporate it into his own holiday decorations — by hanging a dummy off his roof along with some lights. It was all fun and games until the cops arrived!

What’s In The Box?!
At a shipping fulfillment center, where people and machines and conveyor belts pack up boxes to be mailed, a young man tries to fix a jammed machine only to have it swing around, knock him in the head, and send him tumbling into a large cardboard box. When he comes to, he’s been taped up, shrink-wrapped on a pallet, and loaded onto a truck - and he’s running out of oxygen. He calls 9-1-1 and talks to Maddie, who gets his company to start tracking him down. Unfortunately, they aren’t quite fast enough, as his box is loaded onto an airplane. The plane is in the air for 18 minutes before it is recalled to the ground, but that’s a long time in a cold cargo bay for a man who was already suffocating.

But it’s a Christmas episode, so duh — he’s revived and will make it home for the holidays! And while I couldn’t find the real-life inspiration of this emergency, I did find some interesting stories. There was the kid who shipped himself from New York to Texas, and the stowaway who traveled from Johannesburg to London in a plane’s wheel well. I also found a great Atlas Obscura article about the history of people mailing themselves in boxes, and I feel like my life is better for it.

The Nose Knows… Until It’s Gone
This… is a weird one. Two servers at a restaurant are trying to go about their jobs while also arguing about their relationship. Unfortunately, the restaurant has released novelty drones in the dining area, flying little pieces of festive mistletoe about. And the woman, in her distraction, walks right into one… and it cuts the tip of her nose off. Which is a thing that really happened! TGI Fridays had a mistletoe drone stunt that chipped the nose off a photographer back in 2014.

This is how the robot revolution began: not with a bang, but with a TGI Fridays drone.

I’ll Be Home For Christmas

Ready for a tearjerker? So a Marine is on leave and taking a bus to his daughter’s choir recital. It’s all a big surprise, as she doesn’t know he’s coming home. And then the bus is t-boned by a truck that ran a red light. Luckily, the Marine is uninjured — and he puts his field skills to work saving the life of another man who got a piece of the windshield in his neck. Thanks to his quick thinking, the man survives the incident — but now the Marine is running late. So Eddie decides to give him a ride in the firetruck, using the sirens to speed him to his daughter’s school.

And wouldn’t you know it? The Marine (and Bobby’s whole crew, for some reason) runs into the auditorium just in time to see his daughter singing the solo on “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” When she sees her father in the doorway, she rushes off the stage to hug him. HEARTWARMING REUNION ACHIEVED! This emergency may have been inspired by the soldier who decided to surprise his daughters by coming home in a firetruck… but it also could have been inspired by any of the countless viral videos of soldiers reuniting with their loved ones.

It’ll be a few months before 9-1-1 returns with more episodes full of crazy emergencies, zippy one-liners, bluntly obvious expressions of emotion, and some on-the-nose theme work. See y’all in 2019!

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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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