Maybe I’m just feeling a little needy right now, considering how disappointing this last run of Game of Thrones has been. Or maybe that’s making me extra generous toward shows that don’t seem to actually respect their viewers. Or maybe, just maybe, 9-1-1 has completed its evolution from guilty pleasure to actual pleasure to, dare I say it, actual good show? Take last night’s season two finale: it built on existing plot threads, provided satisfying character beats, and dealt with plenty of insane emergencies (including what is, hands down, the grossest one yet). There was something here for everyone — including Chim, who FINALLY got the girl!
[Also, it’s worth noting that even if I’m finally hopping on the “No really, this show is ACTUALLY good” train, FOX itself is all-in on 9-1-1: It’s ordered a Texas-centric spinoff starring Rob Lowe called 9-1-1: Lone Star, and has scheduled a summer reality series about real-life 9-1-1 emergencies called First Responders Live, which will premiere June 12.]
The main case of the night was the continuation of the serial bomber storyline from last week. When a suspicious package winds up on Athena’s doorstep, she and Bobby get involved… and almost immediately recognize that there is a pattern to the targets: they were all involved in the restaurant arsonist case we saw in Bobby’s flashback episode! It turns out that the man who lit his restaurant on fire for the insurance money ended up dying in prison, and his son Freddie — who always blamed Bobby for ruining his family — is out for justice. When the bomb squad fails to find any packages at Bobby’s house, however, Bobby realizes Freddie would have targeted his other home:
Station house 118!
Sure enough, Freddie detonates the bomb he planted in one of the firetrucks, causing it to flip over in the road — crushing Buck’s foot underneath it. But Freddie couldn’t have foreseen that Bobby would still be on suspension at the time of his attack, which leaves the crazy kid at something of a loss — and sets up a tense stand-off as Freddie, wearing a bomb vest with a dead man’s switch, stands next to the gravely injured Buck and demands to see “the Captain.” Naturally, Chim walks out since he is the interim Captain, but when that doesn’t fly Bobby comes out of the crowd to talk the bomber down himself. When the cops bring out Freddie’s horrified mom as a distraction, Bobby is able to grab the kid and keep him from detonating his vest — saving lives and also inadvertently ensuring he’d be reinstated as Captain, since the whole affair went down in full view of the news cameras. Kinda hard to fire a hero!
Then the bystanders gathered to help lift the firetruck off of Buck (yes, they physically PICKED IT UP) and he was rushed to the hospital for treatment. The good news is, he survives and with surgery he’ll walk again — but the bad news is it may take several surgeries, and there’s no assurance that he’ll ever be able to work again. His girlfriend, Ali (the chick from the earthquake) isn’t sure she can handle dating someone who risks his life every day, but Buck isn’t sure he can handle not being a fireman at all. He has defined his self-worth based entirely on this job, and I’m a little concerned that they’re setting him up to follow in Bobby’s footsteps (i.e. develop a dangerous addiction to painkillers and maybe burn down an apartment building or something) if it seems like he can’t be a firefighter anymore.
But that’s a worry for next season! For now, it’s enough to know that, on the heels of Bobby and Athena almost being murdered by bomb because of that case they worked together way back when — the case where they actually got to know each other, and “followed their hunches” — they decide to run to city hall and get hitched. AND ATHENA LOOKED STUNNING:
And Maddie shows up at the station to seal the deal with Chim because DUH, GIRL, WHY DID YOU EVEN HESITATE and then they smooched because who wouldn’t kiss this immediately:
But while all of this character-driven plot was emotional and exciting, it didn’t make me, you know, scream in abject horror and leave the room. You know what did? THE MAGGOT SCENE:
This scene is, without a doubt, the greatest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I have an iron stomach when it comes to gross stuff, and this caught me so off-guard I actually felt nauseated. But it’s not just the shock factor that makes it work — it’s the ease with which the writers combined a number of different influences to make what should be a throw-away emergency into a real showstopper. A young fashion and beauty influencer returns from a trip to Belize with what appears to be an acne flare-up, and does what any self-respecting influencer would do: She hops on a livestream to her fans and uses her pain to demonstrate the proper way to pop a zit, in painfully graphic, up-close detail. Only the twist is that her pimple isn’t a pimple at all — it’s a botfly larva. Which comes wriggling out of the hole in her cheek. And that’s the moment when I needed to leave the room for a hot sec.
First off, you need to know that this whole “my zit is actually a botfly larva” thing is 100% real, and in fact, I found a recent story about a woman who honeymooned in Belize only to return with a suspicious wormy pimple near her groin. But that’s the thing — the larvae usually don’t wind up on your cheek. Instead, the show misdirects us by tapping into another familiar viral craze: pimple popping videos! Personally, I immediately was like “oh, that looks like the gunk that comes out of those giant blackheads on people’s backs” because I’m gross, but I also think that was the desired reaction. Of course, once it’s revealed that the pimple is, in fact, a HORRIBLE LIVING NIGHTMARE, another influence becomes clear: Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark and the infamous spider-egg story, which will be recreated in the upcoming film adaptation.
What I’m saying is, give 9-1-1 all the Emmys.
That wasn’t the only non-bombing threat of the night, though. Another emergency brings the responders to a race track, where a washed-up Evel Knievel-esque driver has gotten his trademark long hair caught in his car’s engine — and it nearly scalped him. The crew has to disassemble the engine in order to free him (they had reasons why cutting his hair wouldn’t work, which I can’t remember because I’m pretty sure cutting his hair absolutely would have worked), but before they finish, the man gets in a fight with his wife and it jostles him enough to rupture his occipital vein, putting him at risk of bleeding out. And yes, this is based on a true story — though in reality, it happened to a woman (and was treated as a specific danger to car-fixin’ long-haired womenfolk so I’m glad they genderswapped it):
But the really interesting part is that the dude’s uptight wife was played by Buffy and Angel star, Charisma Carpenter! In case you ever forget that Tim Minear is the showrunner on this thing, he brings in familiar guest stars from his other shows to remind you (see: Firefly’s Sean Maher in last season’s tapeworm case).
Point is, this episode had a little bit of everything. But it didn’t have any velvet, so that’s why I’m going to leave you with this tasty image to carry you through the long, lazy summer months:
IF BUCK DOESN’T WEAR A VELVET POLO SHIRT NEXT SEASON, I’LL RIOT.
Header Image Source: Fox