[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the 9-1-1 Season 6 finale “Pay It Forward.”]
Almost the entire 118 is injured when an overpass collapses: Buck’s (Oliver Stark) face is bloody, Hen (Aisha Hinds) has a concussion, Eddie (Ryan Guzman) has broken ribs, Chimney (Kenneth Choi) is impaled (in the abdomen, not head this time), and Bobby (Peter Krause) has a probable AC joint sprain. They’re all back at work by the end.
As for their personal lives, Buck — who delivers Kameron (Chelsea Kane) and Connor’s (Colin McCalla) baby on his couch — and Natalia (Annelise Cepero) are giving it a try; Eddie calls Marisol (Edy Ganem) and sets up a date; Hen and Karen (Tracie Thoms) are fostering a baby girl; Chimney and Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) are planning their wedding at home; and Bobby and Athena (Angela Bassett) finally take that cruise.
Stark takes us inside the episode, shares why Buck might finally be able to make a relationship work and his hopes for Season 7 (which will air on ABC), and more.
Talk about filming the collapse and rescues.
Oliver Stark: It was a big deal for every department. We spent about two weeks just on the emergency, which is usually unheard of in the world of 9-1-1. We went down to Long Beach and did basically everything practically. They built this structure of shipping containers so they could have this angled bridge and have it collapse. It was really exciting and a really cool thing to get to be a part of.
Buck hasn’t had luck with relationships. Why could it work with Natalia? Does he think it can? Maybe because of who he is now? Is he being cautiously optimistic?
Absolutely, yeah, and I think cautiously optimistic is a great way to phrase it. I think there’s a number of reasons why it can work out. One is absolutely because of where he’s at in his own life, very settled in who he is, and I think with that comes him being ready to receive somebody new. I think as well, she’s the same in the sense that she’s not willing to be anybody that she’s not. We saw that when she wasn’t 100 percent on board with the sperm donor: She left and she took her time and then she ended up coming back. But she wanted to understand things and she didn’t want to, as I’ve said, make too many compromises on who she is. I think it’s two people very settled in who they are coming together and seeing if that can work.
How much do you think she’ll be part of his life going forward? Does he have any idea about that yet? Because there is the whole couch thing…
Yeah, obviously it’s very early days, but he himself said to Eddie in the first episode of the season that his last two couches have come with girlfriends and so he attached this symbolism and this metaphor to a couch and obviously we’ve ended the season with him asking her to help him pick out a new couch. I think that says everything, that he’s certainly interested in making her a permanent fixture in his life and seeing where this relationship can go. It’s an exciting thing for him.
Buck was so in control in this episode. Is he as close to being ready to be captain as he’s ever been?
Yeah, absolutely. Obviously, he thought he was already at that point at the beginning of the season and was quickly told that he was not and he had to go out and live some more life. I think we’ve seen him do that this season, and he really stepped up when he needed to in this finale. I think he’s on the cusp of being ready to assume that kind of role. Obviously, Bobby is very much alive and kicking and not going anywhere anytime soon. But if the position ever arose in any other capacity, I think Buck is proving that he’s a willing and ready candidate.
Speaking of that, how might we see that going forward? Because he wouldn’t want to leave the 118 and like you said, Bobby’s still around…
Yeah, I’d say to Bobby, “Watch out,” that Buck doesn’t push him into any fires. “Oh no, he slipped!” [Laughs] No, I don’t think Buck is in a rush. He’s still at the start of his career and there are very strong arguments that there are many other people at the 118 that would be ahead of Buck in that queue. But I do think he has the charisma and the ability to, at some point, step into that role if it ever came his way.
With Bobby and Athena, Hen and Karen, and Maddie and Chimney solid, Buck with Natalia, and Eddie possibly starting someone with Marisol, might we actually see all the main cast in relationships next season? That hasn’t lasted long in the past, mainly because of Buck and Eddie’s terrible luck with relationships.
[Laughs] It certainly looks like that could be the case. So expect some big date nights with everybody at some point, maybe.
At the beginning of the season, Bobby talked to Buck about being at ease, then the guy at the happiness convention talked about everything coming into focus and Buck wondered what the secret of happiness is. Has he found that both personally and professionally or is he maybe more still on the path to it than close to it?
I think it’s something that, for the most part, you are always on the path to. I don’t know if happiness is something that you ever arrive at entirely. The guy at the happiness convention found it moments before passing. But yeah, I definitely think Buck is closer to it than he’s ever been. I think through his own death and then revival, he was able to have some things come into focus in his life and start to accept things, which I think personally is a big key to happiness, accepting who you are and where you are, and I think we’re seeing that more than ever for Buck now.
Who would Buck be at the end of the season if he hadn’t been struck by lightning and died?
I don’t know, I guess, is the most honest answer. I’m sure he would still be in some senses moving in this direction but maybe not as far along the path. I don’t think it altered his direction. I think it just expedited the journey a little bit, so maybe on the way to being where he’s now but just a few steps back.
Everything with Kameron and Connor and the baby went according to the deal, but could we see that affecting Buck going forward just in terms of wanting kids of his own perhaps sooner than he thought previously?
Yeah, maybe. I think there was certainly a moment of connection that he felt after the birth of the baby and that could well have lit a fire inside of him. I think he probably has always had aspirations to be a father anyway, but yeah, that could well be something that comes up sooner rather than later, having gone through that experience.
Yeah, because we see him with kids, we know he loves kids, he’s great with Christopher (Gavin McHugh)…
Yeah, I think he’s going to be a great father when the time comes.
Have you had any conversations about what’s coming up for Buck in Season 7 or the move to ABC?
Those conversations have yet to begin. Obviously, the writers are on strike, and we absolutely support them in that. So yeah, with that comes a pause in the world of 9-1-1, so nothing official as yet.
What are you hoping to see for Buck?
I’d like some more big stunts. Those are the things that get me really interested and excited. I would love to start the season with something big and death-defying and maybe doesn’t quite go as planned and Buck can be injured for a little bit again. It’s my favorite thing to play. So yeah, plenty of pain and suffering.
There is a wedding to look forward to and Buck thought he should be Chimney’s best man, but I’m thinking man of honor for Maddie makes more sense…
I think that, too. That would be a really lovely moment for them.
I have to say that bringing back Jeff from the earthquake was a deep cut I hadn’t expected.
I thought that was lovely, especially in the sense of the “pay it forward” theme and him coming back to get to be the hero and save Bobby this time. Mike Gray is a really lovely guy and really good actor and it’s funny, we all had to laugh, because he’s grown up so much over the years. We were like, “Have they recast him?” “No, that was me. I’m just a man now.” It was really nice to have him back.
Something I’ve wanted to see for a while now is a bottle episode like an actual quiet shift with the 118 not having any calls and just at the firehouse. How do you think they would handle that?
I think they’d be going crazy, bouncing off the walls, playing possibly pranks on each other, and willing emergencies to happen unfortunately.
What were your favorite scenes from the season?
The immediate standout is Buck and Bobby in the coma dream episode. On a personal level, I just love to play those kind of scenes out with Pete. I also just think it was executed exactly as everybody had in mind. I think that was a really important moment for Buck and, even though it wasn’t real Bobby, for Bobby and their relationship as a whole.
What was the most important scene for Buck that was real?
The moment that he maybe hands the baby off to Kameron and makes peace with it, even though it’s difficult. I think it shows a lot of growth and there were worries and concerns from those around him when he first agreed to be the donor that he was going to see it for something that it wasn’t. In that moment, we get to see him understanding his role and taking ownership of his decision, and that’s a really important step for him.
When was Buck happiest this season?
Probably in this finale, at the end when they’re sat on the roof meditating. He’s with the most important people in his life. He’s safe. He’s entering into a new relationship. Everything seems to be — which, knowing the world of 9-1-1, never sticks around for long — good and moving in a good, healthy direction for him.
What would surprise Season 1 Buck the most about Season 6 Buck?
I think the thoughts that he has before running into situations. He still does it and is pretty gung-ho, but I think he runs into these situations now in a much more calculated manner. That’s probably one of the biggest progressions that we’ve seen over the years.
I was a bit surprised that no one was more injured than they were.
Yeah, well, it’s nice to put them right on the edge of it and then pull back sometimes. I’m sure there are plenty more injuries ahead for all of them.
Are Buck’s math skills completely gone?
I don’t know. I think so. It’s not been touched upon in a few episodes. I think the last time it was mentioned was in “Death and Taxes,” where he did say that he does still have those skills but he chose not to use them. Although actually then he couldn’t work out the tip in Episode 17, so yeah, I guess he lost them.
I thought that was just him being flustered by seeing Lucy (Arielle Kebbel).
Yeah, maybe that’s a moment that’s up for interpretation. You know what, let’s go with he’s still secretly a math genius, we’ve decided, me and you, right here.
9-1-1, Season 7, TBA, ABC
This story originally appeared on TV Insider