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9-1-1 Boss Explains Angela Bassett’s Oscars Dig, [Spoiler]’s Sudden Exit and More in Season 7 Premiere

If you tuned into the Season 7 premiere of 9-1-1 hoping for explosive cruise ship action, as advertised ad nauseam in ABC’s promos, you might be a little disappointed right now. After all, it wasn’t until the episode’s final minutes that a gang of international smugglers boarded Bobby and Athena’s boat, setting the stage for a two-part crisis in the coming weeks.

Instead, we rejoined the 118 in a state of flux, with many of the show’s key characters uncertain about the futures of their various relationships. Athena expressed concerns that she and Bobby might not have anything in common once the chaos of their jobs dies down, Maddie and Chimney exhausted themselves trying to avoid becoming resentful of one another, and Eddie enlisted a now-single Buck in helping him coach Christopher through perceived girl troubles.

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And what would 9-1-1 be without a few over-the-top emergencies? Not only did the 118 have to rescue a bickering couple whose latest argument was interrupted by a plane crashing into their house, but they also had to pry apart another couple whose sexual rendezvous in a hot tub resulted in them getting… well, let’s just say they were stuck together. Feel free to fill in the blanks.

TVLine spoke with 9-1-1 showrunner Tim Minear about the show’s long-awaited return, from the unexpected departure of one love interest to the even-more-unexpected return of another. And was that a #Buddie reference we caught?

Read on for a breakdown of the premiere’s must-discuss moments, then grade the episode and drop a comment with your thoughts on the former Fox procedural’s ABC debut.

Angela Bassett vs. The Oscars, Round 2

Angela Bassett vs. The Oscars, Round 2
Angela Bassett vs. The Oscars, Round 2

Even before boarding the cruise ship, Athena sensed that danger was on the horizon, mostly because The Poseidon Adventure scarred her as a child. She shared her concerns with her therapist, even adding that the movie earned Shelly Winters an Oscar nomination — and that she should have won.

If you interpreted this as a less-than-subtle reference to Bassett not winning her Oscar for 2022’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, well, you’d be exactly right.

“When I wrote that line, it just made me laugh so hard,” Minear says. “I thought, ‘How is she gonna take this?’ She read it and ran over to her husband and went, ‘Look what Tim wrote!’ She’s got a sense of humor about herself, which is one of the things I love about her.”

Minear knows all too well, from working with Bassett on both 9-1-1 and American Horror Story, that she’s “game for anything.” He notes that she was “up to her neck in water the night of the Oscars this year,” filming the conclusion of the cruise ship crisis. “She worked all night, and the more we threw at her, the more excited she got.”

Buck’s Solo Tour

Buck’s Solo Tour
Buck’s Solo Tour

The premiere wasted very little time revealing that Buck and Natalia — who seemed perfectly in love at the end of Season 6 — are no longer together. Minear describes actress Annelise Cepero’s exit as an “amicable parting of ways,” resulting from various logistical factors. (She’s based in New York, the writers’ and actors’ strikes occurred, etc.)

“The original script for the premiere had a big story between Buck and Natalia which ended the relationship,” he says, but it was ultimately cut to make room for other stories.

At the end of the premiere’s first act, Eddie told Buck, “Welcome back to the land of the living. You’ve been missed,” which Minear says is a “mission statement” for Buck this season.

‘Underlying Sexual Tension,’ You Say?

‘Underlying Sexual Tension,’ You Say?
‘Underlying Sexual Tension,’ You Say?

Come on, you didn’t think we’d forego the chance to ask Minear about that quick-but-memorable #Buddie moment in the premiere, did you?

While the two were discussing Christopher beginning to date, Eddie mentioned that watching his son hang out with girls isn’t too different from watching him hang out with boys. “But only in one situation is there underlying sexual tension,” Buck replied, giving a little squirt of his fire extinguisher.

So, was Buck’s response a wink-wink at fans of that theoretical ‘ship? Minear simply says: “Your mileage may vary, but I wrote it, so you can probably take a guess.”

A Visit From Mom

A Visit From Mom
A Visit From Mom

As 9-1-1 loves to do, Thursday’s premiere saved its biggest emotional gut punch for last. After discovering that Christopher (who’s apparently quite the player) mistreats girls because “they all go away anyway,” Eddie realized that Christopher’s mother’s departure — and her untimely death — left the wayward teen with feelings of abandonment, so Eddie let him read the letter that Shannon wrote when Christopher was just a baby.

Hearing Shannon’s voice was one thing (“I love you, even if it’s from a distance”), but when the camera panned over and showed actress Devin Kelley in the room, well, cue the waterworks.

Minear originally “just wanted to have a fun story involving Buck and Eddie regarding Christopher,” but as he began writing, he realized there was a “rich area to explore” involving Christopher’s late mother: “He’s old enough now to understand that not only did she leave, but she also died. And he’s conflating that early loss with the loss that he’s trying to deal with now.”

Rather than just having a scene where Eddie explains that Christopher’s mom loved him, Minear opted for a “more poetic” approach. “And I’ll take any excuse to bring back Devin Kelley, because I just think she’s wonderful,” he says.

“The thing that just kills me every time is when Eddie comes back into the doorway and sees that he’s put her picture face up,” he adds. “Eddie doesn’t say anything. He just kind of chokes up a little bit and says, ‘You’re gonna get pepperoni on your pizza.’ It’s just too sweet.”

What was your favorite part of the premiere? Grade it below, then drop a comment with your full review.

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