‘9-1-1’ Showrunner on Athena’s ‘Fugitive Thriller’ in LA Darkness, Dangers of Maddie’s Postpartum Isolation

“It’s going to take a minute before she even realizes anything has happened,” Tim Minear tells TheWrap

911 season 5 premiere maddie and athena

(Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Season 5 premiere of “9-1-1.”)

The 118 is back for a new season of Fox’s “9-1-1” and that means a new giant multi-episode emergency. But instead of a natural disaster, which showrunner Tim Minear told TheWrap (with a laugh) he’s “starting to run thin on,” the chaos ensued because of a ransomware attack that has plunged Los Angeles into a blackout and taken vital systems offline.

The drama began with tonight’s Season 5 premiere, “Panic,” and will continue for Athena (Angela Bassett) Bobby (Peter Krause), Chimney (Kenneth Choi), Buck (Oliver Stark), Eddie (Ryan Guzman) and Hen (Aisha Hinds) as they try to keep protecting LA after its been plunged into darkness for the next two episodes of “9-1-1.”

“We touched a little bit on this in ‘Lone Star’ with that solar storm. Everything is predicated on systems, right? And as soon as those systems go down, communication– we’re so reliant on our devices and on our interconnectivity, that when those things are cut off, in a matter of days, things start to kind of revert to the Middle Ages a little bit,” Minear told TheWrap. “Like, everything is kind of designed to be interconnected to the infrastructure of these systems. So that has a kind of ripple effect. It affects people who are on ventilators. It affects people who are trying to call 9-1-1. It affects heating, cooling, the water system, transportation, all of it. It’s all connected. It’s all interconnected. So it obviously makes life more difficult for everybody, but also for the first responders, who then have to kind of go back to a by-the-numbers, pen-and-paper kind of existence…”

“So it affects everything,” he continued. “And then sort of in the middle of all this, we’ve created this kind of Athena-fugitive thriller. So it’s like you’re searching for a fugitive in the middle of a city that’s gone completely dark. And so those two things kind of intertwine.”

This fugitive is serial rapist Jeffrey Hudson (Noah Bean), who used the ransomware attack as the perfect time to escape during a court appearance, and was almost recovered by an LAPD detective — until a twist saw Jeffrey’s lawyer, who is apparently infatuated with him and looking to redeem herself to him, slice the cop’s throat.

“Well, I think that probably, that they did have a little bit of a thing going on. I mean, those scenes are obviously kind of calibrated in the first episode to kind of hide the ball. But what Athena kind of puts together, subsequently, is that this ‘idiot lawyer’ was just as smitten as his fan club was. And when [Jeffrey] accuses [his lawyer] of not having any fight in her and of not being willing to fight for him, she’s kind of been pushed to prove that she’s got lots of fight for him… Some of that onion gets peeled in the next episode.”

But right now, Athena doesn’t even know Jeffrey is still on the lose, having received word from her partner in the LAPD that Jeffrey was found at his lawyer’s home and is being taken in.

“It’s going to take a minute before she even realizes anything has happened. But that’s what putting this thriller into this particular circumstance allowed us to do, is to kind of get away with communications down, with everybody distracted, with the whole city in the dark, that something like this could happen and it would take a minute before anyone even realized it, which just complicates things and allows us to make three episodes out of it.”

Meanwhile, Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) is at home alone with her and Chimney’s baby girl, Jee, and still suffering from postpartum depression, something that is only going to be exacerbated as the blackout episodes continue.

“It definitely takes a turn in the next episode,” Minear teased. “The isolation and her postpartum state definitely take a turn in the next episode, and it has huge ramifications for episodes upcoming.”

“9-1-1” airs Mondays at 8/7c on Fox.