(Warning: This post contains spoilers for Monday’s episode of “9-1-1.”)
Buck (Oliver Stark) was forced to take a hard look at himself on Monday’s “9-1-1,” when he met and bonded with Red, an elderly firefighter who lost the love of his life back in the day because he put his job first and dies alone by the end of the episode. Stark says this brief but meaningful encounter leaves Buck wondering where he goes from here with his choices — both inside and outside of the 118 — so that he doesn’t end up like Red. It’s also going to serve as lead-in for him to run into a very important person from his own past.
“I think the only thing in the current moment that is a sure-fire certainty is that he has his people in the firehouse,” Stark told TheWrap. “These are people that will be in his life forever and will always have his back. So when he meets Red and he learns that Red’s firehouse, they’re not friends anymore and they don’t really talk, I think that’s a huge red flag for Buck and sets up this thinking, ‘Wait, this is the only thing I knew I could cling onto and suddenly you’re telling me these people that are my rocks could disappear?’ I think that really sets the whole thing in motion for Buck.”
Buck tries to reconnect Red and his old love during the episode, aptly titled “The One That Got Away,” only to find she now has Alzheimer’s, a discovery that devastates Red and makes him furious with Buck for tarnishing his happy memories of her. Buck tries to make it up to Red after learning he is suffering from a fatal illness, as Buck brings together vets of Red’s firehouse and members of the 118 to stand at attention when Red leaves the hospital. The next day, Buck gets the call that Red has passed away and then has a heart-t0-heart chat with his sister Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) about his one one that got away back in Season 1: Abby (Connie Britton).
“I don’t think it’s something that Buck is unaware of, that this had to do with Abby, I just think it’s something he’s unwilling to admit until the end,” Stark said. “And absolutely with regards to Abby, but also just in regards to his entire life and his entire identity. And I think he sees himself in Red in many ways and in many ways that he now realizes he should steer clear of as time passes.”
As “9-1-1” fans know, and Stark himself admits, “Buck has not been in any relationship of substance since Abby left.” But the actor tells TheWrap that will finally be reconciled in some way by the end of Season 3, as Britton is set to reprise her role in one of the two remaining episodes. (Just as “9-1-1” showrunner Tim Minear previously teased to TheWrap she might be.)
“The issue is, because that relationship ended on such an open note, where there was no sense of closure or these questions in Buck’s head being answered, he’s just been left treading water ever since and hasn’t been able to completely move on and start that new chapter,” Stark says. “So I think before the end of the season, we’ll get something of that and some sense of closure with regards to Abby being back briefly, and can that help move things along for Buck and give him some purpose again. I don’t think it’s gonna be a case of him seeking her out, but more her being placed back into his life and kind of the whirlwind that sets into motion.”
As for what fans of the Fox first-responder drama can expect in terms of another giant disaster before the season ends — and now that we can all rest easy knowing there will be a Season 4 — Stark says it’s going to be a literal train wreck.
“The finale is gonna center around this huge train derailment, which is not something we’ve seen before and it is going to throw up new challenges,” Stark said. “So just in the sheer scope of the emergency, it is as big as anything we’ve done before. For us as actors walking onto the set, we looked at each other and said, ‘I can’t believe we’ve done this. This is insane.'”
“So it was really fun to shoot, in that sense, and it just presented new problems that will play out for us as actors in the show, and also for the characters in the show of how they are gonna make this rescue happen,” he continued. “And it’s one of those rescues that really entwines the physical elements and the emotional elements where some of our characters are left making really life-or-death, important decisions about who do they save, who do they want to save and who they are. So I think it’s gonna be big emotionally and physically, which I think is when the show is at its best.”
“9-1-1” airs Mondays at 8/7c on Fox.