(Warning: This post contains spoilers for Monday’s episode of “9-1-1.”)
“9-1-1” has offered us a lot of backstory episodes over its first three seasons and on Monday, Ryan Murphy’s Fox first-responder drama finally got around to revealing Eddie Diaz’s past in an installment aptly titled “Eddie Begins.”
Viewers first learned that Eddie (played by Ryan Guzman) was a vet when he joined Station 118 back in Season 2 and that he’s struggled through the difficulties of raising his young son with cerebral palsy, Christopher (Gavin McHugh), alone since his wife Shannon (Devin Kelley) first left them and then returned only to die in a freak accident. But this episode showed us the actual darkness Eddie faced while in combat — and at home when his son was born.
“The beginning of Season 3, we dove into Eddie’s MMA career and his anger issues and what he hasn’t really revolved with his deceased wife,” Guzman told TheWrap. “And somewhere in the middle part of that is where I was told that Eddie would finally get his backstory and I was elated. I had so many ideas and I wanted to dive deep into a dark history of Eddie and really understand why he’s so closed off and why he doesn’t really speak his mind too much. And they gave me the proper time to do that with this episode.”
“It was interesting to understand now through the Afghanistan stuff, that wasn’t his hardest battle,” he continued. “The hardest battle that Eddie had was when he came back home to his then-wife and his mother and his father trying to tell him what’s best for his child. So everything in ‘Eddie Begins’ is more so a battle of him trying to overcome everything that is telling him to go one way, while he knows he needs to be going another.”
The hour goes all the way back to when Christopher was first born and Eddie is quickly taken away from his family to go fight for his country. When he returns from that tour, his infant son is uncomfortable being held by him and Eddie is uncomfortable dealing with Christopher’s disability. So he leaves again.
“I think when he came back from the first time going on tour and finding out that his son was born, he did something very non-Eddie-esque, which is run away,” Guzman said. “I think there was a lot of pressure of him being a father and not knowing how to deal with the situation of, ‘What do I do with this kid now?’ Now this kid has been thrown on my doorstep, and I don’t have any experience with this, like a lot of fathers would feel — I felt that even when my kid was born, you just don’t know how to handle that situation. Eddie’s out was, ‘Oh, I gotta go save our nation. I gotta help our nation.’ And who can really argue with that? But when he came out from the second tour and things really hit home, after he got the Silver Star and he was pretty much honorably discharged, he now has to face life and that life is something that he could have never prepared for. It is something that was more drastic than he has ever been in.”
When Eddie came home again, he had to deal with another obstacle — Shannon had left him and Christopher to go take care of her sick mother. On top of this, Eddie’s parents felt he could not raise his son properly because he did not know him or what he needs.
“He had to deal with issues between him and his wife and understand that his mother and father think that they know best for his son and through that the only thing that he had to rely on was Christopher,” Guzman said. “And he had to find his own way with Christopher, from being disconnected in the beginning while holding him and trying to figure out what he actually needs, to later on having a conversation with him on the porch and really just shedding true light on how he feels about his son. You see the evolution of the kind of love he has for his child. And it kind of emotes that same arc through the existence of the character Eddie. Whether he’s gone through the earthquake, or the tsunami or whatever, it’s always the thought of, ‘Where is Christopher? I need to find Christopher. Is Christopher safe? I have to have Christopher in my life.'”
In the episode’s present-day storyline, Eddie is working with the rest of the team to try to save a little boy who has fallen into a well and Eddie is the one who goes down to retrieve him. While he does that successfully, he is left trapped there himself when the well caves in. And, of course, Buck (Oliver Stark) loses it when he thinks Eddie might die, going so far as to say they need to try to dig him out with their bare hands.
“I saw the episode last night and that was the first time I had seen what Oliver chose to do for that scene,” Guzman told us. “I think it’s just a testament to how close they’ve gotten and how much they really rely on each other. Buck has been through a lot of things with Christopher, aside from Eddie. So he’s really entangled with the family and with Eddie and Buck being so close, it’s almost natural. If you lost a brother right in front of your eyes, what would you do? How would you think? Would you be coherent? And we see that he really wasn’t thinking that through, ’cause clearly, you’re not gonna dig your way through just using your hands. But the level of emotion that he portrayed was like he had just lost him, he had just lost Eddie.”
Guzman can’t tell us what happens next for Eddie with the final few episodes of Season 3, but he did say tonight was all about “reaffirming” what Eddie already knows.
“I think within this episode he gets to relearn the same lesson that he’s learned in previous traumatic moments in his life, which is Christopher is, again, the saving grace, the beacon of hope. He’s everything to Eddie,” Guzman said. “So in each case that he finds himself deprived of happiness or in a war-type atmosphere, the different types of severity in his life, he sees through that by being hopeful to see his son. That is his one thing and I think later on in the season, it’s just reaffirming that same thought process.”
As for what “9-1-1” showrunner Tim Minear has planned for Season 4 — which the show was recently granted at Fox — Guzman has no idea. But he’s thinking love might finally be in store for Eddie.
“Eddie hasn’t found another girl yet, so we don’t know he acts with that, bringing another girl around his son,” he said.
And does he think that will be Ronda Rousey’s Lena Bosko, the medic he met early in Season 3 and who brought him into the fight club world?
“I thought for sure that they were gonna turn into something romantic,” Guzman said. “Even my fiancee thought we were gonna turn into something romantic, and she was co-signing, too! That was one of the first women she’d co-signed.”
“It kind of just left open ended,” he added. “So who knows. Maybe Season 4 she comes back and trickles back into Eddie’s life and maybe we stay away from the MMA cages this time. But who knows.”
“9-1-1” airs Mondays at 8/7c on Fox.