‘9-1-1’ Shocker: Star Oliver Stark Opens Up About Winter Premiere’s Life-Threatening Cliffhanger

“I was game for it. It’s a brave decision for the show,” the actor said

Oliver Stark as Buck in a still from "9-1-1."

“9-1-1” knows how to hook viewers after a long hiatus, and Monday’s winter premiere proved that not even fan-favorite characters are safe from the line of fire.

The Fox hit drama series returned with its first installment since November, featuring a brand new catastrophe hitting Los Angeles: a severe thunderstorm causing emergencies across the city for the Station 118 crew to help clean up. As the team juggles personal drama with responding to the various crises, the episode reaches a devastating climax when firefighter Evan “Buck” Buckley (Oliver Stark) is struck by lightning during a call. The intense hour ended as the rest of the team rushed to help the beloved first responder, getting him in an ambulance and attempting to restore his heartbeat.

“I was game for it. I think it’s a brave decision for the show,” Stark told TheWrap of his character’s life-threatening injury. “We’ve been on air for a long time now. We’ve made almost 100 episodes. So I think it’s cool for the show to start taking these risks and put some characters in jeopardy.

As far as producing the intense final scene — in which lightning strikes Buck and he falls from a ladder, left hanging above the rest of the team in the pouring rain (“They did not put money in heating the fake rain, I will tell you that.”) — Stark shared it was a difficult but moving experience to watch the other members of the team step up to help their friend.

“The next episode picks up literally right where this episode ends, so all that urgency and chaos continues — right as Episode 11 starts, we see them working to save one of their own, to save Buck’s life,” he said.

“It’s a very edge-of-your-seat, going along for the ride [kind of] episode.”

Despite the harrowing ending, Stark said audiences shouldn’t count out Buck’s chances of survival. However, the aftermath of this catastrophe will reverberate both throughout the firehouse and with Buck’s family.

“Even though over the years, we have continued to put these characters in peril and put them pretty close to death, I think there’s something more in this emergency and in this catastrophe that strikes Buck — where mortality and the idea of death becomes much more present in everybody’s life,” Stark teased, adding that the tragedy will present an opportunity for all characters to reassess their priorities and keep count of what really matters.

Before the big emergency, Buck, his sister Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and Howard “Howie”/”Chimney” Han (Kenneth Choi) faced a challenge in their personal lives with their respective parents coming together for a family reunion. Both families have strained histories, but came together to meet Maddie and Chimney’s baby Jee-Yun.

Though the gathering had its fair share of drama, Stark celebrated a milestone for Buck, as his and Maddie’s relationship with their parents seemed to take a step in the right direction after they expressed their support in him becoming a sperm donor for one of his friends.

“We’ve seen the rockiness of their relationship when he was younger, and even in more recent times, that their relationship has not been ideal, but that doesn’t mean that there’s never room for growth or reconciliation,” Stark said.

“9-1-1” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox. Episodes are available to stream the next day on Hulu.