Monday, October 15, 2018

REVIEW: '9-1-1' - Maddie Sees a New Side of Her Co-Workers After a Ride-Along with Athena in 'Awful People'

FOX's 9-1-1 - Episode 2.05 "Awful People"

Wanting to see the faces behind the 9-1-1 calls, Maddie goes on a ride-along with Athena, while dealing with a seemingly "perfect" dispatcher back at the call center. Hen must figure out how to save her family from permanently falling apart. The first responders deal with emergencies both at a military funeral and a movie theater.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of FOX's 9-1-1.

"Awful People" was written by Kristen Reidel and directed by Kevin Hooks

Jennifer Love Hewitt has absolutely stepped into the Connie Britton void this season. Maddie basically has the same relationships with the same people that Abby did. She works at the 911 call center. She has a close, personal dynamic with Buck. And now, she is becoming friends with Athena. Of course, all of this is happening much more quickly and smoothly with Maddie. With Abby, it was all about the melodrama. The show was still figuring out the best way to tell its stories. It simply dragged things out for too long and made it seem like Britton wasn't having as much fun as everyone else. Maddie has a heavy and melodramatic story as well. She has left an abusive marriage. Her husband is bound to track her down in Los Angeles at some point. It's going to happen sooner rather than later. But right now, it's just empowering to see her find her own spark in the world again. She is making a difference while helping save people's lives. Moreover, this is an episode that highlights the work that the 911 dispatchers and police officers do. The firefighters still appear in this hour. But they aren't the sole focus. That's actually a welcome development because it shows that the series doesn't have to tell all of its stories in the same way every week. It can continue to expand and explore this world. Life at the call center already feels more lived in. In the first season, it was mostly just Abby in that environment. She had some stories pertaining to her job but not many. And now, the show is introducing more characters in that world even though Maddie is the only major one. But that too makes it feel like the show is giving Hewitt some lively material to play with. In fact, it's just fun to see how things escalate with Christine Ebersole's Gloria. At first, she presents as this charming woman who is the heart of the call center. She has been there for a long time and knows how to help the people when the demands of the job take its toil on them. But then, it's revealed that she is actually really judgmental on the line and even hangs up on people in the middle of their emergencies. It was fun in the beginning when she was simply telling a person to go run after his bike that has been stolen. But it was incredibly tragic when she hung up on a man who had just been shot because he spoke in two different languages. He only survived because Athena and Maddie found him in the kitchen. The man who shot him even gets arrested because Athena is very good at her job. But the core focus of all of this remains on Maddie. The story proves that she has the skills and determination to succeed at this job. She hasn't grown disillusioned just yet. Gloria has become cynical. Sure, it's laughable how extreme all of this goes. But it proves that Maddie is suited for this crazy and unusual life. Meanwhile, it certainly seems like the latest threat from Eva in Hen and Karen's home life is wrapped up a little too easily. They survive because it's clear to see the love that they have as a family. But there is still that incredibly dark moment where Hen contemplates letting Eva just overdose. Instead, she saves her life. That's her job. It's what she is called to do. She would do so for anyone in that position. It just feels more personal because of everything else that is going on. And yet, all of that is neatly wrapped up by the end of the hour too instead of being dragged out for a couple episodes worth of content.