Monday, March 25, 2019

REVIEW: '9-1-1' - Chimney Remembers the Decisions That Led to Him Becoming a Firefighter in 'Chimney Begins'

FOX's 9-1-1 - Episode 2.12 "Chimney Begins"

Look back at how Chimney joined Station 118 and became the firefighter and paramedic he is today.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of FOX's 9-1-1.

"Chimney Begins" was written by Erica L. Anderson and directed by Jennifer Lynch

It's somewhat cruel that the show doesn't provide any resolution to Chimney's stabbing. The show punts the conclusion of that and Maddie dealing with the shocking return of her ex-husband until the next episode. Sure, it's still at the forefront of this episode's story. Its characters are in immediate and present danger. However, it would rather spend the time telling Chimney's origin story. Now, "Hen Begins" was the most powerful and successful episode to date. So, it's understandable that the show would try to replicate that success by just handing over the entire focus of one episode to another member of the supporting ensemble. This is a solid spotlight for Chimney. It just has the tragic uncertainty of it being shrouded in ambiguity over whether Chimney survives his injuries in the present. The majority of the action takes place in 2005 when Chimney first feels inspired to become a firefighter. However, it also presents as a memory. It's as if Chimney's life is flashing before his eyes as he is laying on the ground bleeding out from his injuries. He already escaped death once before. It would be very miraculous if he did so again. The show even has the trauma invading its way through these memories as well. The lines are blurred even though there isn't a whole lot of meaning to that specific sequence. Instead, it's just much more compelling to be in the moment of the story of Chimney's early days with the department. Again, the surprise is no longer a tool the show can use to make this plot conceit a success because it did so with Hen. This episode really doesn't quite match the emotional intensity of that hour. It's fascinating to see some of those characters return though considering Chimney was already at the firehouse when Hen joined. But here, Chimney is all by himself. When he first gets his assignment, he isn't even allowed to go out on calls. He is just left behind at the station cleaning up after the messes left behind by his colleagues. It doesn't even present as hazing. It's just them choosing not to take an interest in him or even acknowledge him as a human being who wants to do this job. He has to prove himself to them to show that he can be trusted and relied upon in the field. A paramedic takes a chance on him. That's what gives him the focus and the skills that he has in the present day. He is very skilled in that particular job. And yet, so much of this is seen through the inevitable tragedy of his best friend, Kevin, dying on the job. They both decided to make this career change together. They felt the rush of saving lives and being heroes after a bar fire that could have gone horribly wrong. Chimney is accepted and loved by Kevin's family as well. They took him in and cared for him even when his father was emotionally distant and cruel. Chimney's father doesn't care to understand this job. Neither do Kevin's parents. However, they support their son and the decision he has made. They worry about him. And then, the tragedy does strike. Kevin dies and it has the potential of shaping Chimney's entire narrative on the force. He could allow this to fester and lead to even more tragedy. Or he could pass it along in order to continue being of service to his community. He saves the life of another firefighter. He is a hero. He is good at his job. And yet, all of that may still be coming to an end. Tragedy may still consume the show once more. That ambiguity isn't sustainable forever though. So, the show needs to provide more answers early on in the next episode. If Chimney dies, this is a solid showcase for him. If he survives, then it only enhances the audience's understanding of the life he has lived.