Monday, November 4, 2019

REVIEW: '9-1-1' - Athena Delves Into Her Past to Finally Get Justice for a Murder From 1989 in 'Athena Begins'

FOX's 9-1-1 - Episode 3.07 "Athena Begins"

When a murder weapon from a case close to Athena in the early '90s resurfaces, flashbacks to 1989 show how Athena joined the LAPD and became the police officer she 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.

"Athena Begins" was written by Kristen Reidel and directed by Tasha Smith

Some of the most effective and stunning episodes from the second season were the origin story explorations into how the various firefighters found the profession and joined the 118. Those looks into Hen, Chimney and Bobby's pasts were such immediate highlights because the emphasis was on character. It may be a conceit with diminishing returns. It's not a narrative the show can keep telling over and over again. The show simply doesn't have the characters to keep that story engine going. And yet, it was significant that Athena didn't get one of those spotlight episodes. As such, the show is giving one to her now. The episode title still signifies the structure the viewer can expect as well. However, this hour is dramatically different than the previous three. It's not a story firmly told in the past. Instead, it divides its time equally between 1989 and the present day. It features a story that Athena hasn't shared with anyone for a long time. Both Bobby and Michael are in the dark about Emmett. She never told them about previously being engaged and her fiancé dying on the job. He was the inspiration for her joining the force in the first place. But he can't be seen as the sole reason for why she stayed. At first, all of this presents as her searching for three decades for him to get the justice he deserves. The gun used to kill him has finally been found. It's just startling and staggering to see such a widespread journey this weapon has gone on throughout the years. It has changed many hands. But Athena can still trace it back to its origin and how it came to be in possession of Emmett's killer. It takes a lot of determination and hard work. She has a ton of friends who are more than willing to help. She just has to let them in. She feels the burden to carry the weight of this investigation. She has to be the one to finally solve his murder. It's up to her because it means the most to her. She has to be the one to tell his mother that he was killed and that an arrest has finally been made. No one else can carry that significant burden. But Athena being supported by her friends and family is just as important. It's so moving to watch as Bobby tries to give Athena what she needs during this trying time. That means knowing when he's at a loss for words and calling in the one person who knows what to do. Athena's mother has followed her lead in not talking about Emmett. But she too understands the importance of opening up and sharing this brutal experience. It's freeing. Athena had this whole other life that could have happened. She is happy with what she has now. She understands it comes entirely from who she was in the moment with these people. This still happens to be a significant personal loss for her. It doesn't matter that Emmett's death motivated the killer into turning his life around. He did his best to pay it forward by giving back to the community. He got clean and started helping the homeless youth of the city. He has done incredible work. But that can't make up for the life he took. That was the cost for him making this transition. He has to carry the consequences of this now. He never forget about what happened just like Athena. He isn't looking for exoneration or freedom. He is now paying for his crime. He kept his freedom for so long but justice has finally caught up to him. It's freeing to Athena. But it's so cathartic and heartbreaking to watch as she collapses into Bobby's arms. This is something she has fought to achieve for a long time. And now, it's a weight lifted off her shoulders without any guarantee that she'll be any better off as a result. She understood that she needed to remain on the force to keep trying to make a difference after Emmett's death. That was her startling realization upon seeing officers assaulting Rodney King on the news. She couldn't run away from what's right. She has carried that mentality throughout her entire life. It may cause friction with some. However, she has such a strong support system as well that is there for her no matter what she needs. She is given the tools to succeed and be happy with her life. It just comes with the trade-off of having had to deal with some significant tragedies as well. However, a burden has been lifted and she can embrace a better future moving forward. That is incredibly rewarding to watch here.