Thursday, November 12, 2020

REVIEW: 'Station 19' - Andy's World Is Shaken by a Family Secret and Then by the Pandemic in 'Nothing Seems the Same'

ABC's Station 19 - Episode 4.01 "Nothing Seems the Same"

When the COVID-19 pandemic hits Seattle, the Station 19 crew leans on each other for support. Andy tries to make sense of her mother's return, while Sullivan settles into a new routine. It's all-hands-on-deck when a group of teenagers unintentionally starts a wild fire.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of ABC's Station 19.

"Nothing Seems the Same" was written by Kiley Donovan and directed by Paris Barclay

Station 19 was lucky in its previous season as it was one of the few broadcast network dramas that didn't have its run cut short by the sudden production shutdown in mid-March. However, it's also important for the drama to recognize just how much the world has radically changed in the months since its finale. That is especially true for the lives of first responders. This genre has always highlighted the noble and brave heroism of these individuals. They are the ones who run into burning buildings to save lives. It's a sacrifice of profound character. One that doesn't always receive the appreciation it deserves. And now, this pandemic has only put more burden on the lives of these individuals. They are heroic and deserve to be celebrated. It's uplifting whenever the show takes the time to applaud and cheer the firefighters and doctors as they do their jobs. They are incredible. And yet, they too have suffered losses. This premiere has to carefully balance the emotions that came from the finale's cliffhanger with this dramatic change to the world at large. It would be a disservice to the audience if the show opted to avoid what was happening in the day-to-day lives of firefighters. This is an ongoing emergency. One that is widespread and terrifying. People have panic attacks when they break free from their quarantine bubbles. Others believe it's fine to break social distancing because of the trust and bonds of loving friendships. The family at Station 19 has been bonded together because they have endured so much. And yet, they are forced to have a virtual funeral for Pruitt. They fought hard for him to get a heroic sendoff. He deserved to be honored for dying in the line of duty to save as many lives as he could. And now, people are forced apart. It's for the health of everyone involved. It's still devastating though. People value human connection. It helps keep everyone sane. Of course, Andy's world has been completely rocked once more. She is mourning her father's death and suddenly learns that her mother is still alive. The show has always been cryptic about how she died. It framed so much of Andy's upbringing. It informed the relationship she had with her father. In her eulogy of him, she notes the value and importance of the family he created for her. It's one that has uplifted so many courageous and exceptional individuals. They all have bright futures ahead of them. They have personal failings as well. They may be on shaky ground with the lost of the man they could always rely on. It comes at a time when the world is full of so much despair and uncertainty. Sometimes glimpses across the room is all the intimacy these people can get from one another. Sullivan believes he has to place distance between him and Andy to ensure that his sobriety actually sticks after his surgery. The world changed after he made that decision. He is still dealing with the consequences of losing his job as well. He is no longer grounded in the way that always provided him with stability. That should leave the audience very concerned about what might happen next. The stories people tell themselves are often built up as what they can physically handle. Andy's mother dying was a simple lie that Pruitt could tell instead of the complexity of what really happened. Sure, it leaves Andy shaken now upon realizing how much was kept from her. But she is also full of so much emotion knowing how the truth shaped Pruitt as a man too. She has to honor his legacy. This entire firehouse strives for that. They uplift each other. That support is still present. But the burden of this job will require them to be more strong and stable than ever before. Some may break under that pressure. But there are still crowds of people cheering them on. That visual is so vital because it recognizes the profound human connection that is present throughout this world despite the distance that is now placed between so much of what used to be normal. Of course, it's also clear that the show wants to maintain the same energy it has always had in its storytelling. That means things are always extra melodramatic with Andy. Dean remains confused about his feelings for Vic. Travis learns that his father's intense homophobia extends from a secret about his own sexual orientation. Sullivan still wants to project a sense of honoring what is right despite his shady misdeeds that so many now know about. These are all promising developments that show the series can still be light and fun when it wants to be. That complexity of tone is necessary given the serious nature of the pandemic. Stories need to be told about it to ensure people take it seriously. It is all consuming. And yet, the world remains a complex place full of so many emotions as well.