Monday, January 18, 2021

REVIEW: '9-1-1' - A Bus Crashes into a Building After Being Struck by a Massive Wave When the Dam Breaks in 'The New Abnormal'

FOX's 9-1-1 - Episode 4.01 "The New Abnormal"

When the Hollywood Reservoir dam breaks, Bobby and the 188 race into action to save passengers on a city busy that has crashed into a building several stories in the air. Maddie must first locate, and then rescue, a trapped cyclist, and Athena helps an agoraphobic woman evacuate her home. Bobby worries if Athena is ready for field duty since recovering from her physical and psychological injuries. Chimney takes extreme precautions around a pregnant Maddie. May begins a surprising new job.

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 FOX's 9-1-1.

"The New Abnormal" was written by Juan Carlos Coto and directed by David Grossman

The drama enjoys starting each season with some major disaster that strikes Los Angeles. Now, that could have been more difficult this season because the narrative has also decided to incorporate the COVID-19 pandemic into its story. It's not the driving force though. It is acknowledged. People talk about how much 2020 has sucked and changed their lives. People have died. People have learned how to communicate in a different way. It has brought forth a lot of isolation. And yet, the stories aren't about the squad from the 118 responding to calls of people suffering from the disease and needing to be transported to the hospital for treatment. Instead, it has largely focused on the human stakes of coping with this new reality. Everyone is adjusting. The narrative itself wants to function similar to how it always has. And so, the new season starts with a dam breaking and flooding a significant part of the city. It's not on the same scale as the tsunami wave from last season. Eddie and Buck even comment on that. As such, everyone has an awareness of the natural disasters that have frequently plagued their lives. But it's still largely focused on the heroism of the first responders as they try their best to save as many lives as they can. That is still their core function. They still thrive in the roles they've had for a long time now. The premiere marks Athena returning to work after her assault from last season. Enough time has passed for her physical injuries to heal. Her family is worried about her returning to the field. She shares those concerns. However, she has to confront them herself. She is headstrong in that way. She is thrown directly into the fire though. Her very first call ends with her being trapped in a house just as it falls off a cliff. A mudslide has been triggered as a result of the dam breaking. That will only further intensify the disaster and who all is affected by it. The tragedy is expanding. It was already dire and tragic. And now, Athena's life is directly in danger once more. The narrative may use that as a way to exclaim that she can survive anything that might happen to her on the job. Some days may do more damage to her than others. However, she has the conviction and strength to make it back home. She is being tested in a way that can only affirm her passion for the job. That may be a bit simplistic. Her being injured in the line of duty hasn't really made her challenge her outlook on the job. That may still be coming. The narrative is simply choosing to reflect a similar story structure because it's time for the major disaster to hit Los Angeles. That's understandable. It just may not be as challenging as the best character moments often are on this show. It's only the season premiere though. The creative team wants to hook the audience once more with a big disaster. It provides the splash so that the substance with the characters can be highlighted later on. It's the way the show has always operated. That is still reassuring too. It provides the necessary comfort. The world has changed. The narrative and the characters acknowledge that. Loss is felt in some of the stories as well. But it also wants to rally beyond that to show that hope is still on the horizon. These first responders do all they can to save people when their lives are in danger. Bobby needs CJ to trust him when he panics over the uncertainty of his friend's condition. They survive even when an explosion happens aboard the bus that has crashed into a high rise building. Maddie helps Janelle find the strength necessary for her to trigger an alert so that she can be found after the wave swept her away. It's brave and inspiring. These first responders haven't lost their joy for life and drive to save lives. Sure, Chimney fears living with Maddie because of the uncertainty the pandemic has on her pregnancy. That is a personal fear. It's easier for him to believe it's safer this way when it's ultimately better for the family to stay together. Athena worries about May working at the 911 dispatch center. May worries about her mom returning to the field as well. And yet, May is growing up and finding her own way in the world. She has a great mentor in Maddie. The future looks bright even though a pandemic is ravaging across the world.