Monday, September 20, 2021

REVIEW: '9-1-1' - Ransomware Strikes Los Angeles Which Creates Chaos for the First Responders Across Several Days in 'Panic'

FOX's 9-1-1 - Episode 5.01 "Panic"

A series of ransomware threats leads to an overabundance of emergencies for the 118, including a medevac helicopter crash at a hospital and an air-traffic control tower system failure. Athena must revisit her traumatic attack when the case of the realtor serial rapist goes to trial. Eddie suffers a health scare. Maddie's postpartum depression worsens.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 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.

"Panic" was written by Tim Minear & Juan Carlos Coto and directed by Bradley Buecker

The new season starts with Los Angeles as an eerie and desolate hellscape. The firefighters from the 118 are the only people walking down the street. They are surrounded by pure chaos. The structure of the city is still present. However, disaster covers so much as well. It once again suggests that the new season is starting with a massive disaster that turns the entire city into peril. Of course, the action then cuts back in time a week. That continues to be a frustrating device to structure stories. Plus, the story then showcases the core threat in an effective way by detailing the harm that comes from ransomware. Cyber attacks are becoming more emboldened and pronounced. The public needs to be aware of our vulnerabilities. Our infrastructure is crumbling. It requires significant investment in order to prosper in the years to come. Now, it requires Karen to share all of this with her family and loved ones. It's scary and concerning. It's basically a proclamation of the pending apocalypse. Michael wants to believe there are safeguards to prevent the worst disasters from happening. In reality, each system is vulnerable. All it takes is the properly motivated hackers to strike and try to exploit the situation to their financial benefit. Foreign nations are providing safe havens for such attacks as well. As such, it's easy to see why this is the new form of terrorism in the digital age. That creates several evocative images throughout this premiere. Sure, it's a little ridiculous when three individuals have heart attacks consecutively at the air traffic control tower. But it's also incredibly tense when they believe that a plane is about to land right on top of them. They have the proper protocols and analog devices to potentially save themselves. In the end, it's all a massive illusion meant to inflict trauma. That makes this more than just a plight for financial benefit. It's about inflicting harm as well. It's not hackers simply trying to steal. It's about pure disruption. It reveals the cracks in the system. They can be easily exploited. It's part of a sustained attack as well. It's not just one system that is failing. One attack compounds on another. It's not long before chaos completely swells in the city. Everyone has to adjust accordingly. Of course, such disruptions from the norm are capable of happening without the push of such blatant destruction. Athena and the other survivors are thrown with the request for their attacker to defend himself in his criminal trial. He has the right to do so despite the trauma and intimidation the move will inflict on those testifying against him. Athena is strong. She still has nightmares about that encounter. That was when she was most vulnerable. She still fears that she could be overtaken and killed in her own home. She has the love and support of her family. She has a solid team to ensure that justice prevails at the end of the day. That doesn't come to an easy conclusion at the end of this premiere though. Instead, Jeffrey is a fugitive on the run. For a moment, it seems like he has been taken into custody once more. But that only further indicates just how manipulative and chaotic the world has become. The police want to believe in trusted partners within the system. And yet, some individuals are broken to the point where they are capable of such despicable acts. That means Athena's partner is killed in a shocking turn of events. The hour previously suggested a dire twist for Eddie. In his case, he was simply suffering from a panic attack. He can't panic now. Of course, the show prioritizes the overall attack on the city while pushing the personal consequences off until the future. That leaves Maddie with very little to do. Chimney is concerned about her. Buck is concerned about Eddie. But a helicopter is teetering on the edge of the hospital. A lot of tragedies are piling on top of each other. As such, no one has the time to breathe and analyze what has happened to them. That makes for a fast-paced premiere. But it's also the proven formula that has worked for the show in the past without offering something new to the proceedings. Plus, the action makes it seem like the chaos caused at the courthouse was in complete sync with Jeffrey's escape. That should make everyone wonder about the true purpose of this attack on the city. Most of these threats are anonymous with federal law enforcement taking weeks to track everything down. For dramatic tension though, it seems more like that the show will want a face to attach to this chaos quickly in order to create a more engaging story. That may be reading into things too much. It still seems like a possibility though given the show's tendency to present Jeffrey as a capable and daunting villain.