9-1-1 – Abandon Ships – Review: People Stuck

Spoilers ahead!

At the beginning of this season, Athena (Angela Bassett) expresses her concerns about going on a belated honeymoon cruise with Bobby (Peter Krause), her husband. At first, it seems like watching The Poseidon Adventure during her childhood traumatized her to a point where spending some time overseas would be tough. Flashforward to this year’s disaster: the ship flipped upside down, with Athena and Bobby saying “I love you” to each other while drowning. Flashforward ends. Time to discover how they get in this situation.

After almost a year since it aired its season 6 finale, 9-1-1 is back! Canceled by FOX last year and picked up by ABC, the first episode of its shortened seventh season is tasked with starting a 3-episode-arc that will lead us to our main couple facing another near-death experience together. Also, it’s (re)introducing main and supporting characters to a new audience, making it some kind of “pilot” of its own.

And if you were missing the often crazy, weird, over-the-top emergency cases faced by the 118 team, “Abandon Ships” delivers some of it. Here, Captain Hen (Aisha Hinds), Chimney (Kenneth Choi), Eddie (Ryan Guzman), and Buck (Oliver Stark) deal with a fighter jet crashing into the house of an arguing old couple and a couple stuck together in unexpected ways. The first case feels like the good, old 9-1-1 days: a man trapped under his favorite chair by a jet, a bomb about to explode, and our first responders having some insights on their personal lives provoked by the victims’ situations.

Here, Chimney’s the one to have an insight! After noticing how the couple treats each other, he fears his relationship with 9-1-1 dispatcher Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) could one day turn like this. Because of this fear, he comes up with a “forever dating” plan, which includes hours of filling spreadsheets and scheduling daily dates so their love will never calcify.

Another character with lots of dating going on is Christopher (Gavin McHugh), which is making Eddie a bit worried. After all, Christopher is embodying a player persona, talking to some girls at the same time without letting them know he’s not looking for anything serious and/or exclusive with them. Because of this, Eddie enlists Buck’s (once a player as well) help to have a difficult conversation with Chris. This leads to a heartbreaking discovery and a teary letter read by an unexpected cameo.

The second case comes to balance things and bring comic relief to the story. When a couple having sex in a hot tub ends up stuck together, Eddie uses some relaxation techniques to turn the lady off in a scene that is both surprising and funny. By the way, people feeling stuck might be the episode’s theme: Athena is feeling stuck not only by the ship but also by her relationship with Bobby. She fears they have nothing in common when at peace — as if their love could only make sense during chaotic times and stressful events. Maddie and Chimney are also stuck by their spreadsheet dating plans, while Christopher feels stuck by his grief, which fuels his anger and motivates him to treat girls this way because “they will leave him anyway”, just like his mom did.

Well, this premiere was really good, especially when it comes to the 118 parts! But I finished my first watch with mixed feelings, and not so sure about what was bugging me. After a rewatch, it was clear that I expected more from the cruise plot. Don’t get me wrong, I was aware from the beginning that this story would be told in 3 episodes, just like the tsunami arc. So I had a very vague expectation of a premiere focused on this gang of international smugglers that would lead to a sinking ship conflict in the next two episodes. I got over it quickly — the way it happened makes sense, after all.

That said, when I first watched those very awkward interactions between Athena, Bobby, Norman, and Lola, I felt confused — after all, where was the conflict, the action? During the rewatch I realized maybe the conflict wasn’t the sinking ship (cruise), but the sinking ship (Bathena). And then I understood what bothered me the most during that first view. I’m all in on Athena and Bobby working on some personal aspects of their relationships, such as why they are in love with each other, and also what makes them a good pairing when there’s no chaos around them. I’m all for it — so the reason Athena was acting strange was fine, but how she expressed those feelings bugged me a little. Some moments feel out of character for Athena, and there is also this comic relief tone added to these scenes that doesn’t match with the brink of a catastrophe — but I’ll expand my thoughts on this after watching the whole arc, it’s too soon to draw a conclusion. Regarding my first impressions, I believe this approach to Bobby and Athena’s relationship can result in some interesting moments.

Overall, this was a very solid, very entertaining season premiere — I missed these characters so much, and the cast/crew did such a good job introducing new plots, old faces, and new cases, all while making it feel the same (but stronger than ever). I can’t wait for next week and for this season as a whole.

What about you? What was your favorite moment from “Abandon Ships”? What do you expect to watch on this #9-1-1onABC season?

Thanks for reading, and see you soon!

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