Spoilers ahead for the April 1 episode of 9-1-1 on Fox.
9-1-1 never fails to deliver the intensity as the major characters tackle all kinds of disasters in their roles as first responders in Los Angeles, but the last few episodes didn't just have the characters in danger because of their jobs. Maddie's ex-husband turned up to attack Chimney and abduct her a couple of weeks ago, and the subsequent episode didn't do anything to resolve the cliffhanger. Finally, fans have some answers, and the events of the episode will change the series moving forward.
The very good news is that Chimney did not bite the dust, despite the odds not looking in his favor for a while. The trailer for the episode didn't give the strongest impression that he had a long life ahead of him. Fortunately, he recovered. How awful would it have been to lose Chimney right after we got that touching origin story episode for him?
Maddie also survived the dangerous events of the episode, but she had to fight her hardest in the process. Although abusive ex Doug seemingly had all the power, Maddie was able to strike back at him, and the confrontation ended with Doug dead in the snow. Now, on the one hand, his death means that Maddie is free from fearing he'll come after her ever again, and that's probably for the best for Chimney as well.
On the other hand, killing Doug is something that Maddie won't be able to just shrug off. Jennifer Love Hewitt weighed in on how 9-1-1 will change after Doug's death, saying this:
In subtle ways. As much as this episode was about Maddie and Doug, the show is really about the crew and the calls and all that. So you’ll see Maddie figure out how to put one foot in front of the other with the knowledge that she’s killed someone. She’s grieving a very tumultuous relationship that’s been a huge part of who she is since she was 18 years old. We’ll see how she attempts to move forward in romance, if that’s even possible. All of those things, while answering phones and having to be a total Steady Betty for people during emergencies. It won’t be in big plot points or moments, it’ll be more in smaller ways. You’ll see that it’s affected her. It’s going to ebb and flow.
This episode may have been Maddie-centric, but 9-1-1 is fundamentally an ensemble series. Maddie has an important job to do for the city of Los Angeles, and she'll get back into that work despite her traumatizing experiences. So, although the show will largely proceed as it did from a plot perspective, it sounds like some character beats will be different than what they were before Doug's death at Maddie's hands. There will be changes; there just probably won't be entire episodes devoted to them.
Jennifer Love Hewitt's mention of Maddie moving forward in romance "if that's even possible" indicates that whatever happens between Maddie and Chimney might be a lot more complicated than it would have been before Doug's attack. The relationship with Doug was the biggest romantic relationship of her life, and his life ended at her hands.
Moving on would be complicated for her, and I have to wonder if a relationship with Maddie could work for Chimney as well. He knows that it's not Maddie's fault that he was nearly killed by her abusive ex; hopefully he can spend time with her without dwelling on what happened the last time they tried to socialize.
Jennifer Love Hewitt went on in her chat with TVLine to explain the importance of continuing to show Maddie's reactions to the ordeal and subsequent changes:
The truth is, there are real people who will be facing these situations while the episode airs, or tomorrow, or the day after that. Men, women, children. And they don’t just go away. It’s never not a part of who you are, so I’m glad they’re allowing it to be that way for Maddie, out of respect for the real fighters out there.
If handled well, this arc could be both realistic and respectful with regard to situations of real-life abuse. We'll have to wait and see how it continues to play out. For Maddie's sake, I hope that she realizes there are people she can talk to and who will be there for her. First responders aren't always the greatest at taking care of themselves, whether they're fighting fires, riding in an ambulance, or answering calls!
Given the show's recent renewal for Season 3, there's the potential for the arc to continue beyond the end of Season 2, assuming Jennifer Love Hewitt remains on board as Maddie. Connie Britton only stayed on for one season, but that was never intended to be a long-term role for her. Perhaps Hewitt is on board for however long the show stays on the air, and she'll stick around longer than on Criminal Minds!
The next new episode of 9-1-1 airs Monday, April 15 at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.