Why Station 19 Really Needed That Heartbreaking Season 3 Death

station 19 captain herrera abc

(Image credit: ABC)

Spoilers ahead for the April 9 episode of Station 19 Season 3 on ABC, called "I'll Be Seeing You."

Station 19 delivered on last week's promise with "I'll Be Seeing You" and killed off a major character. Despite a trailer that seemingly indicated one of the current Station 19 firefighters was doomed to die in the blaze at a storage facility, it was actually a retired firefighter who lost his life: Pruitt Herrera. When all hope seemed lost with no way to safely vent the roof and save the lives of the major characters inside, Herrera bravely went up to the roof with an axe to do what needed to be done, and Station 19 didn't serve up a last-minute miracle with the PRT to save him. Pruitt Herrera died.

He died, and as much as I hate to say it, his death was what Station 19 needed at this point in Season 3. Herrera has been dying all season, and Station 19 was going to have to kill him off at some point. By doing so in "I'll Be Seeing You" with Herrera giving his life to save his daughter and the team he'd chosen, he went out on a high yet tragic note. It packed an emotional punch, and it avoided all the problems that Station 19 ran into in previous Season 3 deaths.

The first death of Season 3 was Ryan, who returned after an absence because of his love for Andy. While it was tragic and has continued to impact Andy, it happened at the beginning of one episode after he was injured at the end of the previous episode's cliffhanger. It was more of a shocker and then an eventual reveal than an emotional blow, and for all that he was important to Andy, he wasn't a key character like her dad.

The second death of Season 3 was Rigo Vasquez, whose demise was soured (in my book, anyway) by the fact that it was revealed on Station 19 but not actually explained until Grey's Anatomy, which I felt was pretty messed up. In fact, I was so frustrated that Station 19 viewers had to count on Grey's Anatomy for a major plot point that Rigo's death didn't pack the kind of punch it deserved.

Now, Station 19 gave Herrera the kind of death that not many TV characters receive: emotional, heartbreaking, heroic, and definitive. The episode featured flashes of a wedding with Herrera watching lovingly as Andy tied the knot with Sullivan, which is sadly a scene that will never happen due to the death.

That said, even though Herrera will never get to see Andy get married and Andy will have to get married (if she does) without her dad, Herrera gave his life to save others. He went up on the roof in full knowledge of what was going to happen and that he almost certainly wouldn't survive.

It was a heroic sacrifice, and Station 19 delivered the death with enough time left in the episode for the other characters to begin to show their grief, which in turned allowed viewers to feel the loss. Am I sad? Yes. Am I mad at Station 19 for how this sad event happened? Not at all.

Station 19 hasn't run out of episodes just yet, even though Grey's Anatomy came to a premature end in the 2019-2020 TV season. Station 19 will instead take over Grey's Anatomy's 9 p.m. slot on ABC Thursday, April 16 for its first new episode following Herrera's death. For some additional viewing options now and in the coming weeks, swing by our 2020 midseason premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).