Spoilers ahead for Episode 3 of 9-1-1 Season 4 on Fox, called "Future Tense."
9-1-1 got back to business more or less as usual in "Future Tense," with Athena rescued from what could have been certain death last week, Chimney already moved back in with Maddie as her pregnancy progresses, and only a couple of minutes at the end of the hour dedicated to setting up the crossover with 9-1-1: Lone Star. That said, Buck came clean to Maddie and Chimney that the woman he's been seeing is a therapist, which led to 9-1-1 making it pretty clear that Maddie is hiding a big secret from her brother, and she's not the only one.
The reveal from Buck that he was feeling "sad and lonely" enough even after making his peace with Abby to seek help from a therapist clearly shook Maddie, even though Buck was pretty open about it. Maddie wanted to help him, and the episode continued to make it clear that their parents were distant, with Maddie saying that they were good people but not good parents.
Maddie broke down in tears in the middle of the night out of fear that she was more like her parents than she thought, and viewers could hear Maddie's half of a phone conversation with her mom in which she hinted at something Buck doesn't know, and that they'd been lying to him for his entire life. By the end of the episode, she broke whatever the news is to Chimney, but the credits rolled without revealing exactly what Maddie and her parents have been keeping from Buck. Can Maddie ever catch a break?
With Chimney now in the know and Maddie seemingly bursting to come clean to her brother now that he's seeking therapy, the question is: what does whatever this secret is mean for Buck? Now, maybe I'm biased as a younger sibling with brothers who tried to convince me that I was adopted as a child, but Maddie's statement that she's been hiding something from Buck for his entire life immediately made me think that he's just adopted and nobody ever told him.
It's not like he and Maddie look especially alike, and if the age difference between Maddie and Buck corresponds to the age difference between Jennifer Love Hewitt and Oliver Stark, then there's more than ten years between them. If Buck is adopted and was taken in as a baby, it would make sense that Maddie at the age of 10+ would have had to capacity to keep such a big secret and for it to be true that she had lied to him for his entire life.
All of that said, Maddie seemed so upset and the conversation with her mom seemed so loaded with her mom's determination to keep Buck in the dark that I can't 100% commit to a straightforward adoption theory. Sure, it would probably be upsetting to Buck to learn that there was something so huge about himself and nobody thought to mention it to him, but being adopted just doesn't seem like something that would absolutely have to be kept from him for all these years.
Maybe the secret is something much darker than just not telling Buck a huge truth, that he's not a biological brother and son to the other Buckleys. Or, for a twist, maybe he is adopted, but there's a dark and/or complicated reason why he wasn't told about it. Based on everything Buck and Maddie both said about their parents in "Future Tense," they don't sound like the kind of people who would suddenly decide to take in a baby because they loved parenting so much. There must have been a reason, if the adoption theory is on the money.
Then, there's what Buck had to say when quoting their parents:
Look, I know I got a great life. Job I love, people I love. I just never feel like I can trust it. 'The world is an uncertain place, Evan. You have to protect yourself.' Thanks, Mom and Dad.
Even if Buck isn't secretly adopted or involved in some dark secret since he was a baby, can we all at least agree that telling their son that he has to protect himself in an uncertain place is a weird bit of advice to give a kid? Maddie's comment about lying to Buck his entire life is what really throws me about all the clues she dropped in "Future Tense," and what has me leaning toward something bad happening that Buck needed to be adopted, but kept completely in the dark about it for literal decades so far to protect him.
Of course, Buck was oblivious to almost all of Maddie's turmoil in "Future Tense," other than that she felt bad that she wasn't able to fix what was bothering him enough to see a therapist. With Chimney now in the know, it seems inevitable that the other shoe is going to drop sooner rather than later. That's not to say that Chimney is completely incapable of keeping a secret, but Buck is also his friend.
Also, if Maddie is able to tell one person the truth, maybe she'll begin to feel comfortable with telling Buck himself. Even now, with more questions than answers about the big Buck secret, I have to imagine that the truth would come better from Maddie than any other way that he could find out, especially considering the two arrivals that are turning up in the next episode. Called "What's Your Grievance," here's what's happening in the episode that airs on Monday, February 8 at 8 p.m. ET:
Athena investigates a mysterious murder during a neighborhood block party and the 118 rush to save lives endangered by a bomb threat. Meanwhile, Chimney has a hard time keeping secrets when Maddie and Buck’s parents come to town.
Talk about a double whammy when it comes to hiding a big secret from Buck! If Chimney is struggling to keep the secret and the Buckley parents are in the mix, I can imagine Buck having a rough time next week if nobody comes clean sooner rather than later. Good thing he's already seeing a therapist to have somebody to talk to in case everything falls apart!