Why Station 19's Bloody Cliffhanger Shouldn't Be The Biggest Takeaway From The Emotional Spring Premiere

station 19 train in vain vic barrett doss season 4 abc
(Image credit: ABC)

Spoilers ahead for the spring premiere of Station 19 Season 4 on ABC, called "Train in Vain."

Station 19 finally returned to ABC for the first time in 2021 with an episode that not only had to resolve the cliffhanger from the winter finale but also set up a bloody cliffhanger to raise the stakes for the Grey's Anatomy half of the crossover event. The end of the episode saw DeLuca stabbed in a train station after going the extra mile with Carina to try and catch the sex trafficker, and he was not looking good as Station 19 ended and Grey's Anatomy was about to begin. That said, I don't think that DeLuca's stabbing should be the big takeaway from "Train in Vain."

"Train in Vain" picked up almost right where the winter finale left off, with Miller and Sullivan arrested by racist cops after those same cops refused to listen to a Black woman who was begging them to help some kidnapped girls. It was a violent and frightening situation that was out of the firefighters' control, with guns drawn and nothing to be done but hope that none of the cops would open fire. Instead of just getting Miller and Sullivan out of jail and then sending the first responders barreling into action to fight fires, Station 19 showed all of their emotional states and journeys as they tried to process what had happened.

And yes, there was of course still action going on thanks to DeLuca and Carina going on an ill-advised chase of a sex trafficker in Carina's car, which culminated in the stabbing that carried over to Grey's Anatomy, but for me the real power of the episode came from the performances of the characters who stayed behind at Station 19 to prepare for inspection. Miller didn't want to talk and wasn't ready to immediately accept Maya's apology, but he was pretty level overall when he came to see the big picture. Sullivan continued to struggle with his new position lower down the fire department ladder on top of his violent arrest.

And even though Vic herself wasn't carted off to jail, she was present when everything started going sideways, and she wasn't able to just swallow all of her pain and frustration and anger at what the cops were allowing to happen because the people involved were Black rather than white. There were no huge outbursts or even outpourings of emotion for most of the episode, until the end at the firehouse when the battalion chief inspecting 19 accidentally opened the floodgates.

When he demanded to know where Maya was while Maya was MIA with Ben and Gibson chasing Carina and DeLuca, the story came out that this was the group of firefighters who had been involved in saving the teenage girls and then two of them being arrested for their heroics. He acknowledged the heroism, which cut the firefighters the emotional break that they needed, even if the larger problems were of course not solved. Station 19 isn't done addressing those problems, however, as Miller intends to seek justice through the courts by using his family's considerable fortune to fight back. He'll have to make peace with his family first, but he's clearly determined.

On the whole, I have to give credit to Barrett Doss in particular for this episode. Her performance as Vic when Vic very suddenly burst into tears while standing at attention was masterful, and honestly hit me harder than what happened to DeLuca. "Train in Vain" is a Station 19 episode that may go down as one of the most memorable of the whole series due to how it ended with DeLuca (and what went on to happen on Grey's Anatomy), but I truly hope that it's remembered more for the character journeys as they dealt with what happened and worked on how to move forward.

You can see what happens next for the heroes of Station 19 with new episodes on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, ahead of new episodes of Grey's Anatomy. For more of what's on the way now and in the coming weeks, be sure to check out our 2021 winter and spring 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).