Spoilers ahead for the November 15 episode of 9-1-1 on Fox, called “Defend In Place.”
The fifth season of 9-1-1 has delivered some big changes to the cast, featuring some more than previously, shifting others into different positions , and of course Maddie leaving Los Angeles as a result of her postpartum depression. Now, the show has said goodbye to another important character, although under better circumstances than Jennifer Love Hewitt’s character, as well as with the expectation of eventually returning. Rockmond Dunbar’s Michael is leaving LA.
Michael got some big news at the beginning of “Defend In Place” when his neurosurgeon boyfriend David revealed that he’s planning to go to Haiti to provide aid to those in need, saying that he was inspired by all of the people who Michael brought into his life. Michael wasn’t thrilled to learn that the man he loves was planning to leave for a dangerous location for months, but the prospect of losing David even briefly made him realize that he never wanted to lose David at all, so he began planning to propose, with Athena, the kids, and Bobby weighing in.
Unfortunately for them, in true 9-1-1 style, the best laid plans went sideways when an explosion rocked the hospital where David was performing surgery, and he refused to leave the burning building until he finished the risky procedure. In the process of trying to persuade him to leave, Bobby dropped the news that Michael was planning to propose.
After making it out alive and well, David said yes to the proposal that Michael technically never made, and they’re now happily planning on getting married. It was great news… but some bittersweet news was on the way as well. Michael announced to his family that he was going with David to Haiti. Although the trip was initially said to only last for a couple of months when David announced it, 9-1-1’s goodbye to Michael felt awfully final. All of the reactions to the news were very emotional, and the scene even featured flashbacks to really pluck at the heartstrings.
All things considered, even though Michael’s departure was set up as less indefinite than Maddie’s, 9-1-1’s farewell to him felt more final to me than Maddie bowing out. That said, the show is fast-approaching its winter hiatus, with the fall finale coming up in December, and Michael certainly still has strong ties with his family back in LA. It’s possible that 9-1-1 could pick up in real time in 2022, just in time for Michael to return to Los Angeles. At the end of the day, this is about as good of a goodbye as fans (and Michael’s family) could hope for. He’s still alive with plans to return, and leaving with the man he loves and plans to marry means he’s leaving on a high note.
Poor Maddie didn’t depart on such a high note earlier in the season, but if the show was going to write out Jennifer Love Hewitt (at least for a time), then it also had to come up with some reason why she would leave her newborn daughter and man that she loves. It’s hard to imagine a good reason why she would leave, and 9-1-1 couldn’t really get away with just keeping her character off-screen the whole time.
While her absence has meant less of Chimney and characters like Eddie subbing in for the paramedic spot, it has allowed May to step into the spotlight more as a dispatcher. Plus, for better or worse, Buck has had storylines other than involving his sister.
Will Michael come back to the show in the foreseeable future? Find out with new episodes of 9-1-1 on Fox on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET, although the show won’t be back for a while. The next episode will be the fall finale on December 6, and 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 3 will be taking over that time slot starting in early January. The parent series will presumably return later in midseason.
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. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.
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