‘9-1-1’ Showrunner Tim Minear Teases Spring Return, Origin Stories & More Season 2 Details

Michael Becker / FOX

The wait is finally over for fans of Fox’s 9-1-1, which returns Monday after a more than three-month-long winter hiatus. After teasing viewers with various cliffhangers and big events including Athena (Angela Bassett) and Bobby’s (Peter Krause) engagement, along with Maddie’s (Jennifer Love Hewitt) ex Doug (Brian Hallisay) stalking Chimney (Kenneth Choi), answers are on the way.

TV Insider chatted with series co-showrunner Tim Minear, who has plenty to tease about the second half of Season 2, including origin story episodes, what’s next for the characters and upcoming emergencies. Below, Minear gives us the report.

A lot happened in the winter finale; what should fans expect when the show picks back up?

Tim Minear: A lot did happen in the winter finale, and what they should expect when we return is for a lot more to happen. [Laughs] We’re gonna be picking up all the little grenades we dropped at the end of the winter finale. We’re gonna find out what the status of Maddie’s ex is, we’re going to meet Athena’s parents after the big announcement that she’s engaged to Bobby.

We’re going to have a delicious combo platter of 9-1-1 rescues. In the midseason premiere is a great focused story on Athena and not only her mother, but the passion for her job. And some of the tiger-mom influence that Athena is fighting with her mom about that she actually brings to her job. We’ll see that, and we’re going to hit the Maddie-Doug story hard, and we’re going to resolve that in about three episodes.

(Credit: Jack Zeman / FOX)

One big milestone in the midseason premiere is Bobby meeting Athena’s parents. Is it safe to say things won’t go smoothly?

You know things never go smoothly for our characters completely, but I think there are certain things about our characters that make it a safe port in the storm, and that is their feelings for each other are always real. Their loyalty to each other – not just Bobby and Athena, but the team of our unambiguous heroes – as you will discover in Episode 14, everything around them may break, but they never do.

Do fans need to worry about the newly engaged couple?

Oh, they should be terrified [Laughs]. What I’m saying is, the best-laid plans of mice and men. You know, everything’s always gonna be a bit of a fight, and there’s always a personal emergency when the real-life emergencies aren’t happening. So, it’s never completely an easy road, but I think the joy of the show is seeing our characters overcome the challenges that are before them. But it will never be a completely … a road without bumps.

Another big plot is Maddie’s plan to completely cut-ties from ex Doug, will she and Chimney take their friendship to the next level or is danger afoot?

I will say that the same applies to Maddie and Chimney, they’ll both be going through so much that whatever relationship is between Maddie and Chimney, will go through different shapes and will take on a different cast as the story unfolds. It will not be static.

What other things can fans expect to see through the rest of the season?

There will be continuing story threads that we’ll be [seeing in] all the episodes all the way up until Episode 18 this year, and everything that we’ve been setting up in the first 10 episodes will be addressed and either brought to its next level or paid off. So, we’re going to be, of course, raising new questions, but we’re going to be answering a lot of the questions that the fans are gonna want to know.

(Credit: Michael Becker / FOX)

We have two fantastic origin episodes coming up — we’ll see “Chimney Begins,” Chimney’s origin, which is just a tour de force for Kenneth Choi, he’s just amazing to watch. We’ll be doing “Bobby Begins Again,” which is sort of a hybrid of what we’ve established with the “Hen Begins” episode and the “Chimney Begins” episode. It’s Bobby coming into the 118 and us getting a little more information about how he dealt with the aftermath of the fire in Minnesota, which then complicates his story in the present day and complicates life for everyone at the 118.

One aspect of this show is the connection between these first responders’ lives and the emergencies they respond to. What kind of conversations take place when deciding what to introduce in each episode?

We usually start with, because now we have kind of a rich history of the characters’ lives behind us… [and they] have been through certain things, so the story wants to go in certain directions sort of organically.

And so it can be anything. We have a fantastic case that we’ve heard of — the case last year in Massachusetts where there were, I think, 90 or 100 underground gas explosions in different neighborhoods. So, we saw that story, and we thought, “Okay, that’s sounds like something that could live on our show.” The idea of literally your world is blowing up around you and it’s because infrastructure is breaking down, and we were sort of coming into an episode after characters had been put through several different wringers.

So, our characters were kind of broken, and there’s a great set piece in Episode 14 that is based on what happened in Massachusetts where literally a neighborhood just starts to explode, but it also happens to be on the same day that the 9-1-1 system breaks down. So the call center has to go analog – they have to bring in the white boards, they have to bring in the 3×5 cards, they have to call out the Thomas Guides. They have to start doing it old school, and then ladders are breaking on the fire trucks, and literally everything is just breaking.

And so, what we try to do is come up with exciting stories on that theme, that’ll affect the course of an episode and also talk about how our characters are broken in some ways and how things that are broken can be mended. And how life might be breaking around them, but they don’t break. We have that coming up, that’s how we talk about ideas.

(Credit: Michael Becker / FOX)

We have an episode for Episode 15 that I think is gonna be fantastic, which is a heist episode — we call it “Oceans 9/11,” and it’s gonna be super-fun, and I just think what we’ve discovered this year with the show is that the vocabulary of the show and the language of the show is broad enough that we can have incredibly intense stories of children being kidnapped in the same episode along with first responders turning up to a jack-knifed truck and actually saving a shark before it can drown on land.

9-1-1, Season 2 Returns, Monday, March 18, 9/8c, Fox