‘9-1-1’s Oliver Stark Says Buck Is Feeling ‘Stuck’ & Needs ‘Closure’ With Abby

9-1-1 Season 3 Episode 16 Buck Oliver Stark
Spoiler Alert
Jack Zeman/FOX

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 3, Episode 16 of 9-1-1, “The One That Got Away.”]

Buck (Oliver Stark) comes face-to-face with his possible future in Monday’s episode of 9-1-1.

Following an impressive save via rope rescue, Buck ends up going out to celebrate alone after everyone begs off to spend time with significant others and children. At the bar, he meets retired firefighter Red (Jack McGee), and Buck spends the episode trying to help him, first by reuniting him with a lost love and then by ensuring he gets a firefighters’ sendoff as he heads home from the hospital to die. (He’d been diagnosed with mesothelioma the year before and lived longer than the doctors had expected.)

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“You can be the hero, save lives, but don’t neglect having your own,” Red advises him early on. “Last thing you want is to be at the end holding nothing but regrets.”

Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) could tell that it hit a bit close to home for her brother, the lonely hero firefighter pining for a lost love; his attempts at dating since Abby left haven’t gone anywhere. Still, she promises, he’s not Red and he’s not alone. He has her.

Here, Stark takes us inside the emotional hour for Buck, discusses a hypothetical reunion with Abby, and previews the big finale event.

9-1-1 Season 3 Episode 16 Buck Rope Rescue

(Jack Zeman/FOX)

The episode starts with a bit of action and that save via the rope rescue.

Oliver Stark: The whole fire rescue that we went through took four or five days. We shot it across three different locations. It was really something that needed to be pieced together. It took a lot of work. But it was really quite exhilarating. We don’t really do too many fires on the show.

… Everybody’s in it together and struggling through, but obviously having a deaf woman be the victim added another component, which I think is something that is very important to show. I didn’t realize myself that there was a way they could type to the 9-1-1 dispatchers, so it’s a chance to show 9-1-1 operating in a different aspect.

Buck is more comfortable running into fires and jumping off a roof than dealing with the emotional stuff, right? Which he then has to do for the rest of the episode.

Yeah. Not that he’s somebody that does shy away from his emotions, but certainly he’s able to flip a switch and run into these situations and feed off that adrenaline, and his big heart is shown in those moments where, whatever it takes, he will get the job done.

Buck spends the episode feeling like he’s basically getting a look at his future in Red, despite Maddie trying to assure him he isn’t at the end. Why did he need to meet Red at this point in his life?

He is a little bit stuck. He’s been idling and not really sure who he is outside of his job. That’s something that a lot of us struggle with, where our job is our entire identity, so he’s just got to the point now where it’s like, “Am I going to be entirely consumed by this? Or am I going to have a life outside of it?”

I felt for Buck when he was trying to get someone to join him for drinks and one by one everyone turned him down. It’s really hit Buck that he’s single and doesn’t have any kids, hasn’t it? Then combine that with his concern that they’ll go their separate ways one day and not keep in touch…

Yeah, every character on the show, we see that they have somebody else, whether it be Maddie with Chimney, Eddie having his son, Bobby and Athena, Hen and Karen. Buck is really the only person that doesn’t have somebody outside the firehouse. That loneliness is very much on the show in that moment. There was nobody else that he could go and celebrate with.

9-1-1 Season 3 Episode 16 118 Escort Red

(Jack Zeman/FOX)

Is the fact that he doesn’t have someone else one of his biggest regrets at the moment? Red talks about having regrets at the end, so that has to have Buck thinking, right?

Yeah, I don’t think it’s something he’s considered before. That is one of the key things that Red is able to impart on Buck, that there’s more to life and you can’t do this thing alone — or you can, but it’s not going to be anywhere near as enjoyable.

There’s been talk about Abby lately — offscreen of a possible return, and now onscreen, as Buck admits that he does still think about her sometimes. How does he feel about her at this point?

The issue with Buck’s thoughts on Abby is he never got any closure. The last thing we saw of their relationship onscreen was him sending her a letter, but we don’t know if she ever sent a letter back, if he ever heard from her in any kind of way. He’s just been in this weird limbo of not knowing if anything is ever going to happen again or if he should just let it go, so he’s just crying out for a little bit of closure on that situation.

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Plus, the star previews the end of the season and discusses how Maddie would feel if Abby returned.

What would he want her to see in him if they were to reunite? How might that potential reunion go down?

He’s in a very different place from the first time they met, so there would be a moment of adjustment where they’re meeting each other — she’s been off traveling — as two very different people. It would actually be a little bit jarring at first and take some time to settle in and wouldn’t just be the Buck and Abby of old.

There are people in his life who were there for their relationship, but there are also people who weren’t, namely Maddie and Eddie. How might their opinions differ from the others on the subject?

It could almost be more positive because the other people in his life were there for the situation, saw her kind of leave him high and dry, so Eddie and Maddie, if they were to ever see that happen, might not have any pre-existing thoughts on the situation and be able to just take it in as it is in the moment rather than putting any judgement on it.

Oliver Stark 9-1-1 Season 3 Buck

(Jack Zeman/FOX)

Not only have we gotten some sweet sibling moments for Buck and Maddie lately, but we’ve gotten some really fun scenes with them and Chimney and Josh. Are there more coming up?

I agree, every time they’re in the room together, there’s a fun energy of being able to play that, “This is my sister and one of my best friends,” and Josh adds a great new dynamic into that. For the rest of this season, we don’t see the four of them in the room together, but there’s definitely [the possibility] going forward. In “The Taking of Dispatch 9-1-1” episode, Buck mentioned he tried to call Josh, so they’re friends and they’re all existing in this tight-knit little circle, so I’m looking forward to those light moments.

If it had come down to it, would Buck have dug Eddie out with his bare hands in “Eddie Begins”?

Oh, 100 percent. He would’ve been down there, using anything. Buck has a big heart and would run into anything for his friends and his loved ones, so yeah, absolutely, if Bobby hadn’t had been there, Buck would be 40 feet down.

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It’s just an example of how much the 118 is his family, right?

Totally. Losing any one of them would be like losing a limb. I don’t think Buck would be able to function if something had happened there, so thankfully, it all turned out for the best.

And Athena’s getting involved in quite the case. What’s coming up with the serial rapist?

I think it’s the first time we’ve seen Athena involved in a case that spans more than one episode. It’s really exciting just to see her different skillset, whether it be detective skills or just running in and dealing with the situation. It’s going to be all of those things rolled into one, and there’s some darkness and some tense moments coming up for her.

9-1-1 Season 3 Episode 16 Athena Serial Case

(Jack Zeman/FOX)

There’s a train derailment coming in the finale. What can you preview about that and which characters might be affected the most in the finale, whether due to that accident or what’s going on in their personal lives?

There’s a huge train derailment coming up. Scale-wise, it’s on par with some of the biggest things we’ve ever done on the show, so it was really exciting just to live in that environment and create this chaos. Everybody in the finale gets a moment and gets some things wrapped up, but there are certainly moments within the train derailment itself that really have Buck considering the direction that he’s going in. There’s also some happy moments for some other characters that are going to shake things up moving forward in Season 4.

9-1-1, Mondays, 8/7c, Fox