‘9-1-1’ Boss on Buck & Abby, Maddie’s Happy News, Athena’s Struggle & More

911 Season 3 Finale What's Next Season 4 Preview
Jack Zeman/FOX

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Season 3 finale of 9-1-1, “What’s Next?”]

Connie Britton‘s return as Abby is nowhere near the reunion that Buck (Oliver Stark) was hoping for in the 9-1-1 Season 3 finale.

At the end of the penultimate episode, it was Abby who called in the massive train derailment to Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt). “It was just too delicious of an idea to pass up,” executive producer Tim Minear told TV Insider. “The irony of that made perfect sense.”

Immediately after seeing Abby at the accident scene, Buck learned that her fiancé was trapped — and briefly, the 118 was faced with having to choose between him and another passenger trapped by the same beam. Instead, Buck led a risky rescue that saved both.

Elsewhere in the finale, Athena (Angela Bassett) realized she had to come to terms with being a victim herself. But in happier news, Maddie and Chimney (Kenneth Choi) are having a baby!

Here, Minear breaks down the finale and teases what’s to come in Season 4.

Oliver Stark 9-1-1 Season 3 Finale Buck Reunites With Abby

(Jack Zeman/FOX)

What came first — the details of the accident, including Abby’s part, or that in some way, the finale would include her return?

Tim Minear: Interestingly enough, the train derailment and the return of Abby came at the same moment. Somebody — it may have been Chris Monfette, who’s a writer on the show, or it may have been Kristen Reidel — had pitched, “What if in the penultimate episode of the season, Maddie gets a call from a derailed train and on the other end of the line is Abby? Then we could bring her back and give Buck some closure with her in the middle of an accident.” Those two ideas came hand-in-hand.

Then literally the next day, there was the 100th episode party for American Horror Story, and I ran into Connie Britton. I was like, “You know what, I’m just going to ask her.” I was with Angela Bassett, and we double-teamed Connie, but Connie immediately agreed and said, “Yeah, that’d be awesome. I’d love to come back.” It was that simple and like lightning striking all at once.

Speaking of Buck getting closure, he got it, and his and Abby’s final conversation was very raw and honest. What was the goal for closing out that part of both of their lives with this episode?

We didn’t want to ignore the fact that Abby was such a big part of the first season. Abby’s always been a presence on the show, even when the actress portraying her has been absent from the show. I felt like it was important for Abby and Buck to have a proper goodbye, a proper sendoff, but more importantly, it was important for me that Buck understood that as much as Abby had influenced his growth, that he changed on his own and he needs to be able to move on to whatever’s next for him. To have a proper sendoff, a proper goodbye, one last reckoning with that person who really set his journey into motion was important. And for Abby as well.

Abby spoke about not having a sense of self, about her life revolving around those she could help, and obviously that’s true of Buck. And on the train, Bobby tells him he can’t just rush into dangerous situations and assume it’ll work out. Are we going to see a different Buck in Season 4?

You’re going to see the next phase of Buck in Season 4. The train is a metaphor for Buck. Buck felt like that maybe he’d been derailed from the track he was on. What he learned from Abby was he’s still on his journey. You’ll see the continued evolution of Buck as you’ll see the continued evolution of all the characters.

Maddie Chimney 9-1-1 Season 3 Happy Relationship

(Jack Zeman/FOX)

Maddie’s pregnant! Thank you for continuing to give her and Chimney happiness because they deserve it —

I promised you I would do that.

Just don’t take it away! What are the conversations you’re having about her pregnancy, their relationship, them as parents, and their jobs?

We’re just getting into talking about that now. We only just resumed the Season 4 writers room a couple weeks ago, but we do have some big plans for Maddie and Chimney. You can rest assured that while of course they will be facing challenges, they will be facing danger because of the line of work they’re in, we have some really heartwarming and aspirational and wonderful story ideas coming up for them.

That last scene with them was so adorable.

So adorable!

I loved Maddie holding up the tests.

I loved it too. I loved it when she pulled up the second one.

Athena is thinking about her future as a cop. How much is she going to struggle with the decision to return to the job in the same capacity as before?

She’s going to struggle. Athena has never ever felt like a victim really, and being put in that very vulnerable position and realizing that she is in fact not invulnerable, that she’s not immortal, has really shaken her. She’s going to have to grapple with that for a while, but it’s going to bring her to a different place but a very satisfying place.

Will we see Dr. Sandford again or perhaps someone else helping her?

I really want to bring back Brooke [Shields]. I thought she was great.

Peter Krause Angela Basett 9-1-1 Season 3 Bobby Athena Relationship

(Jack Zeman/FOX)

Something that’s stood out to me is that Bobby seems so calm and settled, other than destroying their fireplace, and I love it.

I don’t think what happened to Athena will only have affected Athena. We’re talking about a man who has a new family who lost a family in the past, and he’s going to start to feel very protective. Going forward, I only see Athena and Bobby’s relationship getting stronger. No matter what they end up going through, it’s only going to serve to make them stronger.

Hen’s getting closer to med school. What does that mean for her future with the 118 and on the show?

That’s the question. That’s the question that plagues Chimney, that he might be losing his partner. Hen is a person who is ambitious and who is talented and who will always find the unconventional way of expressing her vocation. As far as her future with the show, I don’t see the show without Aisha Hinds.

Between Eddie remembering his military past in his “Begins” episode and now dealing with Christopher growing up, what effect will that have on him next season?

Eddie is going to be growing just like everybody else is going to be growing. His priority will always be Christopher, so even when it comes to other relationships in his life, how that would affect Christopher is always going to be the thing he takes into account first. But it’s not going to stop him.

Michael got a bit of happiness, with the news that his tumor shrunk and the date with that doctor. Is he out of the woods or should we still be worried about his health? And is that date just indicative of him getting back out there or could it lead to a serious relationship, much like we saw Athena and Bobby on a date at the end of Season 1?

The sky is the limit for Michael right now. His prognosis is very good. I would not count out marrying a doctor.

Rockmond Dunbar 9-1-1 Season 3 Michael

(Jack Zeman/FOX)

Are we going to get more Josh next season? And perhaps some happiness for him? Not only is his and Maddie’s friendship the best, but I loved them with Chimney and Buck.

Yeah, you’ll definitely see more Josh next season. We’ll learn a little more about who Josh is. There are stories to be had with that character for sure. We all love the actor. The show is a workplace drama as much as it is a family drama, and sometimes it’s a family in the workplace, and one of the workplaces on the show is that call center. Over the last couple seasons, we’ve been trying to flesh out the call center and create opportunities for stories there, and Josh really stepped up to the plate and he’s a great character.

May wanted to talk to Maddie about something. Is she thinking about becoming a nurse?

She’s definitely got something up her sleeve. [Laughs]

Because your show is about first responders, what are you discussing when it comes to the real-world pandemic and the long-term effects? Is that something that might be part of Season 4?

We have been talking about that. We’ve been talking about it for both 9-1-1 and Lone Star. We’re exploring different ways to address it. What I don’t want to do is ignore it, but I also don’t want the show to become about that. Probably what you’ll find is when we come back, our characters will have been through what our audience has been through. They will have been through this period of quarantine. They will have learned what the protocols are to get by in day-to-day life.

The protocols for first responders are very specific. They’re going to have to treat the calls they go out on with that in mind. I’m not saying we won’t do COVID stories. We might. On the other hand, what is interesting to me is an aspirational approach to it in terms of showing that while that is a real thing that exists in the world and even in our world, that life can still go on. That’s where my head’s at right now.

9-1-1, Season 4, Midseason, Fox