‘9-1-1’ Recap: Search and Rescue Continues After Tsunami in Season 3, Episode 3 “The Searchers”

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The tsunami saga wraps up in season 3, episode 3 of 9-1-1. The aftermath of the natural disaster leaves people missing and nowhere to go; Buck frantically searching for Christopher; Eddie and Bobby helping out at the Ferris wheel; Athena helping free the captain of Station 136; and more.

Find out how it all went down in “The Searchers.”

The episode begins with 9-1-1 calls and reporters talking about the tsunami; how people are stranded and injured. Buck is still looking for Christopher, having absolutely no idea where he could be. He keeps asking people if they’ve seen a little boy with brown hair, glasses, and a yellow t-shirt. Unfortunately, he finds Christopher’s glasses, but not Christopher. He puts them around his neck and continues searching.

Continuing with last week’s theme, we go back to 20 minutes before the first wave again. This time, it’s with a couple, Max and Stacey, on the brink of divorce, going to the Santa Monica Pier where they got engaged five years prior. They get on the Ferris wheel, wanting to “end on a high note.” Stacey wants Max to sign the papers, but Max is still hoping to rekindle their love. Soon, the alarms go off, and the first wave is coming. The wave moves the Ferris wheel, and Max hits his head, shattering glass.

Returning to where last week’s episode ended, Bobby and Eddie are just getting to the Ferris wheel, along with several other search and rescue teams. Stacey is trying to get help since Max isn’t doing too well — his head is bleeding, and he’s just barely hanging on, unable to feel — but they’re stuck at the top of the wheel. Eddie starts climbing the wheel to help, and Bobby helps with evacuation and getting them down. Eddie gets to where Lena “fire lady” (Ronda Rousey) is, helping her get people down. Lena and Eddie finally get to Max and Stacey.

The wheel starts moving, indicating that it’s about to give out. Eddie tells Bobby that they’re able to get one of the people down to them, but the other has a possible spinal injury, and they need a Hail Mary (aka helicopter). When Max is getting secured on the board, Stacey talks to him, saying he’s going to fight. He starts to move his fingers. Max says he thinks he’s getting feeling back. He asks Stacey for a pen so he can sign the divorce papers, saying they were a disaster, but a beautiful disaster. Max is lifted up to the helicopter. The last of the survivors are off the Ferris wheel and onto the boats. Debris is coming, so Eddie and Lena jump off the wheel into the water and swim to the boat that Bobby is on. While they are getting away from the Ferris wheel, it finally topples over.

After getting to the entrance of the Pier, Bobby and Eddie get alerted that the rest of the team is still stuck on the other side, and trucks can’t get through yet, so they have to make it on foot, wading through knee-high water. Bobby tells Lena that everyone in her station is accounted for except the captain. Lena mentions she has a bruised rib, but it’s nothing. Eddie takes a look and comes to the conclusion that it’s broken, not bruised, just by touching the area. Bobby calls Lena off the field because of it. Eddie goes to the VA Hospital with her. He tries calling Buck, not realizing that they were caught in the middle of the tsunami.

While still searching for Christopher, Buck hears a lady yelling that there’s a kid stuck under something. Thinking it’s Christopher, Buck gets the kid out, but it turns out to be someone else. Buck asks the family if they’ve seen Christopher, describing him. A man tells him that he thinks he saw Christopher with a group heading to a Cupcakery place where water was being handed out.

At the Call Center, more and more calls are coming through. Maddie is helping with the calls, telling the dispatchers where to mark a call on a priority list. Maddie takes a call from a woman named Louise in Kenosha, WI about her daughter, Joanna, who was texting her. Joanna’s texts were starting to become gibberish, and Louise was saying she can’t reach her daughter at all. After Louise tells Maddie where Joanna was staying, Maddie realizes that Linda, a dispatcher, had another call that was about the same apartment complex. A caller was having trouble reaching his boyfriend and said their phone conversation cut off mid-sentence. Talking to Sue, Maddie tells her she checked social media and Red Cross to see if anyone from that complex marked themselves as safe during the tsunami, but there was no mention of it anywhere. Maddie wants to send someone there. Sue says unless someone asks for help and says it’s an emergency, there’s nothing they can do about it.

Charlie, who got called out by the Harbor Dept. for flying her drone at the Pier, is now at home and flying her drone again, but this time over the streets to see if she can spot Reggie, who is missing. She calls 9-1-1, and Linda can’t tell if she’s getting pranked, so she asks Maddie to take over. Charlie asks her if they know about Frogman, saying he might be dead. They said he’s in a tree, but you can’t see him from the street. Charlie tells them that she’s using her drone to look for Reggie, which is why she could see the man in the tree. She sends them a link to a live feed, and Maddie tells Linda to send a ladder truck down to that area. Maddie has Charlie fly her drone over to the apartment complex and up to an opening to see if they can see inside. The drone captures a room full of people, unresponsive.

Back with Athena, she’s telling a group of police officers that they are the first line of defense, looking for looters and ensuring that everyone is safe, including themselves. A family comes over searching for their people. Athena tells them to go to the emergency shelters, but a man tells her that his wife is missing. The police can’t do much about it because it’s not safe for them to be on the streets.

At the emergency shelters, Buck is still looking for Christopher, spotting a little boy he thinks is Christopher but is not. A man tells Buck that he’s bleeding. Buck almost faints, but a few people catch him and sit him down.

With the 118 and other fire crews, they get to the apartment complex to figure out what’s going on, realizing there’s a lot of carbon monoxide (CO) everywhere. Hen and another firefighter check building maintenance central heating units to find the source and shut it down. Everyone else is dispatched to the 10th floor, where the room full of unresponsive people were. While checking for the source, a man comes out suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. Finally getting to the room, they start checking everyone, shattering a window to get fresh air in. One by one, the firefighters get the people back down to the ground level. While requesting medical transport, Bobby notes that at least 17 people have been affected by CO poisoning. Hen helps Joanna, and she notices that there’s gasoline leaking into the water, so they have to move quickly.

Athena makes her way to a call where she sees two men robbing places. Athena finds them looting animals, but they claim they’re saving them, saying they’re from West L.A. Rescue; they save animals and reunite them with their owners during natural disasters, fires, etc. Athena tells them to leave with the animals already in the car but to leave the rest to ASPCA. When walking back to the car, Athena hears metal clanking.

She spots someone trapped under a car and notices it’s Captain Cooper of Station 136. His arm is pinned under the car. She tries to find something to lift the car off since EMTs are about a half-hour out. Captain Cooper tells her that she’d be better off amputating his arm.

Athena breaks into a house, so she could find something to help free Captain Cooper. She returns to him with supplies: alcohol, tools, and a rag. Athena has him bite down on her wallet. Then, she begins to amputate his arm.

At the emergency shelter, Eddie checks in Lena so someone can look at her. Lena asks the nurse if the captain of Station 136 has come in yet, and she says no. Eddie and Lena walk into the VA Hospital, where they see Kyle, a little boy, coughing. Eddie notices that he’s drowning — a delayed secondary drowning. Eddie pulls a leaf out of Kyle’s mouth and saves the boy. A doctor asks Eddie for help with everything because they’re short-staffed. Eddie agrees.

Back with the rest of Station 118, they’re still trying to figure out how to get away from the gasoline site, especially after a lamp post falls over and starts a fire. Chim manages to get two mail trucks to help transport people. They soon finish loading up everyone. Once they’re all settled, they finally drive off just as the area explodes because of the gasoline. Not long after, they spot a lot of people walking down a road in need of help.

Back at the emergency shelter and VA Hospital, Eddie is helping people, and Lena wants to get back out to look for her captain. At that time, Athena comes in with Captain Cooper, and Lena goes in the hospital with him. Buck is still desperately searching for Christopher, with no luck. He asks a nurse if she’s seen him anywhere, and she recommends checking the black tent, which is the morgue.

At the Call Center, Sue tells Maddie that a recovery crew identified Reggie’s body and that he had drowned. Maddie gets a call from Buck. He tells her that he needs help and explains that Eddie dropped Christopher off with him and that they went to the Pier. It dawns on Maddie that they were there when the tsunami hit. Buck explains everything with the ladder truck and that Christopher fell off, telling her that he’s gone. Buck tells Maddie that he’s checked every shelter he could and that he’s currently at the VA Hospital. While on the phone with Maddie, Buck spots Eddie, who still doesn’t know what happened. Buck doesn’t know what to say to Eddie. He wants to keep looking for Christopher.

The 118 crew finally make it to the VA Hospital. Eddie spots Buck, and Buck tells him what happened. When Buck is explaining everything, Eddie spots a woman holding Christopher. She wonders if he’s Buck since he’s been asking about him. Eddie tells her he’s Christopher’s father. Chim, Hen, and Bobby spot Buck and wonder what happened to him. The three of them keep looking between Eddie and Buck. Buck almost faints, but they catch him.

Not long after that terrible day, there are signs of missing loved ones and candles and flowers for those missing and lost. Bobby and Athena are back home playing cards with the kids. The couple that was going to get married on a boat finally get married in the hospital, with the son, Chim, and Hen looking on. The Station 136 crew are in Captain Cooper’s hospital room. Charlie puts up a missing sign for Reggie, and Maddie comforts her.

Buck is at home, and Eddie knocks on the door. Eddie drops off Christopher. Buck is surprised because, after everything that happened, Eddie still trusts him with his son. Buck says that he lost Christopher, but Eddie says that he saved him; that’s how Christopher remembers it. And it’s his turn to do the same for Buck. Buck says that he failed. Eddie says he’s failed more times than he can count, and he’s Christopher’s father. He says there’s no one in the world he trusts more with his son than Buck. Eddie jokingly suggests they go to the zoo or something inland and thanks Buck for not giving up.

Last year, the season started with a massive earthquake. This year, it began with a massive tsunami. The first three episodes of season 3 were terrifying and happy and kept you on the edge of your seat, praying to a higher power everything would work out okay. For the most part, everyone got a happy ending, which is rare for shows like 9-1-1, especially when they have massive episodes like this.

Catch new episodes of 9-1-1 every Monday at 8 p.m ET on Fox.

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By Megan
Megan has been passionate about writing since she was little and has been passionate about all things pop culture and nerdy since almost as long. Joining Nerds and Beyond in 2019, she also graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Journalism. Megan is constantly binge-watching shows and finding new things to obsess over. 9-1-1 and Marvel currently reign as the top obsessions. You can find her on Twitter @marvels911s if you ever want to discuss some certain firefighters.
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