The season 4 premiere of FOX’s first responder series, 9-1-1, is finally here! In true 9-1-1 fashion, the season began on a major disaster. “Microquakes” had been shaking the Los Angeles area and in turn, made a big dam crack. It caused a landslide that made a bus crash and a cyclist regretting getting out, all in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic. The end, obviously, left off on a huge cliffhanger that made a favorite character’s status unknown and leaving everyone worried for their safety.
Keep reading for a full recap of the season 4 premiere of 9-1-1, “The New Abnormal.”
Starting off in September of 2020 on a beautiful LA day, people are dying to go out and see the world after “an intense spring and even crazier summer,” as the radio announcer put it. A cyclist rides past a water and power worker, who is telling his wife on the phone about the microquakes they’ve been experiencing and to not worry about them, they’re small. However, those quakes turn out to be something more as when another one happens, the cyclist notices a giant piece of a dam in the middle of the road and soon, she is biking for her life trying to out run a landslide heading right in her direction and calls 911. “The damn dam is coming down!”
Going back two hours before the dam break, Maddie and Chimney are video chatting, with Maddie having a clearly visible baby bump. Albert brings Maddie a drink and Maddie can tell he’s not drinking peppermint tea, but coffee, and demands he give her some. Chim tells his brother to not do it but Albert gives in. Even though the doctor said Maddie can have one cup a day, Chim says the doctor is not the parent. “I think you mean the hyper-parent.” Uncle Buck comes up behind Chim and he tells his roomie that he should be bickering with Maddie in his own kitchen. Chim says he’s being cautious and they’re not bickering, they’re bantering, playfully. Buck leaves to get ready and Maddie tells Chim he’s not wrong. She moved in with him so they can be together, but “hello, global pandemic.” They need to be safe. Maddie mentions they can take precautions like everyone else. She feels a kick and shows Chim her growing baby bump. Albert tells him the baby kicks every morning, like clockwork. Maybe the kid likes coffee. Chim says the kid is the size of a mango, the mango doesn’t get a say. “Yeah, well, Mango misses Daddy.” Chim says goodbye to Maddie and their baby since he has to get ready for work. Maddie is feeling sad that Chim isn’t with her, while Albert tries to comfort her.
Athena picks up her badge and gets flashbacks of that horrifying and brutal attack she went through. Bobby stands at the door and tells her that Michael and Harry are on video chat. Michael is then soon joined by David, the doctor that he met at the end of the previous season (good job, Michael!), who wishes Athena a great first day back. When it’s just Michael, Athena tells him she’s ready to go back to work. At least they’re not putting her on patrol right away, desk duty. Athena didn’t tell Michael but she has a pretty good idea who did. As Michael and Bobby are talking about May, Athena shuts the laptop. Athena doesn’t like that Bobby is talking to Michael about her behind her back, but Bobby says they were worried about her. She assures him she’s okay, she’s ready to go back. “How do you know that?” “Because I know myself.” Between the virus and the protests and the fires, Bobby says the year has been nonstop for everyone. Athena tells him it’s alright, she’s just going to be shuffling paperwork for a while, she promises.
One hour before the dam break, we are finally reunited with everyone’s favorite LA firehouse, COVID precautions and all. Bobby talks to Hen about Athena, saying he doesn’t know what to do, she’s not ready. Michael has seen her go through rough patches but never like this. Hen tells Bobby that what happened to Athena was devastating, it made her question everything – her ability to do her job. It can’t be easy for a woman who counts on nobody but herself. Hen isn’t saying that Athena doesn’t need him, or her or Michael. She’s just saying this particular thing, Athena has to figure out by herself. If she knows Athena, she’s tired of talking about it. In her mind, there’s only one thing left to do. “Get back out there.”
Athena’s first day back at the LAPD is in full swing and she sits down with Captain Maynard to go over the new protocols and get a quick briefing. Maynard asks Athena how she’s doing, not being on the street, and Athena tells her she’d like to ease her way back in. Maynard was surprised when she got Athena’s call. Athena getting beat up may have not been the end of the world but everything that’s happened since feels like maybe it could be. “Now you sound like my daughter.”
Speaking of which, May is not going to USC, but rather, taking a gap year. “9-1-1, what’s your emergency?” Maddie is training May to be a 911 Dispatcher and she asks May if she’s sure that she wouldn’t rather be in college, instead of sitting at a screen, which is basically what college is now. Maddie sees her point and sits down at the monitor, telling May that it’s “Duet Day.” “I’m lead singer, and you’re gonna play the keyboards.” Meaning Maddie will talk while May types.
Another microquake is felt all over the city, but Bobby says that didn’t feel micro to him. Meanwhile at the Call Center, Josh tells everyone that one was a little bigger and calls will be coming in. “Prepare for the deluge.” A DWP worker is right in front of the cracking dam, just praying that it won’t do what he thinks it will. “Come on, 2020, don’t do me like that.” Because it’s 2020, the dam breaks, creating a massive landslide. Janell, the cyclist, is on with Linda and is soon cut off. Linda tells Josh that Janell said the dam broke. A city bus is also hit by the landslide, crashing right into an office building, several stories up.
The 118 arrive at the building, all looking up and seeing half a bus just dangling on the side of it. “That does not go there.” At the Call Center, Josh tells May that Duet Day is canceled, he wants her to tap into the general line, eavesdrop on as many calls as she can. Listen for streets that are flooded out and put them on the board. (Anyone else get a flashback of Maddie’s first day as a Dispatcher during the earthquake in season 2?) The 118 are slowly, but surely, making their way up to the crash sight in a silent, but hilarious, elevator ride, courtesy of elevator music. The crew puts their masks on after discussing where in the world all of that water will go – “out to sea” – and when the doors open, they come face-to-face with the front of the bus and a messed up office space. Bobby, Hen, and Chim leave the elevator while Buck and Eddie stay behind to go up further. “Hey, at least it’s not a tsunami, right?”
Understatement of the year, Chim tells a businesswoman who got hurt there’s been an accident. Bobby, meanwhile, is trying to calm down the bus passengers, who all want to get off. He notices the bus moving as they’re getting up and tells them to not move. Dream Team Buck and Eddie are up on the roof and Buck gets ready to head down the side of the building, soon landing on the bus. He finishes securing the bus and he notices someone else, Keith, under the vehicle. Bobby tells Eddie he needs the bus to rock back a little bit so the front end lifts up so they can get to Keith. Eddie tells him the bus is already secured to the building, but Bobby needs it to move and he tells Eddie to put it on the heavy wench. In the meantime, they get everybody off the bus, they let it rock back and then, they pull Keith out from underneath. “As plans go, it is one.”
Hen, being the resident medical expert and future doctor, leads triage on the bus and lets the others know what injuries the passengers have. Bobby tries to talk down passenger CJ, who is nervous. Bobby tells him he knows how he feels. Those people that CJ loves, they’re hurting. “And when someone you love is hurting, it’s scary.” He knows because he’s scared too, but he knows he’s going to get through this because he’s not alone. They can ride this out. Bobby tells Eddie to move the bus as he and CJ hold onto the bars. Chim and Buck safely pull Keith out and he gets taken to the hospital. Eddie moves the bus back to where it was, however, he asks Buck if everyone is off, he thinks the bus is venting fuel. Buck runs towards the bus to warn Bobby but it’s too late and the thing explodes. Buck gets back on the bus to try to find Bobby and he sees him, covering CJ, both of them okay. “I’d like to get off the bus now.”
Athena’s desk duty is getting much more exciting than she thought it would be. Maynard comes in and tells Athena she got a call from the Emergency Operation Center. They think those microquakes might have damaged more than just the dam. They’re worried (rightfully so) about a landslide, east of the reservoir, which is all residential. Maynard will need more boots on the ground, people to knock on doors, and someone to supervise the scene. She knows Athena said she wanted to ease in, but she needs her back out there.
Maddie gets a call from Janell, who is trapped somewhere under ground thanks to the water from the dam break. She can’t be that far if she’s got signal, but she’s trapped underground. The same ground they just told them is about to tumble down the side of the hill. Maddie tells Josh if they don’t get to her in time, she’ll be buried alive. Maddie keeps talking to Janell, and Janell tells her about losing her husband to COVID. She promised him she would start riding. “For him. Ride or die.” Maddie’s losing her, she’s trying to keep her talking. Janell’s almost giving up, but Maddie tells her things will get better, because she is still there, and so is Janell. It’s not her time. Janell manages to open a beaker box and flips a switch so they know where she is. She finally gets saved.
Athena, though still shaken up, arrives on scene and meets up with other officers. They managed to get most residents evacuated, however, one person won’t even come to the door. Neighbors say somebody lives there, but nobody seems to know who. Athena tells the officers she’ll wrap it up there and they leave. Athena talks to the woman, Sylvia, who acts like she’s getting ready to leave per a neighbor that doesn’t even know her. Athena asks her when the last time she went outside was and Sylvia tells her she hasn’t been outside for seven years, it’s not safe out there. Athena tells her it’s her first day back in six months. She was injured, line of duty, took some time to heal. She lied to her husband, her captain, even herself. Sylvia says she lies, it’s like a game she plays with herself, that someday she will go out there, and then she never does. The hill is about to come down on itself and take her with it. “Maybe I should let it.” Athena tells her she got up and put on makeup, she’s still in the game. At the Call Center, Maddie, Josh, and May see the motion sensor on Mount Lee, Hollywood Hills. Their comm towers are up there, and so is Athena. Josh brings up cameras on the Hollywood Sign, which looks like it’s moving. Just as Sylvia is about to leave her house, it comes tumbling down, along with the sign.
Catch 9-1-1 every Monday at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on FOX, followed by 9-1-1: Lone Star!