Last night, an episode of FOX’s 9-1-1 premiered that many have been waiting for since the beginning — “Buck Begins.” Over the years, the first responder drama has had several powerful character-centric episodes as a part of the “Begins” series. After an emotional build up throughout the season leading up to this episode — Buck’s therapy, Maddie’s worries and guilt, the arrival of their parents, the arguments, and a painful secret finally set free — the story of Evan Buckley has finally unfolded.
This entire arc for Buck in season 4 has allowed Oliver Stark to give some of his most incredible performances yet on the show. He’s revealed a new side of Buck, a raw vulnerability that cuts deep and has left viewers reeling with emotions — “Love me anyway.”
As a whole, this episode was a very important chapter for one of the most beloved characters on 9-1-1. So what were the episode’s best moments?
Goodbye Training Wheels
Timeline-wise, this scene is one of our earliest insights into the relationship between Buck and Maddie. Being older, Maddie was able to recognize the struggle of the relationship between the two of them and their parents and the way they treated Buck in particular. Whether it was a conscious decision or not, Maddie did her best to fill in that gap for Buck as his older sister. In this scene in particular, Maddie’s the one who taught Buck how to ride a bike, was brimming over with excitement when he succeeded, and eventually patched up his cuts and scrapes in the aftermath.
The idea of found family is one of the most prevalent and important themes in 9-1-1. Over the years, no matter what the firefighters of the 118 have gone through, they have always been able to lean on each other for support (besides the lawsuit … we don’t talk about that). The fact that Buck is comfortable enough to share the full truth about Daniel with Eddie, Bobby, and Hen — including the fact that he was born to be a savior sibling — speaks volumes. And as they picked up on the casual, self-deprecating way he was dealing with the situation, they each spoke up. When Buck referred to himself as “defective parts,” Eddie shook his head and said, “That’s not on you.” Bobby then inquired if Buck had talked to his parents yet, and Hen told him, “Daniel wasn’t their only son. You matter too, Buck.”
Experiencing Buck’s travels across the United States through Maddie’s eyes with a montage of narrated postcards was a fun and wholesome way to go about telling this part of Buck’s story (though we really would have loved another glimpse at cowboy Buck on the dude ranch). Seeing how many lives Evan Buckley has lived over the years also adds a weighted significance to the fact that he finally decided to put down roots once and for all with the 118 in Los Angeles. It’s also worth noting that many of Buck’s travels were dictated by their proximity to the ocean.
It was a known fact that Buck had spent some time in South America at one point in his life, but nothing could prepare us for Bartender Buck in Peru. Stark was truly decked out in the whole nine yards — straightened hair with highlights, a tan, a puka shell necklace, and a very touristy button-up shirt. And the cherry on top was the nod to one of Buck’s iconic personality traits: he’s a walking, talking book full of random fun facts (even back then).
From Evan to Buck
In a “sigh of relief” moment, the true nature of Buck’s nickname was finally revealed (alright Chimney, you’re next). When Buck was going through his firefighter certification course, there were three Evans in his class. Thus the name Buck was born, and the rest is history.
The Perfect Music Moment
Over the years, 9-1-1 has truly had a knack for curating the perfect songs for various moments in the show. The episode reached a climax of emotion when Buck was desperately trying to free Saleh from underneath the vat. Just when it appeared that he might finally give up, Ólafur Arnalds’ “So Far” swelled in the background, and the camera panned to Eddie and the rest of his team rushing in to help him. The beauty of this moment functions twofold; it illustrates how his best friend and the rest of his found family with the 118 are there in his time of need as a firefighter and will then also continue to be there as a support system for everything else he needs in the aftermath of this character arc. “And if you take my hand/ Please pull me from the dark/ And show me hope again.”
The Buckley Sibling Montage
Once Buck and Maddie finally began to reconcile at the end of the episode, Maddie found a solution to Buck’s non-existent baby box. He was shocked to find that she had kept all of the postcards that he sent her over the years. After all, she only had two suitcases when she left Doug, but she assured him that everything that mattered the most was inside of him — including those letters. “No matter how hard it got, I always had these. I always had you.” As much as Maddie has been shown to be a foundation of support for Buck, he has very much done the same for his sister over the years as well. The episode ended with a beautiful montage of Buck and Maddie moments throughout the years, both in childhood and up through scenes we’ve actually scene on the show. Sealed with a pinky promise, they always had each other.
What’s next for Buck and the rest of the 118? Catch new episodes of 9-1-1 on FOX on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT.