After many seasons full of dicey situations and disasters galore, 9-1-1 finally tossed 118 into one of their most dangerous situations yet this week: a prison riot. With a carefully concocted escape plan, a (nearly) total loss of control over the inmates, a tense hostage situation with one of our favorite duos, and a shocking twist, there wasn’t a dull moment in “Brawl in Cell Block 9-1-1.”
A riot begins
Freddie Vaughn arrives for work at Jamestown State Prison, and he’s all smiles until he finds out that his first job of the day is to take the inmate Mitchell for a walk. He’s the only guard that he likes, after all. All is seemingly innocent until they return inside and pass by a group of prisoners, at which time another inmate makes eye contact with Mitchell before stabbing Vaughn. A riot ensues.
Josh takes the 9-1-1 call at the dispatch center — it’s a code yellow. The inmates have begun to take control of multiple cell blocks, fires are burning, and the situation is critical. This is not a drill.
The 118 arrives
Those fires aren’t going to put themselves out, so the 118 arrives on the scene to take care of it amid the ongoing riot. They’re escorted into the building by guards and quickly get the fire under control, but getting out proves to be a bit more difficult. They find two injured inmates as they turn to leave, and although the last remaining guard that’s with them wants to leave them behind, the 118 refuses.
The group splits up, and Eddie and Buck carry one of the inmates outside to the ambulance. Two guards arrive shortly after to escort them to the hospital. Meanwhile, Bobby, Hen, and Ravi have no choice but to bring the other inmate to the prison’s infirmary.
A dangerous swap
Upon laying the badly injured victim on the table, Dr. Cochran is quick to point out that the man is not an inmate at all … that’s Freddie Vaughn. Which means the other injured “inmate” that Eddie and Buck were carrying is probably also a guard … so two prisoners are on the loose. Just as Bobby radios over to Buck and Eddie to tell them to turn around and come back to the prison, the “guards” pull guns on them and reveal themselves. One of them is Mitchell.
In a flashback, we learn that Mitchell picked up a knife that was hidden in the sand on the ground when he “dropped” his apple earlier during his walk. After starting the riot, he and his accomplice, Dominic, found a quiet place to swap uniforms with the guards that they had incapacitated.
They make Buck pull the ambulance over on the side of the road so they can fully take control. Mitchell finds a photo of Christopher while rooting through Eddie’s wallet, and in an attempt to gain some emotional leverage, he casually makes a comment about his son while reading off his home address. Though Eddie manages to stay calm, this sets Buck off, and he ends up getting smacked in the face with a gun.
Dominic and Mitchell remove the tracking device from the ambulance before leaving, which completely throws off dispatch and the police. Mitchell sits in the back of the ambulance while Dominic drives, and Eddie attempts to keep the injured guard alive with Buck’s assistance.
Laugh it up
Dr. Cochran remarks that the blade hit Vaughn’s splenic artery, so they’re going to need to sedate him to help ease the pain. However, Bobby wants to wake him up, because he may be the only person that can help them find a way to get out of there. The security pod won’t be of any use, because the inmates are currently attempting to breach it. Though he’s clearly in an unbelievable amount of pain, Vaughn manages to get out the word “gas.”
And thus a plan is formed — Ravi will disguise himself as a prisoner and turn the HVAC back on and Bobby will go get nitrous oxide, which they’ll put through the vents to calm the inmates down. The plan is a success, and Bobby makes his way back to the infirmary to find all of the inmates stumbling and giggling in the hallways.
We haven’t heard much about Hen’s journey in medical school lately, but this episode finally dives back into her new career path. Dr. Cochran’s hand was injured when they were trying to keep the inmates out the infirmary, and he convinces Hen to “be his hands” while they perform surgery on Vaughn. As to be expected, Hen gets the job done.
Near the end of the episode, Hen reveals to her teammates that she’s finally decided that she wants to go into general surgery.
Motives are revealed
Eddie and Buck are surprised to find that Mitchell and Dominic have taken them to a hospital. Mitchell tells Buck to help Dominic escort the injured guard inside (and let’s be honest, “Pretty boy stays with me” was a total missed opportunity for a confused Buck to respond with, “Wait, which one?”). It’s oddly quiet inside of the hospital, which makes sense once the room is swarming with police. The police also surround the ambulance, but Mitchell leans out of the doors and proclaims that he has a hostage — Eddie.
Earlier, Athena and Captain Maynard had looked into both Dominic and Mitchell’s files. While Dominic didn’t seem to have any promising leads, they learned that Mitchell has been on death row for 18 years, and he’s recently been writing letters to his ex, Savanna. She had testified against him, so they tracked her down. In the process, they learned that Mitchell’s son is in the ICU with congenital heart failure.
Inside of the ambulance, Mitchell tells Eddie that he came to the hospital because he wants to donate his heart to his son. Savanna arrives at the hospital, and Athena explains that Mitchell has been waging a tireless campaign to attempt to save him. He wants to be executed so he can have his heart, but death row inmates can’t do that.
Eddie has always been a cool and collected character in tense situations on the job, which can be chalked up to his time in the army, and this episode is no different. Although he’s being held hostage, he not only stands his ground in the back of the ambulance with Mitchell, but he actually manages to convince him to turn himself in. Eddie explains that Buck’s girlfriend Taylor is a reporter, so they can spin a story to help get an exception for him to be a donor. But Mitchell doesn’t want anyone to know who his son’s father is, because he wants a better life for him.
Before they exit the ambulance, Eddie promises Mitchell that he will help him. He will fight for his son as hard as he’d fight for Christopher. Mitchell follows him out, and he quietly tells Eddie to promise that his son will never find out that he was the donor. And then he turns the gun on himself. Buck hears the gunshot from inside of the hospital, and he panics as he runs outside screaming Eddie’s name. But the man on the ground is Mitchell.
A life lost, a life saved
Athena and Captain Maynard debate over what to do in the wake of Mitchell’s death, because Athena wants to just let him donate his heart to his son and they can figure out the rest later. But it’s way above their paygrade … there’s no way Mitchell will be pardoned for a triple homicide, even posthumously.
Athena has an idea, though: what about a commutation? Their request is granted, and Mitchell’s son successfully receives the transplant that saves his life.
Other notable moments
- We’re once again reminded of the ways in which Bobby is such a great Captain to his team. He offers to go out for coffee with Ravi so that he doesn’t have to go home alone and stew after that difficult ordeal.
- Anyone else a little bit worried about Buck telling his reporter girlfriend that Mitchell broke out for his son in the hospital? The same Mitchell that desperately wanted to remain anonymous for the sake of his son? Let’s just hope this dramatic news story doesn’t get scooped by Taylor Kelly.
- Exhausted Eddie Diaz coming home to Christopher and sharing the ultimate soft dad moment after a rough shift? Priceless.