‘9-1-1’ Recap: Season 6, Episode 2 “Crash & Learn”


Last week’s 9-1-1 episode left us on a cliffhanger, with Athena being forced to watch a car crash into her parents’ home via FaceTime. This week’s episode, “Crash & Learn,” shows us the aftermath of that crash, and we see Hen and Buck deal with crashes of their own.

A Tunnel of Lust

Benjamin is in his yard watering his plants and minding his business. But his nosy neighbor, Gary, mentions through his kitchen window to remind Benjamin that California is currently in a drought and he should curb his water usage. Benjamin reminds Gary that he is watering his yard during the allowed hours and gets back to it. But once he fends off Gary, Benjamin notices something: his planter box isn’t level. One corner is sinking into the ground. Suspecting gophers, ants, and other kinds of vermin, Benjamin spends the next several days utilizing all types of traps, trying to kill whatever is underneath the soil. But nothing seems to work; his planter box has sunk even more.

One morning, his wife is in the bedroom, and there is an explosion outside that blows in the sliding glass door and throws her across the room. She calls 9-1-1, and the 118 are dispatched to help. Upon arrival, the team learns that Benjamin has caused the explosion in his latest attempt to rid his yard of vermin, a la Bill Murray in Caddyshack. And we all learn pretty quickly that the only vermin underneath the soil is named Gary. Apparently, there is a tunnel that exists between Gary’s house and Benjamin’s house because he and Benjamin’s wife are having an affair. Benjamin’s wife explains that this was the only way they could successfully carry out their affair because Benjamin has cameras all over the property. And the “tunnel of lust,” as Chim calls it, has now collapsed, thanks to Benjamin’s explosive idea.

The 118 successfully rescue Gary from the collapsed tunnel, and they then arrest Benjamin for attempted murder once he admits that he suspected his wife was cheating on him with Gary.

Captain Hen

Jack Zeman/FOX

With Bobby out of town, Hen is acting as interim captain of the 118. She spends nearly all of her time either studying for her 3rd-year med school exams or doing paperwork at the station. It becomes clear pretty quickly that she is burning the candle at both ends, with every minute of her day scheduled for a class, work shift, or study break. Stacks of flashcards are everywhere for her to constantly review her schoolwork. We see Hen grabbing some sleep time in the fire truck in between calls, and then we see her rushing to class in her fire gear and being called out by the instructor for arriving late.

At one point at the station, Chim asks her why she took on the role of captain when her 3rd-year exams are right around the corner. She tells him that the assignment is only for a week, and she can handle it. At home, Karen has similar questions for Hen, and she is terribly worried that Hen isn’t getting enough rest with everything on her plate. Hen tries to calm her nerves as well, with claims of “I can handle it” and “It’s just a few more days.”

The time has arrived for Hen to take her exams that will determine if she can continue into her 3rd year of medical school. She pores over every question in the booklet and fills out the bubbles on the Scantron. But soon, she seems to become confused. She starts erasing and then changing some answers while her classmates finish up and leave the room. Eventually, Hen is the last one left, and time has expired; Hen has to turn in her exam.

On the way home, Hen is clearly sleepy and cracks open her window to let the cool air keep her awake. But it isn’t enough: she drifts off at the wheel and is startled awake at the sound of a car horn. She swerves out of the way of oncoming traffic and comes to a stop in the middle of an intersection, blessedly unharmed.

Several days later, Hen gets a call from the medical school. We don’t hear the conversation, but we see Hen walk into her house. Karen greets her and reminds her that Denny’s robotics meet was earlier. Hen curses at herself for having missed it. She then seems to have the beginnings of a panic attack and slumps down into the chair. Karen rushes over, and Hen tells her that she failed her exam.

Later, after taking a several-hour-long nap, Hen admits to Karen that she fell asleep at the wheel the night of her exam and that she’s been running herself ragged, trying to study and be captain of the 118. Her instructor told her that she’ll need to repeat her second year of school, and she doesn’t see any way she can do another year. Karen tells her that she has to choose: either she is a doctor or a paramedic. She cannot be both any longer because her family needs her safe.

The Secret to Happiness

Jack Zeman/FOX

At the station, Hen sees Buck reading a book. He tells her it belongs to Bobby. Concerned that he might be struggling with sobriety, he explains that Alcoholics Anonymous touts the belief that if someone is at ease, then all their fear will fall away. He tries to get some wisdom from Hen, asking her if she is at ease. She explains to him that she is clearly not at ease.

Later, the International Happiness Symposium is being held in the city. Three lifelong friends arrive and check in at the front desk. Frankie gets Ronny, Angelo, and Lev their badges and some pamphlets and gets to know the guys a little more. They’ve known each other since they were in sixth grade and used to be in the school band together. Frankie then walks off to grab some more chairs.

As the friends are walking through the crowd of people, trying to decide which panel to attend first, Lev hears cracking sounds coming from the walkway above their heads and sees a fissure start to form in the concrete. He then sees the huge structure start to collapse and yells for everyone to get out of the way.

When the 118 arrive, we see that there are several dozen injured persons, and the three friends are all buried underneath huge slabs of concrete. They’re all conscious, but it’s a race against time to get them out. After some maneuvering, Ronny and Angelo are successfully removed out from under the slabs. But the slab that’s fallen on Lev is going to need more manpower to remove it, so Buck stays with him to talk to him and monitor his vitals.

“Why a happiness convention?” Buck asks Lev. Lev tells him that he has been trying to figure some stuff out in his life. He talks about how he has spent his whole life doing everything he was supposed to: a wife, kids, a nice house, cars, and weekends at the beach. And since he’s retired, he’s realized his nice life is nothing more than a 40-year blur. “What was the point of … any of it?” Lev asks no one. This catches Buck’s attention.

Then, Frankie, the worker who helped the friends earlier, calls in to the 9-1-1 call center and tells Noah that he is completely buried and is scared no one will find him. Noah relays to Hen about Frankie, and Hen locates him pretty quickly. When Frankie is safely on a stretcher, Lev asks Buck if they saved the kid. He says they did and that he is next. Lev says, “It’s ok. I got what I came for,” and he flatlines. Buck and Hen frantically remove the large concrete slab from Lev, and Buck starts chest compressions. But Hen knows they’re too late and calls the time of death.

Back at the station, Buck is struggling with what he encountered earlier. He asks Hen what she thinks Lev meant when he said that he “got it now.” What good does it do to learn the secret of happiness, only to immediately die and not be able to share it with anyone? Hen tells Buck that perhaps, the fact that he learned it is what they should focus on. “What do you think is the secret to happiness?” Buck asks Hen. Hen responds, “Some answers you gotta find on your own, Buck.”

When the Child Becomes the Parent

Bobby and Athena arrive to the Florida hospital where her father Samuel is in a medically induced coma. Beatrice is unharmed, but she is having a very difficult time accepting the reality of things. The doctor explains that Samuel experienced a stroke, and his prognosis is uncertain. He doesn’t know if Samuel will even respond to treatment. Beatrice takes offense to this news and tells the doctor not to take that tone with her. Bobby calms down the situation and explains that everyone just needs to be patient for the time being.

Back at her parents’ house, Athena sees that their car is still lodged in the side of the house. She asks her mother why she hasn’t had it removed yet, and she tells Athena that Samuel can do it when he comes home from the hospital. Athena tells her that it isn’t clear if he is even coming home, and if he does, he won’t be in any shape to do physical labor. This upsets Beatrice, who argues with her daughter about her husband’s health. Bobby again cools down the situation and suggests that he and Athena stay at a hotel and out of Beatrice’s hair.

The next day, Bobby and Athena survey the damage done to Samuel and Beatrice’s house. Athena mentions their family friend who is a handyman, who can help with the larger construction needs. Later, Junior arrives, and Athena tells him that he isn’t the Franklin she was expecting. Junior says that his father is mostly retired now, but he can handle anything they throw his way.

After meeting Bobby and looking over the damage, Junior mentions reframing will be needed. Bobby asks him about building a ramp and making things more accessible before Samuel gets home. Beatrice overhears this and becomes upset again. She doesn’t understand why anything needs to be changed at all and accuses Athena of talking about her father as if he were already dead. When Athena tries to explain, Beatrice then accuses her of wanting to fix up the house to sell it out from under her. Bobby then tells Beatrice to stop talking to Athena that way and to go cool off.

When Beatrice leaves the room, Athena apologizes to Junior for having to witness that. Junior says he understands and that parents become set in their ways when they get older and turn back into children. “We end up parenting our parents.” Later that evening, Athena reveals that Junior’s comment has been on her mind. She tells Bobby, “You know the worst part about having to parent your parents? It’s knowing that you’re that much closer to losing them.”

A Secret is Unearthed

Athena arrives back at the hospital to visit her father, and Beatrice is there. Athena sits next to her mother, and she sees Beatrice has a stack of letters that her father wrote to her while he was serving in Vietnam. Beatrice tells her that he wrote her a letter every single day. In their 57 years together, they have never let a day go by without some form of communication with each other. “Until now,” Athena guesses. Beatrice tells her daughter that she isn’t scared of the possibility of Samuel not being able to walk or clothe himself. What she fears the most is that he won’t be able to speak. She tells Athena that she needs to hear his voice just one more time. She cries and collapses in Athena’s arms.

On her way back to her parents’ house, Athena is confronted with dozens of police lights flashing outside. She runs up to the house, where Bobby meets her. He explains to her that while he and Junior were working on the reconstruction, a body was discovered. We then see a callback to the 7th episode of the second season, “Haunted,” when Athena is telling Hen about the time she decided to become a policewoman. A little girl had gone missing in their neighborhood, snatched right out of her bed. The only thing the police found was a hair barrette out in the middle of the woods. She tells Hen that she promised herself that when she got older, she would become a police officer and would find the girl.

Back in the present time, we see a cop carry an evidence bag past Athena with a single hair barrette in it. Athena knows whose body has been discovered. “Tanya Kingston!” she says.

9-1-1 airs on FOX on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Stay tuned for our continued coverage on the series, including episodic recaps and more!

Margaret has been a writer and editor for Nerds and Beyond since 2018. She loves Grogu, Doctor Who, and The OA. And she's still salty about #WaywardSisters. Find her on Twitter and TikTok at @MargNation.

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