[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the latest episode of 9-1-1, "The Taking of Dispatch 9-1-1." Read at your own risk!]
9-1-1 just delivered its most thrilling episode of the season, guys. Sure, the tsunami episodes were a rush, and who didn't love the skydiving disaster incident? But what happened during Monday night's hostage takeover event was completely gripping from its unnerving start to its delightful whodunnit-style finish.
The episode picked up where the last episode ended, with Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) suddenly finding herself and the rest of the dispatch unit being held up by an armed man named Greg (guest star Sean Kleier) and his team. A 9-1-1 call center might not seem like the most obvious location for a hostage situation to unfold, but this band of thieves aimed to stop any first responders from ever being summoned by silencing the dispatchers at the source and diverting potential police presence away from the scene of the real crime: a museum full of millions of dollars worth of art which they planned to heist at the same exact time.
As savvy as that move might sound, though, the criminals of the day didn't anticipate their "victims" being such quick thinkers -- and brave ones, to boot. Not only did Maddie manage to use some emotional inception to alert Howie aka Chim (Kenneth Choi) that she was in trouble before her phone was taken away, but Josh (Bryan Safi) used a key address swap while processing a bogus call to bring Athena (Angela Bassett) into the mix, and Maddie and Linda (Chiquita Fuller) faked an anaphylaxis attack to get their hands on the only weapon at within reach -- Linda's EpiPen -- and take back control of their house.
The intensity of the criminal siege and the eventual officer swarm was satisfying enough without anything more, especially as we watched these dispatchers smartly turn the tables on their attackers with a little teamwork and the kind of fast action they often advise over the phone; but that wasn't all 9-1-1 had in store for us tonight, oh no.
After arrests were made, and a team of visiting dispatchers settled in to take over for those who were rescued, we were then treated to a play-by-play recapitulation of all previously unseen drama which had unfolded within the criminal ring itself -- starting with the fact that the team's newbie getaway driver Tiffany (Jocelyn Hudon), who initially seemed like the odd woman out who couldn't even make it to the job in time, was the real mastermind of the whole thing. She and the call center's own security guy Jake (Jayson Blair) apparently fell in love and plotted the whole heist specifically so that they would be left alone with the van full of precious paintings and leave their unknowing cohorts holding the bag. And they almost got away with it, too!
The best part of the episode was watching Greg realize that Tiffany was just tolerating his tough guy talk in the beginning so that she could make the big score. He hadn't noticed how convenient it was that she had jumped in to replace their previous driver, who'd died, and he obviously didn't find it suspicious that he didn't know who'd even hired him for the job. Tiffany slipped right beneath his and everyone else's radar, happy to disguise herself as the lackluster newb who had to wait on the sidelines while everyone else did the real work. Even more fun was the moment when Athena was right there waiting for Tiffany and Jake as they arrived to board their own train out of dodge because they'd removed all the GPS tracking systems from everything except his phone. Maybe Tiffany wasn't playing dense after all.
We've seen plenty of hostage episodes before, of course. The Blacklist, Burn Notice, Castle, Homeland, Leverage,The X-Files, and more have tread that territory in the past, to name a few. But this episode holds up in its own fun way for the fact that the hostages weren't helpless or yippee-ki-yay-style heroes, and the show drastically lightened the mood altogether with its backstory drama reveal to end things on a relatively humorous note because why the heck not?
9-1-1 air on Mondays at 8/7c on Fox.