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9-1-1 Star Peter Krause Shares How the Investigation into Wendall's Death Has Changed Bobby

He also reveals why Bobby and Athena have stayed so strong

Max Gao

[Warning: The following contains spoilers from Monday's episode of 9-1-1. Read at your own risk!]

For Peter Krause, who plays fire captain Bobby Nash, the characters of 9-1-1, much like their real-life counterparts, have always felt like everyday superheroes. "This is not a Marvel world, [but] these are first responders, and the capes that they wear are their police badges, fire badges and fire turnout, etc.," Krause told TV Guide. "But this is a case where Bobby is in his civilian clothes, which I think is a very interesting aspect, because this is personal to him."

Monday's episode of the FOX procedural drama wraps up a multi-episode storyline for Bobby, who has been hellbent on uncovering what happened to his sponsor, Wendall (Moe Irvin), after finding his burned body in an abandoned lot. After months of running into dead ends about Winding Path, a shady rehab facility where Wendall was admitted shortly before his death, Bobby decides to track down Tamara Wiles (Diana Lu), a young admittee-turned-employee whom May (Corinne Massiah) encountered during an undercover visit to the center.

Despite initially refusing to help Bobby with his investigation, Tamara reveals that Wendall didn't die in the lot; he was placed there after accidentally overdosing on drugs. After meeting each other at a meeting for former addicts, Tamara told Wendall about Winding Path's suspicious rehab practices, prompting her new sponsor to check himself into the facility to find evidence that could be used to take down the owners. With Tamara's help, Wendall planted a camera in the owners' office. But when the co-owner Carrie Walsh (Alicia Coppola) caught them together, Wendall lied that he was looking for a single shot that could help take the edge off, and he broke his own sobriety so that Tamara could keep hers, but that shot was enough to kill him.

Back in the present, Bobby receives a call one evening from a distressed Tamara, who says she is "so tired," the same thing Bobby heard from Wendall in his final voicemail. Bobby races to Winding Path and punches out the other owner—Carrie's husband, Trey (Chris J. Johnson)—en route to finding a drugged-up Tamara (and the camera) in the same office. As it turns out, Carrie gave Tamara narcotics and then put the phone in her hand to lure Bobby to the center, and then Trey set the place on fire and doused Bobby's truck in gasoline to pin the crime on the firefighter. In the end, however, Bobby and Athena's (Angela Bassett) investigation into Winding Path was able to exonerate the former of any wrongdoing and allow the prosecutors to put away the owners for using fake identities to open multiple "rehab" centers that were really designed to have repeat customers.

In a recent phone interview, Krause—who is approaching the end of production on the sixth season—spoke about shedding light on Bobby's relationship with his late friend and sponsor, the importance of Bobby's two chosen families, playing a Six Feet Under-esque character in last week's alternate universe episode, and whether he would ever join his 9-1-1 co-stars on social media.

Peter Krause, 9-1-1

Peter Krause, 9-1-1


How did you feel about the decision to revisit Bobby's sobriety and his relationship with his late sponsor?
Peter Krause: I thought it was a great opportunity to touch upon addiction and sobriety issues, because for Bobby to relapse, it would require one of his new family members to meet a tragedy, whether that would be Buck [Oliver Stark] or Athena. I just didn't see it [happening]. It was posed a season to go that perhaps he'd relapse, but I just couldn't get behind any idea other than a tragic loss that would send Bobby that way, because he's really benefited greatly from having these new families. I think that Bobby would be very lost without Athena, May and also without his fire team family, so I thought that introducing Wendall as his old sponsor and going through this ripped-from-the-headlines story about a rehab center that used questionable means and dangerous ones at that to help people become sober was a good avenue. It provides a lot of action and excitement too. It's a pretty action-filled episode, which I enjoy.

For the last few episodes, Bobby has had a difficult time reconciling the Wendall he knew—who could read him like a book, and who was always there for him—with the evidence that he has found in the investigation of his death. What were some of the most important beats you wanted to hit in this multi-episode arc?
Krause: I think gratitude. I think that, in this particular episode, as we do in others, there is an everyday superhero aspect to these characters. They are out for justice. No, this is not a Marvel world. These are first responders, and the capes that they wear are their police badges, fire badges and fire turnout, etc. But this is a case where Bobby is in his civilian clothes, which I think is a very interesting aspect, because this is personal to him. So while it is his job, in a way, to save people, this is outside of his job as a firefighter. But it remains his job as a person, and he is out for justice. And I'm happy to say that in our TV world, we do reach some form of justice, even though Wendall is lost in the process.

What does Bobby's speech at the A.A. meeting to commemorate Wendall's 10-year anniversary of sobriety reveal about what he's learned from him?
Krause: I think it echoes an episode that we made a couple of seasons ago, when Bobby is addressing an A.A. group: "If today can be a good day, maybe tomorrow can be, too." I think that there's some echo to that, and in A.A. and in life, we're trying to help each other, see another day, and make that day be a good day. So it's not like there's a new lesson. It's a repeated theme, like the power of forward motion, like "You try and keep your life moving forward."

This episode uses flashbacks to fill in some gaps in the timeline and to shed light on Bobby and Wendall's relationship, specifically the days when Bobby went back to A.A. and Bobby decided to propose to Athena. What would you say has been the biggest change in how you've chosen to play Bobby over the years?
Krause: I think it does have to do with the healing that he experiences being a part of these two families. That, obviously, and if you're a loyal viewer, you know that in the very beginning, Bobby lost his family in a fire that he inadvertently caused, and so he feels incredibly responsible for that and guilty, and it's a cross that he bears throughout the series. But it gets lighter with the love, the acceptance that he experiences at the firehouse and then at home with Athena, so it's those relationships with other people that have saved Bobby.

But I think it still cuts pretty deep when someone uses his past against him, right? The owners of Winding Path looked into him and tried to use that fire to accuse him of burning down the rehab center.
Krause: Yes, and Bobby does not do well on his own. He needs people—we all do—and Bobby, in particular, needs these relationships in his life to feel okay.

And one of those relationships, which has become a cornerstone of this franchise, is Bobby and Athena. What are some specific things that you've enjoyed about crafting that grounded relationship with Angela?
Krause: I like that they really rely on each other, and that it's a healthy, solid relationship. It's not your typical, TV-extended "they have conflict and resolutions" [storylines]. I enjoy them sleuthing together. I think that those are really fun, going back all the way to the first season when Bobby gets dosed with LSD from that woman who has the exotic animal collections. Those are things that I really enjoy, when they're sort of the team or the family that solves crimes together in the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys kind of way.

Peter Krause, 9-1-1

Peter Krause, 9-1-1


Honestly, I'm still waiting for them to go on their honeymoon. I feel like they've tried multiple times, but life always gets in the way.
Krause: Yeah, I'm not sure that they're ever gonna get on that cruise ship, but I do know that they're gonna keep trying.

Looking back on last week's episode, which finds Buck in a kind of alternate universe during his coma, what did you think of the concept of "In Another Life" when you first read the script, and what did you relish about the opportunity to play a different version of Bobby?
Krause: I liked the call out to It's a Wonderful Life with the episode title "In Another Life" and the lesson that we all have an impact on each other, and I think that [lesson was important] for Buck, who is very impulsive and acts before he thinks. It was a nice thing for Oliver to get to do, certainly, to get to play all that. And for me, there's a slight callback to Six Feet Under—I saw it that way in the script, and that was something the writers were trying to do—and it was fun to step outside the codified rules of who Bobby Nash is. And while we were revisiting a darker part of Bobby, I tried to keep it light and make it somewhat fun within the dreamscape of the near-death experience that Buck was having, so it was fun, and Oliver and I always enjoy working with each other.

This storyline brought back an existing Bobby storyline in a really interesting way. I have my own suggestion for this great question, but I'm curious to hear your answer: What is a small detail from Bobby's past that you would like the writers to bring back and expand upon?
Krause: The fact that he has a rare blood type that can help infants [who are suffering from Rhesus Disease, which was revealed in the first season]. The twist on that is that Bobby doesn't like needles, he doesn't like the sight of his own blood, so there's a squeamishness on Bobby's part that we've played a couple of times with the tapeworm in the guy's butt and seeing his own blood. There's some stuff that I didn't readily embrace, like, if this is a guy who's comfortable around farm animals, why is he afraid of an alpaca? That was something that was a difficult thing for me as an actor to embrace, but other things like the tapeworm and being afraid of the sight of his own blood and needles—I think that's something that they could revisit.

That's a really profound answer. Considering that this show has so much physical comedy, I, like some fans, was going to go with Bobby's past as a childhood ice skater, which was revealed in the third season.
Krause: [Laughs.] That was funny. There was that line where they say, "I thought you played hockey." He says, "Who says you can't do both?" I enjoyed that, but I don't know that I need to go skating on the show.

What can you preview about what's to come in the next third of the season? Are there any emergencies that stick out in your mind?
Krause: Well, this episode picks up where we left off at the end of the [first half of the] season, and also that first episode coming back with Wendall, and then we had this little departure with Buck's afterlife. But once we have a resolution about Wendall, the series gets a little lighter, and we get back to some of our wacky emergencies. There's something that happens at a body-building competition, which we've done before, but this one is slightly different. There's a father-son aspect of this one, but it's funny. Then there's a spinning class fiasco where people are drinking an energy drink and mayhem ensues. There's some really fun episodes coming up, and the next one is definitely an action-packed episode, and those are the episodes I enjoy.

Kenneth Choi, who plays Chimney, joined Instagram a couple of days ago, and you've now earned the distinction of being the only regular 9-1-1 cast member who doesn't have any public-facing accounts on social media. Would you ever consider joining a platform like that, or do you prefer to maintain that distance between you and your audience?
Krause: Well, depending upon what Mr. Choi does on Instagram, I may have to join just to defend myself. I haven't seen what he's posted out there, but he does take pictures of me from time to time in compromising positions, so we'll have to wait and see.

9-1-1 airs Mondays at 8/7c on FOX. Episodes are available to stream the next day on FOX Now or Hulu.