[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the latest episode of 9-1-1, "Fallout." Read at your own risk!]
9-1-1 almost had its own Chernobyl moment on Monday's episode, titled "Fallout," when a truck carrying hazardous materials crashed and burst into flames in the tunnel, and that wasn't even the gnarliest disaster of the day! There was also a meteorite that carved through a woman's stomach like a Thanksgiving turkey, so good luck getting that visual out of your mind at the dinner table Thursday.
The episode's title was also very applicable to what Henrietta "Hen" Wilson (Aisha Hinds) went through as she continued to struggle with the death of the young woman whom she collided with in last week's episode. She and Karen (Tracie Thoms), who also suffers from the loss of their embryos, decided to get away for a spa weekend and wound up running into a woman from Hen's past. No, it wasn't that kind of ancient history resurrected; instead, the woman was actually someone Hen saved years before and who inspired her to take up her profession as a paramedic.
Their reunion raised many questions about fate and futility, but in the end, the encounter was what both Hen and Karen needed to heal. However, is Hen really ready to get back on the horse — er, EMS? TV Guide spoke with Aisha Hinds about Hen's journey, and according to the actress, she is ready to ride again ... but that doesn't mean her guilt won't come back into view again in the future. Keep reading to find out what else Hinds had to say.
Hen went through a lot this week. What was it like for you to dig into her past for this episode?
Aisha Hinds: She did go through a lot, to say the least. But that was great because we sort of look at Hen as someone who's incredibly strong and has a good perspective, a great head on her shoulders. So she's a reminder of that saying, "Check on your strong friends." Because life can catch you at unexpected moments and reveal where you're vulnerable or where you need help. So, in this moment, it was beautiful, as Hen as the character and as Aisha as the actor, to peel back this layer and watch her unravel and be held up and supported by her friends and her team. That dynamic of Athena (Angela Bassett) and Hen is so beautifully illustrated in the image where Athena is literally holding her up because she's just completely folding in that moment where she realizes that the young lady she just hit has lost her life at the hands of her.
That was an incredible moment for me, and just having a moment to feel all of the energy of all of my team members as well as cast members, it's almost like the energy blurred. You don't know [if] this care is Peter [Krause] or Bobby, is it Oliver [Stark] or is it Buck, is it Kenny [Choi] or is it Chim, is it Ryan [Guzman] or is it Eddie? They were so caring for me that day and supportive of me that day that it sort of helped to create those authentic emotions that were necessary to punctuate all of the feelings that were necessary to tell the story and to make that moment feel real and visceral for the audiences. So, it was pretty awesome I think.
And I'm grateful for that willingness to push and get inside of these characters in that way — sometimes procedurals can be so procedurally driven that the characters that are showing up for these calls and dealing with case after case, you don't get to see as many colors as are possible to see. And so it's great to showcase all of these colors but also give audiences the opportunity to feel the myriad of feelings that are available to them. So, as the character feels them, our audience feels them, and it's just great to have that journey.
It seems like this season is really focusing on the backstories of the women of the show. We also got a little bit of what happened to Athena in her past, and now we're looking forward to more from Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt). Why is it so important to flesh out these characters' backstories?
Hinds: It's always important to highlight the different layers that women that have exemplified experience have displayed. I think we're living in a time right now where we're amplifying the voices and the presence of women. So, it's great to get to see the different sides and functions that women serve and especially in these roles. I think that first responders are certainly forgotten heroes because we very easily take them for granted because they're just always there, they're always available. So, it's beautiful to give face and flesh to our 9-1-1 responders, whether it be the operator, whether it be law enforcement, whether it be firefighters or paramedics. It's great to see them beyond their titles and their jobs and get into their humanity and really show where their heroism lies — which, being a woman in and of itself is a great superpower. I love that they're highlighting that.
It seemed that Hen's experience, as devastating as it was, really helped her and Karen to reconnect. Do you think her sense of loss echoed Karen's, or were they both hurting in different ways and able to sympathize more with each other as a result of this?
Hinds: I think that they were initially definitely both hurting and hurting in different ways, and I think that in this moment with Hen's character, it feels like the bottom is taken out from under her. I think that she can empathize somewhat more with where Karen was and what she was feeling because it can be hard sometimes to watch someone go through their emotions, and if you don't — if you are not processing the same way that they're processing, it's a little bit hard to find empathy for the way that they're processing. Because you believe that she should be able to bounce back, which is one of the things I think Hen was struggling with. Like, OK, we can feel these feelings and we can grieve this moment, but we've got to be able to bounce back. And it's not until the ground is pulled out from under you, and you're empty, and you're gutted, and all of your emotions feel overwhelming for you, immediately it clicks for her that what happened here is that Hen got into her own dark place and feeling that she can't get out of bed, and she can't forge on with life. It's like, well, there you have it. It definitely creates a mirrored sense of empathy and patience with how people process loss and grief and traumatic experiences. Which is a beautiful message for the show.
So, do you think it was especially important that they were together when she got into the backstory, when she met the woman she had saved in the past?
Hinds: I do. I do think so because a lot of times when we're processing on our own, or we're not with the other person, by the time we got to that person, the story or the experience may change or shift and so I think it's great that she was there, and she could have that support. And she could connect the dots. 'Cause I think even in that moment of seeing her in the lobby, it's like the wheels start to turn and the dots start to connect. It's like, they're looking at this thing and going is this serendipity or divine intervention? It's like, here's this opportunity now for even Karen to get some backstory and some understanding about this woman she's been with all this time. Here's an opportunity for Hen to now give her the information that might clear up something or connect the dots for her and then also help each other to see themselves in one another.
What does it mean for Hen that she was able to get back into the EMS in the end? Is she fully ready to move on, or are we going to see this come up again down the line?
Hinds: I think that she's given it her best shot. I think that ultimately Hen is built in a certain kind of way. I think she's built in a way that audiences have grown to love her, which is Hen is strong! Hen is resilient! Hen will bounce back! But I'm glad that they did give her a moment to not be strong and not be resilient and not bounce back. Ultimately she's wired, which is why she's in this line of work, why she drives the way she does, why she moves the way she does and works the way she does. She is sort of internally wired to press through, to persevere. So, even if she's not ready, she's going to press through and persevere, and at least try to put one foot in front of the other. I think it's beautiful that we see that she has a team of people who are embracing her in all her strengths and all of her weaknesses and saying 'You can do this.' Which speaks to the family component of 9-1-1 first responders, the dynamic of the ensemble. She's going back, but I don't think she feels like she's going back alone. She has the support of everyone. I think once she's back, she's back. But I do think at some point, because this is such a life-changing moment, that this incident will probably peak out at some point in the future, or the fallout from it.
9-1-1 airs Mondays at 8/7c on Fox.