'9-1-1' boss unpacks Hen's family drama and Buck's new superpower

Showrunner Kristen Reidel breaks down season 6, episode 13, “Mixed Feelings,” which also saw Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) dealing with a m...

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Showrunner Kristen Reidel breaks down season 6, episode 13, “Mixed Feelings,” which also saw Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) dealing with a mysterious neighbor.

Patrick Gomez

Who had Buck developing calculator-level mental math skills on their bingo card?

“I mean, look, fun with a coma is hard to do, but we wanted to try it,” 9-1-1 showrunner Kristen Reidel tells EW of Oliver Stark’s character developing a new ability after surviving that lightning strike and coma earlier this season.

Here, Reidel unpacks those major storylines and teases the return of “proby” firefighter Ravi (Anirudh Pisharody), who was last seen with the 118 in the season 5 finale.

Peter Krause and Aisha Hinds on ‘9-1-1’

Peter Krause and Aisha Hinds on ‘9-1-1: Lone Star’

| Credit: Jack Zeman/FOX

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Hen finds out Denny has been seeing his birth father in the most dramatic way possible, learning he’s been in a car accident…

KRISTEN REIDEL: We knew Denny couldn’t keep his secret forever. And so to have it come out on the job felt like a way to make it even worse for him. It gave Hen that moment of thinking, “Oh my God, my kid! Something’s happened to my kid.” “Oh my God, he’s in the hospital…. Wait, he’s with his father?!” It’s so much to process that, in the moment, she doesn’t know quite how to react. She quickly gets over that and finds that her reaction is anger and betrayal, I think. For both Hen and Karen, this is really the first major thing that Denny’s lied to them about, and I think that they’re kind of struggling with that. It becomes a balancing act for them as they process “he did a really awful thing, but he’s still our kid and we love him, and how do we navigate the dad thing, but also still be mad about the lying thing?”

Though Hen’s mom, Toni (Marsha Warfield), plays a big part in helping them move forward.

The thing about Toni is that she’s just outside of it enough. She has been the parent and she had her kid lie to her, but she can see the bigger picture because she’s not in it as much. And so she can be that voice of reason and point out to Hen, “Look, you had a childhood in which you didn’t have a dad, and I know that that sucked for you. So think about that before you react, before you make a decision.”

On a lighter note, where did the idea to give Buck math powers come from?

About a decade ago, I read an article about people who’d been struck by lightning and different things that came out of that. Obviously there’s definitely some negative health effects that some people experience, but then there’s also these weird little stories about how they can affect the electricity in a room or they don’t feel pain anymore. We talked about different abilities that he could have, and we came up with math because it just seemed so the opposite of the Buck we know and love. We did not want to give him a super ability that would positively or negatively impact his job, if that makes sense. You give Buck the inability to feel pain, and that just feels like a different story. We wanted to keep it fun.

Ryan Guzman and Oliver Stark on ‘9-1-1: Lone Star’

Ryan Guzman and Oliver Stark on ‘9-1-1: Lone Star’

| Credit: FOX

What Maddie goes through, with this grifter using her address to scam people out of money by offering them coupons, is so specific. Is that based on a true story too?

We loved the idea that Maddie and Chimney don’t know their neighbors and wanted to explore that. I was shocked and fascinated — and found it hilarious — that there have been multiple crime rings involving couponers. Multiple! They forge these coupons and they sell them for lots of money because you can then put in a request for a specific coupon. There was one here in Southern California [who scammed people of almost $10 million], but there was another one in Arizona that was three women. When they raided their house, they had stores of guns and it was like the mob — but with coupons.

What can you tease for us in the episodes to come?

Next week, episode 14, is going to be the return of Ravi. We’re going to go back to the academy with Chimney and we’ll see Ravi there in a different environment than we’re used to seeing him. On the personal front, Buck is going to continue his journey and he’s going to meet someone in a future episode that also has a unique relationship with death that Buck will be intrigued by. And then we have some fun stuff coming up for Maddie and Chimney. Episode 15 is called “Death and Taxes,” and they are going to get in trouble with one of those — and it ain’t death. That incident is going to catapult us into their story for the rest of the season.

9-1-1 airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

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