“It feels like the 9-1-1 of old,” Oliver Stark (firefighter Evan “Buck” Buckley) says of the “big” Season 6.
The Fox first responder drama returns on September 19 with a major disaster (involving a blimp!) but that’s not all that’s coming up in the premiere. Expect a few more calls as well. And Buck 1.5 co-showrunner Kristen Reidel teased at the end of Season 5? He’s not going anywhere. Stark tells us more about where Season 6, including where it finds his character.
Last we saw Buck, he made the mature decision about his relationship with Taylor (Megan West). Is he sticking to that — not doing what he’s done in the past when it comes to relationships — when the season begins?
Oliver Stark: He is. I think we find Buck at the beginning of Season 6 in quite a reflective place where he is almost realizing or trying to realize and trying to work out what it is that can take him to the next level career-wise. That’s where a lot of his focus and his energy is, in becoming somebody that is worthy and deserving of more responsibility.
What is he envisioning for himself in the future for his career? Does he want to be captain sooner rather than later?
I think so. I don’t think Bobby (Peter Krause) has to worry about being accidentally pushed down any elevator shafts or anything like that, but I definitely think it’s something that Buck envisions for his future and wants to achieve. He really loves his job and it’s such a huge part of his identity. So I absolutely see him wanting to progress further in that line of work.
Speaking of Bobby in danger, the promo makes it look like we should be worried about him. What can you say?
I’d say this is 9-1-1, you should be worried about all characters at all times. I think the show is at its best when the characters that we’ve come to know and love over the seasons are put in these predicaments where it is life or death. They’re involved in their work lives, but also sometimes in their personal lives and very much, very possibly dangerous situations. So I think it’s always worth sitting on your seat and expecting the unexpected.
The episode with the fire at the call center last season was one of the best of the series.
I agree. It was a fantastic episode. So much went into it. And I think anytime you get a chance to see all the 118 have to come together and split off at moments in the emergency to deal with different things, but then have to find their way back to each other, especially with one of their own, Bobby, their captain, being in such peril, I think it was really quite a heart-wrenching episode.
And then you got the hero moment of everyone walking out, too.
Yeah, and it’d been such a long time coming because Eddie (Ryan Guzman) hadn’t been with the 118. So it was a moment of just everybody coming back to themselves and re-partnering up and taking a step forward as one.
Jack Zeman/ FOX
How is the 118 in Season 6? Are they solid as a unit?
Yeah, absolutely. There was so much turbulence amongst the pairings during Season 5. I think we start Season 6 back to them being the well-oiled machine that we know and love.
How long do you think Buck’s gonna stay single?
I don’t think it’s the kind of thing that he’s putting a timeframe on. More, just if the right opportunity was to present itself, or if something was to crop up in his life, I don’t think he’s fully against it. I think more than anything, it’s just a case of dealing with it cautiously and not running all guns blazing into these situations or into these relationships and just taking his time and making sure that he’s not compromising who he is for the sake of a relationship.
How is he handling everything? Is he still in therapy? Talking to Eddie? Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt)?
He’s kind of turning to self-help books. Which doesn’t mean that he’s not still in therapy. It’s not something that we necessarily see onscreen. But he’s definitely on a journey to explore more of who he is. So he’s doing a lot of inner work through reading and trying to apply different theories to his life and some take him in not-so-positive directions. But he’s definitely on a path to healing and working out the way that best works for him.
Jack Zeman / FOX
Which of Buck’s relationships within the 118 is the focus early on in the season?
I think actually, which I really love because it kind of disappeared for a little while, he and Bobby have a real nice back-and-forth, especially in the first episode. There’s important relationships there with all of them. Obviously his relationship with Eddie is important to him, with Hen (Aisha Hinds). Both of those relationships within the first three or four episodes as well, we get to see some really nice moments. But I really love picking up on the kind of mentor-mentee relationship that Buck and Bobby have had since Season 1. And then he went off and got married, so his priorities changed. But it’s nice to see that start to come back a little bit.
And it’s nice to see that when one of them isn’t in danger, too.
Right. Where it’s just done with the mentality of Bobby trying to guide. He sees Buck as somewhat of a son figure to him, I believe. I think Buck certainly sees Bobby as a father figure, so it’s nice to just see that wholesome relationship.
Tease the premiere’s calls and what the 118 will be dealing with. There’s the blimp…
There is the blimp, yes. And it’s a little bit different from seasons of old where it’s not necessarily one huge emergency that spans two or three episodes. The blimp is obviously a big emergency, but it’s not the whole episode. There are three or four other smaller emergencies tied in there, which I’ve always loved about 9-1-1. The pace that it moves through these emergencies, you’re kind of always on this ride with the 118. You feel like you’re in the fire truck with them going from call to call. There’s the bigger one in the blimp, and then there are some smaller quirkier ones, which I always think are really fun to watch, certainly fun to make. I think it’s a really nice blend of the two in the first episode.
Jack Zeman /FOX
Are there any major calls coming up for Buck?
There is. There’s one in the second episode. The 118 get called out to a happiness convention, which is a thing that I didn’t know existed. But it was lovely to be around for the day. Buck really strikes up a rapport with one of the victims, and it really becomes quite a meaningful call for him and the direction that he’s headed in.
Has there been any talk of crossovers with Lone Star?
I don’t believe, from my knowledge at this time, there is a plan for another crossover to happen this season. Who knows? Things in the 9-1-1 universe are ever changing, but to my knowledge, not at this point.
So Buck’s not getting invited to the Tarlos wedding?
If he is, then the invite has been lost in the post.
What else is coming up for Buck?
We’re only six episodes in into filming right now, but it is just a real place of self-discovery for him and of him trying to prove to himself and those around him that he isn’t the kind of gung-ho reckless firefighter that we first met in the first few seasons of 9-1-1 and that he’s really developing into something that is not only an asset to his team, but an asset to his friends and his family around him.
How is he dealing with the whole Maddie-Chimney (Kenneth Choi) situation?
We saw little moments towards the end of last season, when they were kind of at odds with each other of him trying to push Chimney to talk to her. So he’s certainly fan of that relationship. But I think he also understands, which in itself is a sign of growth, that it’s not necessarily his situation to meddle in too much and he has to let them find either their way back to each other, if that’s what they’re gonna do, or away from each other. But he loves them both and supports them, no matter what.
9-1-1, Season 6 Premiere, Monday, September 19, 8/7c, Fox