9-1-1 season five has ended and the finale saw Bobby Nash (Peter Krause) come close to the brink of drinking again - before Eddie Diaz (Ryan Guzman) interrupted him for a heart to heart. Elsewhere, Evan 'Buck' Buckley realized the differences between him and girlfriend Tayor Kelly were too great to overcome, and Henrietta Wilson and wife Karen renewed their vows.
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The season has been a rollercoaster but it comes to a close with the 118 all in a good place - no cliffhangers for this first responder show, with executive producer Kristen Reidel admitting they "like to go out on a happy note", and mostly because the showrunners themselves like it.
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9-1-1 was officially renewed for a sixth season just hours before the finale aired; the show is consistently the top-rated series in key demographics, and was named the fourth highest-rated scripted series of the 2021-2022 television series.
But Kristen has been looking ahead for a while, telling HELLO! that she currently sees season six as an extension of these final few season five episodes with a focus on getting "back to basics" and "having fun" with the characters...
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Bobby has been going through it these last few episodes. Will this play out further next season?
Bobby is an alcoholic and he always will be, but him getting to the precipice of drinking again, and not, is where he will be for a while. It was a scare for him but he is doing his meetings and working his steps and I think we leave him in a good spot.
We leave Bobby in a 'good spot'
Ryan Guzman has given some incredible performances this past season, can you talk about this entire storyline and working with Ryan?
Ryan and I had a lot of conversations about this when we decided we would have Eddie leave the 118 at the end of the Christmas episode.
It felt like something we wanted to honor and he was completely on board and excited about it. We had a lot of conversations about who Eddie is and what made him the man he is, and it's been a really great experience working with Ryan on this, and seeing what he has done with the material we have given him.
Even the stuff with his dad, that was such an important step for that character.
Eddie has discovered what made him the man he is
The scene with Eddie and Bobby is so different to the one we saw between the two earlier in episode 13, and it was so nice to see that parallel and that growth.
That moment was really something we wanted to do from the moment we started the Eddie story but it's always a question of, 'Will we be able to get there in the number of episodes we have?'
But the idea of Bobby having been there so much for Eddie and really helping him then at the end of the day Eddie is the one who saves Bobby without even realizing that is what he is doing?
It felt like the graceful end of the Eddie story.
Bobby and Eddie have come to an understanding this season
There’s also a wonderful scene in the finale of Eddie calling out Buck (Oliver Stark) for not going home that parallels Buck giving Eddie romance advice earlier in season five, are these parallels on purpose?
Sometimes they are coincidences and we say,' Oh we didn't mean to do that but yay!' and there are times that are absolutely on purpose.
Buck has been on an interesting journey this season - will he get the happy ever after he’s been desperately craving?
I think he will - but I think a big part of his story this season is that he is not craving it as much as he used to. Buck wanted it too much, so much so he was willing to put his wants and needs aside to make it work. In this finale he is finally saying, 'I will never be okay in this relationship and I have to walk away from it.'
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Buck's journey has also been one of self-discovery
This partnership between Buck and Eddie has become such an important part of the show for many, does that add pressure as a show writer to do them justice?
Pressure is not the right word, but I think the friendships on this show are the things we do best.
One of our challenges is that we have a lot of great friendships between the different characters and we sometimes just can't fit it all in.
You want scenes of everyone with everyone because they are so great so that's always my personal challenge.
Fans have fallen in love with Buck and Eddie
9-1-1 never ends on a cliffhanger like many other first responder shows, is there a reason for this?
Neither [executive producer] Tim Minear nor I have ever wanted to end it on a cliffhanger. Occasionally we'll do a hang chad ending like at the end of season two when Buck had been injured but we generally like to go out on a happy note and for a variety of reasons - one is we like it!
After a season of what we put the characters through we like to go out on a positive 'everyone is okay' note.
Second, when we start the next season we get to start fresh and we don't have anything hanging over us or anything we need to deal with.
Kristen is already looking ahead to season six
What is your big picture overview for season six?
For season six we want to go back to basics, which is a little of what we did in the back half of season five. We want to have more fun with the characters - we didn't get to really do that this year.
Also, I think I'd like to see us mixing it up and not alway having Hen (Aisha Hinds) and Chimney (Kenneth Choi) together; let's do some stories with Chimney and Eddie! That's the hope for next season to just mix it up, and have fun with our people..
How do you find the right balance of giving an ensemble equal screen time? It’s impossible to run nine storylines for each regular episode.
It is - and we tried it and it never goes well!
The thing we try to do is keep the eye on the big picture.
Arielle Kebbel (left) joined the show in season five
A lot of times we do a story with one character that will lend itself to another story with that character in the next episode, so we do try and do two or three episodes focusing on one character, then allow another to have their moment.
It's a constant juggling act because we love them all and the challenge is [we ony have] 43 minutes.
The 118 is so tight knit. How do you make the decision of when and how to bring in newcomers - like Lucy (Arielle Kebbel) and Ravi (Anirudh Pisharody) this past season?
It is a challenge but part of it is just finding the right stories and the right ways to integrate those characters outside of the firehouse. There is a hope for next season that we can find interesting ways to do that where it feels like it's 9-1-1 and not that we're suddenly watching a different show.
Maddie returned after a battle wirth postpartum depression
What are you most proud of from season five?
That we finished! I would say that I am really proud of Jennifer Love Hewitt's Maddie Boston story and her journey with postpartum depression, and I am very proud of the story with Eddie - that was a slow burn.
May is a mental health awareness month, and I don't think any of us intended to do [these storylines at this time], but [mental health] has been something we have talked about throughout the show and it is something I am always proud of our show for doing.
It's ok to not be okay, and it's okay to get help, and as we see in the finale, if you are worried about friends, please go and check on them.
9-1-1 is available to stream on Hulu
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