The show decides to hand the reigns to Aisha Hinds and gives us something which almost makes you wonder, “Why wasn’t this the show’s pilot?”
Introduced This Episode
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While Hen, in episode 6 of this season, revealed getting shot and medics saving her was why she became a first responder, that was the short version. The long version was that she was in pharmaceutical sales, wearing a wig, trying to code switch and pass the best she could – and she hated it. She hated the boys club, hated schmoozing with clients, nearly every aspect. Yet, with a little bit of a push from Eva, though not much in the way of support, at first, she decided to become a first responder. Something which was tough, because Hen is a big girl and makes it seem she was out of shape, but when she puts her mind to something – no stopping her.
I would save this for the end but why wait? This episode is so messed up because it seems like an alternate pilot. I get it is really supposed to make up for how neglected Aisha Hinds has been since this show began but, I don’t think they know what they did. What I mean by that is, what they gave us makes it so sending her back behind Buck’s dating issues, Eddie being pushed more in his first few episodes than Hen formerly was all of season 1, and etc., just seem cruel.
As usual, Hinds shows herself to not be some two-bit player. I’d argue she is in the league of Viola Davis, with the main difference being Hinds actually plays characters who can tell a joke and be witty. Not just miserable people surviving the best way they know how – often through destructive means. Comparisons aside, I don’t think this show knows what it did. For after the hype from her monologue in Underground and truly commanding this episode like she was in a Shonda Rhimes program, they better up her contract commitment and get her a lot of money. Surely someone has the sense to snatch her up for the lead role. Not “A” lead role, but “THE” lead role.
The Bastard & Saint: Athena, Hen, Gerrard, Chimney
Hen was a bit of a trailblazer when she joined 118 and like most trailblazers, she went through hell being one of the first. Especially since her captain, Captain Gerrard, was a bigot in so many ways. But you know what really makes him an ass****, Hen proving she was smart and had compelling ideas to help save people and her getting punished for it. Which Chimney tries to commiserate but so comes the issue of them both being people of color, but her being a woman. So while the sentiment is appreciated, it isn’t like they are in the same boat.
Something which comes off a bit standoffish but, luckily for Hen, Chimney rolls with the punches and understands she is talking out of frustration. Athena, who helps during the advertised mudslide in the episode trailer, also sees the frustration. Hence her asking Hen out for drinks and their friendship blooming. For while Athena doesn’t go deep into her own backstory, you can tell she sees herself in Hen and wants to be the person she didn’t have. Heck, maybe for the gay fireman and another female cop, she provided that sense of community too?
I think there is a strong need to shout out Black women, don’t you? Just take note of Athena. She saw a sister in need, probably ready to cry, and rather than treat it as someone else’s problem, she reached out – gave her phone number. Also, she made what Hen thought was a support group to find others who may be needed to be seen and heard, especially by someone who gets it.
But, in general, whether we are talking about Michelle Obama or if I’m speaking on a personal level, you have to appreciate the emotional, sometimes physical, strength of Black women. For no matter how daunting the task or situation, they persevere. Despite how others may not take a chance on you, may pass you up, they will give you the opportunity to prove all those people wrong. Also, while they will keep it sometimes real with you to the point of you feeling like they are coming for you, they tell you what you need to hear to be better.
Which makes us getting to see Hen and Athena become friends, part of the foundation of this show, so important. For all the praise noted above, unfortunately, is often paired with no one checking on Black women. There not being someone to give them a chance, relieve their pain or struggle. So those two meeting, sticking together, and Hen returning the extended hand and sometimes pulling Athena in for a hug, it helps you further realize why they are so close. Almost to the point of getting a little teary-eyed – though it might just be me being sappy.
Paving The Road Might Be Hard, But It Is Always Worth It: Hen
Have you ever taken note what it takes to pave a road? Usually, you got to strip down the old one, usually with heavy equipment, then you got to deal with this hot liquid which you have to place down just right and then smooth everything out for the future. Then, even with a smooth road, you have to paint lines and directions to prevent accidents and other hazards. Now, think about a person doing all that for themselves and those who will come after them.
Though Hen isn’t the first, she was paving what some could consider an unfinished road. Why was it unfinished? That isn’t the point. What matters is that she did the work, sometimes by herself, and made it so future generations wouldn’t have to go through what she did. Now, how did she do that specifically? Well, she called out the entire 118 team. She called out the hazing, the attitude of Captain Gerrard, and proved that while affirmative action got her a chance, what led to her being hired and one of the best was her initiative, skills, and creative thinking. Being a woman, a lesbian, and Black are just things which help form her opinion. It doesn’t mean, what to ever, that hers should be treated as inferior.
Can you believe, at least going by Wikipedia, Hinds has only been on stage maybe in one play? Seriously? Has no one seen this woman’s monologues? Has no one seen how she commands a scene? You’d think she’d always have an invite to perform in something. Then again, unfortunately, musicals have a certain level of dominance and maybe singing isn’t her forte? Either way, believe me when I say this episode makes it so whether you have Apple, Google, what have you, you need to put an alert on your device for when Aisha Hinds has something new coming out. For, seriously, she has brought a high to this series that is going to make next week’s fall finale seem so bust – I can just feel it.
9-1-1 giving us the pilot we deserved.
The strength of Black women and the importance of comradery between women, people of color, those who feel like outsiders, and so on.
Seeing Eva as a good and healthy girlfriend to Hen rather than a gangly scar in Hen’s life.
You knowing the next episode won’t hold a candle to this one.