I have mixed feelings going into this show because I’m not a huge fan of firefighter stories, but between it being a Grey’s spin-off and the cast it had me sold to at least try it out. Check out the backdoor pilot from this season of Grey’s Anatomy! (Season 14 Episode 13 titled “You Really Got A Hold On Me”)
Synopsis: Andy Herrera must step up when the Station 19 crew responds to an apartment fire and Captain Pruitt takes a hit. (1) A car accident puts the lives of the victims and the crew at risk. (2) (IMDB)
Writer: Stacy McKee
Director: Paris Barclay
Running Time: 86 mins (2 43-minute episodes)
Airs: Thursdays at 9pm on CTV (Canada)/ABC (United States)
The first episode “Stuck” starts off with a woman is looking at photos of her ex, but she’s convinced to get off her computer. As she exits the room the cord sparks and a small flame ignites. Suddenly the team rushes to the location of the fire and spring into action. Before we learn any names, the team is showing us what they do. A group of them work on search and rescue while the others extinguish the fire. All seems to be going well until they learn the house had a second occupant. The firefighters seem pessimistic that anyone would have survived until under a scorched cushion they find a scared dog. Just another day for Station 19.
While Ben Warren (Jason George) is the connecting character, the crew sees him as the rookie and becomes the butt of every joke. Instead, the show revolves around Andy “Baby Rambo” Herrera (Jaina Lee Ortiz) the Meredith Grey of the show because what’s a Shonda Rhimes show without a strong female character at the center of it? She’s the daughter of Station 19’s Captain, best friends with one of the other females on the force and has a secret affair with her father’s right-hand Lieutenant Gibson (Grey Damon). Save to say this show is checking off all the boxes.
The team is called to a fire at an apartment building where Andy has a heated argument with Ryan Tanner (Alberto Frezza) a police officer and childhood neighbour of her. As the team goes through the building showing their strategies and procedures, things take a turn for the worst. Captain Herrera has taken on a lot of smoke and has no pulse. After Andy performs CPR on her father, they are able to break down a window and jump from the building to some crash pads below. As Andy breaks down outside she pushes aside Gibson’s help and Ryan is able to calm her down. Cue the love triangle.
The rest of the episode revolves around a mini-crossover with Grey Sloan Memorial. Andy, freaking out about the status of her father, gets some much needed alone time with Meredith Gray to cry out her feelings and then get her fame face back on. Strong women helping strong women. Shondaland in full force. Turns out Captain Herrera has Stage 2 Cancer and needs to step down and says Gibson will be in charge which visibly frustrates Andy. That evening, Ryan comes to Andy’s to check on her and after discussing how she deserves to be captain they spend the night together.
Ben gets some much needed advice from his wife Miranda Bailey on knowing the differences between his old career and new one. Gibson confronts Maya (Danielle Savre) and Andy overhears their conversation where he says he loves her. Andy feels stuck between Gibson and Ryan, unsure on what to do, but her friend tells her to focus on her goals and her personal life will fall into place. The team is called to their third incident this episode that turns out to be a girl trapped between two walls allowing Andy to use metaphors to examine the issues in her own life. The episode ends with Andy deciding to put her hat in the ring for Captain, Ben being accepted as more than just the “New Guy” and the team learning Captain Herrera’s fate and that Gibson and Andy will be co-interim Captains going forward.
The second episode “Invisible to Me” starts off with a couple trying to have sex that is constantly interrupting by the beeping of a CO2 alarm. Andy is helping organize her dad’s new life at Grey Sloan Memorial (setting up more mini-crossovers going forward) and Ben drops Tuck off at school as he hears disappointingly how often Ben will be working. Turns out Battalion Chief Frankel is coming by to lay the groundwork for how this co-interim Captainship will occur. First up for evaluation is Andy Herrera.
She decides that her first order as Captain is to run air drills with the team which Ben Warren finds he cannot do. Miller arrives late and is forced to work reception for the day as a call comes in from Tuck’s school. The team arrives and, after an awkward conversation with the principal who assumes Gibson is in charge, they enter the school to find the alarm puller. Ben enters the school to find Tuck was the one to pull the alarm, but he had good reason. Turns out a fellow student is in labour in the girls’ bathroom and they did not want to tell anyone because she’s the daughter of the principal. How did she hide her pregnancy from her mom? It isn’t like this girl isn’t showing?
Meanwhile, Miller is dealing with the exciting world of reception when the woman from the beginning of the episode (guest star Brenda Song) comes in with the broken alarm. There is some obvious flirting and she subtly asks about his girlfriend which he does not have. Recurring recognizable guest star perhaps? Montgomery catches them flirting and makes fun of Miller for his need to be everyone’s knight in shining armour. As a call comes in, Montgomery decides to bring Miller with him despite Andy’s order.
Ben and Victoria ask Andy to bring in an aide car to get the pregnant girl out of the school, but they cannot get one and the baby is coming now. The baby is born still in the sac meaning Ben and Victoria have to work fast to save it. With some ingenuity and a straw they are able to get the baby breathing. They call Andy and bring in the principal who reacts to her daughter having a child at 13. Thankfully she is more concerned about her daughter is doing, and Ben covers up Tuck’s mess.
Back to Miller and Montgomery who are at a nursing home to help an elderly man who has gotten his jewels trapped in a shower stool. The man talks about how lonely he is at the home and Montgomery opens up about his husband dying in the line of duty in the past year and says he understands the loneliness. Back at the station, Victoria questions Andy’s decision-making on the call and blames first day jitters. Gibson overhears this and decides to sit down with Andy and discuss how he can help her if she needs because he’s a shoo-in for captain.
And again the third call of the episode, this time a car accident. Sounds like the three incidents a week might be a recurring theme. As the team works on extracting the two victims, the tanker leaks and creates an ethanol fire naked to the eye unless it’s dark. Problem is the fire has surrounded Ben and Victoria at the tanker with the driver. They work to protect themselves as much as they can while they wait for the team to save them. Andy decides to ram one of their vehicles through the blue fire to save Ben and Victoria. They extract the victim and escape the fire with minimal damage.
At the firehouse, Captain Herrera comes to check in on everyone and says he’s proud of Andy’s decision-making in the field. Ben and Victoria bond over their experiences and facing death together when Tuck arrives at the station to say hi. He wants to see the truck, but a call comes in. While Ben wants to spend time with Tuck, his son urges him to do his job. Andy goes to the locker room and after some small talk with Gibson that ends in a moment. The episode ends with Miller and Ben arriving at the last call of the shift. Turns out it is JJ (Brenda Song) who is injured on the floor. Her alarm is still beeping. As Ben tends to her, Miller looks around and instincts kick in. He knocks a hole in the ceiling and smoke billows into the apartment.
Overall, this was a great two-part premiere to this spin-off series. Just like Grey’s Anatomy, this show immerses you in the atmosphere of the profession it tackles. The shaky cinematography paired with the smoke-filled, close-quarters locations make this show feel different enough than other Shonda Rhimes shows while imbuing the same tone and trademark story elements of others in Shondaland. The characters weren’t very well established in the first episode and left much to be desired, but the second episode dives into their backstories and dynamic, setting up some great friendships to explore going forward. Hopeful that these series continues to burn bright after a slow ignition.
Invisible to Me: 8.5/10
What did you think of the two-part premiere of Station 19? Let me know in the comments below!