9-1-1 recap: As Chimney’s life hangs in the balance, we flashback to his start as a firefighter

Earlier this season on 9-1-1, we were given a glimpse into how our Hen became the firefighter she is today. “Hen Begins” was a lovely episode that gave us a breather from the ridiculous rescues we’ve come to expect on this show, instead showcasing a more emotional side to the proceedings. Plus, the more we get to know these first responders, the more invested we are in whatever call comes in, even if it’s say, a shark in the middle of the freeway.

So, it’s not surprising that 9-1-1 is giving us “Chimney Begins,” a trip back to 2005 in which we learn Chimney’s firefighter origin story. It is, however, surprising that this would happen while Chimney is bleeding out in front of Maddie’s apartment building after being stabbed by her abusive ex-husband multiple times. Like, I get the whole “he’s dying, let’s look back on his life” thing, but there is no forward movement on that insane cliffhanger from last week. Chim is still there on the ground where we left him and we get absolutely no news on how Maddie is faring inside her apartment. This maneuver feels insane because, yes, of course, I want to know how this all plays out, but also because you’re messing with the storytelling momentum. Stretch this out too long and eventually people will just become annoyed. All I’m saying is: Give us something, 9-1-1! We deserve it!

If you take the timing out of this episode, it offers yet another illuminating backstory. I mean, did you know that Chimney (although he hasn’t yet earned that nickname back in 2005) invented the Snuggie? Well, almost. In 2005, Chim is working at a bar with his best friend Kevin and attempting to come up with the next great invention, but he’s getting turned down for bank loans at every turn. He’s going to be so pissed when he finds out Snuggies are a thing. 

When his latest idea to help him become a financial mogul tanks, Chim returns to the bar to feel sorry for himself. He wants a calling bigger than running karaoke at a dive bar. Just when he’s at his lowest, a calling finds its way to him. A dink of a bartender tries to be a hot-shot and light a whole tower of shots on fire, but instead lights the woman sitting in front of him on fire and burns the whole place down. Ladies: Don’t stand right in front of flaming shots, okay? Thankfully, Chim doesn’t panic. He saves the woman, he gets everyone out of there, he is a hero. And just like that, he immediately goes and signs up to join the LAFD. The man has been called.

So has Kevin. Chim’s best friend felt the same calling. Since Chim lives with Kevin and his parents—Kevin’s mom, Mrs. Lee, was Chim’s late mother’s best friend, you guys, I KNOW, my heart is also warmed—they tell them together. It is right here that I went: Oh, so Kevin’s going to die. There’s no way he would be a firefighter and alive today without us having seen or heard about him. Sorry, Kev. Sorry, Mrs. Lee.

Just like we saw with Hen, Chim and Kevin go through rigorous training at the fire academy before being assigned to their respective stations. Naturally, they are split up and Chim ends up at 118, where he is today—none of our other current firefighters are there, FYI. Also similar to Hen’s experience, 118 is less-than-welcoming when Chim first shows up. He’s relegated to clean-up duty and is never allowed out on calls. At least he uses the downtime to bone up on his training. He’s very proactive that way!

We watch Chimney clean up dinner and practice getting into his gear and dominate a giant pile of flashcards until one day when a married couple plows through the station and Howie is the only one there to very calmly talk the man down from his panic attack. Still, no one cares. He’s practically invisible. It’s not until Eli the Paramedic takes pity on him and has him tag along in the Aid Car that things begin to change for Chimney. Sure, he spends the shift getting barfed and bled on, but it could be worse! I can’t think of how right now, but believe me, it could be.

(Recap continued on next page…)

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