If you thought only This Is Us can make you cry, you were wrong.
Within the first couple of minutes of Worst Day Ever, it’s clear that this isn’t a typical episode of 911. When a plane crashes on a shore in L.A., the first responders rush to the deadly scene, which results in a thrilling, pulse-pounding hour of television. While the writers don’t spend a lot of time on the passengers in the brilliant cold open, it’s still enough to get us familiar with each of their stories. The emotional attachment to these victims is unlike anything this show has done yet; whether it’s the young kid who does magic tricks, the couple who gets locked in the bathroom or the pregnant wife listening to her husband’s dying words, this hour tugs on our heartstrings and keeps us invested until the very end.
The constant flashbacks from before and after the crash halts the momentum at times, especially as Athena goes through multiple subplots within the span of an hour. I don’t know who thought Athena stalking the teenage girl who bullied her daughter to be a good fit for a special episode like this, but it certainly feels disjointed from the rest of the action happening elsewhere. However, Angela Bassett screaming at an airport security officer after he duct tapes a passenger’s mouth and keeps the rest of them stuck on a plane for eight hours proves to be immensely satisfying. I wouldn’t mind seeing her going off on a new character every single week.
Of course, the cliffhanger is the biggest heart-stopping moment of all as Abby, having had one of the toughest days on the job, falls asleep while her sick mother is unattended. Connie Britton does an impeccable job every week, but her frantic screams as she realizes her mom is missing is the perfect haunting ending to this breathtaking hour.
– The turbulence in the cold open, followed by the mother opening the window and seeing the airplane wing on fire, makes this one of my favorite teasers ever.
– Then of course we get the in-media res which made me groan.
– Cringe-inducing moment as the teenage bully says she hasn’t slapped anyone all day.
– Super cool, albeit slightly unrealistic, helicopter stunt as Bobby gets pulled up in the air just moments after the plane starts going under.
– Abby listening to Dale Marks’ message again is admittedly tear-inducing, but leaving it inaudible to us while his wife listens in is a fantastic creative decision. The most important moment in that scene is not the phone call itself but her reaction to it, and the result is an extremely effective and emotional sequence.
– As if Dale’s death wasn’t enough, Bobby has an imaginary conversation with his dead daughter. The decision to leave her face off-screen is another brilliant choice. Or maybe they haven’t cast anyone yet?
– Anyone notice there were four plates on that table? I love that we’re getting breadcrumbs on Bobby’s backstory for now.
– While Abby and Buck’s phone calls have been the weakest aspect of the show, I appreciate that it wasn’t overused or forced this time and instead helped identify a victim’s fate.
Hen (to Buck): When he pops you in that pretty face, just make sure it’s on the side that’s already got a mark.
Laila: You are in such trouble. My father is an attorney.
Athena: Tax attorney.
Athena: I can hardly believe what I’m hearing. That badge says Los Angeles Airport Police. And now you’re telling me you’re taking orders from CEOs? An industry whose motto is “The customer is always the moron”? They make a billion dollars a year on baggage fees, and you’re on their side? Your knees pressing against the seat in front of you because they want to add three extra rows, and you’re on their side? Five damn peanuts in that bag, and you’re on their side?
Heavenfaced by The National
Equal parts poignant and gripping, this is my favorite episode of 911 so far and a near-perfect hour of television.