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Of all the phobias and fears audiences witnessed in last night’s “9-1-1” episode, “Fear-O-Phobia,” the final one hits the hardest. The heroes of the 118 spent the episode responding to a diving-induced medical emergency, a spider-sitting situation gone horribly awry, and an incident where a woman had lost the ability to feel fear. However, it’s Eddie Diaz’s (Ryan Guzman) PTSD-induced breakdown that has the biggest impact of the evening.
Fans got a look into Eddie’s time in the military in the episode “Eddie Begins,” but that was only a snapshot. Having served two tours in Afghanistan has left Eddie with a mountain of trauma and unresolved emotions, which he tends to keep under wraps for the sake of his son, Christopher (Gavin McHugh).
It’s Christopher, however, who bears the brunt of Eddie’s breakdown in last night’s episode. Buck (Oliver Stark) receives a phone call from a frantic Christopher, whose dad is screaming and has locked himself in his bedroom. Buck rushes to his godson’s side and breaks the door down to find Eddie’s taken a baseball bat to everything he owns. The room is torn apart, there’s blood on his knuckles, and he’s sobbing crouched in a corner when Buck approaches.
“Buck has always been somebody who wants to be there for the people in his life, but I do think this is a new version of it for him,” Stark told “Entertainment Weekly” of the scene. “Eddie is somebody that I think Buck kind of always viewed as one of his crutches rather than the other way round. So I think seeing Eddie in such a vulnerable place is quite jarring at first.”
Eddie manages to explain that the four members of his unit that he saved back in the day when he pulled them from a downed helicopter are all dead. At least one died by suicide. The knowledge triggers something in him, and it seems he’s really starting to process his grief and acknowledge his PTSD.
“I think one of the things I was feeling when I was playing those scenes with Ryan was like, there's almost an unsure moment from Buck of ‘How do I approach this and how far do I dig?’ And ‘Is this appropriate to ask you these things right now?’” Stark added. “And it's not until Eddie starts opening up more that Buck starts to ask these deeper questions of, ‘OK, it's OK to be afraid. What is it that you are afraid of?’
“On an actor level, it was really nice to get to be there to watch Ryan going through these things as Eddie. And I really think the cast, as a whole, they're really bringing it in this back half of this season. I'm just excited for that to come out into the world, and for our audience to get to feast upon it.”
With Eddie having reached a breaking point, audiences are likely to see much more of his coming to terms with his deeply (deeply) buried emotions. At the very least, he has his best friend Buck by his side to help him along, and the rest of his work family at his back.
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