‘9-1-1’ Star Ryan Guzman Breaks Down That Emotional Finale Goodbye (2024)

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[This story contains spoilers from the season seven finale of 9-1-1, “All Fall Down.”]

Eddie Diaz (Ryan Guzman) has been known to play with fire in his personal life on 9-1-1. But he had always somehow managed to keep his son, Christopher (Gavin McHugh), from getting burned.

That all changed in the penultimate episode of season seven, in which Christopher and Eddie’s girlfriend Marisol (Edy Ganem) walk in on Eddie embracing another woman named Kim (Devin Kelley), who is actually a dead ringer for his late wife, Shannon (also played by Kelley), who died in season two. As it turns out, since seeing Kim through the window of a clothing store during a recent outing with Christopher and Marisol, Eddie has become obsessed with the idea of what his relationship with Shannon could have been, and he even starts having an emotional affair with Kim to keep that (albeit deluded) fantasy alive.

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That soapy storyline reaches a point of no return in the season seven finale of the ABC first-responder drama. After catching his father kissing a woman who looked like his dead mother, Christopher locks himself in his room overnight and refuses to open the door. Eddie, who begins to spiral out of control out of guilt, calls his best friend, Buck (Oliver Stark), to help defuse the situation with Christopher. But little does Eddie know that Christopher has called in reinforcements of his own: After barricading himself in his room, Christopher calls his grandparents, Helena (Paula Marshall) and Ramon (George DelHoyo), to fly to Los Angeles and take him back to Texas for at least the summer.

The news does not go over well with Eddie, who has raised Christopher pretty much on his own, with some support from Buck, for the last six years. But it isn’t until Eddie sits down with his parents — specifically, his emotionally distant father, with whom he recently reconciled — that he realizes that the best thing he can do is to let Christopher go, even if their separation is temporary.

“I know you’re angry, but you need to listen to me: I love you, no matter what,” an emotional Eddie tells Chris, forcing him to look him in the eye. “You want to go with your grandparents? Okay. I hate it, but I love you. So I’m letting you go, but you can always come back. If you change your mind five minutes or five months from now, you just say the word, and I’ll come for you, okay?”

Speaking about that devastating goodbye scene, Guzman tells The Hollywood Reporter in the conversation below, “I think there is a full acknowledgement that Eddie is not the best part of Christopher’s life anymore, that he does not offer the best and healthiest version for Christopher anymore. That’s not only crushing to Eddie, but now the acceptance of that fact is something that I don’t think Eddie has really leaned into [yet]. We will explore it in season eight.”

Eddie will have to contend with not only a new dynamic at home, but also a new work life. Shortly after his team was honored in episode nine for their bravery during the massive cruise ship disaster at the start of the season, Capt. Bobby Nash (Peter Krause) secretly submitted his resignation from the 118, believing that he was unworthy of leadership recognition. Bobby’s decision stemmed from the guilt that he continues to carry for causing a fire in Minnesota years ago that claimed the lives of 148 people, including his wife and two children. After saving himself and his current wife, Sgt. Athena Grant-Nash (Angela Bassett), from a fire that engulfed their home and then surviving a potentially fatal heart attack, Bobby realizes, once again, that being a firefighter is his true calling, and he decides to return to the 118.

But there’s only one issue: The LAFD has already decided to fill Bobby’s post with none other than Vincent Gerrard (Brian Thompson), the bigoted former captain of the 118, creating a clear divide and source of tension within the tight-knit firehouse.

Below, Guzman discusses what that season-ending cliffhanger could mean for the future of the show, why he thinks Eddie and Christopher’s relationship has been irrevocably changed, and how he has tapped into his own personal life to find strength in Eddie’s vulnerability.


When we spoke a couple months ago, you mentioned that you were relishing the opportunity to play a lighter side of Eddie after years of turmoil, but you had yet to read what happens in the second half of the season. How has Eddie’s latest storyline changed your understanding of him as a character? What new layers were you able to discover in the playing of him this season?

Those are great questions. I think we already knew who Eddie is, who he was and who he’s trying to be. So we already had those senses of direction. But now, through all the obstacles that [co-creator and showrunner] Tim Minear wrote into this latter half of the season, we got to explore what we knew of him, so a sense of depth was given to Eddie. I love that the first half of this season was more lighthearted and humorous, and allowed us to showcase a fruitful and joyful Eddie. But towards the latter half of this season, we got to see the polar opposite and realize that, even though Eddie seems like everything was okay, it was more of a magic trick. He was hiding this way of life in one of his hats. It all unfolded by him divulging into this dream-like lifestyle of living vicariously through a woman who exemplifies the spitting image of his ex-wife, or his dead wife.

It’s funny how reconstructive memory works — Eddie has clung onto the idealized notion of what he and Shannon could have been, but he seems to have blocked out the fact that she wanted a divorce shortly before she died. Why do you think Eddie continues to have this romanticized view of the relationship, and how do you hope these encounters with Kim will help him move on from Shannon?

It is funny, the psychology of it all. I think it’s very relatable for human nature to rework our past into the best way that helps us cope with our present. I think the reality of him and Shannon not working out wasn’t going to be conducive for Eddie moving forward, so he needed the idealization of, “Oh no, if we had just changed this, or had I just done this, then we would’ve had a perfect life,” to allow him to move on — or at least fool himself into thinking he’s moved on. Now, with this reality check and allowing him to have this cathartic conversation with his dead wife via Kim, he is able to acknowledge and recognize that [his relationship with Shannon] wasn’t what he had been all this time, and that the history speaks for itself. He did try to ask for her hand in marriage, and she said no. So I think this offers new insight on who Eddie can be and who Eddie wants to be.

Let’s break down the two most devastating moments for Eddie in these last two episodes. First, Chris walks in on his father kissing a woman who looks eerily similar to his dead mother. And then in the finale, Eddie has to say goodbye to Chris and let him go back to live in Texas indefinitely with Eddie’s parents. What did you want to convey in the quiet moments to show the inner turmoil that Eddie is going through and struggling to keep contained?

I’ll touch on the first scene where Christopher sees a version of his mom. With that scene, I was playing more so the fact that “I just destroyed my son again,” and the fact that “I’ll never be able to come back or explain this [to Christopher].” There’s no way I can explain why I’m talking to a woman who looks exactly like his dead mother, and why I’m keeping it from him while connecting with this new woman that I’ve brought into his life. It’s just a shift of a world that you can’t explain to a person experiencing that. At such a young age — 13, 14 years old — you’re not going to be able to rationalize that.

So, cutting into this last scene that we shot of Eddie finally saying goodbye to Christopher, I think there is a full acknowledgement that Eddie is not the best part of Christopher’s life anymore, that he does not offer the best and healthiest version for Christopher anymore. That’s not only crushing to Eddie, but now the acceptance of that fact is something that I don’t think Eddie has really leaned into yet. We will explore it in season eight. There was a balancing act for myself as an actor: “How do I convey that this is breaking dad’s heart? But I know you’re making the right decision. I have to let you do what you need to do.”

Eddie, at least in Chris’ eyes, was always seen as this perfect person who would never betray him, but that illusion has been shattered. To me, it goes back to this idea that, at some point in our lives, we come to realize that our parents aren’t perfect, that they are also figuring things out as they go along. What do you think it would take for Chris to forgive Eddie? And do you see letting Chris go as the first step to that path of reconciliation?

That would be very, very mature of Christopher. (Laughs.) I mean, I think just as far as human nature goes and especially as men, we kind of age a little slower than women do [emotionally speaking]. It took me forever to look back at my own life and forgive my own dad for things that I should have forgiven way earlier on. And [it’s important] to humanize your father. We always grow up with this idealization of “Dad is Superman, and he gives us so many answers, so he must know everything.” And when that harsh reality is given to us that, no, he’s just a human being trying to figure it out, we can’t, again, rationalize that.

So I don’t think there will be an opportunity for Christopher to forgive Eddie. I think now, it’s about, how does this change who Christopher is for the rest of the entirety of his life? It won’t be until he gets to that mature moment where he can look back and be like, “Oh, I’ve had enough trauma myself now. I can understand, Dad, that you were just trying your best.” So this will be a new life for both Christopher and Eddie. We’ve broken down a barrier at such a young age that I think propels Christopher to find his own manliness, his own manhood, in a way that maybe Eddie actually wanted, but obviously, this is the worst way to propel it.

Let’s circle back to that speech that Eddie makes to “Shannon,” which is just Kim dressed up as his ex-wife to give him a chance to say what he wishes he had said to Shannon. Why do you think Eddie feels like he’s broken beyond repair? And what do you believe would be his first step towards fixing what he believes is so broken?

I think we go off of what we know. Again, going back to human nature and the relatability of it, Eddie is pulling from what he knows [in that scene where Eddie is talking to Kim as Shannon] — and he’s a very factual person. “My wife is no longer here. I cannot have this conversation. As much as I’d like to play this scene out with you, Kim, this is not real. So I will never get that closure, and I’m always going to be broken. You’ve always created this rift in my heart.” There’s no sense of healing in that conversation. So I think it will take a Cap-like character [meaning Bobby] or a Buck-like character to help Eddie heal. I would love to explore Hen [Aisha Hinds] and Chimney’s [Kenneth Choi] input on this. Those relationships have always been a void for Eddie, but more input on the healing process will allow Eddie for a little bit more texture.

Eddie has now developed a habit of relying on Buck to come in and talk to Christopher when the going gets tough — we saw it at the start of the season, when Eddie enlisted Buck to talk to Chris about the perils of dating multiple people at once — but there is very little that Buck can do to help remedy the situation in the finale. Do you think Eddie has used Buck to fill that co-parenting role for Christopher, whether he consciously realizes it or not?

I think Eddie’s the type of person to utilize, maybe, a person that is better at these types of conversations than he is, almost like a scapegoat. He’s like [to Buck], “I can’t deal with this. I don’t know how to deal with this. Hey, you’re better at this. Can you do it?” And I don’t think that actually offers maturity to Eddie. So this new lifestyle that he’s been thrown into, being by himself, to be honest, is going to give him the opportunity to be like, “Maybe I can be self-reflective and understand that I can’t pawn off these conversations to Buck, and I can’t pawn off these conversations to anybody. I have to deal with them alone.” Maybe we’ll see a more mature Eddie next season.

Eddie was raised with the toxic masculine ideal that he had to suppress his emotions, and it’s only been through his relationships at the 118 that he has begun to feel more comfortable with expressing his feelings. How do you think Eddie’s upbringing has influenced the kind of person he is in the present day? And as someone who has drawn plenty of parallels between yourself and Eddie, what parts of your own lived experiences have you drawn from?

I pull from a lot of my own personal history. I always had emotions when I was younger. Growing up in Sacramento, it was always frowned upon to have these emotions and even trying to understand them. Actually, I was told that it was hom*osexual to feel these feelings, and I’m like, “Wait, so having feelings makes me be this kind of person? I don’t understand this.” So it was always something that I never could understand in the setting that I was growing up in.

Now I use that as a conduit to Eddie, because the setting he was growing up in was similar. Coming into this new family of seeing Hen and now Buck being versions of themselves who are living in their truth, it now allows Eddie to live in his truth and see there is new life and new opportunity. He’s allowing himself to be vulnerable and realize, “No, [being vulnerable] doesn’t make me less of a man, and it’s not an indication that my sexuality has to completely change because I feel these emotions. I’m still the same man. I just now have a greater awareness and greater depth of who I am because of these emotions.” This has always been something that I’ve wanted to portray on camera, and having Eddie be the conduit for that has been an incredible opportunity for myself as an actor and as a person. I love the fact that I’m able to show to the world, through Eddie, that having this vulnerability with your brothers or your sisters doesn’t make you anything that the world might throw at you as a title. It just makes you more aware of who you are and gives you an opportunity for some emotional intelligence.

Marisol is neither seen nor really mentioned in this episode, apart from when Eddie tells Buck about what happened with her at the top of the hour. Is it safe to assume that she and Eddie have broken up? Did Tim ever give you an indicator of the state of that relationship?

I know Eddie says it in the scene with Buck. He’s like, “Well, that’s over.” Marisol is a woman of God, and I know she could be very forgiving, I’m sure. But at the same time, I don’t know if there’s any coming back from this.

Eddie ends the season seemingly more alone than ever before, and now he and his teammates have to contend with the captaincy of Gerrard, whose oppressive regime at the 118 he had probably heard about from Hen and Chimney but never experienced for himself. What are you most looking forward to exploring with Eddie next season? Have you spoken with Tim at all about where we’ll find your character in season eight?

I have not because Tim likes to keep us in the dark.

Big surprise. Although, to be fair, I’m not even sure if he knows exactly how that storyline will play out next season.

(Laughs.) Yeah, it’s a big surprise for both us and the audience of where our characters go. So knowing the fact of Gerard being an oppressive force, I think that also is a parallel to Eddie and his own history with the armed forces. I think there is a kind of a balancing act again for Eddie: Can I explore this new lifestyle with new questions, or am I going to pull from what I know I have in the past and am I going to shut down again? Do I lean into this new lifestyle of being lonely? Am I going to be the man I was in the military where the emotions don’t come out as much and I’ve got to just be a soldier that keeps on going on? Both offer incredible obstacles for me as an actor, so I’ll play either side that Tim decides. But cutting off the heartstring of the 118, which is Bobby — he is the beating heart. He is the one that kept us all together. He’s the one that created the open space for vulnerability and conversations like we’ve seen with Eddie and Bobby. That will be a new landscape for the whole 118 to deal with next season.

All episodes of 9-1-1 are now streaming on Hulu. The show is scheduled to return this fall on ABC.

‘9-1-1’ Star Ryan Guzman Breaks Down That Emotional Finale Goodbye (2024)
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