Finally, our Buck questions have been answered.
This week, 9-1-1 gave Evan "Buck" Buckley (Oliver Stark) his very own backstory episode, and it did a pretty good but sort of devastating job at explaining why Buck is the way he is. Basically, his parents had him so he could donate bone marrow to save their older dying son. When the older son, Daniel, died anyway, Buck's parents hid their grief away and never really moved on. Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) ended up doing a lot more to raise her little brother.
Buck became a total daredevil and traveled the world, keeping in touch with his sister via postcards while his relationship with his parents remained strained. Buck finally learned why his parents treated him the way they did and he even forgave them. As Stark tells E! News, there's still a long ways to go with Buck and his family, though they are on a "path of healing."
"It's almost like he was sick and he didn't know why," Stark says. "And now, at least he has a diagnosis so he can start to move in the right direction and understand at least what's wrong with him."
As hard as it was to learn that secret, Stark says it's going to be "hugely beneficial" to Buck's growth and to his relationships with his "found family" at the fire station.
Stark doesn't necessarily see Buck's parents as the villains of the story, and Buck is clearly trying to do the same.
"There have obviously been issues with his upbringing, but at the same time they lost a son," he explains. "So they had been through this hugely traumatic experience and maybe they didn't deal with it in the best way. But who is anyone to judge at that point? I think it's a very human thing at the end for Buck to apologize for the loss of Daniel and try to find that middle ground."
Buck has spent years relying on his work family and isn't used to having his real family around, but now his real family is expanding. Maddie's about to have a baby (likely turning Buck into "the most loving, protective uncle that baby boy or baby girl could need"), so the grandparents are going to want to be involved.
"I think [his childhood] is something that he's going to be forced to confront and deal with," Stark says, but it's a good thing that he'll have extra support. "I think the 118 is always going to be his closest relationships, but I think it's only beneficial and positive for him to have other outlets where he can turn to because it's hard to work with all your friends all the time."
As hard as it was for Buck to learn the truth about his upbringing, Stark agrees that there's a slight sense of relief now that it's all out in the open—particularly for Maddie, who's been "burdened" with this secret for most of her life.
"I do think that whenever there's such a heavy secret being clung onto for so long, as much as you fear it being out in the world, once it is you can kind of breathe a little easier again," he says. "And the dominoes are gonna fall however they fall and then you deal with that, but at least you don't have to harbor this thing inside."
All in all, it's looking good for Buck. Stark thinks that now that he's uncovering some of his own issues, he can start to heal and might find himself "in a much more positive situation, romantically." But at work, he's going to continue to be the one who "puts himself out there."
"I think he'll continue being that same hero," he says. "He's just going to do it with a bit more conscious thought about why he's running in there."
As for what's next for 9-1-1, Stark says things are getting "lighter" next week. Maddie's baby is coming soon, and Buck and Albert (John Harlan Kim) will be bonding as roommates and will have their friendship "put to the test" in what Stark calls one of his favorite storylines of the season.
9-1-1 airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on Fox.