Andy Herrera (Jaina Lee Ortiz) came roaring into our lives a few weeks ago on Grey’s Anatomy, shoulder-deep in a little boy’s ripped-open abdomen. That bloody, quippy entrance told us everything we need to know about the firefighter: she’s ridiculously good at her job, intuitive, and just as fierce as the blazes she fights on the regular. After all, as we find out seconds into Andy’s “You Really Got A Hold On Me” introduction, her decision to stick her arm into a 10-year-old’s stomach is the only thing that stood between that little boy and certain death.
Now, Andy will get a chance to upgrade from thrilling cameo addition to leading lady with ABC’s new Grey’s Anatomy spin-off, Station 19. While fellow newbie Shondaland production For The People feels like TGIT-Lite, no one can say that about Andy’s soon-to-arrive firefighter drama. No, Station 19, premiering Thursday, March 22, is as sexy, shocking, and addictive as the long-running medical melodrama from whence it came.
A true TGIT-worthy series is a veritable feast of jaw-dropping twists and set pieces that veer towards the unbelievable without falling off the “no that’s impossible” cliff. Station’s series premiere “Stuck” lives up to that bar and then some. Before it even gets to the title card, there’s a surprise uncomfortably plausible fire that has made me wary of my laptop charger, a very Meredith Grey-style voiceover for Andy (complete with career-related metaphors and stunning shots of Emerald City), and an extremely cinematic, over-the-top rescue mission. Before the episode ends, there’s also an escape so eye-popping and literally explosive, I haven’t stopped thinking about it for nearly a week.
“Stuck” is a lot in exactly the way you want your Thursday night Shonda Rhimes-produced soaps to be.
Although Andy is obviously the star of all of this madness, she’s not actually Grey’s Anatomy fans’ way into the world of Seattle’s titular fictional fire station. No, former Grey Sloan surgeon Ben Warren (Jason George) is that plot device. As we’ve seen over season 14 of Anatomy, Ben has become fixated on a career change from medicine to firefighting, and now his wish has been granted. Except, as we see in Station’s opener, being the new guy at roughly 40-something years old isn’t exactly fun.
This is a win for everyone, since Ben’s relegation to supporting character both throws a bone to loyal Greys fans who come along for the Station ride, while also inviting brand-new viewers into the wild life of Andy Herrera. And, what a wild life it is. There are the obvious Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) similarities, like their shared ambition and talent, along with the fact they’re both legacies in their chosen field. While Meredith’s mother was a legend in the surgery field, Andy’s father Pruitt Herrera (Miguel Sandoval) is the captain of Station 19, and therefore our heroine’s boss. As trailers for the drama tease, Andy will be dealing with her father’s health crisis in a similar way Meredith did with her mother (Kate Burton) so many years ago.
Family and duty might be important to a devoted Latinx daughter like Andy, but it’s not her whole life. That’s why she is immediately thrown into a very sexy love triangle between coworker and Dylan Efron lookalike Jack Gibson (Grey Damon) — it’s always a coworker! — and childhood best friend, police officer, prom date, and general dreamboat Ryan Tanner (Alberto Frezza). I have already chosen a side on this debate, considering which of these two broad-shouldered public servants got more descriptors.
The problem with this romantic duel is that it’s not much of a fair fight. Jack makes a few clueless-but-well-meaning mistakes throughout the Station 19 opener that make him seem like either a bumbling hunk or a reckless hotshot. Neither is a great look. Ryan, on the other hand, gets to be the guy who is in awe of Andy’s unstoppable strength and takes his shirt off to reveal his many, many abs. Ryan even cares about verbal, enthusiastic consent. I told you, it’s not a fair fight.
But, Andy would be the first to tell you, this isn’t a story about which handsome dude the firefighter will choose. Instead, it’s the story of an intensely capable woman working her way to greatness, which is emblematic of her actual most important non-familial relationship: the one she has with best friend and Station 19 colleague Maya Bishop (Danielle Savre). There’s a reason one of the first things ultra-competitive Maya says to Andy in Station is, “That stuff’s not gonna fly when we’re running this place.” For the record, “that stuff,” is their male coworkers using firefighting to score points with the ladies they save. As we see in “Stuck,” Maya and Andy are ambitious, and that opening salvo isn’t an empty threat.
While Maya, the Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) to Andy's Meredith, could certainly use some screen time that’s not 100% about her best friend, she will have to contend with the rest of Station 19’s cast of characters. Travis Montgomery (The Catch alum Jay Hayden), will immediately steal everyone’s heart as a man who can both cook and serve up real talk. Dean Miller (Okieriete Onaodowan) will obviously serve as the comedic relief amid all the fiery tension of the series. And, Victoria Hughes (Barrett Doss) simply deserves more of a storyline past teasing various colleagues, which we can all hope will happen after the series debut.
Right now everyone who isn’t Andy, someone she has one-on-one conversations with, or Miranda Bailey’s (Chandra Wilson) husband is a sketch, and they have an entire season of television to become a real person.
After knowing Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) went from the ultra-macho doctor whose main hobby was telling off nurses in the Grey’s pilot to Meredith’s BFF, I have faith in Station 19.
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