May 25, 2022

In the world of first responder television, I’m sorry to say to the Dick Wolf fans out there, the 9-1-1 universe is one of the most exciting week-to-week shows currently running. From insane calls involving babies in pipes to a bouncy house getting bounced off a hill to speaking to a literal astronaut in space, 9-1-1 manages to take the classic ridiculous TV situation and ramp it up to 100 no matter the situation. But, despite all of that, it’s not the thrilling emergencies that keep audiences coming back week after week, it’s the core relationships of the first responders on the team.

While picking your favorite romantic pairing is a conversation for another day, 9-1-1 has proven time and time again that Henrietta “Hen” Wilson (Aisha Hinds) and Howard “Chimney” Han (Kenneth Choi) have one of the strongest bonds on the series. While some fans might balk at why Eddie (Ryan Guzman) and Buck (Oliver Stark) don’t have this top spot given their friendship, Chimney and Hen not only have one of the longest relationships but one that is sturdy, dependable, and mature.

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As the two firefighter paramedics of the 118, Hen and Chimney became quick friends when Hen first started as a firefighter at the 118. Back then, Captain Gerrard was at the helm, and he quickly let Hen know how unwanted she was, pointing out that they’d remove the ping pong table from the women’s locker room if she was still around after a week and calling her a “diversity hire.” But, Chimney, who had already jumped through the hoops of microaggression in the firehouse was the first to speak up for her and the first to actually welcome her.

From the beginning, their relationship is not built on competitiveness or co-dependence, but it’s built on mutual respect and friendship. Chimney understands that while they both suffered discrimination at the 118, he could not relate to her struggle as a woman in a male-dominated field and advised her to seek out Athena (Angela Bassett) as a person she could speak with. On a call, he trusts her instincts enough to follow her against the orders of their captain and with the fear of losing their jobs. The two end up leaving a crash site and going down a steep hill where they save a kid together thanks to Hen. Chimney remarks, after all is said and done, that he will probably be following her down many more hills in the future.

Since those early days, their relationship has grown and evolved, but their friendship has only gotten stronger. Chimney was there to help Hen when she was struggling with her relationship issues between Karen (Tracie Thomas) and her ex Eva (Abby Brammell), and Hen was there for Chimney when Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) left. They go to each other frequently for advice or just to hang out, frequently calling each other best friend. As the chill pairing of the group, Chimney is easygoing and playful, and Hen is thoughtful and calm; both are the longest-standing members of the 118 and loyal to a fault, to each other and to their station.

In the current season, we see Chimney take a step back from the 118 to go on the road with his newborn daughter to try and find Maddie after she ran away. This forces Bobby (Peter Krause) to replace him with a new partner for Hen. Although she clearly understands why he had to leave, she does not warm to any of his replacements. When Jonah (Bryce Durfee) arrives at the 118, Hen casually refers to him as “Monday,” expecting him to have a short shelf life at the station. However, when Jonah decides to stick around and his actions on a call inexplicably lead to a 9-1-1 dispatcher dying after she was stable, Hen begins to pick up on some red flags.

In “Hero Complex,” the penultimate episode of Season 5 of 9-1-1, Chimney and Hen join forces to figure out what exactly is going on with Jonah. Instead of calling Hen crazy for thinking a co-worker she didn’t like might be a killer, he trusts her and confirms her suspicions that something is wrong. The two sneak back into the 118 on their day off to break into Bobby’s office to read the files of the previous calls to figure out what’s going on. As partners-in-crime, the two figure out (with help from Karen) that Jonah is a malignant hero – someone who brings someone to the brink of death only to revive them and experience a rush from the reward of saving someone’s life.

But, before Jonah can be apprehended or stopped, he finds out about their plans and kidnaps both of them. In a twisted effort to prove his worth to Hen, he tortures Chimney by stopping his heart and then resuscitating him twice. The two survive thanks to their “team effort,” as Chimney puts it, with Hen distracting Jonah and Chimney electrocuting him. While they have so far been the most low-drama friendship on the show, this traumatic event shows just how committed these two characters are to each other as friends.

After everything has happened, Hen apologizes to Chimney for bringing him into this, and he replies, “Come on, now, that’s not how we do it. You jump, I jump.” This episode is a great illustration of the strength of a friendship that can only come from years spent together, not only as friends but also as partners on the job. Hen mentions that everyone thought she didn’t like Jonah because he wasn’t Chimney, but Chimney was ready to believe her even without any evidence of Jonah’s crimes. “You’re the best friend that I’ve ever had, Chim. And I can’t imagine my life without you,” she tells him.

9-1-1 could have easily put characters like Hen and Chimney into their designated tropes – Hen, as the cool and smart one, and Chimney, as the funny one. The willingness to develop these two characters separately with their own corresponding origin episodes – “Hen Begins” and “Chimney Begins” – and together with episodes like “Hero Complex” is exactly how you add complexity and depth to a relationship on screen. It’s also what makes them endure the test of time. “Hero Complex” showed that their friendship endures, that Chimney will always be with Hen to follow her down that hill when no one else will and support her, and she will do the same.


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