“9-1-1” boss breaks down the deadly cruise ship disaster finale — and what didn't make the final cut

The ABC first-responder drama's co-creator and showrunner, Tim Minear, also teases what's to come in season 7.

After three hours of pirates, explosions, and lots of water, 9-1-1 fans finally know who survived the epic, three-part season 7 premiere.

"It all happened really fast," co-creator and showrunner Tim Minear tells Entertainment Weekly of completing the cruise ship disaster episodes. "It was very difficult, and you always have that moment where you're just like, 'Am I going to be able to pull this off?'"

It may have felt quick, but getting Bobby (Peter Krause) and Athena (Angela Bassett) out of that sinking vessel actually took months of filming... and none of it on an actual cruise ship. As the series moves forward on dry land (though on one very wet driveway, with the Bachelor crossover coming next week), we asked Minear to break down the deadly three-epsiode event, reveal what ideas never made it to air, and tease what's to come in the rest of season 7.

<p>Chris Willard/Disney</p> Angela Bassett and Peter Krause on '9-1-1' season 7.

Chris Willard/Disney

Angela Bassett and Peter Krause on '9-1-1' season 7.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This was a big undertaking...

TIM MINEAR: Shooting Bobby and Athena on a honeymoon cruise was more challenging than many things I've done on this show in the last seven seasons. We never got an actual cruise ship, so we had to shoot in hotels and on different types of vessels, and then [use] special effects and CGI. But just the idea of that surprised me. I thought that would be easy: You'd rent a cruise ship, you'd shoot on it for three days, you'd get a lot of stuff on the decks. But it just didn't turn out that way. It was very difficult to get a cruise ship. No cruise line wanted to be associated with a capsized ship, which I guess I can understand.

Well it all made for a very dramatic three episodes. So many massive sets, so much rising water.

The water's not actually rising, the set is sinking! The set was built on a gimbal inside a water tank. We would slowly lower the set into the tank, and it gives the effect that the water's rising around them. And the casino set.... The lowering of the table with Norman [played by Daniel Roebuck] on it, that was complicated to write, and it was very complicated to shoot. But that's Peter up there. Peter is climbing across those ropes up there — that delighted me.

The other thing that absolutely delighted me was that Angela Bassett was game for anything. She went into that water. When the bomb goes off in episode 2, and she goes flying against that wall, she actually did it! There's a stunt woman in there too, but Angela, she was game for anything.

Was there anything you wanted to do with this disaster that you weren't able to?

There was one scene that I did have to cut, that I was sad to cut. It was when Wes [played by Denzel Johnson] opens the door and that fireball comes out. Originally in the script, they still continued in that direction, and when they looked into that room, it was an upside down restaurant and the water was on fire. And so it's like, "How do we get to the other side of the restaurant and stop the gas that is feeding this fire?" And in the scene, in the script, Lola [played by Romy Rosemont] actually dives under the fire and swims under the water to turn it off. It was very Shelley Winters [in The Poseidon Adventure.]

Time and money just prohibited that from happening, so I made a little bit more of Wes' death. And then did give Lola an opportunity to retrieve the flare gun later in the episode, so she still got to go underwater. But that was a moment that I was sad to lose. And I know Romy was too, but she still got a little bit of action there at the end.

So now that Bobby and Athena are rescued, what can you tease about the rest of the season?

I just finished locking episode 4 and I was like, "Hmm, there's no natural disasters. Things aren't blowing up all over the place." But there is the Bachelor crossover, so we have that to look forward to. And now we get to spend a little time breathing with the 118 and dig into their personal stories a little bit more. Yeah, I don't know how much I should spoil.... Definitely a beloved character will be returning in episode 4, I can put it that way....

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

9-1-1 airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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