Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for Season 5, Episode 3 of 9-1-1.
Ryan Murphy's procedural drama 9-1-1 is back for Season 5, and fans can expect a few changes. The Fox show follows first responders as they take on the most dangerous and anxiety-inducing situations to save fellow members of their community, all while balancing the drama of their own lives. While the show already had a stellar cast of TV veterans mixed with bright newcomers, including Angela Bassett, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Oliver Stark, and Aisha Hinds, Season 5 will welcome Vanessa Estelle Williams as Claudette Collins.
Who is Claudette on '9-1-1'?
Vanessa Estelle Williams will join the cast as Claudette Collins, a no-nonsense 9-1-1 call center veteran. Vanessa is known for her work in 1992's cult horror film Candyman, the soapy BH90210 spinoff Melrose Place, and Showtime's drama Soul Food. As for Claudette, with years of service under her belt, the tough cookie has no problem asserting her dominance and speaking her mind, even if it rubs people the wrong way. So, how will Claudette fit into the plot? We're here to explain.
Claudette will be at the main LA station to mentor some of the rookies, including May Grant, played by Corinne Massiah. "We’re introducing another character into the call center, Claudette, played by Vanessa Williams, who was recently on Horror Stories. Claudette is a veteran 9-1-1 operator who’s gonna really challenge May a little bit and maybe trigger her a little bit, too," showrunner Tim Minear told TV Insider.
"May has some history with being bullied. So May will be challenged, but she’s going to come into her own even more," he explained.
Is Claudette replacing Maddie?
We're here to shoot down these rumors, as Claudette is not replacing anyone. However, because Jennifer Love Hewitt is on maternity leave after having her third baby in September 2021, some plot finagling had to be done. In last week's episode, "Desperate Measures," which aired on Oct. 4, viewers watched Jennifer's character, call center operator Maddie Buckley, make a big decision after suffering from the devastating effects of postpartum depression since Season 4.
Maddie came to the conclusion that she needed real help in regards to her mental health, deciding to spontaneously leave her husband, firefighter paramedic Howie "Chimney" Han (Kenneth Choi), and their new baby behind. Maddie dropped the baby off at the firehouse along with a video message for Chimney, which demanded that he not look for her. "I’m sure that you are confused, hurt, and probably really scared. I don’t know what to say," she said in the video.
"You don’t need to go to the police or come looking for me. I’m not in any danger and no one is making me do this. Jee-Yun is not safe with me, not now and maybe [not ever]. I know that you’re going to take really good care of her, and she’s better off without me. I love you. I love both of you. And I’m really sorry," she continued. Obviously, Maddie's shocking getaway is a huge cliffhanger for this 9-1-1 subplot, which will likely pick right back up when Jennifer's deserved maternity leave is over.
“'It is said that women leave their bodies in labor… they travel to the stars to collect the souls of their babies, and return to this world together.' It was my greatest honor to go and collect you Aidan James. Now back to snuggles and resting," Jennifer warmly wrote on Instagram after the birth of her newborn son. Rest up, Jen.
So while Claudette Collins will be running things at the call center, she supposedly has no influence on the fate of Maddie's character. We'll have to wait and see how the rest of the 9-1-1 gang respond to Claudette's strong personality.
Season 5 episodes of 9-1-1 air Mondays at 8 p.m. EST on Fox.