911 welcomes back a surprising face: Is Tommy going to join the 118 fulltime?

The latest 911 brought back a surprising face in Lou Ferrigno Jr.'s Tommy! Is the pilot going to be sticking around as a regular for the show?
Premiere Of Disney And Marvel's "Thor: Ragnarok" - Arrivals
Premiere Of Disney And Marvel's "Thor: Ragnarok" - Arrivals / Barry King/GettyImages

911 just wrapped up its epic three-part season premiere with the surprising return of an old face! Can a new (well, really old) rescue worker join the 118?

Caution: This episode has SPOILERS for 911 Season 7 Episode 3

The episode opened with Hen convinced something had happened to Bobby and Athena's cruise ship. Without being able to convince the higher-ups, Hen decided to do something on her own. She was backed by Buck, Eddie, and Chimney, all calling in "sick" to aid her. 

Of course, getting to a ship at sea needed air transport and so entered a surprising face: Tommy Kinard (played by Lou Ferrigno Jr.). 911 fans would recognize him from the various "Begins" flashback episodes that showed how each member of the team joined the 118. Tommy had been a member but left to open up a place for Buck. It was said he was reassigned to the air unit of the LAFD with mentions of him doing things like dropping water at a fire scene. 

Tommy gave the gang a lift to find the ship in trouble and worked quickly to rescue Bobby and Athena along with others on board. It was a fun return for the character even though it turns out he wasn't the first choice for this surprising role. 

9-1-1 - ÒRock the BoatÓ - The disastrous cruise continues when Bobby and Athena respond to the shipÕs explosion, racing to aid injured passengers. Meanwhile, Hen questions her instincts in a life-taking call and grows concerned about Athena and BobbyÕs whereabouts, airing THURSDAY, MARCH 21 (8:00-9:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC and the next day on Hulu. (Disney/Chris Willard) ANGELA BASSETT /

Is Tommy sticking around on 911 Season 7?

Speaking to TV Line, showrunner Tim Minear revealed that originally, they were going to use Lucy Donato (Arielle Kebbel), who had a brief run with the team (including a romance with Buck) in Season 5. She was written off by joining the LAFD air unit and would have been a logical choice for this.

However, Minear revealed fate had other plans: "She couldn't be my pilot… because she got a pilot," referring to Kebbel's role in the pilot for the upcoming Fox lifeguard series Rescue: Hi Drama. 

Minear still wanted a pilot but "didn't just want it to be some generic pilot guy that they enlist." He wanted it to be somebody "who had a connection to the lore of the show" and was willing to put their career on the line for an unauthorized rescue. So he hit on Tommy, played by the son of former The Incredible Hulk star Lou Ferrigno.

The episode ended with the crew vindicated for their heroism, so they won't face any repercussions for going off duty like this. And it turns out that Tommy will be sticking around. "He's going to be around for a little bit," Minear confirmed. "He's not going to be a member of the 118 again, but he is going to be involved in some stories."

It will be fun to see Tommy, who was a highlight of those flashback episodes. It also makes sense to finally have some serious air support for the crazy rescues the 118 get involved with. With Tommy adding more spark, 911 Season 7 looks to be wilder than ever for its new home on ABC.

911 Season 7 airs Thursdays at 8/7c on ABC and streaming on Hulu.