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9-1-1: Lone Star - Season One - Review

Well, guys, it’s been almost a year since 9-1-1: Lone Star season one ended, and quite a bit has happened. I posted my review of the finale on the day we went into lockdown for COVID-19. I literally cannot wait to dive back into these characters and think about their lives instead of mine. Because this recap and review will be of the entire season, I won’t be separating the shows by episode, and I might jump around a bit, so spoilers galore! Without further ado, let’s head back to season one and talk about who we met and all that happened there! 

In the pilot, we’re first shown an explosion that occurs in Austin, Texas, where the show takes place, in which all but one firefighter, unfortunately, loses their life. Because of the explosion, the firehouse needs some serious upgrades and repairs, and they decide to call in Owen Strand (Rob Lowe - Parks and Recreation) from Manhattan to do the job. He hesitates, but after his lung cancer diagnosis and his son, TK (Ronen Rubinstein - Dead of Summer), overdoing when his boyfriend he was planning to propose to leaves him,he decides a fresh start is something they both need. 

After they revamp the station with upgraded, 2020-type technology and equipment, they move on to building a team. Their goal is to be an extremely diverse team – and the good thing about this is that they don’t fail, and they don’t tokenize them either. We’re introduced to Marjan Marwani (Natacha Karam - The Brave), a Muslim woman, Paul Strickland (Brian Michael Smith - The L Word: Generation Q), a black transgender man, and Mateo (Julian Works - Beautiful Boy), a latinx man who we find out has failed his entrance exam four times. Uh. Hm. Really going out on a limb here, huh, Owen?

Then we get to meet Judd Ryder (Jim Parrack - True Blood) – the only surviving member of the 126 firehouse who was there when the original explosion occurred. He’s furious that the firehouse has reopened to a new team and that there’s a new captain. Completely understandable. This episode also introduces us to Grace Ryder (Sierra Aylina McClain - Empire), a 9-1-1 operator, and Judd’s wife. 

On the non-firefighter side of things, we meet chief paramedic Michelle Blake (Liv Tyler - The Leftovers) and Carlos Reyes (Rafael L. Silva - Fluidity), who’s a police officer that often works on calls the 126 receive. Upon meeting them, we find out that Michelle’s sister has been missing for years and that she’s still trying to find her, clearly with both help and tough love from Carlos, given that we meet them while he’s arresting her for harassing Michelle’s sister’s ex-boyfriend, Joy. 

The pilot was a great launchpad into the rest of the season, but now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk Lone Star! Throughout the season, we take two different journeys with Judd and with Owen – Judd with his PTSD and Owen with his Cancer. The way they go from Judd despising Owen on sight to becoming possibly the closest on the team is one of my favorite parts about this season. Judd clearly doesn’t actually despise Owen, and Owen knows that; just like when Owen realizes he needs to stop his hair treatments and could possibly go bald because of the chemotherapy – he’s not just afraid of losing his hair; he’s realizing that the things in front of him could go away no matter how hard he’s worked for them. 

Throughout the season, watching Judd and Owen become closer and having them confide in each other the most felt right. They’re both in this awful position of not knowing how to move forward, but with each other, it was made easier. 

Something else that was surprising and nice about 9-1-1: Lone Star was how much open communication happened between Grace and Judd. They are absolutely my favorite couple on the show, maybe one of my favorite couples on TV right now. This starts to show in episode four when Judd decides he doesn’t want to go to church with Grace, which she finds shocking, and frankly, a bit upsetting. There’s a bit of an argument, but by the end of the episode, after they’ve discussed it and a tornado (or two, or three) has swept through Austin. Judd meets Grace at a local church that’s been destroyed and promises he’ll do better. Then they get to work trying to fix the church up. It’s a really sweet moment, one that isn’t an odd, or singular moment for these characters.

Coupled with both Judd’s PTSD and his and Grace’s impeccable ability to talk things through were their issues with intimacy. Grace felt it was taking a bit longer than usual for him to open up again and become intimate since the explosion, and Judd didn’t know how to deal with his wife feeling like she wasn’t wanted. In a later episode, we get allusions to them being intimate, which was great continuity, and it was just generally lovely to see that they were becoming happier and more comfortable in their marriage again. 

 There were moments towards the end of the season as well that I loved. We eventually meet Judd’s father, and we learn where Judd gets his bullheadedness from. At one point, his father calls 9-1-1 and asks to speak to Grace directly after he has an emergency. It’s a moment I loved especially because how often do we have to see the trope of “monster-in-law” played out? This put that trope to bed (for now) and I enjoyed how their season ended, gazing up at the Northern Lights together in their backyard. 

Back to Owen… And TK… Which will bring us into Carlos! Upon finding out about his cancer diagnosis, Owen decides not to tell TK right away… and still not after episode two… or three… it’s not until episode four that we get the scene between TK and Owen where Owen finally breaks down and tells TK. Then, though, TK wants to be fully involved. He starts attending chemo treatments and Owen gets a bit, well, overwhelmed with it all. 

Owen meets Zoe (Natalie Zea - Justified) and when they try to hook up, Owen has some… issues. Zoe explains that she’s a professor in psychology with a focus on human sexuality and they talk it through and continue seeing each other after she and TK meet in a very interesting way. But that’s for later! 

Later in the season, Owen is introduced to Billy (Billy Burke - Twilight), someone Grace, Judd, and Michelle know – and warn Owen about. Optimistic Owen, though, doesn’t heed those warnings and continues on as if everything’s fine. They play poker, they eat out, Owen tells Billy, the man who wants his job, that he has cancer. It’s cool. It’s fine. Nothing bad will come out of this.

Except, then, oh, Billy tells the fire chief about the diagnosis and the fire chief tells Owen that he doesn’t think he’s fit for the field. Yep. Yikes. Owen’s response, instead of, I don’t know, seeing what they’ll say or taking a breather, is promising that he can complete the Cadet Physical Activity Test in full protective gear. Because why wouldn’t he. He can’t. Of course. We get some scene’s of TK training with him, but in the end, he’s unable to fully complete the test, and though it’s a bit of an “I told you so” moment, it’s also incredibly heartbreaking, because Owen realizes everything he’s worked for is about to fall apart. (At least for the time being, until he can get back on his feet.) 

Owen tells the team about his diagnosis and is met with an array of reactions. Shock, upset, anger. All completely understandable. He should’ve said something sooner, probably, but he didn’t want to risk letting them down or have them feeling like he let them down. He decides he wants to speak to Billy about all of this and they go golfing together when a storm hits. Billy is struck by lightning (I’m not kidding) and Owen carries him across the golf course and back to the clubhouses for help, which assures the fire chief that he is indeed in fine physical health to be protecting his team and the community. Owen - 1. Billy - 0. Plus electrocuted. 

The next time Owen gets checked we find out his tumor shrank and he decides to get a dog! Sweet Buttercup. Too bad TK hates her because he’s starting to realize that his father could be taken away from him in a second. After Owen comforts him, he warms up to the dog, and he’ll be okay because he also has Carlos. Kind of? Let’s talk.

Early in the season, TK and Carlos hook-up, and after Carlos says he wants this to be real, TK has to take a step back because, uh, this was strictly a hook-up, dude. Said every person right before they fell in love, ever. Later in the season, when TK gets shot, Carlos is with him in the hospital every moment he possibly can be. He’s holding his hand and telling him he’ll be okay, and honestly, I love them so much. This is also when Zoe and TK meet, by the way. In the hospital. Right after TK was shot! Good job, dad! 

In the finale, we get a scene where they seem to be talking about what’s happening between them – right before ish hits the fan. This is when TK, after being shot, as a firefighter, is deciding whether he even wants to come back to being a firefighter. Emotions are high, and they get even tenser once we enter an emergency situation AKA a solar storm. As TK and Carlos are saving people in the midst of the chaos, he realizes he does want to be a firefighter – that saving people is what he’s meant to do. I think he’s meant to do it with Carlos by his side, too, but that may just be me having too much hope. 


In the end, the season ends with the two together, gazing up at the Aurora Borealis from the hood of a car. Romance isn’t dead people. It’s in the middle of Texas on a fictional TV show between two gay men. 

While the other characters haven’t been expanded upon fully yet, even including Carlos, I’m hoping that’s what we’ll get to do in season two. Here’s what we learned in season one though! 

Early on, when a grain silo practically explodes, Marjan’s hijab is ripped off of her head unceremoniously. The guys on the team quickly cover her – but not quick enough. Someone recording the disaster caught her, and it went viral online, causing her to be expelled from her local Mosque, and the women asking her to find somewhere else to worship. It’s the worst kind of hurt: the kind that comes from people you thought you could trust. I really hope we learn more about Marjan in season two because I think the sisterly vibe she has with everyone on the team is so much fun and they could really build on that. 

We also get to see Paul putting himself out there in the dating world! He meets Josie (Angel Parker - Runaways) on a call, and they go on a bowling date that he seems to enjoy. After the date though, there’s a scene where Paul says he has something to tell her… we fade to black, and the next day, Josie shows up to tell him she can’t date a trans man. She insists she’s not a bad person. I appreciated what Lone Star did here – because it gave us the final scene where TK and Carlos showed up to take Paul to a local gay bar – but I don’t know that you’re a good person if you won’t date someone based on the fact that they’re trans. 

We also get to see Mateo take and finally pass his entrance exam! The entire team encourages him, testing him at odd times of the day, making sure he knows difficult questions and easy questions, and that he can answer them even in his sleep. It was super heartwarming to see this team that didn’t know each other before all come together to be there for Mateo when he needed it most. 

Finally, we have Michelle. We discover that her sister has been alive, and nearby, this entire time, living with undiagnosed schizophrenia. It’s both devastating and relieving for Michelle because she gets her sister back, but she also doesn’t. The season wraps up for them with them having a picnic in Iris’s tent at the homeless camp she lives at. Elsewhere, Owen takes Buttercup on a walk, and Paul, Marjan, and Mateo all go out for dinner. 

Overall, I love this show. I really do. It’s not without its flaws, but for a spinoff of a pretty fantastic show in the first place, this is a really amazing pairing. I’m hoping that in season two we find out more about these characters, and with the additions of Gina Torres and Lisa Edelstein, plus the officially announced crossover, I can only assume good things will come out of season two.