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911: Lone Star - Back in the Saddle & 2100° - Double Review

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In the premiere of season two, we’re introduced to new characters, getting updates on old ones we love, and of course, still getting our harrowing 9-1-1 calls. This episode was a loooot of setting up for the rest of the season, so I may be skipping a few 9-1-1 calls and heading straight for our character updates. 

To start us off, though, that first call? Strange is the word I’m deciding to use. Owen is communicating over his walkie with a man who stole a military tank from a local museum who’s headed for a VA hospital because of the wrongful death of his daughter. Owen says to the man, “I understand you want to blame the government for what happened to your daughter” and my head tilted and my brain went huh? Look, I’m not sure if this was intentional or not, but if so, it’s a weird way to break the fourth wall and discuss COVID. Then there was a 9/11 tie-in for Owen -- as we’re going to be learning more about that this season -- and it all felt so strange and quick to be happening in the first ten minutes of the show. 

As the tank is headed straight for the hospital, though, the firefighters and EMS teams gather to form a sort of barrier and Owen says “the men and women standing with me aren’t moving.” Which was sweet, but again, felt wildly out of place as we’re matching a man who lost his daughter, Owen’s 9/11 PTSD, and a possible fourth-wall-COVID moment. Eh. Weird way to start the season. Onwards!

We quickly meet Tommy Vega (Gina Torres - Suits), the new EMS captain, and Michelle’s replacement, who is a joy and a delight and I love her. And as it turns out, so does Judd! Apparently, the two know each other, and Grace and Tommy are fairly close. So, where’s Michelle? Helping mentally ill homeless people. I guess she decided to take her profession more directly towards helping those in need after her sister. 

We get to see Tommy on a scene for the first time quickly after we meet her, and though she stumbles, Owen knows just what to say to bring her back. I can tell these two are going to have a sibling bond already, while still being respectful towards each other’s ranks. At the scene, though, we see Tim almost blatantly defying Tommy, questioning whether or not she’s okay and ready to do the procedure she’s suggesting. Yikes, bud. 

After this, we’re introduced to TK’s mom and Owen’s ex, Gwyneth (Lisa Edelstein - House). She’s very fun and sweet, and, oh yeah, in a secret fling with Owen… again. We’ll find out at the end that it was never a secret, because duh, TK literally lives with you guys, but you know. Parents? 

There’s a call from a cell phone tower where we find a man hanging with a bow in him. Sorry? Repeat that? Someone’s firing at this worker with a bow and arrow? Yup. The “5G is causing COVID” theory has officially made it to TV, and I simultaneously hate and love it. 

At the end of the episode, it’s revealed that Owen is in remission, and his tumor shrunk by over 70%. This fantastic news makes Owen ask Gwyneth to continue living with him and TK rather than going back home to New York. She accepts, it’s a great family moment. Overall, the episode was kind of a basic one but great for character introductions and introducing storylines. 

In the second episode of the season, a lot more happens, and I really can’t tell you why. Let’s talk about the “small” stuff before we get to the main event. At the end of the last episode, we got a shot of literal lava coming up on a girl working in a food truck, so of course, we’re starting 8 hours before this. 

At the fire station, Owen and the team celebrate that he’s in remission with a cake in the shape of his tumor. Horrifying, but I get the sentiment. There, TK asks about meeting Carlos’ parents, only to have Carlos dodge the question entirely. Woof. That’s not a good sign, ever. However, it’s very fitting with the theme of this episode: bottling things up until they inevitably explode. Get it? The volcano? Heh. (By the way, I had to look up whether there was actually a volcano in Texas, and there is. I hate it.)

Elsewhere at the party, Tommy is feeling down and drained by not being there for her children, while also trying to be a good boss. Grace reassures her that she not only can be good at both, but she IS good at both, and if she ever needs to hear it Grace and Judd are there to let her know that. I absolutely loved this moment. I was a bit worried about Grace becoming just Judd’s wife on the show instead of Grace Ryder as her own woman and person -- but I know with Tommy around, with this writer's team around, we won’t have to worry about it. 

We also see Gwyneth and Owen having a moment in his office where he’s unsure about his diagnosis and Gwyneth tells him to not keep it all bottled up. Later in the episode, he tells her that when he got his diagnosis, it relieved some of his survivor’s guilt from 9/11, and it made him feel somewhat better. Like he deserved cancer because he survived. It was a heartbreaking scene to watch, and I’m glad they’re diving more into Owen’s background because again, I was worried even Owen (yeah, I know what I’m about to say sounds ridiculous) would fall into a category of just TK’s Dad. Or Just Captain Strand. Now, though, they’re making him more dimensional, and I can’t wait to see Gwyneth and TK supporting him as he makes his way through this new time in his life.

At one particular scene in a family fun center, (which, it’s literally COVID hours, and you guys are not wearing masks… but we’ll come back to that), Tim promises -- with those words -- a little boy that his father will be okay. Tim, haven’t you ever seen Grey’s Anatomy?! You never promise that someone will be okay! It’s doctor/EMS show 101! 

Back at the station, Tommy scolds him, as she should, because by now he should know not to promise people things, even if it is an upset little boy worried about his father. Luckily it was okay, but it might not have been, and what would have happened then? On the way to a different scene a bit later, Tommy, on the phone with her kids, promises them that she’ll be okay and when she hangs up she meets Tim’s eyes in the mirror. Yeesh. Awkwaaaard. 

It’s at this 9-1-1 call that I become extremely confused with what I’m watching, to the point where I have to pause it, stand up, text my friend, and rewatch the scene. Everything is going normal, or as normal as it can be when there’s lava coming out of a pool at a frat house during a global pandemic, and then all of a sudden, it’s not. 

Volcanic ejecta starts erupting from the pool -- basically tiny pieces of solidified magma -- and flying pretty much everywhere. Think if you exploded a firework on the street and it went out instead of up. Nancy and Tommy are handling someone who has a piece on his chest, and then, it erupts again, and a giant piece hits Tim. It kills him. Wait, what? 

Yeah, you read that right. Episode two of season two, and for a reason I’m still trying to put together, they killed Tim Rosewater. He wasn’t a main character, but I’m thinking of ways this could progress anyone’s arc and it just… isn’t coming. I assume the actor, Mark Elias, either wanted off the show or his contract was up. I suppose this was a way to get Owen to open up about his past but… was this the only way?

At the end of the episode, we get shots of the entire team coping the only ways they can. Nancy is cleaning out Tim’s locker when Tommy finds her and they discuss the fact that while Tim sometimes disobeyed, and was eccentric, he was a part of the team, and he mattered. Then Nancy remembers he has a cat, and his parents are all the way in Maryland, so who will take his cat? 

Tommy will, of course. There’s a shot of Tommy returning home with the cat, checking on her girls, and then letting the cat out. The girls will no doubt love him, and hopefully, it can ease some of Tommy’s guilt she’s feeling at the fact that the last thing she said to Tim was a scold. It was well-deserved, but I completely understand her guilt. 

Marjan and Paul are boxing, but that turns into crying, which is a very normal response. Owen and Gwyneth are at Owen’s place having the discussion about survivor’s guilt -- and it’s nice to see Owen be comforted, honestly. Then Judd goes home to Grace, who has obviously heard the news because she pulls him close to her in a move that feels like it was meant for both of them. 

My favorite moment in this sequence is when TK goes to Carlos’ house and simply falls into his arms. Carlos probably knows this feeling better than anyone else TK could be with, so I’m sure that adds an extra level of comfort, and I’m so glad 911: Lone Star is following through with allowing TK and Carlos to have a normal, everyday relationship like we’d see from a straight couple. Even if it’s just quick kisses, or comforting after a heartbreaking day, the writers are making it clear that TK and Carlos aren’t a couple that’s going to have dramatic, coming out stories or crazy once-in-a-lifetime deaths. This is a relationship built on the friends-to-lovers trope, and it’s no different than any heterosexual relationship we’d see on a normal TV show. Do not make me eat my words, writers. Do. Not. 

At the end of the day, the beginning of the season, while good, is very confusing to me. The premiere did a good job in showing us how the season would hopefully progress, and with who, but the second episode felt more like a winter finale, or a 10th episode. It felt out of place where it is, especially considering the episode ends with a giant forest fire that’s going to require the 126 to call in the 118 all the way from LA. I can’t wait. 

What did you think of the episode? Do you like the new characters, Tommy and Gwyneth? What did you think of Tim’s death? Are you excited about the crossover with the original 911? Let me know in the comments below!

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