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9-1-1 Lone Star - A Bright and Cloudless Morning - Review: Moving Forward

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Please note for those of you who have not watched the episode yet: Spoilers ahead. You've been warned.

Well that end certainly was different than last season. Last season 9-1-1: Lone Star ended with the 126 about to be shuttered for good, the team to be split and scattered to the four corners of Austin Texas, and of course Owen's professional fate hanging in the balance after slugging his former rival and new boss. Instead of a major cliffhanger that we'd wait months to see resolved we get to walk off seeing Owen finally confronting his own personal problems, Judd alive and well with his family, and of course happy news for all the Tarlos fans.

As with a lot of the episodes this season, this was a very Owen-centric episode. After a season of him confronting his anger issues, his absentee father, and even possible recurrence of his cancer we saw Owen face down the demon that has been part of himself for twenty years: Coming to terms with what happened to him on September 11th. It would be easy to dismiss this episode as being just another episode where Owen deals with his past. The truth is the writers rarely miss a chance to bring up 9/11 and Owen. However, this time was a little different and perhaps even more important when we are reminded of the continuing health issues facing 9/11 first responders even to this day. In this episode Owen wasn't just talking about his past, we got to see how Owen has been reliving his trauma for the last twenty years.

Continuing from last episode's stunning cliffhanger where we see Judd entering a building minutes before an explosion tears apart half the building, the 126 is dispatched to the scene to save as many lives as possible. Learning Judd was caught inside becomes an extra motivating factor for the 126 and perhaps a strange blessing for the survivors who have a veteran firefighter to help them to safety. Or as one survivor says about Judd: "9-1-1 called him? Yeah, I'm sticking with that dude." While the team rushes to save Judd and the survivors on the top floors and other survivors on the bottom floors, Owen, in his usual approach which puts him in more danger than his team, searches for the last man known to be in the building. While everyone else is evacuating, a second explosion rocks the scene leaving Owen trapped inside.

Recovering from the blast Owen wakes up to find himself trapped with a survivor pinned under a pile of broken concrete and steel. As Owen attempts to contact his team and save the survivor he quickly realizes he's talking to a man who's been dead for twenty years. The man is named Manny, a former NYPD officer who was with trapped with Owen on 9/11 after the collapse of the south tower for 29 minutes before he died.
I did say the writers tend to bring up 9/11 often with Owen but I believe this is the first time in the show where Owen must face himself over the emotional fallout he experienced and realize he's continuing to experience. In talking to Manny, Owen is forced to conclude that in a way he never really left the south tower, he's been trapped with the ghost of Manny. He holds the constant grief for the loss of his family in the FDNY and NYPD who died on 9/11 and guilt for not being able to save more people. Owen's prized possession, a piece of the tower, which has remained on his desk for years as a reminder to never forget has been a relic which brings him back repeatedly to his time in the south tower. Manny urges him to move on, potential recurrence of cancer or not, and live in the present instead of the past.

Lisa Edelstein returns as Owen's ex-wife Gwyn in Owen's hallucination. As Owen laments not being able to save her, she sadly reminds him he can't save everyone or even to return to a single perfect moment in life and should instead move forward. After waking up in the hospital, Owen and TK share an emotional reunion where they discuss the potential return of his cancer and Owen tries to convince TK that he needs to move forward as well. Whether or not Owen takes his own advice is something we'll have to find out about in the next season. Though he did remove the piece of the tower off his desk suggesting he is ready to try. Maybe he can learn to both never forget and shed himself of the guilt he's been carrying within him.

While overall it was an episode that was Owen heavy we also got to see some of our other characters moving forward. After early in the episode where TK explains why he refuses to have a will as it will mean death will finally take him, he wakes up Carlos in the middle of the night to propose. While Carlos is initially skeptical considering how traumatic the last few days have been, TK tells Carlos he's feels more love for Carlos than the fear he has of losing love since losing those you love is always a risk. Carlos cuts off TK's speech by simply saying "Tyler, can I say yes now?"

And thus, our happy ending. Tommy and Owen meet to celebrate Owen's news of a fungal infection, which is good news when the alternative is cancer. The 126 crew celebrate Carlos and TK's engagement with bids on who will be the best men noting that it could be a woman. Grace, Judd, and Charlie celebrate Wyatt graduating high school. And we see Tommy spending quality time with her kids, temporary unicorn tattoo and all.

As I look forward to next season, I am hoping we will start seeing more storylines for Marjan and Paul. For the most part they both took a kind of backseat role for the last half of the season. While Tommy, Owen, and Judd all dealt with life changes over the course of the season we only had a couple of episodes where Paul is front and center with a health scare which seems to have been entirely forgotten. Marjan, after being the most vocal for the re-opening of the 126 in the first episodes also plays a role during the Paul's health storyline but otherwise is somewhat in the background of all the other main storylines. At least Nancy and Mateo got some moments at the end of the season to reveal their surprise relationship.

Hopefully we'll get to see next season if Owen's no longer living in the past and how he goes forward. Also, next season we can probably bet on a wedding episode for Carlos and TK which in true TV drama style will likely have some major disaster followed by a heartfelt moment. Considering TK has already been shot in one season and nearly died in another you got to think that Carlos will be the next one to face the dangers of his job. As for Tommy's odd relationship with her former brother in-law, well all I will say is that scene at the end where she's having some fancy coffee with Owen did show them particularly friendly. One must wonder if the writers are going to consider having the two 126 Captains attempt something beyond friendship.

So tell me Lone Star fans, what are you looking forward to or want to see next season? A big and dramatic Tarlos wedding? More details about Mateo and Nancy? Whether or not Amy Acker and/or Nathan Owens return as love interests for our 126 Captains? More storylines involving Paul and/or Marjan? Grace continuing to be the person you would want to hear at the other end of a 9-1-1 call? Let's hear it.

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