‘9-1-1 Lone Star’ 3×01 Review: “The Big Chill”

**Spoilers Ahead**

9-1-1’s spin-off series 9-1-1: Lone Star has returned, and the third season has started off with a bang. After two enjoyable yet oftentimes inconsistent seasons, will Season 3 finally be the one that finally finds its footing? It’s definitely possible.

Season 3 of 9-1-1: Lone Star began in the aftermath of Season 2’s finale that saw the breakup and dispersal of the 126. Captain Owen Strand (Rob Lowe) is a hermit living in the woods now, completely unbothered by the chaos that has engulfed his former squad. Marjan (Natacha Karam) is a boss activist, chaining herself to the condemned building of the former 126 and getting arrested in the process. The entire cast is facing off against a blizzard of the century in the middle of Texas, a topical situation considering the current climate crisis we find ourselves in. Everyone else is basically where we left them at the end of Season 2, with two glaring exceptions…

Let’s stop burying the lead and acknowledge the crushing blow Lone Star fans got in this season premiere, which was the dissolution of Carlos and TK’s relationship! Fans knew something was up when Ronen Rubinstein continued to tease this season as having a major bombshell in the premiere. He and his on-screen love Carlos (Rafael L. Silva) looked so devastated through this whole episode. They also gave us a very realistic awkward moment of connecting with an ex in person when they were forced to see each other while responding to the blizzard. Let’s be honest, fans were definitely not expecting this. We still don’t know what happened, but Nancy (Brianna Baker) was a whole mood in her devastation at the breakup of ‘Tarlos’. 9-1-1 as a franchise has had a…questionable history when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation, so hopefully this story is given the justice it deserves.

Photo Credit: Fox Media

Tommy (Gina Torres) and Nancy are such an awesome duo, and it was so great to see them team up to make a ridiculously amazing save. We don’t see nearly enough of these two on-screen together, and their chemistry lends itself so well to the high-octane situations the 9-1-1 franchise does so well. 9-1-1 as a franchise can sometimes get away from itself and focus on high-drama interpersonal stakes. However, when there’s an actual rescue happening, few do it better and Lone Star’s cast proves they are up for the challenge every time. Tommy and Nancy are two characters uniquely poised to strike this balance, and we need so much more of them.

Judd (Jim Parrack) and Grace (Sierra Aylina McClain) are still the picture perfect couple. We were also reminded why Grace is the perfect 9-1-1 dispatcher with her calm voice and reassuring manner that comes through the phone. She’s still who you want to answer the phone when you’re in an emergency. Judd may have let slip that they are in fact expecting a daughter, and we know they will make terrific parents. Since the blizzard is set to comprise the first four episodes of this season and since Grace looks ready to pop at any moment, it seems clear we can expect a lot of drama around the littlest firefighter coming into the world.

Owen’s hermitage in a cabin in the woods also brought a very strange character shift. When Marjan went to confront him and tell him to swallow his pride to re-unite the 126, his response was “We can’t save the world because the world doesn’t want to be saved”. I’m sorry, come again? Owen’s a firefighter, and he saves whoever he can. This attitude just seemed to be such a departure for his character, who has never shown that deep cynicism that made him consider his job essentially worthless. It was great to see Marjan call him out, and challenge him to swallow his pride, which has gotten Owen into more than enough trouble in the past.

Photo Credit: Fox Media

Finally, it still remains very sad that Lone Star still have a hard time letting Marjan fully express her faith as a Muslim. Her multiple references to the universe, while not necessarily undercutting, seemed to indicate that the show still has a hard time accepting that this is a devoutly Muslim character. Sure, many people do relate to their own spirituality by seeing themselves as a part of something infinitely vast, but actual world religions exist, including Islam. Would the world come to an end if Marjan invoked the name of Allah (swt)? It remains to be seen.Much has been written about how inaccurately Lone Star portrays a hijabi Muslim woman as a first responder, and I had hoped this was the season the show would get it right. Karam is an incredibly talented actor, and is more than capable fully doing this character justice. She’s doing the absolute best with the story and script she’s been given. 

Overall, although not every single choice worked, 9-1-1: Lone Star’s premiere was an exciting return to the Lone Star State. That cliffhanger was about as dramatic as it could have been, and the powers that be definitely know fans will be back for more. Some interesting stories and possible character directions have been introduced. We’re just getting started, and the ride can only get crazier from here.

9-1-1: Lone Star airs Mondays 8/7c on Fox.

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