‘9-1-1 Lone Star’ 3×16 Review: “Shift-Less”

**Spoilers Ahead**

In a belated Passover miracle, 9-1-1: Lone Star rallied in one of the last episodes of the season, ‘Shift-Less’. The fact that it was also a mostly Owen-centric episode just added to the feeling of disbelief. However, the show managed to pull this episode off in a way that proves that somebody somewhere in charge knows what 9-1-1: Lone Star is capable of. 

The fact that this episode started off with flashbacks could have been a warning. In fact, it was the venue through which we got to know Owen (Rob Lowe) on a deeper level. It wasn’t terrible at all. This episode was actually a reminder of why 9-1-1 makes use of “…Begins” episodes, and why Lone Star should consider doing something similar. 

Owen’s backstory is incredibly devastating. Seeing his family ripped apart by tragedy when he was so young makes so much of his character make so much more sense. His neuroses and general vibe just fit with experiencing such a massive trauma. I personally don’t typically go for father-redemption arcs, yet this one was handled so well. Owen taking the opportunity to re-connect with his father, to say and listen to what needed to be said was as healing as it was difficult. 

9-1-1: LONE STAR: L-R: Rob Lowe and guest star Chad Lowe in the ìShift-Lessî episode of 9-1-1: LONE STAR airing Monday, May 2 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2022 Fox Media LLC. CR: Jordin Althaus/FOX.

Speaking of fathers, Judd’s (Jim Parrack) son is Wyatt (Jackson Pace) is BACK. Wyatt’s introduction was among the strongest parts of this season. It was so good to see him again. Ultimately this story gave Judd yet another chance to prove why he’s an A+ father in every way. The fact that this turned into an intergenerational story, complete with the legendary Barry Corbin as Judd’s father elevated this episode to another level. 

This story also gave Grace (Sierra McClain) a chance to shine. The fact that she and Judd put Wyatt first, and are able to have a decent relationship with Marlene is frankly aspirational. This is such a healthy way to navigate having a child, even when you both have gone on to be with other partners. 9-1-1: Lone Star deserves props for portraying a group of adults all keeping a child’s best interests at heart. It’s a far-too-rare occurrence in real life. 

9-1-1: LONE STAR: Rob Lowe in the ìShift-Lessî episode of 9-1-1: LONE STAR airing Monday, May 2 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2022 Fox Media LLC. CR: Jordin Althaus/FOX.

This entire episode was a closer look at families and the many ways we impact each other. It’s not always for the better. We may not be able to choose the families we’re born into. That doesn’t mean people can’t break cycles, and make changes. This entire episode was proof of that. It was no easy feat to have Owen be the character through which these stories were told. Yet, the choice was absolutely the right one.

While the show, and this episode in particular, can be described as Lowe family employment, in this case it wasn’t necessarily terrible. Chad Lowe gave a great performance playing his actual brother’s on-screen brother. It was a Lowe-ception that worked. If 9-1-1: Lone Star can give us more of this storytelling and these compelling character moments as we head towards the finale, the fourth season of this show may look a lot less daunting. 

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

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