The first responders of 9-1-1: Lone Star know how much things can change in an instant — but it still came as a shock (to the characters and viewers alike) when T.K. (Ronen Rubinstein) received a phone call at the end of last weeks episode informing him that his mother, Gwyn (Lisa Edelstein), had died.
Mondays episode begins with a 9-1-1 dispatch recording that reveals how Gwyn died — but for those who cant wait for the Fox drama to air tonight, EW has an exclusive clip of that phone call below.
Ahead of tonights episode, we asked star and executive producer Rob Lowe (whose character, Owen, is T.K.s father and Gwyns ex-husband) and co-creator Tim Minear to share what fans can expect from tonights emotional episode, why it was time to say goodbye to Gwyn, and if weve really seen the last of Edelstein on Lone Star.
ROB LOWE: It deals with the immediate aftermath of finding out that my ex-wife, Lisa Edelsteins character, was suddenly struck by a [bike] and killed in New York. And T.K. and I are dealing with that sort of emotional story and trying to figure out how to get to her funeral. On the flight to the funeral, theres a massive malfunction on the airplane and it turns into a mid-air drama.
TIM MINEAR: It was an experiment on my part, something that Ive been wanting to do for a long time. I listen to a lot of true crime podcasts, and theres one called Sword and Scale. And it uses a lot of audio and a lot of 9-1-1 calls. And its just incredibly compelling to just hear this stuff. And it interested me to just hear the call and never see anything except the text on the screen. I wanted it to almost feel like it was going on almost too long. Like, you cant quite believe that the first two minutes of this network show is just sound and text scrolling. So I did that. But the episode is really about Gwyn saying goodbye to her son — and the way that we accomplished that was by telling two stories. Ones a flight to a funeral and ones a flight to rehab. And it all culminates with a goodbye.
LOWE: Lisa and I have always worked well together. I thought we had really special chemistry from the minute I met her, in the pilot episode of The West Wing. I love any time I get a chance to work with her. And she was a great lift on the show.
MINEAR: This is based on my own mother, who died a year ago, and the experience I had when she took me to rehab. Now, it wasnt nearly as dramatic, and it wasnt as far — we didnt fly across the country. She put me in the car and drove me to Cerritos from Whittier. But it was a very similar thing, where I was 20 and I went to my mom and I told her what was going on with me. And she didnt judge me. She didnt cry. She put me in the car and drove me to a place and said, “You walk through those doors, if thats what you want to do.” She gave the strength to do that. Ive been sober ever since. So thats what it was based on.
LOWE: Starting with losing his entire firehouse on 9/11, Owens whole life has been marked by loss. And although its his ex-wife, this is still the loss of a whole chapter of his life and its the loss of the mother of his son. And so this is definitely an issue that Owen has to struggle with. But I think his real concern is “what does it mean for his son?” Because at the end of the day, T.K. is losing a parent.
LOWE: We felt like this was the best resolve of her characters arc. You know, she lives in New York, she has a significant other in New York, shes [just had] his baby. Those are stories that certainly wouldnt fit in the 9-1-1: Lone Star, Texas universe. She lives a separate life there. So it had kind of run its course. The question was, “whats the most fulfilling, dramatic, juicy thing, way to service that story?” And you know, theres nothing more dramatic than an unexpected death, as opposed to her just being on the phone every sixth episode or something like that.
MINEAR: Its sort of me saying goodbye to my mom and also its a tribute to her. Lisa never met my mother, but theres so much of her in that performance. Lisa is sneakily brilliant in this episode — in a look, everything is there: She is angry, despairing, loving, compassionate, shes all those things. Shes true mother love, like tough mother love in this episode. And its a real tribute to her skill as a screen actor, I will tell you that.
MINEAR: But that wasnt really your question. Your question was, “Why now?” Well, why not? I dont want to crap on the poetry of what we did by talking about physical realities of production, but Lisa Edelstein is a guest star on [Lone Star]. She doesnt play a first responder on the show. And what often happens in our universe is when you have a character that is not on the front lines of being a first responder, they end up moving to Haiti. Theres nothing for them to do, and so they can service the stories, but I cant necessarily count on them to be there whenever I want them for an episode. They have to be available. I have to be able to afford them for an episode. I just dont want people just spinning their wheels on screen. I want to give them something to play. I want to give them something to do. And it was time for me to explore T.K.s sobriety, and this just felt like the right way to do it. Its just full of emotion. Its my favorite episode this year so far, and there have been a few that Ive loved. I wanted it to feel like a tragedy feels. Tragedy isnt planned for often. Sometimes it just happens. Sometimes a piano just falls on your goddamn head.
Weve seen Gwyn show up in flashbacks and in some surreal moments where shes not actually there. Have we seen the last of Lisa on the show?
LOWE: I have a sneaking suspicion that there should be, there could be a very wonderful, unexpected return. Were cooking up something super special for our season finale. And when Tim Minear is ready to tell everybody about it, Im sure everybody will know. But if we go with his brilliant idea, I think Lisa would probably play a part in it.
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Needs: An Intervention
Since he’s moving in with Carlos, T.K. is concerned about his father (who gifts them the blender Marlon Blendo). Not only did Owen’s attempt to make a relationship work with his ex-wife Gwyneth (Lisa Edelstein) fail (and her baby turned out not to be his), but he also has his cancer surgery coming up. And he won’t be alone while he recuperates, Owen insists. He’ll have his dog Buttercup. But T.K. is probably right to be concerned; when he tries to invite his dad over for dinner, Owen bows out with the claim he has paperwork. He’s really playing solitaire on his computer.
Then, on his way out of the station, Owen finds firefighter Mateo Chavez (Julian Works) asleep in the gym after his house went up in flames due to a gas explosion. Owen offers up the extra room he now has…and Mateo comes to regret accepting after Owen insists on drinking (a lot) and then overshares. (Is it any wonder he’s looking for other living arrangements by episode’s end?) Never get too comfortable because everything can be taken away in an instant, the captain warns. Furthermore, he reveals, he canceled his cancer surgery because it didn’t seem like the right time. He told his son he rescheduled it. Mateo thinks Owen’s depressed.
Soon the 126 is talking about Owen being depressed during a call…on an open channel that the captain is on. He insists that’s not the case, but the others don’t let it go. In fact, they hold an intervention for him in his living room. But Owen says he has nothing to be depressed about.
That’s why they’re worried, T.K. explains. The future he was planning was ripped out from under him. He’s a “grin and bear it” guy, his son explains, and he has smiling depression. He uses his upbeat attitude to mask that he’s not taking care of himself. Owen claims he canceled his surgery because of everything else going on, and he does plan to reschedule. But “what if the surgery isn’t successful? What if they can’t get it all?” Owen worries.
“You’re not afraid they’re not going to get all the cancer,” T.K. realizes. “You’re afraid that they will and you’ll lose your biggest excuse for feeling sorry for yourself.”
When Buttercup needs to be rushed to the vet and Owen fears that he has a new tumor, he promises T.K. he’s rescheduling his surgery immediately. The good news is Buttercup just had a blockage, after swallowing Gwyneth’s sloth tea infuser.
That’s all well and good, but something tells us that Owen is going to be forced back into action next week when the ice storm hits close to home. We already see Marjan swerve off the road and into the trees to avoid hitting a truck full of turtles, so there’s one crisis right there. Not to mention the turtles. My God, won’t someone please think of the turtles!”
Sure, the uniformed power couple has had some issues in the past, but nothing about the way T.K. and Carlos left things at the end of Season 2 signaled an impending breakup. Whatever happened between them, they clearly had one eventful hiatus.
Several characters’ fates are left hanging in the balance by the end of Monday’s 9-1-1: Lone Star premiere. And while we hate to leave them hanging any longer (sorry, y’all!), there’s something we absolutely need to discuss first.
Then again, T.K. and Carlos’ relationship isn’t the only thing in shambles as we enter Lone Star‘s third season. The 126 remains disbanded, with only Marjan and her social media devotees standing between the firehouse and a literal wrecking ball. Meanwhile, the team’s former leader remains absolutely no help whatsoever, refusing to do even the bare minimum to get himself reinstated. All Owen needs to do is apologize to Billy, but when the committee asks him he struck a superior officer without provocation, Owen offers this smarmy response: “I deny it was without provocation… and I’m not so sure I would use the word superior.”
Not to be outdone by a bunch of little turtles — teenage, mutant or otherwise — Paul also finds himself in a tough spot at the end of the hour. His new team responds to a collapsed church, which has since become an “ice palace” (I don’t blame Judd one bit for making that Elsa reference), and poor Mr. Strickland is hit by a large piece of the structure during a daring rescue attempt.
Is chimney coming back to 911?
So, rest assured: There’s no evidence we’ve seen the last of Chimney or Maddie. The show may want you to worry, but there are still reasons for hope.
Does Captain strand die in 9-1-1: Lone Star?
Does the 126 get back together?
Paul Strickland’s (Brian Michael Smith) future with the AFD is uncertain after his heart attack, and the 126 sees another of its firefighters transfer to another house in the latest 9-1-1: Lone Star episode. But they just all came back together!
Who is leaving 911 on Lonestar?
Did Owen strands wife die?