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‘9-1-1: Lone Star’ Showrunner on Buck and T.K.’s Destined Team-Up, Future Crossover Ideas

Tim Minear also tells TheWrap about Owen and Hen’s story at ”heart of the episode“

(Warning: This post contains spoilers for tonight’s “9-1-1”/”9-1-1: Lone Star” crossover.)

Austin’s Station 126 finally met some of the members of Los Angeles’ 118 on Monday’s “9-1-1: Lone Star,” which featured the long-awaited crossover with parent series “9-1-1.” The lucky few — or unlucky, depending on how you look at some of the things that happen during the hour — who get to make the 20-hour trip to help put out a massive wildfire in Texas are Buck (Oliver Stark), Eddie (Ryan Guzman) and Hen (Aisha Hinds), who almost immediately are split up into three different storylines connecting them with “Lone Star’s” leads.

And that aspect of the crossover was very important to Tim Minear, who is showrunner on both “9-1-1” and “Lone Star,” so that he could create the quick bonds among the two teams that would be necessary in order for them to join forces to save two of their own at the end: Hen and Owen (Rob Lowe), who get trapped in a mineshaft after their chopper crashes in the middle of the wildfire.

“How do you bring this together so that these people can get to know somebody on the other team, so that by the time two people, one from each team, are in peril together, that those different configurations of people who have now kind of bonded through their duty, can now come together as a double unit and rescue the people from their units are now in peril?” Minear told TheWrap. “And if you look at the way the thing is constructed, no scene is filler, it’s all sort of essential to get to that.

“I paired Eddie with Marjan (Natacha Karam), but also in a way with Judd (Jim Parrack) and Paul (Brian Michael Smith),” he continued. “And I paired Buck with T.K. (Ronen Rubinstein), and also Mateo (Julian Works). And I paired Owen with Hen, obviously. And by splitting them up, you allow the opportunity to crosscut between the stories and have all those plates spinning at the same time. And that way, you can service all those many characters. I think one thing we were very successful about with this particular crossover is that nothing feels like filler. Every time you go to a character, every character gets a moment to shine.”

One of those pairings that viewers are sure to go crazy over is that of Buck and Owen’s son, T.K., two fan-favorite characters from “9-1-1” and “Lone Star,” respectively, who formed a fast friendship on tonight’s crossover that was essential to getting the 118 and 126 crews together to save Hen and Owen.

“When we were first talking about doing this crossover, there was never a question in anyone’s mind that we wanted to see Buck and T.K. interacting,” Minear said. “I don’t even know if I can say quantitatively why that is, it just seems like a natural thing you would want to see. And I think the audience would feel that way too. But the other thing for me, it’s very subtle, but there is a scene in the episode where the fire captain who is in charge of the entire thing tells T.K., ‘We’re not sending anyone out in the dark. Nobody is going up there tonight, it’s too dangerous. And your father would be the first person to agree with me.’ And we cut to Buck reacting to that. And I think that that’s the first time that Buck hears that T.K.’s captain is his father. And Back has daddy issues. I think he sees Bobby (Peter Krause) as a father and we’re going to meet Buck’s father this year and explore Buck’s relationship with his own parents. So when Buck sees the love and the dedication that T.K. has for his captain, who is his father, I think that has a double meaning for Buck. And so at that point, he’s going to throw all caution to the wind, and help this kid reunite with his father.”

And while Buck and co. are trying to help T.K. get to his father, Owen and Hen are busy trying to stay alive in the a mineshaft, slowly running out of air while discussing mistakes they’ve made. Owen, still reeling from the shocking death of Tim Rosewater (Mark Elias) and actually being haunted by his ghost after sustaining a nasty concussion, connects deeply with Hen, who reveals that she accidentally killed a girl while on duty last year and more than understands what he’s going through.

“To me, that’s the heart of the story, that’s the heart of the episode,” Minear said. “I would love at some point to do a big two-hour crossover and service both shows, but in this instance, it’s very complicated to make these shows anyway during the pandemic. So even managing to pull off one episode that’s a big crossover like this as a real challenge. What I didn’t want to do, especially because it’s a ‘Lone Star’ episode, I didn’t want to stop the trajectory of the story I was telling on ‘Lone Star’ and that story is Owen’s survivor’s guilt, the fact that he’s in remission but having complicated feelings of guilt about being in remission. So he’s haunted by 9/11, even when he’s getting his tumor cake, before everything happens with Rosewater in the last episode. So Rosewater, in a way, is a metaphor for the larger losses that Owen has suffered through the last couple of decades. So that’s the story I wanted to continue to tell. And I didn’t just want to put Owen through some wildfire adventure that was all about saving people from burning trees and sort of swashbuckling adventures.”

He added: “I wanted him to go through the metaphorical fire and sort of come out having learned something or come out ready to take the next step. So that’s why it was important for me that he was in the crucible of that mind where a character could say to him, credibly, ‘Maybe you can leave some of your ghosts in that mineshaft. Maybe you don’t need to take them with you.’ So in order for that to happen, I felt like it was a great idea to have him haunted by a literal, visual representation of his ghosts in Rosewater. And I sort of used the notion that we’d already seen him having these nightmares, and then he has this concussion, sometimes concussions can give you hallucinations. So it just felt like all these elements came together to tell a story that would actually amount to something and mean something. And sure, anyone could have been in that mineshaft with Owen and given him that advice. But in this instance, it felt to me like Henrietta Wilson has been through her own particular kind of grief and guilt and, in a sense, her grief and guilt almost trumps Owen’s. Owen just has survivor’s guilt, Henrietta was driving that ambulance when that girl was killed. So she knows a little something about not just survivor’s guilt, but guilt.”

OK, if you’re not crying after that explanation, rewind with us for a second to the part where Minear mentioned how he wants to do a big two-hour “9-1-1”/”Lone Star” crossover in the future. And while nothing is set in stone yet, he’s definitely laid the groundwork with tonight’s installment, “Hold the Line.”

“I feel like by the end of the episode, there are some very warm and real bonds that have formed between these people. And that is what happened in kind of a war setting. And when firefighters go to fight a wildfire, it’s very much like an army assembling to fight an enemy, and that enemy is fire.”

In-universe, Buck and T.K. actually talk about meeting up if T.K. is ever in Los Angeles, which is when Minear pays homage to T.K.’s boyfriend, Carlos (Rafael Silva), who didn’t make it into the episode, by having T.K. mention he is in a serious relationship right now.

“It was a way for me to not forget about Tarlos, T.K.’s relationship with Carlos,” Minear said. “Because I know that fans are going to be disappointed that Carlos isn’t in this, and Tommy’s (Gina Torres) barely in it, and Grace (Sierra McClain) isn’t in it at all. Like, you can’t service every single character when you’re doing something like this. But I wanted to sort of tip my hat to the fact that that is a serious thing for T.K.”

Read TheWrap’s interview with Hinds about the crossover here.

“9-1-1: Lone Star” airs Mondays at 9/8c on Fox, immediately after “9-1-1” at 8/7c.