(Warning: This post contains major spoilers from Monday’s Season 1 finale of “9-1-1: Lone Star.”)
“9-1-1: Lone Star” fans can finally rest easy knowing that T.K. Strand is gonna be OK — and so are his career and love life. Yes, all you T.K.-Carlos shippers can rejoice because they are officially in a relationship and it’s partially thanks to the struggles T.K. (played by Ronen Rubinstein) had to face on tonight’s Season 1 finale of the Fox first-responder drama.
At the top of Monday’s two-hour season closer for the Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear-created “9-1-1” spinoff, it was confirmed that T.K. pulled through after being accidentally shot by a young boy and admitted into the hospital in critical condition at the end of last week’s episode.
But just because he survived doesn’t mean Owen Strand’s (Rob Lowe) son knew if he could continue surviving the firefighter life alongside his dad, and as he started his recovery during tonight’s first hour (Episode 109, “Awakening”), T.K. began to question whether he wanted a future as a first-responder at Station 126 in Austin at all.
“I think T.K. wakes up, first of all, realizing how he even got into this position. He was shot by a child, so that’s traumatic in itself,” Rubinstein told TheWrap. “And then, this is his second near-death experience in one season. He’s already been going through a lot on top of that with his dad… But yeah throughout Episode 9, I think he’s figuring out, is this really what he wants to do? Is even being a firefighter what he’s always wanted to do? Is this really his calling? And then he slowly realizes that the only reason he got into this career was to be with his dad and to truly have his dad’s attention and love.”
“And we sort of touch a little bit on T.K.’s childhood and we see there was a lot of fighting in the house with Owen and T.K.’s mom and I think it just wasn’t the easiest childhood to grow up in,” he continued. “And after 9/11, Owen pretty much left his family for the firehouse family. And I think all along, T.K. has just been looking to get his dad back and I think that’s why he got into being a firefighter in the first place. And he’s finally starting to realize all of this in Episode 9. And my favorite scene in the season is gonna be the scene where T.K. confronts Owen for the first time about, ‘Why did you become a firefighter? I don’t even know if this is what I want to be. You left us when we were young.’ So that dialogue between us… I literally sprinted back to my trailer because I was literally vibrating with emotions and adrenaline because that night, Rob and I, we clicked so hard. It was one of the most epic scenes we’ve done together, if not the most epic.”
In true “9-1-1: Lone Star” fashion, it doesn’t take long for disaster to strike, and in the second hour (Episode 110, “Austin, We Have a Problem”), a massive solar flare causes chaos all around Austin. This lead’s T.K. — who was mid-conversation with Carlos (Rafael Silva) about where they stand relationship-wise — to be forced back into the line of duty, with a rescue sequence in which he performs underwater CPR on a woman inside a bus that’s slowly catching fire and filling up with both fumes and water.
While he attempts to complete this rescue on his own, it’s too much for the recently shot T.K., who slowly begins to lose consciousness — but luckily The 126 shows up in the nick of time to help him and the lady out out. And it was them rescuing him from his rescue that Rubinstein says helped T.K. decide where he wants to be, what he wants to do with his life and who he wants to be with.
“Right after that, you see me at the firehouse losing my mind a little bit and I confront the entire team in the firehouse, including my dad, and tell them, first of all, I’m an addict, that’s my first time opening up to all of them about it,” he told us. “I tell them that I relapsed in New York and the only reason we’re in Austin is to get me away from my old life and my old home and then I tell them I wasn’t enough to save that woman, but when you guys came and my team and my family came, then I was enough and we did it as a group effort. And I tell them and my dad that this is where I belong, I know that this is what I want, this is the family I choose, this is the career I choose and I’m here to stay. And everyone is hugging and Owen is like, ‘Son, are you sure you want to do this? and I give this amazing line of this is the most sure I’ve ever been in my entire life and then we turn around and at the doors is Carlos waiting to take me home. And it’s this beautiful, beautiful sequence and then the season ends with Carlos and I on the hood of his car talking about, ‘Man, we make a pretty good team, don’t we?’ and I look at him and I say, ‘I’m afraid so.'”
Earlier in the episode, right before the solar flare, there had been a scene between T.K. and Carlos in which they were talking about what they were as a couple and T.K. admitted that he’s going through so much with his father and his personal life right now that trying to figure out a relationship right now is not at the top of his list.
But that rescue changed everything for T.K. and Rubinstein told TheWrap can’t wait to see what the writers have planned for the couple, should the highly rated series get picked up for Season 2.
“Now that it’s been confirmed that T.K. and Carlos are a thing and will be a thing, I’m really, really excited to navigate Season 2 in that world of T.K. and Carlos trying to work it out. I would love to see some really fun date nights and some happy moments between them. Because it seems like for most of the first season we’ve been figuring out what we are and if we’re even a thing, so I’m really happy that they ended that on that happy ending.”
Of course, we still don’t know what direction Owen’s cancer is going to go in, which means there is still somewhat of a rough road ahead of T.K. and his dad.
But Rubinstein says for now, “Owen is happy that got to see his son made his life decision for himself.”
“So I think that’s definitely reassuring to Owen that his son knows what he wants, he’s happy with his career — which is Owen’s career — and I think it’s just a very proud father moment.”