[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Monday's two-part finale of 9-1-1: Lone Star. Read at your own risk!]
After a full season of watching the first responders on 9-1-1: Lone Startrek around Austin, Texas, to try and save lives amid zany disasters ranging from a bull semen factory explosion to a devastating tornado, Monday night's two-part finale ramped things up a notch by taking the emergency situation all the way to outer space. That's right. After TK (Ronen Rubinstein) managed to come out of his coma mostly unscathed, the action intensified even further as Owen Strand (Rob Lowe) and the rest of the 126 had to deal with the fallout of a full-on solar flare.
Titled "Awakening" and "Austin, We Have a Problem," the two finale episodes were grand in scale, but also put the lens on some very personal developments, including TK's decision to reveal his struggles with addiction to his team and commit to staying on the squad, this time on his own terms.
TV Guide spoke to executive producer Tim Minear about the major events that transpired in those two episodes and some of his hopes for Season 2, if and when the show is renewed at Fox.
In the very first disaster of the episode, there was that gender reveal party-gone-wrong. You mentioned before that you guys borrow from real-life stories and viral videos to create the events, and this one reminded me of that incident in Arizona a couple of years ago. It also produced some interesting conversations between Marjan (Natacha Karam) and Paul (Brian Michael Smith) about the tradition in general. I was wondering if, when you were picking this disaster in particular, were you looking for that potential for social commentary between them?
Tim Minear: The only point of social commentary is just how ludicrous those gender reveal parties are. And for me, the fun of that gender reveal case is that the actual gender reveal is that she gives birth. And then you see the gender. But the social commentary simply happens because those characters are in the scene, and that's what they would say. But yes, it was based on a myriad of gender reveal parties-gone-wrong in real life. What I didn't want was for some of the gigantic tragedies that happen in those places. But the idea that -- it was sort of based on two things. There was also a cloud of colored smoke at an event -- this was really tragic -- at a rock concert. It may have been in Taiwan or something, and you can see it online, where the cloud burst into flames, and people were really hurt. We didn't want to do it on that scale. It was sort of those two ideas combined.
Another thing I noticed about the episode was that there was a running theme of dads having pratfalls of their own making. Then there's that backdrop of TK and Owen dealing with what happened to TK. I was wondering if there was some symbolism there that maybe Owen is feeling like he has made a mistake by bringing TK into this situation?
Minear: No, I don't think he thinks it was a mistake. I think it was really more of TK's struggle of realizing that he wasn't sure if he had chosen to do this thing that he done. Or if he just wanted to join the family where his father happened to be, which was the firehouse. But you're not wrong in noticing that about not only the cases, but there's also Judd (Jim Parrack) and his father, there's Owen and TK, and then there's a lot of father-son elements to the story.
There's a teaser that Judd and Grace (Sierra Aylina McClain) may be looking at fatherhood of his own.
Is that something that, if this show makes it to Season 2, we can look forward to?
Minear: I think that is a conversation that will begin immediately.
What can we expect to see from TK now that he's come clean to the team about his struggles and made that conscious commitment to this career?
Minear: I think TK is going to discover even more about his own agency and really what his destiny is. He might think he knows what his destiny is; he might be wrong. And also, now that he's come clean with the team, and his opioid addiction is out there, that's also like cancer, not something that just goes away. So, at least now he has a real support system in the even that temptation rears its head.
Speaking of support systems, Owen made mention that TK's mother may come back in the picture? Is that something that you are looking forward to?
Now, the space station portion was pretty tragic. Did you guys consult with NASA or other scientists to see what kind of emergency protocols they might have in this kind of situation?
Minear: We did. We consulted with JPL -- which is the Jet Propulsion Lab -- I actually have a friend of mine, Allison, who works there and has for many years. She hooked me up with an astrophysicist, and we talked through what a solar storm would actually do. So, pretty much everything that you're seeing in tonight's finale is based on that science that we got from JPL. And I asked specifically what would happen if you were in orbit in a space station, and this happened, and you would probably die of radiation poisoning.
About Michelle (Liv Tyler), now that she found Iris, and she's safe but obviously not sound, do you think she's going to try and mend fences with Iris' ex to try and get her help, or is she just going to back off and let her continue life in the camp?
Minear: She's 100 percent not going to back off. And I think her story with Iris is a watershed and possibly life-changing moment for her. She may discover that her occupation is also a vocation. She may be pursuing passions she was not expecting to pursue.
We've obviously seen a lot of disasters that were very Texan with this spin-off. If the show continues -- obviously the space station issue proves there's a lot of potential for expansion -- but are there any incidents you guys are particularly looking forward to exploring with this region?
Minear: The question is always, what cases fit with which show, if you're doing two shows. Some of our cases, yeah, have been a little barbecue-flavored, a little Texan, with exploding bull semen factories and stuff like that. You also have cases that you can find in any big city. So, you wouldn't find a grain silo on9-1-1, and you wouldn't find a tsunami in Austin. But you might find a tornado [in either]. So, it's always a question of balance. Our Austin is as believable as our Los Angeles. They're both heightened versions of those places. So, I need about four cases per episode, so it'll be a whole bunch of different things.
I feel like it was a bit setup with Billy (Billy Burke) presenting himself as a foil, but now it seems that he and Owen may be able to forge an alliance. Can we look forward to seeing more of him and their relationship?
Minear: That's quite possible. I think Billy was a great character.
9-1-1: Lone Star's parent show 9-1-1 returns for its midseason premiere on Monday, March 16 at 8/7c.