Owen Strand (Rob Lowe) can't seem to leave well enough alone. After finally coming to terms with the trauma he suffered as a first-responder in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Owen, the current firefighting captain of the 118 in Austin, TX, seems to be in a good place at the start of the fourth season of 9-1-1: Lone Star. His firehouse, which was on the brink of demolition at the start of last season, is still standing, and its members are more connected than ever. His son, paramedic T.K. Strand (Ronen Rubinstein), is in the early stages of planning his wedding to officer Carlos Reyes (Rafael L. Silva).
But Lone Star fans have noticed that Owen has infamously gone through some kind of midlife crisis every season—or one extended crisis across multiple seasons, depending on how you look at it—that has put his life as a man, a father and/or a first responder into question. In fact, the writers—and by extension, the characters—seem to have taken notice as well. "There was actually a line in [the fourth season] that I cut, where he says, 'I know you think I'm going through a midlife crisis,' and I think Nancy [played by Briana Baker] says, 'Mid-life? How long is he expecting to live?'" showrunner Tim Minear told TV Guide with a laugh.
"I really do want to say that what he went through in his fever dream in the [Season 3] finale was [his way of] putting the 9/11 specter behind him, and he realized that he can't always be there to save his son and that his son is not a child and that he can save himself," Minear said about where viewers will find Owen in the premiere. "He could be there for him, but he doesn't have to dote on him like he's six years old. But that means he's an empty nester, and that means, 'Okay, I wrestled my demon, but my demon defined me, and now I don't know who I am without a dragon-slayer demon.'"
With Catherine (Amy Acker) out of town, T.K. living with Carlos, and Mateo (Julian Works) spending more time with Nancy, Owen has been left to his own devices at home. Naturally, he decides to buy and ride a motorcycle to work, taking his co-workers by surprise and even catching the attention of a potentially dangerous group of motorcyclists.
"There was just something really funny to me about [how] every time Owen thinks he's made a new male friend, he's either a guy who's trying to stab him in the back and knock down his fire station, or he's probably a Nazi. He's really bad at making friends of his own generation," Minear said. "He's got one who's younger than him, which is Judd [Jim Parrack]. If he'd just turn around, he'd see Judd there and realize, 'Oh, I have a great male friend.' But he's always looking for something else."
Tuesday's season premiere will also re-introduce Iris Blake (Lyndsy Fonseca), the younger sister of former paramedic captain Michelle Blake (Liv Tyler), who was last seen living in a tent city in the first season finale and will intersect with a key character in the premiere. Meanwhile, after grieving the loss of her husband last season, Tommy (Gina Torres) will have the potential for a new romance when she meets an attractive single father (D.B. Woodside) on a call at a county fair—but there may be an obstacle or two standing in their way.
Check back here after the premiere for our full interview with Minear. 9-1-1: Lone Star airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on FOX. Episodes are available to stream the next day on FOX Now or Hulu.