Monday, January 20, 2020

REVIEW: '9-1-1: Lone Star' - Owen Worries About His Vanity While Michelle Receives a Clue About Her Sister in 'Yee-Haw'

FOX's 9-1-1: Lone Star - Episode 1.02 "Yee-Haw"

The crew races to a disaster at a wave pool, and an outbreak of mercury poisoning that is leaving its victims in a zombie-like state. Owen must come to terms with his illness and what the side-effects of treatment may do to his vanity. Michelle follows a new lead on her missing sister. T.K. is unsure how to handle his budding relationship with Carlos.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of FOX's 9-1-1: Lone Star.

"Yee-Haw" was written by Tim Minear & Rashad Raisani and directed by Bradley Buecker

Captain Owen Strand's vanity appears to be the most consistent character detail in the series so far. He is incredibly confident and unashamed about the regimen that allows him to maintain his physical appearance. It means a lot to him. It means he has so much to lose as a result of his cancer diagnosis. The show does have fun with the concept. With Rob Lowe in the role though, it can also come across as a character in a comedy who doesn't know that he is in a comedy. The show absolutely wants this to all be seen as genuine and real. Michelle can make the argument for why it highlights his humanity when they have their late night talk. The show rationalizes it all by saying it's a way for these two to remain in control of their lives even though they have no idea what is going to happen. Michelle seeks answers about what happened to her sister, who disappeared three years ago. Owen wants to control how his body responds to chemotherapy. These are scary prospects with no easy answers. Of course, the audience may be reassured knowing that these are characters in a television show who will largely be safe in the long run because they are the core protagonists. But it's also effective when Owen and Michelle can have that conversation without needing to talk about the specifics of what's going on in their lives. Sure, Michelle and Judd are much more upfront about the tragedies that they are struggling to manage. Owen still isn't forthcoming about his cancer diagnosis even with his son, TK. That comes from a place of being worried about TK's own well-being. The premiere introduced his addiction problems especially when his life starts to spiral. He appreciates this change of scenery brought on by his father. He is more than willing to follow his father's orders as well. He does that at work and at home. Sure, TK has a social life as well. He hooks up with Carlos here - which is somewhat jarring in execution but not an unexpected plot development in general. He wants that to be nothing more than a sexual relationship. The fact that they are both series regulars basically clues the audience in on the fact that they will probably be more than that. Carlos even strives for it here. TK can't handle that commitment. He freaks out over a simple meal together. That props up the idea that Owen is right to worry about how his son will react to his news. That can get lost a little bit when the narrative is overwhelmingly focused on whether or not Owen will lose his hair. That is the thought at the center of his nightmare. It can also offer the appearance that he is taking the necessary steps to approach this as seriously as possible. He has to give up his hair maintenance products because they could produce a bad reaction with the chemo drugs. His life has to come above all else. He has to be alive. After that, it's okay if he's bald. In fact, Judd helps him accept that he can pull off a cowboy hat like so many in Texas do. That is him being welcomed into the local culture. It's a way for the show to offer some sense of closure by the conclusion of this hour. Owen goes on his journey here and makes a firm decision. He is taking this seriously while the other stories are slowly just teasing things out. Michelle gets her first lead in her sister's case. That may not be enough. She is willing to embrace unusual tactics to get answers as well. But the rest of the hour is devoted to the various emergencies, which like the original series are fun and insane while also seemingly based in the comedy despite how tragic and precarious they can frequently be too. A woman dies in an apparent act of suicide when it's actually mass mercury poisoning. That doesn't exactly play alongside the firehouse dealing with a racist woman looking for the sign that she is right to behave this way. And then, the apartment gas leak is more so a story about helping a delusional man be comfortable enough to leave instead of investigating what is happening. The firefighters take some of these stories seriously. However, the comedy balance seems slightly off which is a little strange given the confidence the creative team has shown with these stories in the other show.