Monday, March 2, 2020

REVIEW: '9-1-1: Lone Star' - Owen and TK Once Again Have to Confront the Fear of Losing Each Other in 'Monster Inside'

FOX's 9-1-1: Lone Star - Episode 1.08 "Monster Inside"

Owen, Michelle and the 126 crew race to a rattlesnake infestation at a young family's home, and attempt to rescue a man with dementia from a dangerous scene that he created. Meanwhile, Owen adopts a firehouse dog with cancer and Michelle finally learns the truth behind her sister's disappearance. Also, a tragic accident shakes the team to its core.

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.

"Monster Inside" was written by Tonya Kong and directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton

Owen and TK have already had to confront the possibility of losing one another through tragedy. Owen has cancer while TK overdosed in the first episode. And now, that uncertainty is coming back into the narrative. This hour ends with TK getting shot while out on a call. Owen has an update later on that says TK's body will likely recover but his brain is still in limbo. Until that moment, TK was the one struggling with the thoughts of loving something only for it to be tragically taken away from him. He remains in a fragile state. The season has largely painted him in a positive light. However, he is still a man who feels the temptation of drugs whenever something tragic happens in his life. The show hasn't quite put in the work to highlight his recovery and the strength his sobriety is currently in. Instead, it's only through a reassuring talk with his father. That comes in the form of Owen saying that the future is unknown. The cancer could kill him but there are many other things that could happen as well. As firefighters, they know perfectly well just how dangerous and tragic the world around them can be. They save so many lives. They lose some as well. It's bittersweet. It makes this an incredibly demanding job. The firefighters who serve together have to have each other's backs no matter what. This season has done a solid job in forming the bonds of this firehouse. As such, it doesn't feel like a necessity when they all stay at the hospital to rally around TK after this tragic turn of events. It's a moment that happens out of genuine love and concern. Sure, it's incredibly forced for narrative purposes. It's clear the show wanted to showcase the mortality of these characters throughout the season. That is a theme that could grow tiring even though the first responders put their lives on the line during every shift. There has to be some sense of stability for the audience. Otherwise, it would feel like these characters always seemingly bounce back from tragedy. That wouldn't be genuine. Too many twists runs the risk of making the audience feel as if there is no real consistency. That is on display in Michelle's quest for the truth about her sister. She has received clues throughout the season. Each one brings further confirmation that something lethal did actually happen to her. And yet, that just fuels the unexpected moment when the audience realizes that she is still alive. She is just homeless and suffering from schizophrenia. Michelle has learned some powerful lessons because of Iris' disappearance. She has grown even more steadfast in her need to support people in their times of need. Sure, she will still use a defibrillator to disarm a man who refuses to accept that his mother has died. She can do harm when it is required. But she is generally full of compassion. She is of service to her community. She may have felt this immense loss herself but that can't stand in the way of her continuing to be there for others in need. That means the reveal that Iris is still alive comes with the certainty that Michelle will be distracted because of the help she'll need to provide to her. These first responders care about each other. They have to support one another and lift them up on a continued basis. That can be exhausting. But that is also the power of compassion and friendship. It makes for a good and entertaining story. It may not go much deeper than that. It's still moving to watch despite the uncertainty. There are just one too many narrative twists and turns that make it feel overly plotted instead of something genuinely earned. The good news though is that Owen's cancer has started to shrink. That is a step in the right direction despite all the horrors that occur afterwards. TK will more than likely be fine after this latest brush with death. He just never thought he would be the one who could tragically die. Instead, he figured it would be his dad or the new firehouse dog. He didn't want to open himself to love again. He still did. People rally around him. Michelle feels the same way now that she knows Iris was suffering from a mental health problem and she didn't know it. That can be sobering for families to come to terms with as well. And now, the future will remain uncertain while ensuring this melodrama continues to define these characters' lives despite the crazy emergencies they respond to during every shift.