Monday, May 10, 2021

REVIEW: '9-1-1: Lone Star' - The Odds Are Stacked Against Owen as Perceptions Shift in the Arson Case in 'The Big Heat'

FOX's 9-1-1: Lone Star - Episode 2.12 "The Big Heat"

A recovering Owen becomes the prime suspect in the serial arsonist case. T.K. and Carlos find themselves in a fiery situation. Tommy gets the surprise of her life.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 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.

"The Big Heat" was written by Carly Soteras and directed by Ben Hernandez Bray

This episode concludes the big mystery of arson cases over the past year in Austin. Owen only became aware of it once he was forced to take time off to recover from his final cancer surgery. The previous episode introduced the entire story. It always played as a two-part event. It was unfortunate that so much of the previous episode was driven by setting up expectations instead of allowing the story to occur naturally. That doesn't impact this episode quite as much. However, deception is still apparent throughout the proceedings. Early on, the audience is led to believe that Billy is the true arsonist. It's strange that he didn't see the criminal when he pulled Owen out of a burning fire. He was cautioning Owen from getting anyone else involved in this case. He also has the skills to pull these crimes off and the motivation to do so. This realization dawns on Owen and he confesses his concerns to Judd and Grace. They offer different advice. And then, the action cuts towards Billy pointing the finger at Owen to the arson investigator, Dennis Raymond. The show was essentially relying on the fact that it has only ever depicted Billy as a one-note antagonist to what Owen has tried to accomplish at the firehouse. That was his extremely basic role in the first season. He was brought back to the story for this specific arc. Owen hadn't kept in touch with him. He had to learn from Judd that Billy's cancer had returned. It was traumatic enough when he was simply struck by lightning. That experience hasn't really altered his perspective. He's still essentially portrayed as a kindred spirit to Owen. He's someone the Austin Fire Department would generally support if they weren't ordered to change the culture within its ranks. Owen filled that position instead. But the story pursues a different direction after setting up these expectations. The most keen observation apparently comes from Carlos telling T.K. that his father must have had a good reason for arresting Owen for these crimes. And yes, it is a glaring conflict-of-interest for the two to be on opposing sides in this case. It's a detail that is certainly relevant. But they are also putting on a performance to flush out the true arsonist. It's actually the person in charge of the inspections who has been setting these fires. He is given the big mustache-twirling villain monologue in the end to confirm his malicious and devious ways - right before setting himself on fire in the interrogation room. It's a broad characterization once that twist occurs. Some keen viewers probably could have guessed it as well simply because Raymond was played by a just recognizable enough character actor. But again, not everyone walks into the episode having that preconceived notion of storytelling. It all ultimately depends on the show convincingly fooling everyone involved. It's used as a way for Owen and Gabriel to prove how smart and creative they are. It's also a cruel action to their children. That relationship means so much to everyone. They don't want anything to jeopardize it. The fathers are willing to take that risk because stopping this arsonist is worth it. No more damage can be done to the community. They have to change their tactics and ways in order to prove that their suspicions are actually correct. Of course, Raymond is given enough time to set even more fires. He strikes at what Owen and Gabriel care about the most. It means the show gets to destroy two of its standing sets with fire. It's more precarious for T.K. and Carlos though. It's fun to see their steaming romance paired with the threat of fire growing downstairs. They are rescued in the nick of time as well. All of this may just affirm that Owen won't have to be alone in his house anymore. He already invited Mateo in as a roommate. He notes that there are more guest rooms after all. That's an amusing thought to have this family under the same roof. But the show doesn't want to end on that note. Instead, tragedy strikes as a familiar face actually dies during all of this. It's not a first responder reacting to some insane emergency either. It's simply Charles watching television. That reveal is absolutely devastating. It's so unexpected because Tommy doesn't play a huge role in the central story of this two-episode story. But it's an action that will dramatically alter her life. Their romance was seen as so incredibly strong and secure. They professed their love just hours before. And now, Tommy returns home to a life that is just as destroyed as her workplace is.