Monday, May 24, 2021

REVIEW: '9-1-1: Lone Star' - A Dust Storm Creates Chaos and Mateo Steps Up as a Hero During the Emergency in 'Dust to Dust'

FOX's 9-1-1: Lone Star - Episode 2.14 "Dust to Dust"

Owen and the members of the 126 race into action when a massive dust storm engulfs Austin.

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 season finale of FOX's 9-1-1: Lone Star.

"Dust to Dust" was written by Tim Minear & Rashad Raisani and directed by Bradley Buecker

A lot of colossal, life-threatening events have occurred this season. It's almost as if the show needs to introduce big, traumatic things into the story in order to make compelling television. It doesn't exactly trust the human dynamics of its characters to be rewarding enough for the audience. Part of its basic function is to entertain through the true stories of first responders. The craziness is always present with their jobs. And yet, they have been personally victimized a lot this season as well. They have all been put through the ringer. And somehow Mateo is still just a probie. The finale features yet another big disaster. A dust storm consumes the entire city. It causes people to panic for a few minutes. When the dust settles, the world is different. The storm forces Mateo to his knees in the middle of the street. When it lets up, he looks around to see planes having crashed onto buses and buildings. It's a traumatic and visceral image. It also showcases his individual heroism. He gets to be the center of attention. That's an unexpected development for the finale. One would have expected the focus to be chiefly around the entire team. That's especially true considering they are now spread across various departments in the city. Their home at the 126 has been destroyed. They have the motivation to rally around each other and clean up this mess. They are personally compelled to do so. They need to be out in the field. They spring into action once it is save for them to do so. Even then, Owen runs back into the cloud to save as many lives as he can. People are trapped out there in the unknown. That is him in his element. He doesn't belong behind a desk making executive decisions about the department. Of course, he also throws himself into that role once he is assigned there. He makes himself seem like the perfect candidate to replace the Deputy Chief. That leadership position could be absolutely transformational to his career and the overall department. Owen was brought to Austin to change things up. Seeing the leadership Mateo falls under here only further proves that this city needs to better examine how it conducts business. Owen finds areas of improvement. And yet, nothing can fundamentally change a man on a power trip who makes Mateo do whatever demeaning task he likes. That man still requires saving. He boasts about the rules when reprimanding his subordinate. He is completely fine leading as a rogue actor though. Owen goes against the rules as well. He still keeps things within the parameters of what the department needs. Plus, he always reacts out of compassion. His skills are needed in the field. As such, he can't allow anything to stand in his way. He must make a difference safely. But this is where he is meant to be. This is where Tommy should be as well. Her daughters won't let her quit despite Charles' life insurance basically setting them up for life. Their lives have changed. They can remain grounded in these roles too. The firehouse is a family. They celebrate Mateo's quick thinking that allowed many lives to be saved. He knew exactly how to respond to this scene. He set up a system that benefitted those who responded later. He set everyone else up for success without needing the appreciation or recognition. Owen sees that. He rewards Mateo. He is deserving of being an equal with everyone else on the team. And yet, the firehouse may not be able to come back together. That's the threat for the future. The 126 has been destroyed. It's easier to cut it out than build it back. Owen highlighted the financial limits on the department. Billy picks that directive up and uses it against his peers. Billy really only has two operating modes in this story. He is either an ally willing to help or he deserves a punch in the face because of some decision that seems unfair. That's about it. And so, the show still struggles in presenting more complex character dynamics. The scope of the emergencies remains impressive. But it's also clear this season went for the spectacle instead of trying to offer more substance. It had plenty of character moments that worked too. They were just paired with unique creative decisions along the way that were seemingly mandated to put their lives in harm's way to make those larger points.