“Texas Proud” continues the show’s character-driven focus with interesting personal stories and exciting — and in this case quintessentially Texan — emergencies.
This recap of 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 1, Episode 3, “Texas Proud”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
9-1-1: Lone Star Episode 3 was the best yet, and for a few reasons. But the most significant reasons are the obvious ones – this is a character-driven show with interesting characters, unafraid of giving those characters very specific problems to overcome. It isn’t just mundane network fare, but a pretty open-minded and curious example of very different people coexisting and cooperating under trying circumstances.
It sounds pandering written down, but the execution is so smooth and naturalistic that the overall effect is simply charming. Only rarely do a group of characters come along who make you feel so quickly as though you’ve always known them. “Texas Proud” continues a tradition of the prior two episodes in largely focusing on only a single member of the team – in this case, Marjan (Natacha Karam) – but also makes plenty of time for other subplots and dynamics – even if it doesn’t always paint its setting of Texas in the most favourable light.
9-1-1: Lone Star Episode 3, perhaps obviously given its title of “Texas Proud”, really leans against the clichés in a way that the first two episodes didn’t; there’s an accident in a grain silo which makes for a great set-piece, and then a pretty silly catastrophe in a steak-eating contest which plays like parody more than anything else. But the silo sequence is great for a few reasons. For one thing, it’s just really well constructed. For another, it allows Judd (Jim Parrack) to take a leadership role, exposing Strand’s (Rob Lowe) lack of local knowledge, proving that the former chief can still hack it during a crisis, and also causing something of a rift between Judd and T.K. (Ronen Rubinstein) when the latter tries to take matters into his own hands – disobeying a direct order in the process.
Another unfortunate consequence of this escapade is Marjan being caught on camera without her hijab, for which she’s later confronted at the mosque and not-so-politely asked to find somewhere else to worship. This is what I mean about how seriously 9-1-1: Lone Star takes its characters and their lived experiences; having Marjan react to being seen without her hair covered is one thing, but to actually take the next step and show the bitchy internal politics at mosque, and how other Muslims view her apparently insufficient modesty, is a step that few other shows would take.
In this context, the title of “Texas Proud” makes more sense; 9-1-1: Lone Star Episode 3 isn’t about being proud of Texas, but about pride in general, no matter who you are or exactly what it is you’re proud of. For Judd it’s about overcoming his trauma – PTSD among first responders is more rarely-explored territory that the show frequently navigates – and returning to the responsibility of leadership. For Strand it’s about laying aside his personal neuroses in favor of his health and the health of his son; for that son, it’s about learning to love who he is and to be loved for who he is by someone else. Marjan is proud of her hijab, of her religion, and Paul (Brian Michael Smith) is proud of being a transgender man. Taken together, the Austin firehouse is a support system for all of these people, who continually strike the audience as real human beings rather than tokenistic fictions.
This is also a show that will, I expect, become better as it goes along since there are several relationships – some obvious, some not – which are clearly designed for the long-term. T.K. and Carlos (Rafael Silva) is one of them. Strand and Judd is another. A surprising third is Michelle’s (Liv Tyler) relationship with her sister’s ex-boyfriend, who was initially painted as a villain but here shows himself to be a more sympathetic figure and a victim himself of Michelle’s obsession. It seems “Texas Proud” isn’t interested in having a two-dimensional character anywhere, even in a relatively low-key, long-term subplot.
9-1-1: Lone Star Season 1, Episode 3 continues a trend thus far of each episode being better than the last, and it’s a trend that I obviously would like to see continue.