9-1-1: Lone Star season 1, episode 4 recap – an “Act of God” leaves Austin in turmoil

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: February 4, 2020 (Last updated: February 7, 2024)
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9-1-1: Lone Star season 1, episode 4 recap - an "Act of God" leaves Austin in turmoil


“Act of God” finds more emotion and tragedy than previous episodes as a tornado ravages Austin, leaving devastation and crises of faith in its wake.

This recap of 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 1, Episode 4, “Act of God”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.

9-1-1: Lone Star Episode 4, boasting the fitting title of “Act of God”, both continues the show’s trend of bettering itself with every installment while also reaching by far its most emotional crescendo yet. For all its light-hearted, cosmopolitan team-building, this hour of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s inclusive character-driven procedural proved that the show isn’t going to be pulling any punches when it comes to tragedies in the line of duty.

The major incident of “Act of God” was a tornado sweeping through Austin and leaving devastation in its wake; a car wedged between two buildings, a house collapsed on the owner’s children, and a young man stuck in a gun safe were all problems to be solved and not all of them made for happy endings.

Among all this, on-going threads continued to develop. Strand (Rob Lowe) became more and more ravaged by his chemotherapy, losing his appetite, spontaneously vomiting, and leaving his confidante, Judd (Jim Parrack), with no choice but to basically demand he tell T.K. (Ronen Rubinstein) before the kid found out for himself. However, despite how eager everyone seems to be to tell Strand he’s a hero, this proved too much for him, and T.K. put two and two together when he happened upon a bottle of anti-nausea medication. But this discovery led to a touching scene and a surprising one for those of us who thought that the knowledge of his father’s impending demise might send T.K. spiraling back into substance abuse. Instead, he took the news with more strength and resilience than even his father did.

“Act of God” also forced Judd to reckon with his relationship to the unknowable almighty, leading to several scenes of him and his wife, Grace (Sierra Aylina McClain), discussing religion, and how God figures into all the things that Judd sees while at work. Texas is a God-fearing state, but the notion of a God who allows tornados to destroy homes and lives, and who would allow a team of pious men to be killed in a disaster, is a lot for Judd to reckon with. He sees enough supposed miracles in 9-1-1: Lone Star Episode 4 to reaffirm his faith, but the show was smart to address it; Judd continues to be the most complex and surprising character in the show, which is saying a lot considering he began as little more than a bundle of Texan clichés.

Michelle (Liv Tyler) made more progress while investigating the disappearance of her sister, including working towards repairing relationships with both her mother and her sister’s ex-boyfriend, who has a run-in with Strand here which made for a surprising character turn. But the focus of the episode was rightly on the aftermath of the tornado, particularly on a crushing sequence in which Juan Javier Cardenas showed up as a desperate father whose kids had been buried in the rubble of his devastated house. This moment of tragedy came right on the back of a presumed success, and hit all the harder as a result; it was “Act of God” proving that it can do serious drama just as well as it can do somewhat light-hearted asides, such as in a throwaway sequence during which a 911 operator talked a young woman through unlocking a gun safe where her cowardly boyfriend had hidden during the storm.

All in all, predictably good stuff, especially for a show which nobody seems to be paying much attention to. 9-1-1: Lone Star Episode 4 was a great example of a network show hitting all the bases a good network show should, and then some.

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