“Studs” continues to impress with a character-driven exploration of relationships, sexuality, and anxieties, and even makes room for incel protests and fires at bull breeding factories.
This recap of 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 1, Episode 5, “Studs”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
9-1-1: Lone Star Episode 5 turns the show’s trademark emergency call interstitials inside-out in the opening to the aptly-titled “Studs”, using it to announce the arrival of male strippers dressed as firefighters. There’s enough estrogen in the air to cause a bit of a ruckus which results in a platinum tiara embedded in a poor woman’s face and another, Josie (Angel Parker), with a face-full of glitter blasted at her from a hose. But Josie comes out okay; when her eyes finally open they fix on Paul (Brian Michael Smith), who she immediately takes a shine to.
Now that the cat is out of the bag in regards to Strand’s (Rob Lowe) cancer, T.K. (Ronen Rubinstein) attends his chemotherapy treatment, though he doesn’t handle it well. Luckily Wayne (Brett Rice) is on-hand to put him at ease with various jokes about his absurd good looks and to torment Strand about the possibility of the treatment causing him erectile dysfunction. The reliably self-obsessed Strand is terrified by the prospect, but insists his junk is “a patriot”. Wayne, though, thinks that one day soon he might be a deserter. And we’ll learn over the course of 9-1-1: Lone Star Episode 5 that he’s right.
On a similar subject, Grace (Sierra Aylina McClain) confesses that she and Judd (Jim Parrack) haven’t been intimate in four months. Between this, Strand’s unreliable junk and Paul’s new romance, we have our plot threads for “Studs”, and just in case you were worried about any of these storylines being subtle, when Josie turns up at the firehouse with a smoked brisket for Paul, she asks if he’s a vegan, to which he replies he isn’t, to which she replies, “You never know these days.” Oh, boy.
Strand also has a new fancy-woman in the form of Zoe (Natalie Zea), whom he bonds with over makeup. Naturally, she assumes he’s gay, so they race back to his house so he can prove otherwise only for a “failure to launch” to reduce Strand to stunned disbelief. Not getting it up for the implausibly gorgeous Natalie Zea is a major problem for him, but as a professor of psychology with a focus on human sexuality, she takes it pretty well and wants to see him again. Phew.
The first disaster of 9-1-1: Lone Star Episode 5 is an incel protest outside a women’s shelter, which allows for some funny lines (“We used to just call them losers”) and something for Michelle (Liv Tyler) to do since she isn’t called upon for the rest of the episode. The garlic-scented leader of the protest is struck by an errant bottle and has a seizure, though his CPPD (calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate crystal deposition disease, otherwise known as really bad arthritis) makes him difficult to treat. When he goes into cardiac arrest, Michelle’s attempts to resuscitate him cause a reaction with his sulfide-based medication, killing him, crashing the ambulance, and poisoning everyone nearby. “Toxic inside and out,” as it’s so eloquently put.
Paul, meanwhile, is fretting about Josie discovering that he’s trans, but T.K. advises he just take her out and see what’s what. Grace’s attempts to put together a romantic evening and seduce Judd don’t go well; his trauma is still very close to the surface, and it’s only exacerbated by a major fire at a bull breeding factory — “Studs” wasn’t about the strippers after all! — started by a disgruntled worker. Luckily, despite its similarity to the disaster which killed his team, Judd is able to see the funny side as containers of bull ********* start launching from the facility. “Welcome to Texas!”
Things start looking up for everyone towards the end of 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 1, Episode 5. Strand visits his doctor about the ED, and he’s prescribed a so-called miracle drug that has to be injected directly into the offending organ, but luckily sushi seems to do the job well enough. Is Zoe going to be a recurring character now? Let’s hope so. Paul takes Josie out bowling for more extremely on-the-nose dialogue: When recounting how her ex-boyfriend used to rag on her for being a tomboy, she says, “You can’t help who you are.” She seems very understanding, so Paul decides to tell her the truth — but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Meanwhile, the tables are turned in the Ryder household, as Grace comes home to a romantic meal and a touching speech courtesy of Judd. This time it works. That’s two out of three major characters getting laid in “Studs”. But the third doesn’t quite go to plan. Josie turns up at the firehouse the next day to apologize for how she reacted to Paul’s admission. She’s embarrassed, and likes Paul very much, though she is, by her own admission, “Not as evolved as she thought she was.” Him being transgender is not something she can get past, which he’s understandably miffed about, though he takes the news graciously.
Luckily, T.K. and Carlos (Rafael Silva) to the rescue. They take Paul out for a night on the town. “I guess he told you about me?”, Paul says to Carlos. “What, that you’re straight? Yeah. I don’t judge.” If only everyone else could say the same.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.