“Bum Steer” leaves Strand reckoning with his ego and the team reeling from his dishonesty as Michelle gets a new lead.
This recap of 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 1, Episode 7, “Bum Steer”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Having fun as ever with Texas cliches, 9-1-1: Lone Star Episode 7 opens with an emergency in the used car lot of Happy Stan (Robert Craighead), whose marketing expertise compel him to release a rodeo bull among his budding punters, including a young man who wants to test-drive a suspiciously red vehicle. There’s a reason matadors don’t aggravate these animals in affordable second-hand sedans.
By the time the 126 arrive on the scene in “Bum Steer”, the bull’s head has been lodged in a car window and half the lot has been viciously gored. It’s a sensitive procedure to cut the thing free, but luckily Strand (Rob Lowe) is there to bond with it over their mutual problems, which prompts some funny and understandable eyebrow-raising from Judd (Jim Parrack).
Of course, you’ll recall that Strand has plenty of problems, including cancer, but his most pressing one at the moment is that he assured his superiors he’d ace the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) in full protective gear. Running the course with T.K. (Ronen Rubinstein), he’s able to make it through wildly below estimate and then collapse before completing it. While he briefly flirts with suspending his chemo until his point is proved, that seems as bad an idea as volunteering himself for the CPAT in the first place. Now that the rest of the 126 know about his cancer and the prospect of Billy (Billy Burke) taking over as chief, they’re worried about their positions on the team, especially transgender Paul (Brian Michael Smith), Muslim Marjan (Natacha Karam), and dyslexic Mateo (Julian Works). Judd is in an awkward position as Billy’s friend and fellow member of the Texas Traditionalist Old Boys’ Club, so his attempts to defend his chum fall on deaf ears.
Michelle (Liv Tyler), making a nuisance of herself as always, visits a homeless camp where she has a friendly relationship with a father and his diabetic daughter, but when a random junkie tries to break into the van she arrived in she’s forced to Mace him. Carlos (Rafael Silva) arrives in the nick of time to chastise her for always performing the riskiest forms of medicine, and also to let her know that he’s got a hit on the truck that her sister got in the night she disappeared. I thought we’d forgotten about this subplot, but apparently not.
The problem is that the detective working the case, Sarina Washington (Tamala Jones), doesn’t exactly get on with Michelle, what with all the restraining orders she has accrued, and the amateur sleuthing that has landed her in handcuffs multiple times. She thinks Michelle’s a nuisance and Michelle thinks she has already written the case off. We’ll return to this in a bit.
Elsewhere in 9-1-1: Lone Star Episode 7, Judd talks to Grace (Sierra McClain) about the team’s comments regarding him and Billy. She advises that he try and de-escalate the situation by calling Billy and persuading him to back off, but over a drink, Billy reveals that running the CPAT was Strand’s idea.
It’s time for an emergency intermission in “Bum Steer”, and it’s a bit of a silly one this week. A recently divorced woman enjoys a flirty chat with her handyman Chad (Justin Johnson Cortez), but when she discovers him seemingly being electrocuted by a live wire she beats him repeatedly with a two-by-four until he drops it. When the 126 and Michelle arrive they cheerily determine that he was having a seizure and she battered him with a piece of wood for no real reason. Ha!
In what I understand to be set up for a recurring role, Detective Washington speaks with Michelle again and emphasizes how important Iris — and all her cases — is to her. Since they’ve reached something of an understanding, Washington shares the latest: the offending blue truck was stolen by a guy who hasn’t been seen since Iris’s disappearance, but who was involved in an altercation with a pretty twenty-something brunette at a bar. Michelle and Washington head there in buddy-cop style and press the bartender to recall the incident — he does, but distinctly recalls Iris roughing up the dude. Michelle is still trying to deal with the guilt of ignoring Iris’s calls that night, and Washington has some choice words to help her through it. What happened would likely have happened either way.
Judd, now aware that Strand failed to mention that he volunteered for the CPAT, gives his captain some home truths in 9-1-1: Lone Star Episode 7. He says, I think correctly, that Strand’s ego led to this; despite claims that he was just happy to have a friend, he was really happy to have someone to show off in front of. It was arrogance that compelled Strand to take Billy on a tour of the fancy firehouse, and it was arrogance that compelled him to threaten the job security of the entire crew by volunteering himself for an impossible task. I like that the show took this route, rather than having Strand defy all odds with the power of stubbornness and a dedicated hair care regimen. Sometimes being handsome and smug can’t solve all your problems. Judd thinks that the only thing that might solve this current predicament is an act of God, and he might be right.
Luckily “Bum Steer” provides such divine intervention. Strand once again goes golfing with Billy, but this time to tender his resignation, effective immediately, just so long as Billy agrees to keep the 126 as it is. Needless to say, he won’t. During the game, a horrendous rainstorm picks up, and as other players flee to the safety of the clubhouse, Strand and Billy keep golfing, still determined to out-macho each other until the end. The end comes when an arc of lightning interrupts Billy’s drive and thoroughly cooks him. Strand picks up his limp body and carries him all the way to the clubhouse, which the top brass considers to be proof enough of his fitness in the field. Billy will survive but have a long and painful road to recovery, and Strand will remain the captain of the 126. Judd naturally gloats about summoning the Almighty. Strand wonders if he might have preferred Billy running things, but Judd insists that while Billy might be his friend, Strand is his captain.
When it’s all said and done, Strand visits Billy in the hospital with a peace offering: A book, Poker for Dummies, and a suggestion that Austin would be safer if they were friends. They shake hands, and all is apparently forgiven. Not sure I buy that, but we shouldn’t dwell.
Not that we have time to. 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 1, Episode 7 ends with Michelle being informed that the truck has been found a mangled wreck. She looks on with tears in her eyes as it’s hoisted up and over the cliff edge it presumably fell from, but we’ll have to wait until next week to find out if anyone was inside. I’m going to assume not.
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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.