“2100°” delivers a thoroughly bonkers, daringly gory, and impressively character-centric episode of 9-1-1: Lone Star.
This recap of 9-1-1: Lone Star season 2, episode 2, “2100°”, contains spoilers.
This is a weird thing to say about a network procedural, and I’m surprised to be saying it at all, but nevertheless, “2100°” has a very obvious fascination with skin being boiled and pulled off. Naively, I thought the opening sequence, in which some douchebag at a frat house pool party gets boiled alive and the girl he described as “a four” pulls half of his forearm away when she tries to drag him to safety, was an anomaly. But no. The entire episode is like that. And, frankly, it’s great.
From that opening, we cycle back eight hours to a comparatively quaint little party in the 126’s firehouse, where Owen being in remission, as we learned in last week’s premiere, is celebrated with a cake made to resemble his receding tumors at their worst. His wife, Gwyneth, has decided to stick around at his urging, even if T.K. thinks they’re just in a honeymoon period and it’ll all go wrong again before long. He isn’t the only was with reservations, either, though they’re not necessarily all about Owen’s love life. Tommy is struggling with being away from her kids, feeling guilty about “abandoning” them. And Owen himself is reserved, even though he tells a concerned Gwyneth that he isn’t bottling anything up, as she claims.
It doesn’t take long for 9-1-1: Lone Star season 2, episode 2 to do away with all this frivolity and get back to the sloughing skin of innocent Texans. Thus, we visit a mini-golf course where a family man flips out on one of the obstacles before finally confessing that the Covid-19 pandemic has ruined him and his family. They’re going to lose the house. And as it happens, they’re going to lose a fair bit more than that, as the Paradise Family Fun Center collapses into a broiling trench and the man melts face-down on red-hot rocks. When Marjan ropes in to pull him out, she finds his face and body fused to the floor, and has to yank him clear as his suffering skin stretches and snaps. Lovely!
At this point, it’s hard to know what’s going on in “2100°”, but questions are quickly answered when the 126 are leaving the golf course and a presumed-dormant volcano erupts behind them. Before long it’s all over the news and, since several more volcanos in the network could similarly activate and every crack in the ground could become a mass casualty event, a strategic evacuation is planned.
This would have been enough to power an episode of television, but 9-1-1: Lone Star has never been content to let its disasters exist independently of its characters. So, bundled up in all this chaos, is a bubbling sense of hypocrisy surrounding Tommy, who chews out one of her EMTs for making promises they can’t keep and then does the same thing when her children video-call her to say they’re concerned about her safety given what’s happening on the news. There’s obviously a distinction to be made, but Tommy herself recognizes the double-standard. It’d be too obvious to say that “2100°” is a trial by fire, but imagine a lesser writer saying that and being right.
I also appreciate how several concurrent volcanic eruptions amount to problems that you’d never predict and that aren’t even fire-related. Enter Lily (Kim Matula), the vegan Tex-Mex lady from last week, who is trapped inside her food truck under assault from an army of venomous scorpions that have been driven to desperation by the lava. Grace has to talk her through an escape involving a vinaigrette and a spray bottle, which works as both a question about what exactly this season is doing with Lily and a reminder of how awesome and underrated Grace is.
Eventually 9-1-1: Lone Star season 2, episode 2 catches back up to the college pool party, which is a total write-off by the time the 126 arrive. Tommy’s EMT, whose name I didn’t catch, learns his lesson about making promises and refuses to do so again when a pre-med student asks him if he’ll ever walk again. But it’s a wasted moment of learning, really, since mere moments after Tommy has to yank a piece of molten rock out of a bystander’s chest, another, larger one comes sailing through the air and kills the medic stone (sorry) dead. His body is left behind for another house team to take care of, as per protocol, which obviously deeply upsets Tommy and the rest of the 126 when they return to the firehouse after what one assumes was an incredibly long shift.
The episode’s focus on Tommy persists right through to the end. It takes Judd to make her feel better about her leadership anxieties, but an act of kindness in honor of her fallen comrade to really make the point to herself — in a closing montage set to “Hallelujah”, we see she has taken his cat in. It’s a nice gesture, but it looks very much like there will be more trauma to come since the final scene of the episode shows a wave of magma rolling through the Austin woodland. Yikes.