9-1-1: Lone Star season 2, episode 9 recap – “Saving Grace”

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: April 27, 2021
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9-1-1: Lone Star season 2, episode 9 recap - "Saving Grace"


“Saving Grace” focuses on the show’s two best characters as the aftermath of the midseason finale’s cliff-hanger ending is packaged with a touching romance.

This recap of 9-1-1: Lone Star season 2, episode 9, “Saving Grace”, contains spoilers.

Judd and Grace have always been the best characters in 9-1-1: Lone Star, so it stands to reason that an episode devoted entirely to them would be a fine thing. “Saving Grace”, the first episode in the month and a half since that shocking midseason finale, proves exactly that, delving into the outcome of the cliff-hanger car crash, as well as the history of the Ryder relationship, both to tremendously emotional effect.

The episode utilizes flashbacks heavily, visiting various time periods to help give us better context for how these two met and fell in love. The first one is to 1995, when a 12-year-old Judd and his friend, Cal (Tanner Swagger), took a joyride that only Judd survived. This will prove integral to everything that follows, so it was smart for “Saving Grace” to open with it.

It’s also smart to be pretty cagey about the outcome of the accident. We revisit that scene, this time with an additional few moments prior to them setting off, ignoring a warning from Judd’s father that the weather is getting worse. It wasn’t any more fun seeing the accident again than it was the first time, and we cut away from it too quickly to get a better sense of what happened under the water.

In a flashback to 2012, things start coming together. Judd is leading a school visit to the firehouse, and the teacher leaves him with a number for a church prayer hotline, which proves fortuitous since when he and Tommy respond to the scene of an elderly woman who has suffered a bad fall in her home, she recognizes Judd’s name and insists he leaves. Snooping at a photograph, Judd realizes this is Cal’s mother, and the guilt of that event comes flooding back to him. He turns to the only logical place – that hotline. And who should answer the phone but Grace?

Grace has spent two seasons of 9-1-1: Lone Star saving people’s lives over the phone, so it’s totally fitting that she worked on a prayer hotline before becoming an emergency services dispatcher. Since we know these two so well, it’s easy to buy into their instant connection over the phone, but it’s still charmingly, earnestly written. The first conversation they have includes a recitation of Psalm 31, which Judd has tattooed on the back of his hand. Now we know why, and it’s those kinds of incidental details where “Saving Grace” really excels.

Finally, 9-1-1: Lone Star season 2, episode 9 brings us to the present day, post-crash, as Grace shouts at Judd to come to as the truck fills with water. Judd reckons he can knock out a window and they can swim to the surface, “easy-peasy”, but Grace is stuck and he can’t free her. She repeatedly tells him to leave her behind and save himself, which is not the kind of emotional stress I was looking for first thing on a Tuesday morning.

There’s a great meet-cute montage next, during which Judd, on Grace’s advice, fixes up Cal’s mother’s property while repeatedly calling Grace at work. Eventually, Cal’s mother peeps at him out of the window. And finally, she warmly invites him inside. Progress was made, both in terms of the forgiveness he was looking for and in his burgeoning relationship with Grace. It’s a lovely string of scenes.

Calamity soon strikes, though, since the next time Judd calls the hotline, he’s told that Grace no longer volunteers there. As fate would have it, though, she’s in the same bar he is, and he recognizes her voice. With a little help from Tommy, he introduces himself in person, and as they dance the night away, she explains that she’s leaving for Georgetown at the end of the summer. Judd, not at all dissuaded, asks her out anyway, and they start up a relationship.

When we return to the present day, Judd is in the hospital, but Grace is nowhere to be seen. We learn from Tommy and Owen that Grace was stuck underwater for six minutes before being rescued, which Judd knows is more than enough time to cause lasting brain damage. Jim Parrack is so believably frantic in this scene that I couldn’t help but fear the worst. Despite the presence of Grace’s family, the entirety of the 126, and a giant buffet of food, Judd remains inconsolable, especially when two passing patrolmen noisily tell Carlos that the drunk driver who ran Judd and Grace off the road is in the very same hospital. I think we see where this is going.

There’s also a pretty dour development back in 2012. 9-1-1: Lone Star season 2, episode 9 catches up with Judd taking Grace out for a date and sitting down with her father, Benjamin, who fronts as a nice guy but also rather unsubtly tells Judd that he cannot be in her life if she wants to preserve the family’s rich legacy. Grace, see, is destined for great things, and Judd could hold her back from achieving them. He immediately assumes it’s because he’s white, but in a great, albeit sad line, Benjamin clarifies: “It isn’t the color of your skin, it’s the color of your collar.”

These are familiar romantic beats, admittedly, but the strength of the character writing and performances, not to mention two seasons’ worth of familiarity with both characters, keep it engaging. When Judd looks Grace in her eyes and tells her he doesn’t love her, abiding by her father’s wishes, we and she both know he’s lying. Maybe that makes it more powerful, not less.

Judd’s grief spills over in the present day as he visits the drunk driver, Caleb (Brandon Keener), in his room and promptly begins to strangle him to death. This is another powerful scene; Judd’s speech about how many lives Grace has saved is powerful stuff, and he can add one more to that tally since he only lets Caleb go when he hears that she has woken up. What’s more, is that the doctor assures him “both” of them seem to be in perfect health. She’s pregnant!

Of course, we know Judd and Grace got back together, but a final flashback to 2013 shows how they reconciled in the hospital when Tommy’s twins were being born. It’s a fittingly full-circle way of coming back together, considering that now, several years later, they’re in the hospital being told about their own child. All’s well that ends well. Grace is saved. Judd, too. And it’s great to have the most underrated show on network television back on the air.

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