“Slow Burn” fits Strand up for arson as his convalescing turns into a personal crusade, and Marjan’s social media celebrity lands her in trouble.
This recap of 9-1-1: Lone Star season 2, episode 11, “Slow Burn”, contains spoilers.
9-1-1: Lone Star, ironically for a show about firefighters, knows how to do a cold open. “Slow Burn” opens with Carlos’s sheriff father, Gabriel, prepping his team for the bust of a dangerous fugitive who turns out to be… Owen Strand?
Naturally, we wheel back to a week prior and find Strand waking up from his cancer surgery to be told that, even though the procedure was a success and all of the tumor has been removed, it was bigger than expected and thus his recovery time will be longer — four weeks, minimum, which is a nightmare for Strand, however many jigsaws of dogs playing poker he has to keep him busy in the meantime. Judd is acting captain of the 126 until Strand’s return, so he takes the lead on the first emergency of 9-1-1: Lone Star season 2, episode 11, which finds a truck dangling off the side of a bridge with a young couple inside. Only one of them makes it out alive.
Judd doesn’t take this well, and he doesn’t think he’s cut out for captaincy (“Heavy is the head that wears the helmet.”) But he doesn’t really have much say in the matter, since Strand can’t return to work and he’s busy climbing the walls at home. Judd suggests he has a chat with his old frenemy Billy Tyson, to who life hasn’t been kind either. His cancer is back after a Covid-19 diagnosis, and now he spends his time sitting at home listening to Austin Emergency Dispatch via an app on his phone, getting a little jolt of excitement every time a fire call comes in, even though he can’t respond to it. He’s a dog who can’t hunt, as he says to Strand, which is a tragic little line and emblematic of what Strand himself is feeling (it’s a lovely bit of writing when Strand says he’s convalescing for “two weeks” and Billy immediately knows they told him a month.) The difference is, or at least should be, that Strand can’t hunt for a few weeks. Billy can never hunt again.
Things also take a turn for Marjan in “Slow Burn”. She’s already dealing with the guilt of not having been able to save everyone during the accident, but now she’s also being vilified online thanks to McKenna (Jeanté Godlock), the accident’s survivor who has blown up the fact that Marjan said a very brief hello to an onlooker who was filming at the time. Marjan is internet-famous as “FireFox”, but the thing about online celebrity is that your fans will just as soon eat you as support you. A million anonymous accounts are waiting in the wings to ruin you if you put a foot wrong, and here, even though we know different, it looks like Marjan’s smiling for the cameras resulted in someone’s death.
Meanwhile, Strand has taken to copying Billy’s idea of listening to the emergency dispatch constantly while painting his bathroom and re-potting his plants. The problem is he’s still listening while he’s out getting a green juice, and the emergency is right around the corner. So, despite being told to take it easy, Strand responds, and we see 9-1-1: Lone Star season 2, episode 11 catching up to the cold open here, as Strand, in his hoody, charges into a burning building. He’s able to get two people out as the 126 arrive, but Judd tells him to leave. With signs of an accelerant in the building, it seems an arsonist is on the loose.
The arson specialist investigator doesn’t seem to think so, though, and he treats Strand like a vigilante looking for a new hobby. And he finds one in trying to prove himself correct by mixing up accelerant and testing his theories with Billy (he’s going to be the arsonist, isn’t he?). Strand thinks there’s a pattern among several recent electrical fires and wants to illegally enter some buildings to find proof, an extracurricular excursion that even Billy isn’t down for.
Meanwhile, Marjan continues to struggle with her sullied reputation and hits on the idea of talking to McKenna herself. Paul accompanies her, and they discover that McKenna has slashed her wrists. Both are able to save her life with some quick thinking, but Marjan tells one of the paramedics, a FireFox fan, to keep her presence there quiet.
Unfortunately, Strand’s investigation clashes with a dinner he’s supposed to be having with T.K., Carlos, and Carlos’s parents. When he gets to one of the offending locations, he finds the evidence he’s looking for but is knocked out from behind by an unknown assailant. When he comes to, the building is on fire. Uh-oh.