“Dust to Dust” isn’t as traumatic as you might expect from one of this show’s finales, but it does drastically shake things up and leave the fate of the 126 pretty uncertain.
This recap of 9-1-1: Lone Star season 2, episode 14, “Dust to Dust”, contains spoilers.
This show loves a natural disaster, and the one that forms a basis for “Dust to Dust” is, fittingly, a dust storm. It’s teased in an opening involving a trainee pilot named Julian (Shaan Sharma), but we quickly cycle back a few hours in time to reconvene with the oblivious 126, virtually all of whom are recovering from last week’s emotional through-the-wringer outing. Tommy is still grieving. Judd and Grace are still expecting. And Strand is so good at balancing department budgets that Deputy Fire Chief Alden Radford (Kyle Secor) wants to promote him to Deputy Fire Chief when he retires.
The 126 in its entirety is in disarray, though, following the firehouse being bombed. Everyone has been transferred. Luckily, Paul, Marjan, and Judd have “drawn the long straw”, as the latter puts it, but Mateo has been demoted to a lackey elsewhere, being tormented by his new jock colleagues. Among all this, we have all our character-based subplots that the impending dust storm threatens to upset in true finale style. We even get a montage of everyone enjoying (or not) their new responsibilities as the storm blows into town, just to make the point clear.
Immediately, 9-1-1: Lone Star season 2, episode 14 changes tone. Mateo is trapped out in the streets; Strand and Billy Tyson (almost cancer-free, by the way, and with whom Strand was discussing the promotion he’s thinking about taking) are out together; T.K. and Nancy are with Tommy and the kids, and the remains of the displaced 126 are stuck in their new firehouse without much of an idea of how to help.
“Dust to Dust” is a big opportunity for Mateo, who doesn’t usually get the hero moments. Since he’s the only first responder in the area he’s shouldered with the responsibility of combing through the immediate carnage, showing off everything he has learned in two seasons. But he’s also alone; he was on the lunch run when his new firehouse dropped out of contact and nobody knows where he is, so Strand goes out to look for him while he plays the hero. Grace, meanwhile, spends her first day back at work after six weeks off by talking a woman named Margaret (Seana Kofoed) through escaping the coffin that she’s trapped in.
The focus keeps returning to Mateo, though, whose acts of heroism get bolder and more desperate as the audience all take a collective deep breath, knowing what’s probably coming, at least until Strand catches up with him. By the time the 122 arrives, Mateo’s legend is already spreading among the trail of people he has saved. Even Strand’s close-call in an elevator shaft can’t dull his shine, which is just as well since he gets his big moment to stand up to his awful new chief when the 129 finally arrive on the scene.
That chief does get his comeuppance when he collapses during his ranting, but Tommy, Nancy, and T.K. arrive just in time to save him, not that he deserves it. Uncharacteristically, 9-1-1: Lone Star season 2, episode 14 continues this trend of everyone turning out okay. Strand turns down his new position; Mateo gets promoted; and the entire 126, including Grace and Tommy’s kids, rally together to rebuild the ruined firehouse rather than wait for the bureaucrats. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though, since Billy arrives in a suit and tie, carrying a clipboard, of all things, with some good and bad news. The good news is that he has been given the Deputy Chief job that Strand turned down. The bad news is that his first action will be to permanently shutter the 126 based on Strand’s own budget report. Rightly, Strand socks him in the mouth for that. But what will that mean for everyone next year? We’ll have to wait and see.