Did the second half of the 9-1-1: Lone Star premiere land better than the first half?
Yes, but it's still trying just a little too hard.
9-1-1: Lone Star Season 1 Episode 2 buckled down and got into the action of the strange and wonderful world of emergencies.
The first case, in particular, played more like an episode of The X-Files than 9-1-1, and there really was an episode of The X-Files in which people behaved similarly.
While that had supernatural connotations, it was a sinister food delivery guy who got countless people to harm themselves, some of them even dying as a result.
An ordinary day in the office turned into a horror story from which many couldn't escape. The situation escalated from there to the point that the number of responders available on the scene weren't enough to keep the rest of the victims safe.
If it wasn't for Paul's Sherlock-Holmes like skills of deduction, may more could have perished.
I would have enjoyed the story a lot more if it hadn't ended with sandwiches that contained not just a trace of mercury, but a literal pool of it inside the meat and bread.
Didn't at least one of them bite into the sandwich and wonder what the hell was going on there?
The more unfortunate aspect of the case was that it was some white dude with a damned chip on his shoulder whining about the office workers not seeing him as a person.
I'm not doubting that there hasn't been a damned white dude whining about something like that and attempting or achieving a similar result with their brand of chaos. It's just unsavory, a word that fits well with that lunch.
The barbacoa incident continued to play into that unsavory nature with another call about food.
I can't imagine the smell of barbacoa would be a turnoff to anybody who lives in the Austin area, let alone someone who purportedly spent their entire life there.
Owen: You cook meat in the dirt here? That's a thing?
Judd: Yeah, that's a thing, Mr. Open Minded.
Isn't barbeque a way of life in Texas? I'm going with yes. And haven't we already had the same story on OG 9-1-1 with a bigoted bastard who refused to be treated by the diverse first responders?
The woman in Texas wasn't even in distress. She was just a bitch. Ugh.
But the cases were redeemed with the apartment fire and subsequent explosion because of how well the team worked together to get the residents out of their homes to safety.
Not only did they fall into the right routine to get out a paranoid fellow who believed he was persecuted by the government, but they saved an elderly man and his cats. Mateo was even allergic to cats, and he still did his duty. Awww.
While the cases improved over the premiere, it was the main characters and their personal aspects that offered a lot of juicy material.
T.K.: You've got a little spring in your step, there, Cap. Did you get laid or something?
Owen: Eh, I'm just feelin' a little more home in Austin. I found an organic food market. I found a vitamin shop that sells my fish oil supplements I like. If found a core-power yoga studio within walking distance. This place is like New York, but just a lot less trash on the street.
My odd fascination with Owen continues as he seriously considered favoring his flouffy hair over prolonging his life.
Granted, I am not a man and haven't been conditioned to the possibilities over hair loss. Anybody can lose their hair due to cancer treatment, so any loss doesn't necessarily mean it's gone for good.
Owen's reliance on his looks demands that we better understand in the future why he's so insecure otherwise. By all accounts, he's a hero. He's a father and a captain. He's passionate and self-depricating which indicates he has a healthy sense of humor. Even without his looks, he'd be a catch.
Owen: Every time I sit for one of those caricatures with a guy in the street, my hair is like enormous.
Christine: Every time? How often do you sit for one of those?
T.K.: I think you have an irrational fear of losin' your hair, Cap.
Owen: [mutters to himself] Who says it's irrational?
Owen's growing dynamic with Judd is quite enjoyable. Owen must see some of himself in the younger man, which again calls for explanation. We know Owen was married twice and is now single, so maybe how he got there plays a role in his insecurity.
Judd's attempts to rein in his PTSD (or PTSI) are admirable. His relationship with Grace is solid, which allows him to lean into her during his most trying times.
It's hard to imagine the trauma he suffered as the sole surivor of the plant catastrophe, and easy to imagine it was Grace's strength who got him through it.
I'd like to think that Judd didn't marry up as Owen suggested during 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 1 Episode 1 but that he and Grace complement each other. She's bound to have an issue of her own that requires strength from Judd in return.
Despite the easy out T.K. got when Owen allowed him to continue on with his life as if he didn't attempt to take his life after a breakup, the kid is suffering.
How lucky was he to catch Carlos' eye? Carlos is the real deal, offering not only passion to T.K., but another chance for love. My heart broke for Carlos at T.K.'s poor behavior when he arrived for dinner.
T.K.'s incredulity that Carlos wanted more than sex for a 12 a.m. booty call could have made sense if they didn't both work the odd hours of a first responder.
T.K. should have considered what he was doing getting involved with someone else on the job when all he wanted was sex, but he's so far into his own mind that he never even considered what Carlos might want.
Even though they just met and T.K. is in the wrong frame of mind, I fully expect Carlos to continue his pursuit. Couples on 9-1-1 stick, and they will probably do the same on 9-1-1: Lone Star. Hopefully, T.K. will step back and realize that he's in a bad place and ask for help.
Michelle's search for her sister continued. If you watch 9-1-1: Lone Star online, then you recall that when she first pounded on Justin's door and called him a murderer, it seemed like he had killed her sister and gotten away with it.
When Carlos suggested that maybe that maybe the lack of evidence to the contrary means there wasn't any foul play meant that Justin wasn't the killer.
But when Michelle revisted the little boy with asthma from the premiere, the family talked kindly about her sister and offered a way for her to get more information.
That's when I realized that Michelle is assuming Iris is dead, but since her body was never found, she could be found alive. And then I remembered that it was Iris' birthday that provoked Michelle to pound on Justin's door with the hope he'd share what happened to her.
Things were not good between Iris and Justin, but Iris left Justin's place in a blue pickup truck one night never to be seen again.
That kind of disappearance is the biggest nightmare I can imagine. The lack of resolution would mean you are forever on the hunt for the person you love and what happened to them. There isn't any peace.
That's why it's not surprising that Michelle would consider going to the witch/thereapist hybrid to find answers.
Michelle's relationship with her sister was competitive with Michelle always losing to Iris, who was the "sunshine" child, as Michelle put it. I have to imagine there's some guilt in being the one who was always second best but is left on the earth without her sister.
Her search also offered a tenuous connection with Owen. They aren't necessarily sharing everything yet, but Owen's cancer and troubles with T.K. offer him additional insight into suffering.
They'll be able to bolster each other as they learn to trust one another futher, and their prowess on the job will make that trust easier to achieve.
There still wasn't a lot to the supporting cast. Paul has settled in well doing "his thing" on every call. It feels a little weird that everyone is so in awe of his ability to assess a sitution that they call it a "thing," but at least he has a thing.
The same can't be said yet for Marjan or Mateo. Yes, it's only the second episode, but I'm going to point again to the diverity issue at the core of the series and how problematic it is that the diverse cast languishes even for an hour.
Overall, this episode was a step up from the premiere and had some quite enjoyable moments, especially between Owen and Michelle.
Owen's dream about balding was intentionally funny, and Michelle's recollection that she told him she thought he'd look hot and masculine if he went bald worked.
I also laughed out loud when she wondered just how often he gets his caricature done that he can say "every time" he gets one done, he has large hair.
As the series builds and those kinds of moments increase across the cast, it will be a better show.
And let's see some real Texas disasters that don't have anything to do with people hating each other because of the color of their skin or their gender issues.
Write good characters and allow them to interact naturally, and it will all be good.
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Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.