Primetime Preview: Gina Torres Joins the 9-1-1: Lone Star Crew — Plus, What’s Next For ‘Tarlos’
Kevin Estrada/FOX; Jack Zeman/Courtesy of Everett Collection
The addition of the Suits vet elevates the second season of the Fox procedural.
Season 2 of 9-1-1: Lone Star premieres Monday night at 9 EST on Fox. And while the first episode back continues the tradition of introducing absurd situations the first responders of Austin, Texas must navigate, there’s one major difference, and improvement: Gina Torres.
It’s still disappointing to think about her vampire series The Brides not moving forward. Who didn’t think Torres playing a former Queen turned vampire/real estate tycoon sounded like perfection? However, that loss was 9-1-1: Lone Star’s gain, as it freed her up to join the cast as paramedic captain Tommy Vega.
To briefly recap, at the end of the show’s first season, former New Yorkers, and father/son firefighting duo, Owen (Rob Lowe) and T.K. (Ronen Rubinstein) settled into their new lives in Austin, Texas. Owen earned the respect of his new crew as he battled both fires and cancer. Meanwhile, recovering addict T.K. realized being a firefighter was, in fact, his calling and that cop Carlos (Rafael L. Silva) was the man he wanted to be with. And after a season-long search, EMS captain Michelle (Liv Tyler) discovered her presumed dead sister (played by Lyndsy Fonseca, ex-Colleen Carlton, The Young and the Restless) was living with schizophrenia in a tent under an overpass.
In the Season 2 premiere, we learn Michelle quit her job to help other people like her sister. In real life, actress Liv Tyler decided not to return to the series. This, of course, paved the way for Torres’ Tommy to take over Michelle’s job. From her very first scene, it’s clear this was a smart move on the show’s behalf. Torres projects her usual commanding presence (Suits never filled the gaping hole her exit left), immediately signaling her Tommy is a more dynamic character than was the departing Michelle. As an added bonus, Tommy brings with her a home life that quickly proves worth exploring.
When we first meet Tommy, she’s nervously preparing for her first day back on the job after having taken time off to raise her twins with her supportive husband, who lost his restaurant due to the pandemic. We soon learn that she has ties to several well-known characters and an easy rapport with Owen.
The fact that you can’t wait to get back to her character when she isn’t on screen reinforces the great casting choice. Hopefully, we’ll learn more about Tommy and her family throughout the season and not just see her on the job, as is, unfortunately, the case with so many other characters.
Two standout characters from last season who do not get enough screen time in the premiere are T.K. and Carlos, a.k.a. Tarlos. Yes, 9-1-1: Lone Star is a procedural, which means it’s heavy on the emergencies-of-the-week and light on the personal drama (which can make shows like these tough for a lover of soap opera to fully embrace), but the first episode back misses an obvious opportunity to show how their relationship flourished in the age of social distancing. There is some brief affection and one flirtatious scene when they cross paths on the job, but it’s been almost a year since the show’s most popular duo was last seen. Tarlos fans deserve more.
That said, it looks as if the pair will receive more storyline love in the coming weeks as indicated by the promo below, in which Ronen Rubinstein (T.K.) warns that things are going to get “hotter than a volcano.”
The sophomore season also introduces viewers to newbie Gwyn, played by Lisa Edelstein (House). The New York lawyer is Owen’s ex-wife and T.K’s mother who has decided to ride out the quarantine with the guys. Gwyn is set up to be Owen’s latest love interest and it’ll be interesting to see how the recurring character will fit in, considering she’s not a first responder. Something tells us that with Edelstein’s alter ego on board, there could be some legal issues facing the squad in the weeks ahead.
Other characters who will hopefully receive more screen time than they do in the season two premiere, are firefighters Paul (Brian Michael Smith) and Marjan (Natacha Karam). Fleshing out their personal lives can only make the show better and the audience more invested, especially since transgender and Muslim characters (respectively) are rarely included as part of a main cast.
Of course, in between all the personal dynamics on display in the premiere are the extreme situations the firefighters, cops, and EMTs face. The saves-of-the-week include an encounter with a tank, a gruesome roller derby accident and a mid-air makeshift surgery. There’s even a soap opera connection (aside from Torres having appeared on One Life to Live for several episodes in the mid-90s) as former Bold & Beautiful actress Kim Matula (ex-Hope) shows up by episode’s end.
What are your thoughts on 9-1-1: Lone Star? Are you excited about Gina Torres joining the cast? Want more Tarlos in your life? Tell us below and then get your free daily soap-opera fix for all daytime dramas delivered straight to your email inbox by signing up for Soaps.com’s newsletter.
While you’re here, look through our photo gallery below of soap opera stars who made a successful transition to primetime.
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