‘9-1-1: Lone Star’ Boss to Tarlos Fans After the Season 3 Premiere: ‘Do Not Despair’

Rafael Silva as Carlos, Runen Rubinstein as TK in 9-1-1 Lone Star
Spoiler Alert
Jordin Althaus/FOX

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 3 premiere, “The Big Chill.”]

What’s frostier — the weather outside in Texas during an ice storm or paramedic T.K. Strand’s (Ronen Rubinstein) attitude when it comes to his relationship status with Officer Carlos Reyes’ (Rafael Silva)?

As the 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 3 premiere reveals, fan-favorite couple Tarlos has broken up in the six months since the show left off. After showing that Captain Owen Strand (Rob Lowe) is suspended for punching Deputy Chief Billy Tyson (Billy Burke) and the 126 won’t be reopening in May, “The Big Chill” jumps forward to January. And in the first part of this disaster, firefighter Marjan Marwani (Natacha Karam) tries to fight for the 126 and get Owen to return — especially after finding out he just has to apologize — only to fail (so far) on both counts. On her way back from his cabin, she crashes her car due to the storm.

But she’s not the only firefighter in trouble when the premiere ends. While he and others are searching the rubble of a building for a missing girl, Paul Strickland (Brian Michael Smith) is knocked back in a secondary collapse.

Showrunner Tim Minear teases what’s next after that intense start to Season 3.

What can you say about Paul after the building collapse?

Tim Minear: It’s gonna be a desperate search to find him and a desperate fight for him to stay alive.

Marjan’s also in trouble. What’s the greater concern for her — the crash itself or the winter storm?

Oh, it’s neither one of those things. [Laughs] In part three, you’re gonna discover a much bigger threat than either the storm or the crash.

Rob Lowe as Owen in 9-1-1 Lone Star


Talk about Owen’s “the world doesn’t want to be saved” attitude and what we’re going to see from him both in the winter storm and when it comes to being a firefighter this season.

I think Marjan has it exactly right, that he has kind of run away, he’s retreated, and he’s kind of given up. The thing that interested us coming into Season 3 is that we didn’t want what happened at the end of Season 2 to not have ramifications, to not have reverberations. So for the first part of Season 3, it’s a real struggle to try to reform the 126, to try to resurrect it from the ashes. Marjan is kind of the tip of that spear. She is the one who absolutely has not given up.

It appears that Owen’s pride is what has kind of kept him from continuing the fight. But what we’re gonna discover going forward is that there may be an even deeper reason that he’s kind of retreated into the hills. But as Marjan said, the universe knows who he is and it knows where he is. [Laughs] And he is not going to he’s not gonna be able to just hide out in a cabin because as much as he doesn’t wanna be a hero, it’s kind of his destiny. He doesn’t really have a choice.

T.K. and Carlos broke up. Why off-screen?

One of the challenges of coming in in January after we had our finale in May and the fact that these shows pretty much play in real-time in terms of when they’re first broadcast — so if we’re off for six months, then I can’t just say that six months didn’t pass, right? I can’t just come in and say that everybody stayed in stasis for the six months that we didn’t see them. So as we were sort of figuring out how to put the firehouse back together and what story to tell, there was this sort of natural gap of six months of things that we didn’t see, which we sort of recap for you at the very beginning of the premiere by showing you what happened kind of the week that [Owen] punched Billy. Then of course we jumped forward into January and then our timeline has caught up with us.

Briana Baker as Nancy, Gina Torres as Tommy, Ronen Rubinstein as TK in 9-1-1 Lone Star

Jordin Althaus/FOX

I think what’s interesting for us as storytellers is to kind of drop these little hints of the way things have either changed or haven’t changed over the course of the last six months, and then through the adventure, to start to unpack what happened in the last six months, so it doesn’t feel like these people have just stood still while we waited for the show to come back. I could have just come back in and T.K. and Carlos could have progressed for six months off camera. I think it’s in a weird way more interesting that something happened to kind of break them up at some point when we weren’t looking so that we can experience how they go forward together and I can play all that stuff on camera and not just have it actually be off-camera. So while it seems like it’s happening off-camera, this is a trick designed to keep it on camera, if that makes sense.

What are we going to see from them and what can you say about the reason for this breakup? Because T.K.’s not saying. Nancy (Brianna Baker) pressed, but couldn’t get an answer.

It’ll start to become revealed and you’ll get your answers through the next few episodes and we’ll sort of excavate the reasons that that happened but for all those Tarlos fans out there, I would tell them, do not despair, that the thing that we do on this show and on 9-1-1, I think one of our strengths is not just tearing people apart, but it’s the reunions. It’s putting them back together. It’s them earning their place back at the side of the person that they belong with. That’s the journey, and then that’s the reward.

Marjan is the only one still fighting for the 126. Why?

Because that’s what happens, right? Life moves on, and she’s the one who hasn’t given up. In the first episode, she was under the impression, as was everybody, that Owen just couldn’t get reinstated, and so they kind of lost their captain because he was no longer part of the department. And what she discovers is that he actually could have been reinstated if he had done one thing that that was very difficult for him to do because of his ego, because of his pride.

As an analogy, think of at the end of high school or something, you promise to always stay in touch with the people that you feel are the closest to you. Now, these people are absolutely family and we’re just coming into a moment where their own personal lives or the things that are going on with them have kind of taken their attention and as time goes on, causes start to feel hopeless. And then usually there’s that one true believer who doesn’t give up the ghost and who is the one thin reed keeping everything hanging together. I just think it’s real. I think it’s real that your wife is pregnant, you’re painting your nursery. You have your life to live and you can’t always be out there, fighting for your cause, even though you should be.

9-1-1: Lone Star, Mondays, 8/7c, Fox