‘9-1-1: Lone Star’: Ronen Rubinstein on How T.K.’s Loss Affects His Relationship With Carlos
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 3, Episode 8 “In the Unlikely Event of an Emergency.”]
Following Gwyn’s (Lisa Edelstein) sudden death — she was hit by a bicycle — her son T.K. (Ronen Rubinstein) and ex-husband Owen (Rob Lowe) head to New York for her funeral. But unfortunately, they never make it on 9-1-1: Lone Star.
Instead, an emergency mid-air — the plane loses an engine — requires the first responders to step up, saving the woman who had been in their row and was briefly sucked out through the window. And after doing so, T.K. admits to Owen that he found him at the firehouse earlier, in the ambulance, because he was planning to get so high, nothing mattered. But he knew what that would have done to Gwyn, who had been the one to get him into rehab (as seen in heartbreaking flashbacks).
Rubinstein breaks down the intense episode, which featured his best work on the show yet, and teases what’s ahead for T.K., Tarlos, and more.
How do you think T.K. would have reacted if they’d made it to the funeral?
Ronen Rubinstein: I think T.K. would’ve had a full-on breakdown. A lot of the present-day stuff in the episode, T.K. is really trying to do a balancing act of trying to stay strong and also try not to completely lose it because his mom was everything to him. I think if they made the funeral, he would’ve completely lost it. I don’t think he would be able to stay strong anymore.
What are we gonna see from T.K. — by himself and with Owen and Carlos [Rafael Silva] — when it comes to grieving moving forward?
You’ll definitely see T.K. grieving with Carlos. We’re definitely not going to brush past the fact that Gwyn has passed. We’re gonna let this storyline breathe, and it’s gonna affect T.K. throughout the season. And it’s definitely gonna add some speed bumps in in their relationship, for sure.
And with T.K. and Owen? There was that exchange with T.K. saying he still loved her.
That was just T.K. being really emotional and I don’t think he necessarily meant that. I think it’s just a lot of emotions happening and he was really raw in that moment. He knows his dad loved her. I think he was just trying to process everything. This might just bring Owen and T.K. closer because now Owen is really all that T.K. has left when it comes to family. We’ll definitely see what that means for them.
T.K. tells Owen that he was going to get high if he hadn’t caught him. And then he says he can’t believe he was going to do that to Gwyn. Would he have taken the drugs if Owen hadn’t found him?
I can honestly say I think he would’ve. In AA, I’ve done my research and losing somebody could be a trigger for relapsing. That was the perfect example of he literally didn’t know what else to do, and he says it in the scene: He was gonna get so high that nothing else matters. I think he would’ve done it and he would’ve regretted it later, but I think he would’ve gone through with it. I think the question is how much would he have taken? Would it be another situation like maybe the pilot, maybe he would’ve taken too much? That’s something that I was thinking about in that scene, but yeah, I think he would’ve gone through with it.
T.K. told Owen about that, and Tommy [Gina Torres] and Nancy [Brianna Baker] did inventory after Nancy saw T.K. near the narcotics. Is there a significant concern going forward that T.K. will use?
Not necessarily. I think everybody knows that T.K. is a very strong-willed person and if anything, they’re just gonna be very supportive and sort of give him his space and his time to grieve and just to go through all the emotions of losing someone like that. Especially with Tommy and Nancy, they’re just gonna be really supportive and just amazing people throughout all this.
You’d said your favorite T.K. and Owen, T.K. and Gwyn, and T.K. and Carlos scenes were coming up. Were they all in this episode?
Pretty much. I still think my favorite Carlos and T.K. scene was when he revealed the loft to me. That was definitely my favorite of the season. The plane rescue with Owen is definitely my favorite. And then all of the flashback stuff with Gwyn is by far my favorite. That was honestly probably some of my favorite stuff that I’ve ever done, period, and this is the proudest, most difficult work that I’ve ever done overall. This episode is really, really, really important to me and really special to me, and I really gave my full mind, body and soul for this episode ’cause I knew it would take everything to really achieve this kind of work.
Speaking of those flashbacks — it was so amazing just to see that relationship and especially on the plane, Gwyn saying she couldn’t go to her son’s funeral, that part was pure heartbreak.
I know, and the foreshadowing. The actual fact is that he was on the way to her funeral. I think that’s why mixing those flashbacks with the present-day stuff was so powerful and just heartbreaking. That’s Tim Minear just being a freaking genius. This episode is just him firing on all cylinders and my director, John Gray, was my maestro. He led me to all the right directions and it was such a balancing act with this performance. I may have taken some extra pretty crazy steps to get to where I needed to get for the flashback stuff, but I think it was worth it at the end of the day.
Now that T.K. and Carlos are back together, they seem solid. After getting through the breakup, are they settled in their relationship in a way they weren’t before it?
Yeah. I think they’re very solid. Things were going really good for them and then this happened; I think this only brings people closer together. But it’s like I said before, we’re definitely gonna let this story line breathe and linger. And it will definitely affect T.K. and Carlos and we’ll see that in the next couple episodes.
It also will bring up a storyline that’s sort of surprising. T.K. is gonna get support from somebody else that’s dealing with loss and it will be a really beautiful sort of new layer to that relationship. You’ll see that in Episode 9, and I’m really excited to go down that path as well.
Is that someone else Tommy?
[Laughs] It’s someone else dealing with a loss.
Given what happened with the loft, do you think T.K. has to be the one to propose if/when that time comes?
Everybody wants to see them get married. After everything that has happened, I have no idea. The beauty of this season is that we are on our toes every single episode. I truly get nervous every time we get a new script because Tim might just do something completely out of the ordinary. So I have no idea. I always said I would think T.K. would be the one to propose, but I don’t know, maybe after everything that we’ve gone through, it could make sense that it would be Carlos as well. We’re just gonna have to see, if and when that happens.
What else is coming up for T.K.? Anything in terms of rescues? It’s hard to beat one on a plane that’s lost an engine…
Yeah, on the way to your mom’s funeral. You can’t really top that. But trust me, the writers are sure going to try. It’s just such an incredible season and I’ve been saying it’s our best season ever. I definitely think it’s the best season for T.K. by far. And yeah, we’re definitely gonna see some really crazy stuff, for T.K. specifically. The loss of his mom is gonna linger. We’re gonna see it throughout the next few episodes, and it’s not just gonna go away and things will happen and it’s gonna add another layer to this sort of complex journey of T.K. Strand. It’s been a rollercoaster, to say the least.
9-1-1: Lone Star, Mondays, 8/7c, Fox