‘9-1-1: Lone Star’ Forces Owen to Confront His Past (RECAP)

Gina Torres as Tommy, Rob Lowe as Owen in 9-1-1 Lone Star
Spoiler Alert
Jack Zeman/FOX

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 3, Episode 15 “Down to Clown.”]

What’s harder to watch in the latest 9-1-1: Lone Star episode: the alligator lizard in a guy’s wound — paramedic T.K. Strand (Ronen Rubinstein) later surprises Officer Carlos Reyes (Rafael Silva) by bringing it home as a (temporary) pet — or the clowns?

The latter is a result of Captain Owen Strand’s (Rob Lowe) therapy sessions for his rage. His therapist had him make note of the moments during the week when he felt his rage building, and let’s just say it’s a long list. Owen meant it when he said he’s pissed off all the time; he just doesn’t know why. The therapist suggests the roots of his anger go deeper than he knows and has him try EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), which will occupy his active mind and free up his unconscious one, in hopes of unlocking the source of his rage. As he watches a ball on the screen, the therapist has him list what he sees in his mind’s eye: a spot on his lung, the tumor; his son in a hospital bed, intubated; and the big red nose of a clown. It doesn’t mean anything, Owen insists, nor does he have an irrational or extreme phobia of clowns.

Then, Owen returns to therapy to boast that he watched The Greatest Show on Earth, two and a half hours of clowns, without a problem, to prove he doesn’t have a thing about them … only for his therapist to turn into a clown and ask, “Are you sure about that, Sonny boy?” Owen wakes in his bed from the nightmare, and that nickname obviously means something to him.

Gina Torres, Jim Parrack and Rob Lowe in 9-1-1 Lone Star

Jack Zeman/FOX

So how does Owen handle that? He accuses his therapist of Inception-ing him and making him leave his office with more neuroses than he had when he first came in. Then, of course, the 126 gets a call involving a clown (a father dressed up as one for his son’s birthday party in order to see him), and Owen looks so scared at the scene that Captain Tommy Vega (Gina Torres) wants to take his blood pressure. He may be having a panic attack, she says, but he thinks he has it all under control as long as he stands still. So Owen stands back — giving firefighter Judd Ryder (Jim Parrack) an awkward thumbs up — while everyone else works. Then, he starts thinking when Judd comments about boys loving their fathers.

It’s in his last session of the episode that Owen apologizes to his therapist and admits to being terrified of clowns. He also knows exactly where it came from and brings up that nickname from his nightmare. Only one person has ever called him that: his father. Owen has never mentioned him, but he can’t say much because he hasn’t seen him since he was 12. “He abandoned the family,” he says. And how did Owen feel with his family separated? “Shame. Terror. Rage,” the captain admits.

He’s never told his father how he felt, right? “No, I don’t even think I was aware of it, and I’ve never talked to anybody about it until just this moment,” Owen explains. Saying it out loud, there is “some relief, I guess,” he says, but, “frankly, not as much as I would like. … Saying it out loud doesn’t change what happened, doesn’t change the fact that I don’t have any relationship with him to this day.” After his therapist suggests he’s not the one he needs to say this to, Owen goes home and tries to reach his father, only to be told he’s unavailable. Would he like to leave a message? The episode ends with Owen not saying anything — and us eagerly awaiting meeting his father, Walter (Robert Pine), in the May 2 episode.

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