‘9-1-1: Lone Star’ Boss on That Major Tarlos Moment in the Season 3 Finale: ‘It Felt Real’

Rafael Silva as Carlos, Ronen 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 Finale “A Bright and Cloudless Morning.”]

9-1-1: Lone Star gives fans a Season 3 finale that leaves them smiling.

Judd (Jim Parrack) survives the building collapse (though re-breaks his leg). Owen (Rob Lowe), while looking for victims inside, is hurt and remembers the losses of 9/11. Later, he receives good news: He has a fungal infection, his cancer’s not back. And the “Tarlos” moment we’ve been waiting for arrives: T.K. (Ronen Rubinstein) proposes to Carlos (Rafael Silva) in the middle of the night. The answer’s, of course, yes.

Showrunner Tim Minear breaks down the finale and teases Season 4.

I loved the proposal and the “Tyler” part. How’d you decide how the proposal would happen?

Tim Minear: I wasn’t sure if there was gonna be a proposal at the beginning of this year, but then as the story unfolded, it felt like the story was telling me that it was time and they’d earned it. The manner in which it happened just organically grew out of this episode. The moment that T.K. has with Owen when he tells him we only have so many moments and you have to live for the one that you’re in, that’s of course the thing that really wakes T.K. up and gets him to do it.

What I didn’t want to do was some clichéd, follow the rose petals to the bottle of champagne, here’s a ring kind of thing. I wanted to do something that felt real, and to me that felt real. It felt real that T.K. was just sitting there watching him sleep at three in the morning and woke him up and said, “OK, I’m ready to make my will.” That felt like T.K. to me. And also Rafael is so hilarious getting woken up out of a sound sleep.

Ronen Rubinstein as TK, Rafael Silva as Carlos in 9-1-1 Lone Star


After their rough season, what makes them ready for this step now?

It’s because of the stuff they went through. The breakup that happened off-camera and the reveal of what happened, that T.K. freaked out because things were too good and that he actually almost used again and then inadvertently ended up using again because of Sadie, I feel like the end of his adolescence happened at the beginning of this season. He’s a little bit immature in some ways. He finally got through that. And Carlos, he was put back on his heels a little bit. Carlos is not perfect. He’s a little bit controlling. He’s a little bit probably ready to get married the next day. That’s Carlos.

Carlos needed to take a step back and T.K. needed to take a step forward. The stuff that happened to them this season allowed that to happen for both of them. Carlos completely took a step back in the episode where we met T.K.’s sponsor. He knew that he couldn’t be everything to T.K. and he didn’t need to grip so tightly. Once they both learned that, they were ready.

Did you ever consider having the engagement celebration be a bigger event, with everyone?

At one point I was gonna have a big party at the firehouse, not so much an engagement celebration, but it was gonna actually be Wyatt’s [Jackson Pace] graduation party and all these different threads would’ve happened [there]. But when I finished writing the season finale, that just felt like a redux of the push-in ceremony that was in Episode 4. It felt like these discrete scenes, Tommy [Gina Torres] with Owen, the people who go to the 126 hangs, Judd and Grace [Sierra McClain] at home congratulating Wyatt on his graduation, Tommy now by herself with her daughters out having fun in the world, I wanted to see those little pockets of the world intercut together as opposed to one big party dedicated to one story thread.

What’s next for T.K. and Carlos? Will we see the wedding? 

We’ll definitely see the wedding. … The big next step in the relationship is planning and executing a wedding. I think it’d be a big one. I don’t think Carlos’ mother would allow them to run off to City Hall.

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

Jordin Althaus/FOX

How different is Owen going forward after the experience he had? 

He confronted his anger issues this year. If you think about it, the end of Season 2 is Owen slugging Billy [Billy Burke]. We almost played it as a joke that he just was punching people all season and then it turns out it’s not a joke at all. It’s actually quite serious, and we trace it back to the trauma from when he was a kid and the fact that he was estranged from his own dad. Going forward Owen needs to become a happier person.

Do you see revisiting his half-brother? I liked seeing Chad [Lowe] and Rob acting together.

Absolutely. I thought Chad was great.

Catherine (Amy Acker) did send Owen that “thinking of you” card…

She could be a very viable romantic partner for him going forward. Amy was actually not available to me for the end of this season, although I’m not sure that Catherine really needed or should have come back [then], although I did explore that possibility. The idea of him sitting down with Tommy, the two captains of the 126 — she is the one that he confided in about his diagnosis at the beginning of the episode, it certainly made sense that she would be the one that he would tell about the fungal infection. Catherine, I think, really could be a partner for him going forward. She’s formidable. She’s tough. She’s independent. She’s Amy Acker. She’s my buddy. I love having her around. So I would love to see her come back.

He’s in a place where we could see him in a relationship.

100 percent.

Jim Parrack as Judd in 9-1-1 Lone Star

Jordin Althaus/FOX

I love Judd and Grace’s family. Talk about adding Wyatt and his mom — I love her and Grace together — and bringing Wyatt into emergencies.

In the first season of 9-1-1, I was writing some story between Buck [Oliver Stark] and Abby [Connie Britton] and Ryan [Murphy]’s like, “And then she’s got to perform a tracheotomy on him at the table.” That’s been the template of the show. I love Jackson Pace. I love his chemistry with both Judd and Grace. I love seeing that kind of blended family. I agree with you. I love Judd and Grace. I love the Ryders. I love everything about them. To me, they’re blended family goals. I would love to see more of Wyatt.

Nancy [Brianna Baker] and Mateo [Julian Works] were a surprising pairing but also makes sense? How’d that come about?

My plan was to reveal that in the season premiere, in the same way that I revealed that T.K. and Carlos were in the middle of a separation. The theme of those first four episodes was you come in and everything has been pulled apart and it’s just about putting everything back together. I was gonna reveal that Nancy and Mateo had become a couple and they hadn’t told anybody.

If you look at the first episode of this season, when Mateo shows up with Tatum’s team to the first emergency where the guy almost got decapitated by the sheet of ice, as Tommy and her crew are taking the patient to the ambulance, there’s a look between Nancy and Mateo that hints about [that]. But I could never quite fit it into an episode. That can kept getting kicked down the road until I could finally get to it. Once I realized I couldn’t do it early, there are a couple of moments in the season, like in “In the Unlikely Event of an Emergency,” when the entire crew is watching the plane landing, Mateo reaches out and takes her hand. And then of course, there’s the moment at the end of “Impulse Control” where he says, “Do you wanna get a coffee?” There were little hints that were actually planted in the season leading up to it, but I think it makes sense too.

Paul [Brian Michael Smith] and his heart — what made him the right character to explore that challenge with?

Paul’s identity is being a firefighter. You could say the same for pretty much all these first responders, that it’s more than just a job, it’s a calling. But the idea that Paul’s body is protesting and fighting back, I just thought that was an interesting dilemma for him. The fact that Paul is a trans man is an important part of his identity. It is absolutely not the defining factor about him. I thought it was interesting to do a story with Paul that had nothing to do with that, that had everything to do with his identity, but really nothing to do with the fact that he’s a trans man. That just felt right to me.

I loved what we got with Paul and Marjan [Natacha Karam] as a result.

Their friendship is great. And I thought Marjan really had a lot of great moments to shine this year. The choice that we made to make her the tip of the spear, the one who’s out there chaining herself to the fire station so it doesn’t get torn down while everyone else has given up or at least gotten distracted enough by life that they are drifting away, said a lot about her. And one of my favorite moments this year is when she goes into the supermarket and has a literal mic drop moment when she gets on the PA system and tells everybody that the security guard is a murdering murderer who murders.

9-1-1: Lone Star, Season 4, TBA, Fox