‘9-1-1: Lone Star’: Natacha Karam Breaks Down Marjan’s ‘Physically Demanding’ Episode & Teases ‘Drama’ to Come
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 4 Episode 9, “Road Kill.”]
Marjan’s (Natacha Karam) returning home to the 126. But before she can get back to rescuing people with the people who have become her family, she’s going to have to rest up a bit after some saving she did on the road in the latest episode of 9-1-1: Lone Star.
While Marjan did get Kiley (Brooke Sorenson) away from her abusive fiancé Grant (Cameron Cowperthwaite), he chased down the firefighter. Before she took him down and the rest of the 126 found her, Marjan’s injuries led to her seeing her younger self as a young girl she thought she had to save.
Karam takes us inside the episode and teases drama ahead.
How much had you known about Marjan’s road trip when she left the 126?
Natacha Karam: By the time we shot that, I knew what was coming. I didn’t have a script, but I had an overarching view of what the narrative was going to be.
These two episodes were basically a Marjan movie.
Yeah, I felt very grateful to the writers for giving me that opportunity. It’s always very exciting to get to do something very different than what you’re used to doing, and it made the blow of leaving the firehouse a little easier because I had something to look forward to.
And especially with this one, Marjan just kept getting bloodier and bloodier and losing more blood.
It was tiring. It was physically demanding. It required a lot of intention and deliberateness — we don’t shoot things sequentially, so whenever we’d move around with scenes, I’d have to look at my little notebook of what injuries she had or how long she’d been injured for to kind of remember physically how to play that. Because we would jump around to pre-gunshot wound, post-gunshot wound. How much blood has she lost? Is she still concussed? It was tiring, but it was good.
I had a feeling from the promo that was a young Marjan in her head, so it was fun to watch the episode with that already in mind. How was it exploring that and knowing you showed another side of your character?
It was a great opportunity. It’s an interesting thing to play as an actor because Marjan doesn’t know that that’s a figment of her imagination. She truly believes that she is on a path trying to help this little girl and that even if she’s given up on herself, she can’t give up on this little girl because her purpose is to help people. So I think it’s interesting knowing that you can’t play that she isn’t there, but you have to play that she 100 percent is there. But what you do get is that every moment that Mouse opens her mouth, you learn something new about Marjan.
Marjan has that great line about knowing when you find your real home, and for her, that’s obviously the 126.
And now she’s returning to where she belongs, but did any part of her truly think that her journey wouldn’t eventually lead her back there?
I think it was sort of a 50/50 when she left the firehouse. She was going out there to find the answer, meaning it was never a no, it was never an “absolutely, I don’t belong here anymore.” It was, “I don’t feel comfortable here right now. I don’t know how to be who I’m supposed to be. I’m feeling really kind of muggy and muddy.” So she left to try and find clarity, and it wasn’t coming as easy as she thought it would. And then, all of a sudden, this opportunity to help someone and do the thing that she loves presents itself to her. We began Episode 9 with her being like, “I’m coming home. I know it! This is where I’m supposed to be. If you have a space for me and you haven’t replaced me,” which I thought was a very sweet scene. It really showed the relationship on FaceTime that Marjan has with all the guys at the firehouse.
Did she need to help someone out on the road to find her way back or would it just have taken longer without that?
I don’t know. I think it was divine timing that there was someone for her to help out on the road because she needed to learn firsthand that that’s the thing that she’s going to do with her time no matter what, so she might as well go into it where she gets paid for it, where she can put in loads of hours to do it. This is her calling in life, and I think the kind of happenstance of ending up with someone on the road who you rescue and change their life for the better was a fast track to her understanding that “yes, I’m going home, I love my job and whatever semantics I have to work through in order to be able to do it, I will absolutely do.”
But now she has to heal and recover just as she was ready to get back to work.
[Laughs] I know, poor Marjan. But in TV world, people recover exceptionally well and exceptionally fast.
I don’t imagine it’s easy for her to sit home after deciding she’d go back.
So are we going to be seeing her recovery, or is it going to be a bit of a time jump for the next episode?
No, she’s doing paperwork. She’s doing paperwork for a while. She can’t go out on calls just yet, but there’s physical therapy. You will meet a physical therapist later in the season and see the work that she’s doing to heal. The injuries don’t get erased. You do have to see her work hard to get back to full form.
What is that dynamic like between her and the physical therapist? Because I imagine she just wants to be over and done with it.
Yep. She sure does want to be over and done with it. [Laughs] She wants to be over and done with paperwork. She wants to be over and done with physical therapy. But it’s a nice storyline, what happens with her feeling empowered again and knowing that she truly is where she’s supposed to be, and as a woman of faith, for her, that’s so important that she’s in line with her purpose.
What can you say about what we’ll see from Marjan when she’s back on calls?
She’s back, she’s sassy, she’s in charge again. … You will get to see her back out in the field 100 percent.
While Marjan was gone, Paul (Brian Michael Smith) got close to Asha (Amanda Payton), and that’s exactly something we would’ve seen the two talking about if Marjan had been there. So are we going to be getting that now? I’ve missed those two talking.
Yeah, there were a few FaceTime scenes that didn’t make the cut where Paul did call Marjan and tell her about Asha. But we have so much material that has to fill up the storyline. That is definitely something you will continue to see, Paul and Marjan’s friendship and his developing relationship, and Paul will also be there for Marjan at some point when she has a potential love interest.
What else can you say about that?
[Laughs] What can I say? I can say that Marjan is going to, at some point in the season, contemplate beginning to date. That’s going to be a big deal for her because she’s never done it before. She had known her ex, Salim [Mena Massoud], since she was a child, and their relationship had grown from friendship into more than friendship over the years. But she’s never been on a date cold with someone before who she’s never met. It’s all very new to her, and she needs a lot of encouragement and support from the team and it kind of becomes like a family affair, teaching Marjan the ways of the world when it comes to dating.
Because she also has to figure out what she wants out of dating now.
Yes, especially remaining within the realms of what she feels comfortable doing with her modesty and religion and her faith and her practices. Finding a way to date that’s right for her, finding people who are right for her, candidates that are right for Marjan. It’s really going to be a fun and insightful episode. It’s just a different side of Marjan. You get to see her not being so cool anymore because she’s a bit nervous, and she doesn’t know anything, and everyone else is having to educate her.
What else is ahead this season for the 126?
Drama. [Laughs] I can’t say anything about what the drama is, but there is drama. There are definitely some plot twists that people won’t see coming much later in the season. There’s a really fun episode coming up for Mateo, totally very different than what we usually do, and we get to see Julian Works give an exceptional performance. That one stands out to me because it’s so different.
What was your favorite scene to film from these two episodes? There were the ones out in the woods, but then also in the Winnebago…
I’m a little action hero. That’s the stuff I love doing. So getting to do the fight sequence with Grant where I knock him out with the fire extinguisher, that was fun. I really enjoyed doing that. I loved some of the longer scenes where you get to really listen to two people interacting. When Marjan follows Kiley into the bathroom and then Marjan thinks she’s messed up, and Kiley goes to check that Grant isn’t listening and then basically says, “help, he’s going to kill me.” And she’s like, “I’m going to call the police.” I just think it’s very interesting when you get scenes that get to breathe a little, where you get to see people listening and hearing and reacting to things.
Watching your face as she goes to the door, and then she turns back… I was so happy when she turned back.
Yeah, and then you’re like, oh yeah, I am in the right place. This is what I’m supposed to be doing. And then it was just very sad where I tried to call the police, and she says, “don’t do that.” And I’m like, “well, what were you hoping I could do for you?” from a really sincere place, not knowing how to help someone in that situation. And of course, Marjan finds a way.
Later we get the call when everyone calls Kiley, and you really feel the 126 is a family because they’re all looking for one of their own, and someone from the outside gets to hear that as well.
Yeah, how much they all love each other. I think that’s the best part is how much of a family the team has really become.
9-1-1: Lone Star, Tuesdays, 8/7c, Fox