‘9-1-1’ & ‘Lone Star’: Aisha Hinds & EP Break Down the Crossover’s Bonding Moments
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 2, Episode 3 of 9-1-1: Lone Star, “Hold the Line.”]
Sometimes it takes a village — or in the case of the 9-1-1 and Lone Star crossover, two crews, Los Angeles’ 118 and Austin’s 126, to rescue two trapped first responders after a helicopter crash.
9-1-1‘s Hen (Aisha Hinds), Buck (Oliver Stark), and Eddie (Ryan Guzman) head to Texas in the franchise’s first official crossover event to help Captain Owen Strand (Rob Lowe) and the rest of Lone Star‘s firefighters battle a wildfire threatening to spread across the state. Hen and Owen’s helicopter crashes, and while holed up in mine shaft, they discuss their survivor’s guilt (hers after she accidentally killed a girl while driving her ambulance, his after 9/11 and Tim’s death). Their crews find them just in time.
Also successful? The crossover. It lived up to the “insider hype” for Hinds, she tells TV Insider. “Four seasons in, you feel like nothing can surprise you anymore, but it’s like, ‘You’ve reinvigorated the party.'”
Hen & Owen: Trapped Together
If you’d watch an entire episode of the unexpected pairing of Hen and Owen in a mine shaft, you’re not alone. Tim Minear, executive producer on both shows, would as well, though it wasn’t part of the original plan. Thank scheduling.
“Creatively once I got to that idea, it was an absolute no-brainer because Owen needed to have a moment with somebody who could give him permission to shed some of his ghosts and guilt and step out into the next day living life as opposed to just surviving it,” Minear shares. “Hen actually had her own experience in that moment of their darkest hour she could offer to him that really would serve him going forward.”
And it will. The EP expects Owen to leave some of his ghosts behind, like Hen suggests before leaving Texas. “I’m not saying he’s over his survivor’s guilt or he won’t be triggered in the future, but his experience in that mine shaft, being able to reflect on the things that matter to him and having this person who, not only had survivor’s guilt but trumped [his], really allowed him to have a slightly different perspective when he came out of there,” he adds.
This may change Hen as well. “Best case scenario, maybe she’s not carrying it in a way that is burdensome or an obstacle or paralyzing for her where she can’t move through life anymore,” Hinds says, adding it may still come up in times where it’s useful, like it did in this case.
But she does like that 9-1-1 hasn’t forgotten what Hen did. “Trauma does follow you and can be triggered at any moment,” she explains. “It humanizes these heroes because a lot of times with television, your characters may go through something incredibly traumatic and then for the sake of moving on with the story, you move on and forget they went through this and how is it there’s no fallout from it?”
Hinds enjoyed how those scenes in the mine shaft came together and credits director Bradley Buecker, who is “tasked with handling the most impossible episodes” of the franchise: “He always handles it in a way that takes such great care so you still get the components of danger, action, and fun but then you have those moments that are grounded by exactly what you saw and wanted to see more of, that Hen-Owen exchange.”
It was very much a collaborative effort to film those intense scenes between Hen and Owen. “Rob Lowe’s career spans a very long time and he’s very mindful of the characters he chooses, the way he tells the story. It’s beautiful to see someone still come in with that wonder in their twinkling blue eyes, just trying to build the scene from a place where you can still have thoughts, ideas, feelings and new discovery with it,” Hinds says, noting everyone involved helped put together the finished product.
Therefore, she was able to “approach it as Hen would, [by] disarming other characters around her,” she continues. “Where people may know Captain Strand as somebody who might be a little prideful and private and not wanting to share certain things, Hen has a way of getting in there and pulling things out.”
Hen and Owen aren’t the only ones who bonded. Their situation leads to Buck checking in with T.K.(Ronen Rubinstein) once he realizes Owen’s his father. “It’s very subtle,” Minear says of the first mention of the familial connection — the commander on scene brings it up when telling him to stand down — but Buck catches it and looks up. “That is what makes Buck go the extra mile” and steal the 126 truck’s keys to stage the rescue.
That’s also important for Buck over on 9-1-1; Bobby (Peter Krause), isn’t his father, but he is a surrogate. Season 4 of the original series will be digging into Buck’s daddy issues, with the on-screen introduction of his parents. And while Buck does have a lot to figure out about himself and his family — he’s seeing a therapist, virtually — T.K. making sure Buck knows he has a serious boyfriend while discussing a visit to L.A. is “not necessarily” part of that.
“That’s really T.K. assuming facts that are not necessarily in evidence,” Minear says. “I know there is raging discussion amongst the fans about that particular aspect of Buck, and I would say moments like that on the show also reflect the internal debate that goes on with the show itself.”
Furthermore, “it was also a way to bring up ‘Tarlos’ in a fun, comic way because I couldn’t have Carlos [Rafael Silva] in this episode,” the EP says of the fan-favorite Lone Star couple.
He did manage to get Gina Torres’ Tommy Vega in briefly, via a video call and appearance at the wildfire site. “That was important to me,” Minear explains. ” I just felt like a very well-placed, almost cameo from Tommy would say a lot, the fact she could sense the other captain was going through something. She followed her instinct and turned up when [Owen] needed it. It’s a little bit of an Easter Egg for Firefly fans because it’s very much like the end of ‘Out of Gas,’ when Nathan Fillion comes to, it’s Gina Torres who has come back to make sure he’s OK.”
Eddie and Marjan (Natacha Karam) also hit it off, a byproduct of having “two incredibly accomplished, competent, attractive people in the middle of a crisis,” according to the EP. “You put all these characters into a crucible like a wildfire and it really does feel like they’re an army going up against an enemy, so bonding happens quickly and deeply.”
He especially loved the “inadvertent crossover” of Mateo (Julian Works) asking Buck if he knows his cousin Marvin, who looks just like him, in L.A. Works guest starred in 9-1-1‘s earthquake episode in Season 2 as Marvin, back before Lone Star.
Will There Be Future Crossovers?
The first crossover wasn’t a two-parter due to the pandemic. “The logistics of making these shows on a good day is tricky,” Minear says. “Try doing it in the middle of a global pandemic. It is incredibly difficult.”
But fortunately, “it’s quite possible” there will be more this season, even if it’s just a mention that the two houses are in contact, he adds. “In the same way that every possible combination of the casts of both 9-1-1 and Lone Star is great, [so is] any possible cross-pollination of the two.” He even has thoughts on how the 126 can learn that the firefighter they heard who had rebar in his head is the 118’s Chimney (Kenneth Choi).
For this one, however, the focus had to be on making sure they were able to “satisfactorily serve” every character. “I feel like we had just enough crossover that none of the scenes felt like filler and all of them advanced these new relationships beat for beat,” Minear says. “Every moment of that crossover, for me, is doing something important.”
9-1-1, Mondays, 8/7c, Fox
9-1-1: Lone Star, Mondays, 9/8c, Fox