‘9-1-1: Lone Star’: Jim Parrack & Sierra McClain on Judd & Grace Falling in Love and What’s Next
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 2, Episode 9, “Saving Grace.”]
If you’re as big a fan of firefighter Judd (Jim Parrack) and 9-1-1 dispatcher Grace’s (Sierra McClain) relationship as we are, you loved the April 19 episode where 9-1-1: Lone Star, while Judd waits to see if Grace will wake after their car went off a bridge into the water, reveals how they met.
What results is a pure rom-com in flashbacks: a meet-cute (when he calls into a prayer crisis hotline, for which she’s working), Tommy (Gina Torres) introducing them at the bar, a breakup due to her disapproving father, and a reconciliation, thanks to matchmaking friends (Tommy and her husband, Charles, played by Derek Webster).
And the good news is Grace is going to be fine, too, after a bit of physical therapy. Even happier news? She’s pregnant!
Parrack and McClain preview what’s next.
What’s next for parents-to-be Judd and Grace?
Sierra McClain: This is going to be a whole new side of Grace, [not just] because she’s never been a mother before. But [also] we’ve seen her cool, calm, and collected at the desk, but having to remain patient and understanding raising a child will be a different dynamic and it may test Grace a little bit. I’m excited to see her as a mother.
Jim Parrack: I am, too. Judd’s going to start looking to accept more responsibility and going to my dad and going to Owen [Rob Lowe] and just saying, “How did you guys make this transition?” The first thing on my plate is I gotta help Grace recover. She’s in a bad spot.
What do Grace’s recovery and physical therapy look like? How willing is she to let Judd and others help her?
McClain: Knowing Grace, probably not much. It’s one thing to try to help other people get out of the crisis. But then when you’re in a crisis yourself, it’s a totally different story. The aftermath will probably be [her] not really sure how to cope.
How does Judd handle that? Having to watch Grace go through this and not necessarily being able to help as much as he may want to?
Parrack: The writers did a good job when they wrote [the next] episodes, showing that everybody means well and wants to help, but ultimately you have to let the person who needs help dictate those terms a little bit. You can’t make them feel dependent if what they’re trying to do is feel independent. On their road to recovery, as much as you might want to just say, “Let me take care of everything,” if that’s not what’s going to be most useful to somebody, you got to swallow your pride and adjust.
I’m assuming she’s going to be away from work. With the flashbacks, we saw how much helping others means to her: We see her at the prayer crisis hotline before moving over to being a 9-1-1 dispatcher. Does she find something else to do with her time to help others?
McClain: Grace gets herself into a few situations trying to not just pass the time but fill that space where she’s used to being a helping hand for other people. Talking about it now and playing it, I think about my mother because my mother suffered from chronic pain for a lot of her life and she’s a mom to four kids and she’s also naturally just a nurturer. She was definitely a big inspiration when it came to playing that part. Grace is the exact same way.
You two got to basically play out an entire rom-com with the flashbacks. How much had you known about their history before that?
McClain: I didn’t know much. The only real background I knew was in the very first episode where Judd and Grace talk about what Judd had to do to get her: build a pool deck for her father. This was a lot to take in in an hour’s worth. I was pleasantly surprised though. When Jim kind of gave me the rundown before I got the full draft, I wondered, “Oh my gosh, what are we about to get ourselves into?”
Jim: I was really, really impressed with what Tim Minear did with the script in that he had the voice of the franchise, our 9-1-1 operator, already at a phone somewhere. That was totally indicative of who she already was as a human being. There was a whole courtship and getting to know each other in a really deep way before we ever laid eyes on each other at the bar. I know it can’t be totally original. I’m sure there’s something else out there a lot like that, but I thought that was a really fresh way to get into it. By the time we’re starstruck on the dance floor, we already have an established, meaningful relationship. It was really, really fun to kind of come at it that way.
McClain: Seeing their backstory, it makes sense as to why it seems like they handled their relationship issues in the way that they do.
Tommy was so fun in the bar.
McClain: I love her so much.
Parrack: She’s great.
McClain: I told her, “I’m so happy that Tommy is such a pivotal part of this backstory.” I told Tim, “You really put so much of your heart into this. We couldn’t help but do the same thing.” To have Gina be there and an integral part, even though her introduction came in the second season, it felt so right. I loved it so much.
Will Judd and Grace turn to Tommy and Charles for advice about becoming parents?
Parrack: We definitely need some help from them. They do a good job. They introduced their characters through the problem of what to do when a dynamic at home totally changes. If they can do parenthood in good times and crises and they’re flexible enough to know when to take which role, then I think they would be good mentors.
We saw Judd’s anger get the better of him in a flashback and at the hospital. Is that going to come up again?
Parrack: There’s a little bit of unresolved PTSD leftover from Season 1. There was that tragedy that happened and then I stormed out of the counselor’s office halfway through a session and then we barely mentioned it again. That backstory shows before any sort of trauma like that, there was a temper to be dealt with. I think he uses it in all the right places.
We got those great flashbacks of him fixing up the house for his friend’s mother.
Parrack: That was a really cool sequence to shoot. I’ve experienced the value of amends. They can be uncomfortable at times, but I really, really liked that instead of doing it with words, Tim wrote it that Judd, under Grace’s suggestion, just took it upon himself to start doing what he was pretty sure would be useful to the person. Then from there, let them dictate the terms of what happens next.
9-1-1: Lone Star, Mondays, 9/8c, Fox