Finally, some Paul content!
Paul Strickland rivals Grace and Mateo for being 100% pure sunshine. It's always a treat when we spend more time with him, and 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 2 Episode 6 introduced us to his family as well.
The strongest part of the hour was those compelling scenes with the Strickland family.
First off, I have to commend the series for breaking the mold with how they chose to showcase the tension between Paul and his sister. No doubt, showing the realities of transgender people is significant, and that does sometimes include transphobia by the people who are supposed to love them the most.
However, that isn't the only story there is to tell. It would've been easy and predictable for the series to take that route, but instead, the show dug deeper and captured the complexities of what it's like for a family when their loved one transitions.
Typically, the focus falls on the transgender person and what the experience is like for them, and while, obviously, there is narrative importance with that, rarely is it space to touch on how difficult it is for their loved ones without jumping to the immediate conclusion that whatever complex feelings expressed are rooted in transphobia.
Paul and his family were estranged. His mother seemed to have accepted her son as he is, and we avoided all of the tension that could come with that, but Naomi was frosty.
It was easy for Paul to assume that Naomi didn't accept his transition, but instead, it was more complicated than that. It wasn't his transition she had an issue with but rather this notion that she was supposed to forget she ever had a sister.
You say I'm mad because you left, no. I'm mad because she did. And she never said goodbye.Naomi
She was nine years old when Paul left, and she idolized her big sister, and next thing you know, all the pictures and memories were taken down and erased, and her sister was gone for good.
She got a brother, but it wasn't the same and didn't make up for presumably all the time she spent with a sister that she didn't feel she had space to acknowledge or remember without hurting Paul.
Naomi was experiencing a form of grief. She didn't feel as if she had room to mourn the loss of her sister. She said it felt as if he killed her. And it's such a valid, perfectly human response to the situation that doesn't reduce acceptance into some black or white thing.
All Naomi knew was that her sister left her and never returned, and Paul didn't either. She felt as if her feelings didn't matter. It was such a beautiful exploration of the sibling bond, too.
Naomi's sibling, gender be damned, abandoned her. Well, it felt that way to her. Paul was a young kid too, who was trying to become the person he wanted to be. And he was at the age where it's natural to take off and start the next phase of your life.
I'm sorry I never dealt with you. I was just a kid myself when I first left home. I was 17, and I barely had the language or the understanding of what I was going through let alone the ability to explain it to a 9 year old.Paul
I'm so glad he and Naomi talked things through. To punctuate how Naomi felt, she never told him that she was diagnosed with MS. Paul didn't like feeling out of the loop and excluded from vital information.
It helped Paul better understand how hurt Naomi was when he left and never took the time to explain things to her despite how close they were.
The good news about the Stricklands traveling around in the RV is they can always show up again. As expected, Marjan and Mateo, who are Paul's best friends, got to meet the Stricklands. It's too bad they didn't get in on some of that family dinner action.
The squad as a family vibe on Lone Star is much different than 9-1-1, where everyone interacts more. It's mostly clusters of specific dynamics here. Paul, Mateo, and Marjan, for example, are often on an island by themselves. It would've been even cuter if Owen, T.K, and Judd met the Stricklands too.
Carol: Y'all are too kind for doing this.
Marjan: Don't mention it, Mrs. Strickland. Paul's family is our family.
The hour did give us an oldie and goodie with the endearing fraternal element between Judd and T.K. Judd always gives off the Big Bro vibe, so it's interesting to find out that he's the youngest of four boys.
Is anyone else itching to find out all the things about Judd? They keep dropping all of this delicious background information on us, and it feels like breadcrumbs leading us somewhere. I, for one, cannot wait to see what that is.
Judd is right; sibling relationships are messy and complicated, and birth order does factor into sentiments, and only people with siblings understand.
TK: Dad, I've been on you about this for months. What made you change your mind?
Owen: I am going to be a father.
As someone whose youngest brother was born when she was a teenager and who was pretty damn pissed when she found out about it, T.K.'s utter disbelief over his parents' pregnancy was relatable. Everything Judd said was as funny as it was honest.
A new baby brought up all sorts of feelings. T.K. was an only child, so he grew up feeling like the baby, but now, he has to share that with someone new.
He also had to wrap his head around the fact that his father was resistant to get the surgery done to remove the last of his cancer despite T.K.'s insistence, but suddenly, for the new baby, Owen was all-in.
T.K. also didn't get to experience growing up with both of his parents. It's something that contributed to a lot of his issues. The new kid will have this experience and the type of attention and seasoned parents that T.K. didn't get.
It's natural for some resentment and conflicting feelings to form. T.K. is happy for his parents, but he's also wrapping his head around his role in things too.
Owen assumed that T.K. wasn't handling the news well and was upset with him, but T.K. needed time to process more than anything else.
The two of them working on that case with the brothers, continuing the sibling theme, helped them both differently.
You're overwhelmed with joy, which is great, and I'm just overwhelmed.TK
It was another wild case, and they've been knocking them out of the park this season! The poor boys stuck in that minefield.
It was sweet that the youngest brother was experiencing sadness over his older brother leaving for college. And did any of you Party of Five fans recognize the incredibly talented Niko Guardado? The tragically canceled too soon reboot was a lovely series in part because of Guardado's performances. It was nice to see him in this.
The minefield scenes were harrowing and stressful. Every time Owen and T.K. hopped to a new circle, I held my breath. It was already terrifying enough when the owner exploded into a mist.
Tommy and Nancy's quest to find a new paramedic was a painful reminder of Tim's loss, and Nancy was an entire mood with her lack of enthusiasm over the candidates.
You say I'm mad because you left, no. I'm mad because she did. And she never said goodbye.
It was good to check back in with her after 9-1-1 Lone Star Season 2 Episode 2. Understandably, replacing Tim was hard for her since he was her friend and brother.
The new guy was too perfect. His one big save aside, there was something bothersome about him. He wasn't a good fit at all.
The 126 is a fun, laidback group of brave people who go to the ends of the earth to save other people. The newbie wanted to play it safe. You can't be in that field and do that.
But T.K. is a perfect fit here. He has the experience, he's passionate about this portion of the job, and he could use the move.
Women? Women? You of all people don't get to play the gender card.Naomi
He always had a bit of a hangup about working beneath his father. He has earned everything, but it will probably feel more gratifying working under someone new.
It won't have him questioning his merit, and it gives him more independence. His father won't be his crutch, and it's also probably his way of making space for this new kid that's coming and needs Owen a bit more.
It's a good move for T.K. And knowing him, he'll still end up doing a bit of both anyway.
We didn't get a Carlos sighting during this installment, but we did get more of Grace, and bloody hell. Sierra McClain is such a gem, and it's impressive how she manages to be such a scene-stealer every installment.
Her call from the conjoined twin was utterly wild and riveting at once. The way Grace delivered her "oh," in response to the caller saying he and his twin were conjoined was laugh-out-loud funny.
I am forever in awe of Grace's ingenuity. Her resourcefulness is unparalleled. The vacuum cleaner suggestion to suction the peanut butter out of the unresponsive twin was something that most people wouldn't jump to in such a timely fashion.
Grace is the freaking best!
And on the baby front, it would be hilarious if all that baby talk between Judd and T.K., especially regarding an unplanned pregnancy despite birth control precautions, was foreshadowing for a Ryder baby.
But for now, the Strands are having a baby boy. And I'm still not sure where this baby storyline is going or how to feel about it.
Over to you, Lone Star Fanatics. Did you love this Paul-centric hour? What are your thoughts on T.K.'s career shift? Hit the comments below!
You can watch 9-1-1: Lone Star online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.