This week’s 9-1-1: Lone Star episode was incredibly emotional and powerful, as past bled into present while we said goodbye to a beloved character. Let’s talk about “In the Unlikely Event of an Emergency.”
Learning What Happened
This episode starts off like nearly all others: with a 9-1-1 call. The caller tells the operator that he, a delivery biker, accidentally hit a woman. She’s fallen and hit her head, and there is a significant amount of blood. The operator asks the caller if the victim is conscious or breathing, and he says no. The operator assures the caller, whose name we have now learned is Liam Benson, that the paramedics are on the way and to try to remain calm. (At this point, it is clear that this opening 9-1-1 call is unlike all others in previous episodes, specifically because of the blue background as opposed to the normal red.) Then, Liam asks, “What should I do about the baby?” He explains that the woman had a baby in a stroller. He is unharmed, because she apparently was able to push the baby out of the way before the accident. The operator tells him to stand by and continue waiting for help to arrive.
A few minutes later, we see we are in T.K. and Carlos’ loft, though T.K. is in a stupor understandably, as it’s only been one day since he learned that his mother Gwyn has died unexpectedly. He tells the guys that he is concerned for Jonah, who witnessed his mom’s death and how this will affect him later in life. (And it is around this point that we realize the 9-1-1 call at the beginning of the episode documented what happened to Gwyn.) Owen walks in and assures T.K. that Jonah won’t be able to remember anything because of his young age. But T.K. tells him that he remembers things from his life when he was his brother’s age.
The Past and the Present
This episode brilliantly interweaves the past with the present, as we see T.K. dealing with his addiction in the past and his grief over the loss of his mother in the present. After the introductory 9-1-1 call, we go back in time and see Gwyn being dropped off via taxi at a very sketchy area of town late at night. She enters a run-down building, where she encounters several people taking drugs. Gwyn continues to walk through the area and eventually sees her son passed out on the floor in a corner. She eventually wakes him up and tries to get him to come with her, out of the building. T.K. seemingly passes back out.
Later, T.K. and Gwyn are at a Chinese restaurant, where she is trying to get him to eat something. She explains to him that she has a flight ready for them to go to California, so he can enter a rehab facility. He unsurprisingly refuses to go, but Gwyn doesn’t relent and is patient with T.K., knowing that she can still coax him to get on the plane.
In the present day, Carlos has gotten plane tickets for him, Owen, and T.K. so they can attend Gwyn’s funeral in New York. T.K. says he doesn’t want to go to the funeral, so he goes to the 126 to work like it was any other day. Understandably, everyone at the station is confused what T.K. is doing there a day after learning his mom has died, but they leave him alone and let him have his space.
When T.K. and Gwyn are on the plane on their way to California, T.K. is angry that his mother didn’t let him take something to take the edge off for the plane ride. But Gwyn refuses to give an inch. She assures her son that she is there for him every step of the way, no matter how difficult things get for him. Later, Gwyn is asleep, and T.K. uses this opportunity to steal some liquor bottles from the refreshment tray. He hides inside the restroom and drinks the liquor. Gwyn wakes up and pretty quickly figures out what has happened, considering T.K.’s behavior is much more calm now. She confronts him about this, and he angrily tells her to back off because she can’t save him. She says she knows but that she can’t bear the thought of going to her son’s funeral, so she has to try everything she can.
As T.K. is taking inventory in the ambulance at the 126, he comes across some vials of fentanyl, and it is clear he considers swiping them for his own personal use. Fortunately, Owen sees him and stops him. Later, when he and Owen are parking at the airport for their flight, Owen asks his son if they’ll be able to make it through security. T.K. says that he can frisk him if he wants, but that he is clean.
Concerned for a Friend
Back at the 126, Nancy visits Tommy in her office. She is concerned because she saw T.K. handle the narcotics items in the ambulance and wondered if he might have taken something for himself. She feels extremely guilty for even questioning her friend, because she knows how seriously he takes his sobriety. But Tommy reminds her that she’s a great medic and friend for doing this, and that T.K. deserves the benefit of the doubt. A complete check of the drug inventory later confirms that nothing is missing.
On their flight to New York (sans Carlos, who will be joining them via a later flight), Owen and T.K. befriend Genevieve, a recently un-retired CPA who is on a work call. She tells the guys that her husband recently became ill and that she had to come out of retirement to pay his medical bills. When shes asks the Strands’ plans for New York, T.K. simply replies, “My mom.” She understandably assumes that they’re going home to visit her and that she will be so happy to see her son. T.K. doesn’t correct her assumption.
When the plane is in the air, one of the engines catches on fire, and the window that Genevieve is sitting next to bursts open, causing extreme pressure changes and pulling Genevieve partially outside the window. Owen and T.K. do their best to bring her back inside the cabin, and another passenger blocks the window with luggage, which improves their conditions inside the plane.
When they pull Genevieve to a safer area on the floor of the plane, T.K. assesses her injuries. Besides a major concussion, she has experienced a significant injury under her armpit, where an artery has been nicked. The bleeding is too severe for them to treat with the plane’s First Aid Kit, so Owen calls Tommy on the ground for assistance.
At Tommy’s request, T.K. records a quick video of Genevieve’s injury, and Tommy says they need to use something hard-surfaced and smooth to apply adequate pressure to slow the flow of blood. Owen suggests using a coffee pot, which works. But the Strands quickly realize that she’s lost so much blood that she might be beyond help. Tommy asks if there is any saline on board to replenish her fluids, and Owen suggests they use coconut water, which can be used as a saline replacement. Tommy tells him to go for it, and the plan works! Genevieve regains consciousness.
Waiting to Land
With Genevieve stabilized, the Strands and the rest of the passengers brace themselves for landing back at the Austin airport. While they descend, T.K. admits to Owen that he considered taking the fentanyl from the ambulance, so he could get so high that he wouldn’t have to deal with the pain of losing his mom. Owen understands his struggle and is proud of T.K. for choosing not to take the drugs. Meanwhile, on the ground, a distraught Carlos at the airport and everyone at the 126 are watching the breaking news on television about the plane that is making an emergency landing. As the plane descends and frightening smoke is leaving a trail in the sky, everyone is in prayer or is watching with pleading eyes that the passengers will land safely. The prayers seem to work, because the plane lands without incident.
We go back in time again and see Gwyn and T.K. at LAX. They have arrived in California, and T.K. has now accepted the fact that he is about to enter rehab. As he walks to his car that is picking him up, he notices Gwyn not joining him. She explains that this decision has to be 100% his and that he needs to do this on his own.
Gwyn: “I’ve traveled with you as far as I can. The next steps you take are yours…. I’ll always be with you.”
We see present-day T.K. on the Austin tarmac, thinking about this memory. Carlos runs up to TK and gives him a hug and a kiss. He admits that he thought they would never see each other again and is obviously relieved. When T.K. realizes that they aren’t going to make Gwyn’s funeral after all, he says he wants to do something to remember his mother by, right now. “Who’s in the mood for Chinese?”
The episode ends with T.K. and Owen doling out Chinese food in Owen’s kitchen. Gwyn walks in and joins them, in a memory that originally took place right after she moved to Austin. She says the Chinese food isn’t as good as the stuff in New York, but it’ll do.