In this week’s episode of 9-1-1: Lone Star, T.K. and Carlos adopt a son (well, kind of), and the limits of Grace’s Christian charity are tested. Meanwhile, Owen encounters a breakthrough in therapy concerning his struggle with rage.
Welcome Lou to the Family
The episode’s first 9-1-1 call comes from a survivalist live streamer named Ron. He is in the woods recording some footage to upload later to his viewers. He spots an alligator lizard and tries to catch it to make a snack out of it. But instead of stabbing the lizard, Ron accidentally stabs himself in the leg, and the lizard makes a quick home of the wound. Tommy, Nancy, and T.K. are dispatched and soon find Ron and assess the situation. Once T.K. applies a tourniquet, Tommy successfully removes the lizard from Ron’s leg and hands it to T.K. to bag up for Animal Control. Ron is more concerned with capturing the intriguing events on video for his viewers and asks Tommy to help him record everything.
Later in the day, T.K. comes home to Carlos and shares with him the news that they have a new family member — the alligator lizard from the previous call. T.K. has named him Lou, and Carlos is not happy with this development at all. But T.K. promises him that he won’t have to do anything for Lou because he is clearly freaked out over the lizard.
This seems to put Carlos’ mind at ease until later when T.K. brings home some mealworms for Lou. When he goes to Lou’s tank to feed him, he realizes that the cover is open and that Lou is missing. A quick glance of the place tells T.K. that Lou is sitting right behind Carlos on the couch … unbeknownst to Carlos. Hoping not to scare Carlos out of his mind, T.K. sits next to him and tries to carefully and quietly grab Lou without Carlos noticing. His plan is remarkably unsuccessful, and Lou escapes T.K.’s grasp to land on Carlos’ shirt. Carlos understandably shrieks and jumps up, which allows Lou to escape again.
Eventually, Carlos finds Lou in their apartment after ransacking the place, which leads T.K. to ask Carlos after walking through the door if they had been robbed. When Carlos assures him that Lou is safe and sound in his tank, T.K. realizes that he might be more than they can handle and agrees to release Lou back into the wild.
Amazing Grace is Tested
At the 9-1-1 call center, dispatcher Dave receives a call from a man named Jordan, who is stuck in a burning building. He helps Jordan navigate his way through the heavy smoke by reading the building’s blueprints online. When he realizes Jordan can’t access any stairs, Dave directs him to a workout room with three large bay windows that he can break to escape the flames. But when Jordan gets in the room and shuts the door, he tells Dave that there are no windows in the room. Dave realizes that the blueprints are old and inaccurate and that he has inadvertently trapped Jordan in a room to die.
At the end of the shift, Grace checks in on Dave. Dave tells her that Jordan was the first person he has ever lost on a call, and he feels so guilty. Hoping to take his mind off things, Grace invites him over to her and Judd’s house for dinner. At dinner, Judd tells Dave about losing his 126 crewmates and how he had held himself responsible for their deaths for so long. He then shares with Dave something his therapist told him: “A hero ain’t in the saves. It’s in the carrying on after a loss.” Judd’s words — and several tipples of bourbon — seem to help Dave feel a little better.
Grace is surprised the next morning when she walks into her kitchen and sees Dave making breakfast for the family. Judd walks in and tells her he asked Dave to sleep on the couch instead of driving home after drinking. Dave then mentions staying at the Ryders’ house for a week, and Judd explains that Dave’s home has plumbing issues and that he offered to let Dave stay there while it’s fixed.
Grace seems a little upset that Judd didn’t clear this with her first, but she says nothing about it. What follows is a montage of all the ways in which Dave gets on every last one of Grace’s nerves. He uses up all the hot water every morning in the shower, leaving none for her. He uses up the last of the milk, leaving none for her morning cereal. He suggests they carpool to work and sits in her car every morning to wait for her, but not before reminding her that she is running late on his way out to the car. He even incessantly sings show tunes! At Tommy’s, Grace admits that Dave is testing the limits of her Christian charity, and she doesn’t know what to do. Tommy reminds her that she isn’t Jesus and that she needs to extend some grace to herself.
When she and Judd arrive home later that night, Dave excitedly informs them that Charlie has taken her first steps and has recorded her on his phone. But when he plays it back for them, they see he accidentally flipped the phone image, and all they see is Dave’s smiling face. When this happens, Judd and Grace later decide to ask Dave to leave. “So what are you gonna tell him?” Judd asks. Cue an epic eyeroll from Grace.
At work the next day, Grace says a little prayer and gets up the nerve to confront Dave. But he beats her to the punch and tells her that he believes it’s best if he goes back to his own home. The family togetherness of the Ryder household is suffocating him, and he has been very uncomfortable staying there. He also mentions that he learned that he wasn’t at fault for Jordan’s death because the building owners hadn’t updated their blueprints with the city after construction like they should have. When Grace asks why he didn’t say something about it, Dave says that he felt like he needed to stay with the Ryders out of guilt. And when she asks him about his plumbing issue at his house, Dave says that he doesn’t mind cold showers and can wait until the water heater is fixed. Grace is surprised at this, considering he ran through the hot water every morning at her house. But in the end, Grace is thankful that this problem seemed to take care of itself, rather than having to confront someone she believed was in significant pain.
The Greatest Show on Earth
Owen is in a therapy session, still trying to uncover the source of his years-long battle with rage. The therapist suggests Owen try EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), a method of therapy that can help someone reveal and recover from past trauma. During the EMDR session, Owen mentions some previous traumas he has experienced, such as his cancer scare and nearly losing T.K recently. And then he mentions clowns. The therapist suggests that he may be coulrophobic. Owen scoffs at the idea, claiming that he isn’t scared of clowns and was only reminded of them because the red ball he was watching during therapy reminded him of a clown’s nose.
In a later session, Owen tells his therapist that he watched The Greatest Show on Earth, a movie replete with All Things Clown. And he loved it. This clearly proves that he isn’t coulrophobic, Owen believes. But when he looks up at his therapist, he is dressed in a clown suit. “Is that right, Sonny Boy?” he says to Owen. This image awakens Owen from his nightmare.
Later, Owen and his team respond to a 9-1-1 call at a child’s birthday party. The clown that was providing the entertainment has fallen through a wooden structure and is stuck. Upon arrival to the scene, Owen freezes in fear and is acting so strangely that Tommy believes he is experiencing a panic attack. She then surmises that it’s the clown that has scared Owen so badly and mentions to him that he might be coulrophobic. Owen has heard that word enough times already and tells Tommy that he will be ok after a few minutes. Judd and the others get the clown to safety, and Owen is able to move again now that the threat is gone.
Back in therapy, Owen apologizes to his therapist and admits that he is terrified of clowns. In his nightmare, the therapist-clown called him “Sonny Boy,” and Owen says that his father was the only person ever to call him that. He further reveals that his father abandoned him and his family when Owen was only 12 years old and that he has never gotten a chance to tell him how that made him feel. The therapist suggests he do just that, and the episode ends with Owen making a phone call and asking for Walter Strand.