Spoilers ahead for the Season 2 premiere of 9-1-1: Lone Star, called "Back in the Saddle."
The Season 2 premiere of 9-1-1: Lone Star hit the airwaves on Fox almost exactly a year after the series premiere back in 2020, but there are already big changes from the Season 1 status quo. One of those changes had actually been announced beforehand thanks to Liv Tyler's decision to depart Lone Star as Michelle Blake, with Gina Torres stepping up as new paramedic captain Tommy Vega. The big question wasn't if Lone Star would write out Michelle, but how and whether she could come back. Now, we have an answer.
"Back in the Saddle" actually introduced Gina Torres' Tommy Vega before explaining why Michelle was missing, with that update coming courtesy of the crew she left behind as they chatted at the firehouse. Rosewater started the conversation by complaining that Michelle had made an "incredibly selfish" decision to "quit," to which Gillian explained what he had apparently already heard several times but was news to viewers:
Right, Tim. She 'selfishly' gave up job security to dedicate her life to helping mentally ill people living on the street. People like her sister. What a monster.
Rosewater still thinks that "she abandoned us," but the rest of the crew were supportive of the fact that Michelle was following her "calling" and "vocation," and that she made a choice when working as their paramedic captain didn't line up with her calling to dedicate her life to helping mentally ill people. So, all things considered, 9-1-1: Lone Star gave a pretty nice farewell to Michelle Blake, and definitely not one that means Liv Tyler can never reprise her role. No volcanos for Michelle, but maybe a return later!
None of the characters in this scene definitively said where Michelle is working or how long she'll be doing what she's currently doing to prevent her from at least dropping by for a visit. Michelle wasn't killed off or fired or left because of any bad blood, and the only bitterness about her seems to be Rosewater being annoyed that she left at all. The civil circumstances of Michelle's departure also meant that Tommy Vega got a pretty warm welcome, even if she had to prove to her new coworkers that she still has what it takes after being off the job since 2013.
So, will Michelle return? I can't help but compare Liv Tyler with her one season of 9-1-1: Lone Star to Connie Britton and her one season of 9-1-1, and Britton returned in 9-1-1 Season 3 to briefly reprise her role. Couldn't Tyler do them same with the 9-1-1 spinoff down the line? Of course, the whole reason why Tyler left 9-1-1: Lone Star was reportedly that commuting between her family in London and Lone Star production in Los Angeles isn't practical or safe in light of the COVID pandemic.
If Liv Tyler does return as Michelle, it might not be until well down the line when the pandemic doesn't pose the problems for travel that it does currently. The good news is that she wasn't written out in a way that prevents her from returning, even if just for a guest appearance, and Tommy Vega already seems like a great new character to fill in the gap left by Michelle.