9-1-1 Lone Star: Brian Michael Smith Explains How Marjan’s Absence Complicates Paul’s New Relationship

Brian Michael Smith as Paul Strickland on 9-1-1: Lone Star.
(Image credit: Fox)

Spoiler alert! This story contains spoilers for the March 7 episode of 9-1-1: Lone Star, “Tommy Dearest.” Proceed with caution if you’re not caught up!

9-1-1: Lone Star fans were caught off guard when fan-favorite firefighter Marjan chose to resign rather than compromise her integrity over a frivolous lawsuit filed against her. But despite how shocked and upset her fellow first responders were (as well as the viewers), there was probably nobody affected more than her best friend Paul Strickland. Complicating matters even more was the fact that Paul realized he had a history with Asha, the HR representative overseeing Marjan’s situation, and after that potential relationship hit a roadblock in “Tommy Dearest,” actor Brian Michael Smith opened up about how Marjan’s absence played into it.

Things seemed to be going great between Paul and Asha (Amanda Payton), and he was so smitten that his colleagues were immediately able to sniff out the relationship potential. When Asha brought up their past, however — they attended grade school together in Chicago, before Paul transitioned — he put his walls back up. Brian Michael Smith explained to TV Insider that Marjan would have been the person he turned to in such a circumstance, so her absence only added to what his character was going through. He said: 

There are other people in the firehouse he has friendships with, but the person he confides in the most is Marjan. He was struggling with A, she’s literally not there to help him navigate this. But then B, feeling a sense of betrayal for the feelings he’s developing for the person who is at the cause of why Marjan is having the existential crisis that put her on the road in the first place.

No matter how undeniable Paul’s attraction to Asha was, that didn’t change the fact that she was directly related to the reason that Marjan was no longer around for him to talk to. (He’d mentioned earlier that Marjan's cell service was spotty, as she was apparently riding Owen’s motorcycle through the desert, so even a phone call wasn’t really possible.) 

To be fair, Asha had given her official opinion that Marjan shouldn’t be forced to take further action with people who were obviously just trying to use her social media following for their own financial gain, and it was her bosses at the Austin Fire Department who didn’t want to continue the fight in court, so Paul really shouldn’t feel bad about getting involved in a relationship. 

In the end, it was Owen (Rob Lowe) who stepped in to counsel Paul, and while he’s no Marjan, Brian Michael Smith agreed that “Cap” is an important figure in Paul’s life. The actor said: 

It was cool to see the Cap take on this role in Paul’s life. He typically confides in Marjan, but to know he has this man in his life who could also offer him some guidance for this rough spot in a way that was non-judgmental and also really helpful was really cool. I think one of the reasons why Paul ended up coming down to Austin was because of how personal and available Cap was, even helping him navigate through skincare and stuff like that, feeling like he’s always going to treat him the man that he is. It’s good to see this come back full circle in Season 4.

It is nice to see Paul dating, and there’s got to be a certain amount of relief in finding a connection with someone who already knows his past. I’m excited to see where the relationship goes, even if Marjan won’t be around to help him navigate it. Speaking of Marjan, it looks like she’s going to make an appearance in next week’s episode, “Control Freaks,” according to the preview

It turns out we didn’t have to wait that long at all to see Marjan again. 9-1-1: Lone Star will be back at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday, March 14, on Fox, and if you need to catch up, all episodes so far are available to stream with a Hulu subscription. Be sure to check out our 2023 TV schedule to see what new and returning shows are premiering soon. 

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.