9-1-1: Lone Star Delivered An Emotional Storyline For Mateo, But It Deserved To Last Longer

9-1-1: Lone Star Mateo
(Image credit: Fox)

Spoilers ahead for the March 14 episode of 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 3, called “Parental Guidance.”

9-1-1: Lone Star continued to explore the aftermath of Paul’s surgery and the tension between him and Marjan, but the real emotional weight of the episode belonged to the storyline centered on Mateo. Captain Tatum from the 129 recruited Mateo’s help when he was struggling with the death of his lieutenant, even though Mateo’s time at the 129 only lasted as long as it took for the 126 to reopen. Mateo had to make some tough decisions when it became clear that Tatum wasn’t doing well for more reasons than losing one of his men, and it was a pretty engaging storyline… that would have been better if it lasted beyond one episode.  

While it initially seemed that Tatum was simply having trouble because he wasn’t coping well with the death of his lieutenant, Mateo started noticing some alarming clues that his former captain had holes in his memory and wasn’t quite processing everything that was in front of him, and things escalated to the point that people nearly died because of a mistake that Tatum made. Concerned about Tatum, Mateo agreed to leave the 126 to take on the position as the new 129 lieutenant, but the situation spiraled out of control. 

After a talk with Owen, Mateo realized that he had to report Tatum for his own good, and the storyline ended with Tatum grateful to Mateo for forcing him to take action before the worst could happen. Tatum is no longer running a firehouse and putting lives at risk due to his condition, Mateo did a good thing, and now he’s coming back to the 126 with a keepsake that Tatum passed along to him. 

It was an emotional story with highs, lows, and a neat wrap-up that reset everything back to where it belonged, with Mateo in the 126 family. I have to say, considering that Mateo relatively rarely gets the spotlight – at least compared to characters like Owen and T.K. – and Tatum has only appeared in a handful of episode, the story would have packed a much stronger emotional punch if it had been developed and stretched out over multiple episodes. I was invested in the resolution, but not nearly as invested as I would have been if Lone Star had set the stage earlier than the beginning of “Parental Guidance.”

The episode set up that the lieutenant had died, Tatum was so shaken up that he drunkenly called Mateo, needed Mateo’s support to get through the memorial service, somewhat inexplicably decided to promote Mateo to lieutenant, and then began to work with him on a daily basis at the 129 until lives were nearly lost. I just didn’t know or care about Tatum enough for the alarm bells to ring as much as they did for Mateo, and it would have been nice to see this get an arc over three or so episodes. 

Lone Star does know how to handle an arc, after all! Just look at the beginning of Season 3 with the ice storm that nearly resulted in T.K.’s death and delivered a near-death experience for Paul, or the briefer arc of Gwyn being killed off. Of course, it would be a big deal for Mateo to suddenly get a major, multi-episode arc when he’s not exactly a character who regularly gets the spotlight. I’m at least hoping that, based on how well actor Julian Works nailed this story, 9-1-1: Lone Star will give him some more big stories. 

For now, fans can look forward to 9-1-1 returning to join Lone Star in primetime, with 9-1-1: Lone Star switching time slots to air new episodes at 9 p.m. ET starting on Monday, March 21 on Fox. Whether or not the two shows will share another crossover remains to be seen, but there should be plenty to look forward to. For more viewing options on the way, be sure to check out our 2022 TV schedule. If you need a refresher on what happened before 9-1-1 went on its winter hiatus, you can find the show streaming with a Hulu subscription.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).