Why 9-1-1: Heartbreaking Tragedy Could Help Ronen Rubinstein's T.K. In The Long Run

9-1-1: Lone Star Ronen Rubinstein T.K. Strand
(Image credit: Fox)

Spoilers ahead for the February 28 episode of 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 3, called "In the Unlikely Event of an Emergency."

A very personal tragedy on 9-1-1: Lone Star was inevitable ever since the previous episode ended with the shocking reveal that Gwyn was dead, with no details from poor T.K. (who can't seem to catch a break) about what had happened to his mom. In the opening of "In the Unlikely Event of an Emergency," viewers learned that she had died as a result of an accident involving a bike delivery person, but managed to push the stroller with her baby son to safety. Poor T.K. went through the wringer, and it was only by chance that he didn't relapse, but from a certain point of view, he could grow as a result of the tragedy. 

Jewish custom meant that Gwyn's funeral had to happen within 24 hours of her death, which meant T.K., Owen, and Carlos didn't have much time to get to New York. The grief combined with the pressure threatened to overwhelm T.K., and he broke. He went to the station and was on the verge of stealing narcotics out of the ambulance before Owen caught him in the act and dragged him to the airport. When they missed their first flight and had to leave Carlos behind to catch a second, T.K.'s mood worsened even more, and it truly seemed that the only reason why he wasn't using again was that he was being physically prevented from doing so. 

Since the present-day storyline was being split by flashbacks (featuring Lisa Edelstein after her coma appearances early in Season 3) to when Gwyn took T.K. to rehab in California, the episode also showed what was in store if T.K. relapsed again, and how things might be past the point of return if Gwyn wasn't alive to help him again. Then, something happened on the flight that was terrible and terrifying in the moment, but – combined with the death of Gwyn – might have gone far in keeping T.K. from ever using again. 

The plane's engine fire resulted in a very serious injury for a woman who wouldn't survive if T.K. didn't get his head on straight and jump into capable paramedic mode, and he did. Working on saving the woman's life allowed him to work through the initial pain, and even open up and admit that he was going to steal the drugs and use when Owen caught him. That itself was a big step, and the comment that his mom was proud of him meant a lot by the end. 

Admittedly, he had plenty of motivation to stay clean before losing his mom, and losing Gwyn was nearly enough to knock him off the wagon despite all of his progress, but dealing with a crisis while dealing with his own grief and resisting the urge to use seemed to help him break a mental block of his own making. He wants to live up to what his mom wanted for him, and doesn't want to fail when she did everything she could for him. He was even okay when he realized that they wouldn't make it to the funeral, and proposed having Chinese food in Gwyn's honor from Austin. 

The threat of relapsing is always going to be there, and his close call in the ambulance showed that he was dangerously close even when things had been so well for him with Carlos. It's possible that this breakthrough with him working through the pain of his mom's death will give him the strength that he needs to fortify that motivation. He may not be done grieving, but it feels like he's going to be okay. 

Find out with new episodes of 9-1-1: Lone Star on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox for the next couple of weeks, until 9-1-1 returns to its old time slot (with a possible big change for Eddie) on March 21 and bump Lone Star to 9 p.m. ET in the 2022 TV schedule.

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, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.