9-1-1 Lone Star Recap: “Shift-Less” (S3E16)

Spoilers ahead!

It’s the 1980s and we’re in Santa Monica, at the beach. Two brothers are there to surf. The older instructs the younger on dry land while the younger insists he be allowed to surf real waves. Their mom won’t allow it, but she’s not there. The younger brother hits the water, but the older brother begs him to be cautious. Then a massive wave comes in, knocking the brothers about, and when the older brother resurfaces, he can’t find his younger brother. He makes it back to shore and finds him floating near some pylons. He shouts for help. A lifeguard takes over CPR and instructs the older brother to call 9-1-1 from a pay phone. He does and gives the 9-1-1 operator his name: Owen Strand.

In the present, Captain Owen Strand prepares to fly to Santa Monica and tells Judd that he’ll be acting captain if he’s not back for his shift in 36 hours. Judd gets a call and angrily leaves to go bail out Wyatt, his 18-year-old son he’s only learned about recently, from jail. Wyatt’s vandalized something and won’t tell an increasingly angry Judd why. Back at their house, Judd and Grace Facetime Marlene to talk over Wyatt’s situation. She’s off competing at rodeo. She thinks Wyatt’s actions might have something to do with her impending wedding but is unsure. Judd and Grace agree to monitor Wyatt for the week.

Owen revisits the spot in Santa Monica where the surfing incident happened. He thinks back to the past, when they loaded his brother into an ambulance.

Judd takes Wyatt to his uncle’s ranch and introduces Wyatt to his uncle and to his father, Stuart. Wyatt gets along well with both men, and Stuart opines that horseback riding is as good as therapy.

Owen arrives at the nursing home in Santa Monica, and the nurse remarks how “you Strands stick together.” He goes down the hall and peers into a room to see his father surrounded by loved ones. They file out and don’t acknowledge him. An older woman spots him and stares him down. He leaves and sits in a waiting room.

Back in the 1980s, young Owen sits with his parents in a hospital waiting room. They comfort him. Eventually a doctor pulls them aside to talk, and from their reactions, the news is devastating.

In the present, a man talks to Owen about his father, who was present and proud. Owen remarks that his dad was absent.

Judd and Wyatt ride their horses through his uncle’s rambling ranch. They talk about Wyatt’s recent misbehaviour and the fact that Wyatt resents not having known Judd for most of his life. Then Judd’s horse spots a rattlesnake. It rears back and bucks Judd, who hits the ground hard and breaks his ankle. Judd talks Wyatt through cutting his pant leg off and resetting the bone.

Owen has driven back to the beach at Santa Monica. He Facetimes with his son, TK, and tells TK how much he is loved. TK remarks to Carlos that his dad sounds odd.

In the 1980s, Owen’s mom packs their car while Owen sulks. She tells him how much he’ll love New York. Owen’s father comes out of the house and Owen begs his dad to fight for him.

In the present, Owen finally arrives at his dad’s bedside. His new wife encourages him to leave, but she’s interrupted by the man from before who talked to Owen in the waiting room—as it turns out, this is Owen’s half-brother.

Judd wakes up and finds that Owen has done his best to make a stretcher. However, Judd is too heavy for the horse to pull, and Wyatt freaks out a bit. Fortunately, a truck pulls up—it’s Stuart.

Owen apologizes to his sleeping father. Clearly, Owen blames himself for his little brother’s death and for breaking up his family. As he lets this go, his father wakes up and tells him that none of this was his fault and Owen didn’t break their family. “Grief did that,” he says.

As Owen walks out, his half-brother comforts him and tells him not to be a stranger.

Back in Texas, Judd’s family sits around the dinner table. Stuart signs Judd’s cast with Break a Leg! and makes a big show of not wanting to eat jackfruit tacos. He eventually tries some and decides they’re okay after all. Clearly, he loves his new grandson. Wyatt asks to sign Judd’s cast too, which he does with Get Well Soon, Dad. This means everything to Judd.

In Santa Monica, Owen goes surfing for the first time in decades.

Final Thoughts

Stuart Ryder is low-key one of our favourite characters on the show. And he’s played by real-life cowboy Barry Corbin.

That’s Rob Lowe’s real-life brother Chad Lowe as his on-screen half-brother.

When was the last time these guys fought a fire?