Spoiler alert! This story contains spoilers for 9-1-1: Lone Star’s Season 4 episode “Donors,” which aired May 2.
Rob Lowe has said that the opportunity to bring real heroes to life is what makes 9-1-1: Lone Star special, but surely not too far down on his list would be that his brother Chad Lowe has become part of the team. The younger Lowe has directed four episodes of the Fox drama, and last season he took a turn in front of the camera, as we were introduced to Owen Strand’s half-brother Robert. Chad reprised that role in “Donors,” but it wasn’t the happy family reunion everyone was hoping for; Owen’s half-brother delivered some news that could have a devastating effect on the fire chief and his son T.K.
After a dinner between the two Strand brothers, T.K. (Ronen Rubinstein) and Carlos Reyes (Rafael L. Silva), Robert revealed that he’d been diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, a neurodegenerative disease that was causing involuntary movement of his hands and some memory loss. He told Owen their father had been diagnosed with it too, and it was possible that he and T.K. also carried the gene. This dealt a serious blow to the first responders, and co-creator Tim Minear elaborated on what this means for the Strand men’s future, telling EW:
Because Huntington's is a disease that is carried by a gene that is impaired, it puts Owen and T.K.'s future into question until they can get tested and find out whether or not they carry the gene. T.K. is about to really just start his life. He's about to get married, and this left hook comes out of nowhere, and we get to see how our characters deal with the possibility of incredibly bad news. I mean, that is life, right? It's a combination of the tragic and the joyful. That's life.
As if Tarlos hadn’t dealt with enough big problems leading up to their wedding (and over the course of their relationship, really), now the couple is faced with the possibility that T.K. inherited this gene. It looks like we’ll get more of this story in next week’s episode, “A House Divided,” as the official episode description says, “Owen awaits news that could change his and T.K.'s lives forever.”
Tim Minear pointed out that Robert’s diagnosis is tragic for Owen on several levels, as we learned in Season 3’s “Shift-Less” that Owen had another brother who died when they were kids. The showrunner also discussed having the Lowe brothers sharing the screen again, saying:
I've been wanting to bring Chad [back]. He was so great last year in ‘Shiftless’ when Owen met his half-brother. His dynamic with Rob is really great. I love seeing them act together. I also sort of wanted to complicate Owen's life as we got into the last third of the season. And the connection that he made with his half-brother was only tentative last year, and so I wanted to explore that more. I wanted TK to meet his uncle that he didn't know he had. Owen's whole backstory is about how he lost a brother and he just found a new younger brother, and now it looks like he might lose him too.
Yes, I definitely think what Owen needed this season were MORE complications. After, you know, he caved in his girlfriend’s husband’s chest and nearly died in a domestic terrorism plot. I wonder what this means for Chad Lowe’s future as Robert and if we can expect to see his telepathic relationship with his brother on-screen in episodes down the line.
First things first, we’ll have to tune in next week to see how this story plays out. 9-1-1: Lone Star returns at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday, May 9, on Fox. You can also check out our 2023 TV schedule to see what premieres are coming soon.