9-1-1: Lone Star's Gina Torres on that kiss, and what's next for Tommy (and Julius?)
We all deal with grief in different ways — and on 9-1-1: Lone Star that may result in a kiss.
Monday's episode started with the unexpected arrival of Tommy's (Gina Torres) brother-in-law Julius (Batwoman actor Nathan Owens). Tommy is furious, as she's always resented him — and even more so after he missed her husband Charles' funeral...or so she thought. As they are working through their issues, Tommy and Julius share a kiss. It's played off as a mistake and the two appear to move on from it quickly. But will they?
"Well, I think the way it ended up playing, at least in this episode, is that these are two people who make a connection over their shared loss. They both have a Charles-shaped hole," says series co-creator Tim Minear. "And so, I think that moment is out of grief, and it's out of need, and it's out of wanting to connect," he adds of the kiss. "It's out of all those things, and that's really how it plays here. But I do think that there is a spark between them, which is confusing and potentially dangerous."
With that bomb dropped, we had to hear more from both Minear and Torres on what's in store for Tommy moving forward.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Gina, how did you feel when they told you they were going to kill off Charles last season?
TORRES: I was so mad. It was important to me for so many reasons that we see an intact Black family on the air — also, very specifically, and Afro Latinx family be seen as wholesome and functional and passionate and loving. That was so important to me in terms of representation. Personally, it was something that I'd never got to do. It was not a huge part of my career, to be part of a sustained relationship in that way. Of course people will cite Firefly, and Wash and Zoe had a beautiful love affair and marriage, which also ended tragically suddenly. But there was an everyday grace to this relationship that I loved diving into. And I miss it. That and, of course, the foursome of Tommy and Charles and Judd and Grace [played by [Jim Parrack and Sierra McClain], those were great days too. Those were great scenes — having those relationships with couples, and what we share and what we go through. So, it was hard to let go of that.
MINEAR: But [killing Charles] doesn't say anything about the strength of that family, or the love of that family, or the health of that family. It just says even into the lives of people to which it should not happen, comes tragedy. If the sky isn't falling on you, you're having a good day, really. And if the reason I don't want to walk away from that loss, and not explore that loss, is because of the health of that family. I think exploring what it means to somebody like Tommy to lose the man that she thought she was going to grow old with, is very emotional. Charles didn't walk away, sometimes bad things just happen. I mean, that's life. I love that relationship and I loved seeing them together. But I also love exploring the deeper drama of the trauma, and seeing how Tommy survives, and seeing how she comes out on the other side. She's never going to forget him. I think that they will be reunited in some place.
So where is Tommy at with that struggle when tonight's episode starts and she sees Julius?
TORRES: I think she can't help but be incredibly protective of Charles — of his memory, of his legacy, of their marriage, such as it was. And so, the reason why she comes at him so hard is because she's very much in that mama bear, fierce wife mode still. I mean, this is a woman that still wears her wedding ring.
But she forgives Julius eventually...
TORRES: And with the forgiveness also comes a relief, and a release that she can let that go. Charles' memory is not in danger. His daughters are not in danger. What their marriage, such as it was, is intact. And whatever happens is from here on out, right? It is for Tommy to explore. It's her life now, and there's something very freeing about that. We, particularly as women, take on all so many titles during the course of our lives. And the last one on the list as we get older, depending on the journey that we take is "woman." We are sisters, we are daughters, we are wives, we are mothers, we are professionals — not necessarily all these, and not always in that order, of course. And we see Tommy being all of those things, but now we really get to see her come back around to "woman," and I think that's exciting: what she needs now, what she wants now, what is important to her now at this point in her life.
We've heard what Tim has to say about the kiss and what it means, but what do you think about it?
TORRES: I think you make a great point about grief. Grief manifests itself in so many different ways. And with these two people, who are missing this big love in their life, that kiss comes from wanting to comfort. It's born of a familiarity, and something that we're grasping at — we're grasping at that love. I think the tricky part about it.... What Tim and I discussed was really, "We don't want the audience to feel like either one of us is betraying Charles." We just wanted to make sure that it came from a place that was so organically pure that the audience can't help it be as stunned as we are and get to a place of, "Oh, okay. All right. They haven't lost their minds. This isn't about sex. It's about love. It's about love and grief, and how those things can get twisted up in wanting to be comforted in that moment."
What can you tease about what's to come from here?
TORRES: I mean, it's all being written as I speak to you.... What I can tell you is my hopes for Tommy's journey: My hope is that she continues to move forward past her grief and creates more and more space for herself, and redefines what it is for her to be not a wife but a single mom. And it makes really interesting television to have her make mistakes along the way, as we all do, and see the fear, and sometimes some confusion. And who knows, maybe at some point she'll get it right. I hope there'll be somebody wonderful in her future that she can settle in with and be excited and be giddy about, and maybe even exhale.
MINEAR: I would just say that the season started with everybody thrown to the winds and separated, and the season has been about them coming back together and maintaining that bond, and that bond becoming tighter. Hopefully by the end of the journey this season, we will have cemented their places side by side.
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