Spoiler alert: We’re about to break down Monday’s 9-1-1: Lone Star spring premiere. Haven’t watched? You’ve been warned.
Sometimes it takes careening off the side of the bridge in the middle of a torrential downpour to find out just how much a character is appreciated. That was certainly the case for Judd and Grace Ryder, whose fates were finally revealed on Monday’s spring premiere of 9-1-1: Lone Star after remaining up in the air for more than a month.
“It’s been really unexpected,” Sierra McClain tells TVLine of the fan response to her character being in peril. “I’ve never gotten so many messages from fans, extended family members, grandparents, like, ‘You OK, right?’ And I’m like, ‘Yes ma’am, I’m good.'”
Jim Parrack, meanwhile, hasn’t felt that social media deluge — mostly because he’s decided to log off for good. “I’m not on social media anymore, which has been really cool,” Judd’s portrayer says. “All I get is the good news from my castmates. They tell me that the fans love Grace and Judd, and I say, ‘Right on!’ They say the numbers are going up, and I say, ‘Right on!’ It’s great.”
Below, Parrack and McClain take TVLine inside this week’s emotional hour, which flashed back to Judd and Grace’s sweeter-than-expected courtship before revealing what the future holds for the two (or three?) of them:
TVLINE | I know this episode was about Judd and Grace falling in love, but I think I fell in love with them, too. What an hour.
PARRACK | When [showrunner Tim Minear] was laying out the blueprint for this one, I said, “Man, if the episode is anything like what you’re describing, it’s going to be the finest thing I’ve had the privilege to act in on camera in my whole life.” My favorite part of my role on the show is the stuff Sierra and I do together, so to have an entire episode built around that with depth and levity and peril and triumph — and murderous rage, at times — is like a perfect little movie that I imagine will help us play our parts better moving forward.
MCCLAIN | 1,000 percent. It added a whole new layer of depth to the relationship. This made me care about Judd even more than I did in the beginning. As a consumer, not just as an actress, I understand him better now. It really humanized the character for me — the tragedies that he has been through. It also made me proud of her, seeing her almost 10 years prior, making the decisions she felt was right, following where her heart was leading her.
TVLINE | It’s probably tough to pick just one, but did you have a favorite moment from the episode?
PARRACK | I got a chance to watch it, and my favorite moment was when we met, how we met. I keep going back to it. I loved all the stuff on the phone. I got to be around for the very beginning of that, when they were shooting Sierra’s side. I wanted to see how she was acting that stuff, because I thought it might influence how I acted it. It was such a cool way to watch two people come to love each other before they fall in love with one another. Especially the way Tim cut it together, I just love those scenes. It’s such a nice dance.
MCCLAIN | For me, it’s a tie between the phone calls and the very end of the episode. Just being there and playing that moment at the very end.
TVLINE | Well, since you mentioned the ending… congratulations on the pregnancy!
MCCLAIN | Thank you!
PARRACK | I’m so excited to act out fatherhood.
TVLINE | Judd and Grace were instantly excited. What were your reactions when you found out about this twist?
PARRACK | When they talked about it at the end of 208, I thought, “OK, maybe someday down the road they’ll let us do that.” It was a complete surprise to me that it happened at the end of this episode. Not only are we both going to be OK, but damn! I think what you saw in the episode was also our organic response to hearing it. Whatever doubt we had about being parents, we’re excited for it.
MCCLAIN | I also had no clue. I knew a bit about the origin episode, but I hadn’t read it yet, so I didn’t know what was going to go down. Tim gave me a quick call while I was in the middle of a fitting for this episode, and it just felt like a regular routine call. You know, “Hey, here’s what’s coming up.” And then he just threw it out there. I had a huge reaction, and he just laughed. It was a whole moment. I was very excited, and I’m still really excited.
TVLINE | I don’t know if you know this, but in the 9-1-1 episode that airs before this one, their dispatcher — Maddie, played by Jennifer Love Hewitt — gives birth to her baby. So this feels very full circle.
MCCLAIN | No way! She gives birth in that episode? Oh, how special is that.
PARRACK | Well, it is the spring premiere, you know. Go big.
TVLINE | Jim, I have to ask about the actor who played young Judd. Please tell me you got to meet him. That was some incredible casting.
PARRACK | My man Fowler! First, Tim showed me his audition tape. His mom had set up a fun gag where he thought he was slating, and then she told him on camera that he got the part. He was overwhelmed with happiness and joy. I thought, “What a sweet kid.” We obviously didn’t shoot anything together, but I did get to meet him. He couldn’t have done a better job. This was his first job, and he was so relaxed. He has such good instincts. I wrote him a little note, just saying, “Hey man, for whatever it’s worth, here are my thoughts on growing into an actor and growing into being a man. Don’t be afraid to aim high, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. He and his family wrote me back this beautiful card that’s going right in the treasure box. Part of the fun of doing this professionally is the people you get to meet, and that kid is special. Here’s to him.”
MCCLAIN | It was uncanny. And magnetic. I was watching him in some of the clips, and I was like, “Oh my goodness.” I couldn’t look away.
TVLINE | And Jim, I have to say — I didn’t know what was going to happen when Judd got that guy alone in his hospital room. Did that go down as you expected?
PARRACK | [Laughs] I loved it! As Tim was describing it to me on the phone, I was like, “Can I choke him with his own gown, instead of grabbing him by the neck, so he won’t be able to get out of it?” This was just his gut reaction to finding out that the guy who might have killed his wife is right there. It’s not a happy one. And I like that they didn’t shy away from that. What’s amazing and what can only happen in TV world, is that Owen comes in and breaks it up, and then the next moment he’s just in the waiting room. He’s not about to rat on me. The captain’s got my back.
How relieved are you that Judd and Grace (and their baby!) survived the accident? And how many times did you swoon this week? Grade the spring premiere below, then drop a comment with your full review.