SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Child Care,” Monday’s episode of “9-1-1: Lone Star.”
Baby made three for Judd (Jim Parrack) and Grace (Sierra McClain) on last week’s “9-1-1: Lone Star” — and on Monday’s episode, an estranged teen son and his mother made five. Totally unbeknownst to Judd and Grace, he had a son Wyatt (Jackson Pace) with Marlene Harris (Robyn Lively), a barrel racer he can hardly remember having met at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo in 2005.
On Monday’s “9-1-1: Lone Star,” that boy comes to find Judd with the help of an online DNA ancestry website and Judd and Grace, just getting the hang of taking care of newborn daughter Charlie following her birth at the tail end of the Fox drama’s weeks-long ice-storm plot.
“It’s wild,” Parrack told Variety. “When [showrunner] Tim Minear told me, I immediately went like, damn, we just introduced our little trio. We just saw child and mother and father together for the first time. By the time we get to the next episode, there’s already going to be something thrown into it.”
“Lone Star” truly wastes no time throwing that wrench in, as at the top of the episode, Wyatt comes to Station 126 to tell Judd he’s his father. Judd is naturally skeptical, but as Grace shows up with baby Charlie in tow and Wyatt is going to leave and try to talk to Judd another time, Judd asks him to stay and continue explaining, because Judd insists he doesn’t want to keep Grace in the dark at all.
“Judd’s thinking, ‘We’re not going to have any secrets. Let’s just rip the Band-Aid off,'” Parrack said. “And it was also sort of helped by the fact that at that point in the story, I’m still going, ‘What’s the angle? This couldn’t really be my son. Who’s this little conman with a story somebody cooked up?'”
The skepticism continues throughout the episode, as Judd works through what he — and definitely Grace — already know to be true: This is Judd’s son. Parrack says that accepting that was so difficult for Judd because of not just the shock of the news, but his deep fear of what he could lose if the news were true.
“It was always so clear that Grace was of a certain caliber of human being, and if it was going to work out with her and Judd, Judd had to stretch. He had to stretch morally, he had to make some adjustments. And she was patient and trusting with that,” Parrack said.
“So I think the idea of adding a child to it, I did a lot of daydreaming about what would that be like with me? I’m engaged to be married, if my fiancee and me had a baby a couple of years down the road, and then I found out that maybe some indiscretion in the past created another human life and that had been out there and I didn’t know about it. I was like, damn, the first thing I think I would be hit with is, I hope that’s not right,” he continued. “Just because it seems like it makes the new little family so vulnerable to mistrust and fractionation and all that stuff. And that’s kind of what I acted most of that episode from, something in myself saying, I really, really hope there’s a way to keep what’s precious that I do have intact. And secondary to that is, and I want to do right by these other people, I wanted to do right by this kid, if I can. But really it was like, not if it’s at the expense of Grace and my daughter. I want to do right by these people, but not if it’s going to cost me these two.”
Of course, Grace isn’t going anywhere, and she performs what Parrack calls a “really gracious” act by inviting Wyatt’s mother over for dinner, to meet and eat with her and Judd and get to know them and their baby girl.
“To initiate that while I’m still kind of spinning, for her to just say look, ‘What we’re for sure not going to do is alienate these people.’ And what she does in the episode, by taking that step and kind of taking the reins for a minute is she softens the shock of it all and lets us start to kind of boil things down to just simple human connections,” Parrack said. “And she removes all the scandal from it and everything is just like, ‘Look, this is life now. How do you guys want to go about it?’ It was a really, really well-structured story. And what comes next after I’ve gotten the green light from my family that I can have a relationship with this kid without destroying what we have, what comes next is Judd’s attempt to connect to this kid that couldn’t be more different from him.”
Parrack says that for advice on that topic, Judd is gonna go to “9-1-1: Lone Star’s” resident parenting-a-teen-boy expert, Owen Strand (Rob Lowe). “In Episode 6, you’ll see that attempt. And what I can say is I go to Owen for some fatherly advice. He’s raised a boy so he’s a good guy to aid me in trying to make this connection.”
As for Judd’s relationship with his other new child, Parrack says he’s really excited with what the “Lone Star” writers have prepared for Judd and Grace’s early plots as first-time parents.
“Both of us are public servants and we have these pretty demanding jobs, pretty high-stakes jobs,” Parrack says. “We’re not in the kind of world where we can bring in a nanny or something like that. And without making much ado about it, without talking about it a lot, what you’re going to see is real husband and wife cooperation and taking turns. You’re not going to see assigned roles: dad takes care of this, mom takes care of that. Without talking about it, we just demonstrate both parents are going to have to do it all. And I know for a fact there are a ton of families out there that function just like that, because they have to.”
Parrack added: “Just yesterday we were shooting a scene with the [the infant actors], and I came in after a long shift in the scene and Grace just hands me the kid and goes, ‘Your turn.’ And I’m like, ‘OK, let’s go.’ No complaints, that’s life. So I think the writers have done a good job of letting us start off as good, strong parents. So I think they’ve done a good job of letting us start off as this good, strong parents.”