9-1-1: Lone Star's Brian Michael Smith Celebrates Paul's Personal Discovery, Laments Losing His 'Soul Sister' Marjan

Paul’s journey took a surprising turn on Tuesday’s 9-1-1: Lone Star when a reminder from his past caused him to examine a part of himself he left behind a long time ago.

Asha and Paul reminiscing about their childhood basketball team caused the firefighter to reflect upon an aspect of himself that he unwittingly abandoned when he transitioned. In speaking with Owen and doing a bit of soul searching, Paul concluded that some pieces of his past are worth preserving — and a new hoop in the firehouse is a pretty good place to start.

Below, Brian Michael Smith breaks down his character’s breakthrough and ponders what could be next for Paul.

TVLINE | I’ll start by saying that I love Paul and Asha together. They’ve got great chemistry.
Let me tell you, man, Amanda is a fantastic actress and a wonderful person. It’s not easy to join our show. We move really fast and there’s a lot going on. But she came in committed, and she was really open, so I felt like we were able to connect on a genuine level.

TVLINE | And considering Asha entered the picture to discipline the 126, a love connection with Paul was the last thing I expected.
That was very surprising for me as well. I was hoping that Paul would find love this season, and I had no idea that this was going to be the entry point, but who doesn’t love a challenge?

TVLINE | The last time Paul had a dating problem was in Season 1, and the issue was that she wasn’t ready to be with a trans man. With Asha, it’s almost the opposite, like Paul’s concern that she knows too much.
When Asha came in, Paul’s biggest fear was whether she would still see him for the man that he is, even though she knows him from who he was pretending to be when he was younger. What’s great about Asha is that what she saw in him and liked about him when they were young is exactly who he is. She saw who he is on an essential level. She’s basically saying, “I saw you back then, and I still see you now, and I’m always gonna see you, no matter what’s going on.”

That really gave Paul the opportunity to process and unpack things he didn’t realize he hadn’t dealt with. The way Paul handled the trauma of navigating his trans experience and things that didn’t go well with that was that he just closed the door, he put everything away, and he moved forward. In doing so, he cut off some parts of himself that were really meaningful. He’s realizing that this survival mechanism doesn’t serve him in the present.

TVLINE | There are universal elements to this storyline, but it also feels very personal. How much input did you have?
We usually start each season with a phone call where [showrunner Tim Minear] will reach out with the rest of the writers in the room and talk about what they’re planning. And then the doors open for me to share what I want to explore. It was really serendipitous when they reached out to me about this particular storyline. I was like, “Tim, are you kidding? Have you been reading my diaries in my early 20s?”

TVLINE | Switching gears to another important woman in Paul’s life, the viewers were pretty bummed when Marjan left, but I imagine Paul was more disappointed than anyone.
Oh, yeah. When you find somebody that gets you on such a spiritual level early on, it means a lot. That’s why he’s so protective of Marjan, because she’s his soul sister and he’s her soul brother. They have this really cool kinship. They mean so much to each other, so to know he doesn’t have that person to turn to when he’s dealing with things is going to be hard for him. He needs somebody like that in his life. A lot of the pain he was experiencing in that moment when she was going away was knowing that it’s going to come at a cost for him to not have this person who serves such an important function in his life.

Your thoughts on Tuesday’s 9-1-1: Lone Star? Hopes for the future? Drop a comment below.

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