‘9-1-1: Lone Star’s’ Ronen Rubinstein and Rafael Silva on Tarlos Wedding Twist, Surviving That Tragedy in Season 5

SPOILER ALERT: This interview reveals major plot points from the “9-1-1: Lone Star” Season 4 finale, “In Sickness and In Health,” which aired Tuesday on Fox.

They finally did: After seasons of will-they-won’t-they drama, surprise wives, multiple tripes to the ICU, and a last-minute murder, T.K. Strand (Ronen Rubinstein) and Carlos Reyes (Rafael Silva) made it down the aisle, said their vows, and were pronounced husband and husband on the Season 4 finale of Fox’s “9-1-1: Lone Star.”

Here, the on-screen newlyweds discuss with Variety the beauty and tragedy of the two-hour Tarlos wedding episode, and what it sets up for the married first responders in Season 5 (the first season that “Lone Star” will air on a different network from its parent series, “9-1-1,” which is moving to ABC).

In the final moments of the first hour of the two-hour finale, Carlos’s father is murdered, and by the end of the finale, he still doesn’t know who killed him. What was it like for you to play this version of Carlos, who becomes obsessed with getting revenge just before his wedding?

Rafael Silva: Carlos does go through a lot, and I think we see Carlos in a way in which we’ve, thank God, never seen before. How does one prepare to have your father murdered? One does not. So I think, in that sense, Carlos does his best to cope with the nothingness that he has left. Not only the nothingness of his father, the physical presence, but no explanation, no leads as to who did this. It wasn’t an accident. His father was purposefully murdered, purposefully taken away from him, taken away from his life.

And as an actor, that’s such a joyous gift to receive. It’s something you can play with, especially next season, it’s fertile soil. Carlos is holding on to dear life so he doesn’t lose himself. As a police officer, your purpose is to deescalate whatever is happening in front of you: solve the problem, identify the target, resolve. And I think as not only does his profession accentuate that in his personality, but his personality already has that. Where is the safe spot? Where can I be myself? And I think for Carlos, I think he has felt like he hasn’t been able to be himself more often than he has. And so to watch him lose himself completely, I think it only leads us to believe that he will no longer be himself again, in the sense that the Carlos that we have, that we have fallen in love with. And I think that’s something truly exciting to explore next season.

What are your thoughts on how T.K. supports Carlos following his father’s sudden murder, immediately deciding to postpone the wedding, and then also immediately being on board to go through with it, based on what Carlos wanted?

Ronen Rubinstein: Carlos is the most important thing in T.K.’s life. He is quite literally willing to do anything and everything to make it work and to make his partner feel safe and loved in this relationship. T.K. would would probably die for Carlos– I know he would die for Carlos, because T.K. would die for anybody on the job, and we’ve seen that happen almost many times. At the core of T.K. he’s a very selfless giving, very vulnerable, young man. And, of course, that will translate to Carlos, but it’s heightened on such a tremendous level.

Carlos is everything to T.K. In many ways, Carlos has saved T.K.’s life. We even say it in the vows, when there were moments where T.K. felt like he didn’t deserve happiness. That’s one of my favorite little excerpts of the vows; Carlos has finally allowed T.K. to feel happiness and to open himself up to happiness and he’s his rock. There’s no other way for T.K. He’s his soulmate. That scene where he reveals, you’re my soulmate, it’s so true. They are soulmates, and it is meant to be. And they save each other in many ways up until the last minute of the episode.

Paul Strickland (Brian Michael Smith) was the wedding officiant. Did you have any say in T.K. and Carlos’s vows, or suggest anything to be included?

Silva: No. We’re really blessed to have extremely dedicated, hardworking writers. And we’re very thankful for them. And when I received the vows, I got to read Paul’s part, I got to read Ronen’s, and, obviously, I got to read my own. I think the simplicity in which everything was written enhanced what was within, for each and every character. For what T.K. could have been, for his journey with addiction and being rejected by an ex-partner. And Carlos, who just suffered the biggest loss of his life to date. So he already had everything within him, going against him in this precious and beautiful moment. But I think that’s what makes it even more tender and sweeter. It’s the pain behind the joy. We have really good writers, and we’re very thankful for them.

Rubinstein: I’ve been saying this for a while, because a lot of fans are always like, “Are you going to have any say in the vows?” or,”Are you going to write your own vows?” And I think there’s no one better to write the vows than Tim Minear and Rashad [Raisani]. These characters were born out of their brilliant minds, and of course we trust them explicably with the vows. That was never a question.

Ronen, what was it like to have Lisa Edelstein back on set for a brief ghostly appearance as T.K.’s mother, Gwen, whom only Owen (Rob Lowe) sees as T.K. and Carlos say “I do.”

Rubinstein: The relationship between Gwen and T.K. has been the most sensitive thing for me, maybe because of the relationship I have with my own mother. I was raised by women, so I’ve always been very precious of that storyline. And I just love that mother-son relationship on-screen. Lisa is an incredible person to work with and we got along together immediately. Having her back, I got very emotional. I got very emotional when I saw her in the fittings, before we were even on set, because I think it brings back so much of that episode where it showed, truly, the lengths she went to to save her son.

That episode is a lot of trauma for me, as T.K., and I’ve always sort of had that in my heart. So seeing her was really emotional, but it also beautiful. And we got to hug, and get one last goodbye. Hopefully, it’s not — but I think that was Gwen’s way of saying, “All right, I can step away now. Our boy did a good job.” And it’s making me emotional thinking about it, but she said to Owen, “You saved our boy, and I saved our boy. And now he can.” It really intense. And it was amazing to have her. I’m not gonna start crying on Zoom right now, but it was really good.

Speaking of crying: I thought T.K. and Carlos walking down the aisle would get me, I thought the vows would get me, I thought Lisa would get me — but what ultimately got me was the end with Gina Torres’ Tommy singing “Being Alive,” Gwen’s favorite song, to Carlos as a wedding present from T.K. And that is set to a montage of T.K. and Carlos going on their honeymoon and Owen helping his brother die. What did you think of that choice to close out the finale?

Silva: It highlights that, no matter where you from, what kind of job you do, what kind of community you belong to, we all go through our lives going to a certain type of gain and a certain type of loss. And that happy moments can actually coexist with sad moments as well. They’re not necessarily separate. They’re always not necessarily together. But having that being led by Gina, the artist that she is, the talent that she is, and the heart she brings and the story that she tells, it couldn’t have been done by anybody else. Because who else knows loss just like T.K. and Carlos? Tommy. Tommy discovered her husband dead, right in front of her. It has even greater power, because it comes from that person. And it touches each and every person differently. But it touches with that same intention because it comes from the person who knows what that feels like. I can assure you when we did the first take, just like when T.K. and Carlos walked down the aisle, when everyone sat down to hear Gina sing, to hear Tommy sing that story of being alive, it certainly blew everyone away.

Rubinstein: It did a beautiful job of really teetering the balance of how fragile and how beautiful life is, especially for first responders out there.

The honeymoon location looked tropical — umbrella drinks and a pool — but no clear sign of where it was. Do you know where they went?

Rubinstein: We’ve been asked that a lot. It’s sort of up to the fans’ interpretation.

Silva: It’s a secret Tarlos has, and they’re not sharing.

Do you have any thoughts on where you’d like to see the writers take these newlyweds next season?

Rubinstein: I think there’s a very clear idea that we’re going to have to discover what’s going on with Carlos and who murdered his father. And I think that’s something that’s going to unite these two young men, the worst possible common trait, which is losing a parent. So it’ll be very interesting to see where they go with those circumstances. I’m sure it’s going to be something extremely epic, because you can go many, many ways.

Silva: I’m excited to see how Carlos has changed. And I’m excited to give my opinion to the writers. They write from their presence, from their collaboration, but my collaboration comes with what works and what doesn’t work on set. And I will stay very true to what works for that moment and that character. I only say this because we have such fantastic writers. That’s why I’m able to take that ownership, because they give that powerful and complex content to me for me to digest. And Carlos will never be the same. Carlos doesn’t live in a world in which both his parents are alive and his family is great. He lives in a world in which his father was murdered. And there are no answers. There are no explanations. There is no lead. What does that leave me with? What does that leave Carlos with? And I think that will be the juicy stuff to explore.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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