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Lone Star “Pilot”

Photo Credit: Fox

Robert Allen is an abused kid, all grown up and still kowtowing to a grifter dad, John, until he finally mans up and realizes he’s in a position to make his own way. When he offers his dad cash in exchange for his freedom from the con, the elder Allen finally realizes that Robert has had enough.

Robert leads a complicated life on two sides of Texas—both tied to oil, but that’s where the similarities end. In Midland, he’s Robert, a futures salesman with a girlfriend, Lindsey, and a cozy bungalow. In Houston, he’s Bob, the husband of an oil baron’s daughter, Cat, at home in a River Oak-caliber home and on the job as the baron’s protégé, leapfrogging his brothers-in-law—one who could care less and the other determined to regain control.

Robert isn’t cavalier about his deception. It breaks him. When his dad fetches him out of Midland in the middle of the night because their con is going south, he ends up in a convenience store in time to witness another deadbeat dad browbeating a son who’s just trying stay right. He settles the man’s debts so the son can keep his job and goes back to Houston with a plan. He finds a tract of land in Midland that will let him go home again, cash in hand, to make right what he had wronged in a community that was the home he’d never had. As the episode closes, he’s in Vegas marrying Lindsey, because, as he tells his dad, he’s in love with both women.

I’m 39 and I’ve lived in Houston since 1974. I loved that the show was not over-the-top twangy and affected with the Texas accents. Robert’s dad is played by the absolutely Southern and ever awesome David Keith. Cat’s dad, Clint, is played by Jon Voight with a raspy, familiar dialect that I grew up around, instead of something borrowed out of South Fork. Newcomer James Wolk has the perfect easy, breezy charm of a bullshitter without overselling it; you see the real him underneath when the facade can’t hold and the tears come.

I can see why so many people have jumped onboard the train for this show. It’s not your average drama. It takes its time laying out the story; using traveling music between Robert’s transitions in lieu of overtalking it, similar to the way music was used in Away We Go, a film about a couple trying to figure out where home is—a journey Robert is on as well. Lone Star is a lovely tonal companion to Friday Night Lights, another genuine Texas show, shot in (Dallas,) Texas. FNL alum Adrianne Palicki brings that pedigree over as Robert’s (first) wife, Cat.

You’ll be on edge as you wait for Robert to misstep running a con that may finally be beyond him. His daddy tells him he can’t live in a house of cards, so he went and built two.

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