Tuesday, December 10, 2013

REVIEW: 'Chicago Fire' Battles Closure as One Squad Member is Sent to the Hospital in 'Not Like This'

NBC's Chicago Fire - Episode 2.10 Not Like This

Boden and the rest of the house refuse to allow themselves to sit by and let the firehouse close; an emergency call to an apartment structure fire tests everyone's limits and puts the squad in harm's way; Dawson receives some life-changing news; and Greg Sullivan makes headlines which has an immediate impact on Mouch.

Heading into Chicago Fire's fall finale, the most pressing plot thread was the imminent closure of Firehouse 51 by Gail McLeod. The squad has one final shift together. They are willing to do just about anything to keep the station open. But I did feel a certain lack of urgency during the first half of "Not Like This." It felt like just another day and shift on Chicago Fire. The squad is called to a car accident and Shay and Dawson respond to some sexually adventurous people. Those sequences were entertaining and served a purpose. But also felt very in line tonally and aesthetically to what the show has done so well for awhile. I was intrigued in seeing how this being their final shift together might effect how they perform their duties.

Instead, the show saved the firehouse by having the community rally around them. You could tell the show was heading in that direction too. When Boden tells the members of the community about the closure, you just knew they would could back to save it. The show just had to go through the motions to make that happen. Because of that, the show didn't know what to do with Gail McLeod and simply turned her into even more of a contrived one-note villain. She was doing it all for the money! Yawn.

But the hour did pick up steam as it went along which was fueled so much by the Casey and Dawson relationship. At the top of the hour, they decide to tell everyone because it's going to be their last shift. That never comes to fruition as the two have to deal with two very separate but big emotional decisions.

Dawson gets accepted into the firefighter program and is gonna do it. This did come out of no where. The show hasn't really shown Dawson having any kind of inclining to be a firefighter. But it did open the series up to a fantastic dialog about the difference between men and women in this profession. It did make Hermann antagonistic but someone had to be in order for those concerns to be raised. It's an interesting discussion and one I'm anticipated for in the new year.

Finally, Casey near the start of the episode noted how one shift could change a person's life. He said it in reference to the closure debacle. But it wasn't until after the firehouse was saved that the squad got called into a life-changing situation. That was one massive building fire and one impressive action piece. Casey made a split second decision to save the life of the baby and gets severely hurt in the process. The show isn't backing away from how dangerous this line of work can be. I don't expect Casey to die but I also know that this will be an injury that will really test who he is as a character and who he is in this relationship with Dawson.

Some more thoughts:
  • I appreciated the use of the kid Severide saved and the senator guy Mills' new girl is working for in the community-saves-51 plot though. It makes the moment work slightly better because it gives the sense that the show was actively building up to this.
  • Cruz is heartbroken over the loss of Zoya and Leon and that let's the show plug in a Lady Gaga song.
  • Also, that guy harassing Clarke and his wife is now dead and Clarke is the main suspect. That too happened in this finale.
  • Lastly, Mills is a firefighter. That conflict never interested me and I'm glad it was such a small tidbit here. But man, was it awkwardly placed in the middle of the episode's emotional highlight.