Tuesday, January 7, 2014

REVIEW: 'Chicago Fire' Brings Casey Back to the Job Already & Severide & Dawson to the Academy in 'Shoved in My Face'

NBC's Chicago Fire - Episode 2.11 Shoved in My Face

Casey returns to work after his near-death experience; Shay meets Allison Rafferty (Christine Evangelista), her new partner who is friendly to everyone but her; Dawson begins her rigorous training at the Chicago Fire Academy while Severide prepares for his stint as instructor; Clarke stubbornly doesn't speak with the police about the murder; and the future of Molly's looks bleaker than ever.

One of things I've come to love about Chicago Fire is how it presents its stories with so much conflicting action that is equally strong and interesting. The show basically is a glorified soap opera-procedural hybrid. And yet, its narrative works so much of the time because of the interesting situations it places its characters in. These stories have shaped well-rounded characters and thusly seeing them now in new situations feels even more fruitful because of our knowledge of their ticks.

I just wish that Chicago Fire could learn how to resolve said stories with as strong conflict-driven action as it does while the story is percolating. Casey's brush with death was a huge moment during the last episode of 2013. Here, we come back and within the first minute, the show quickly dusts itself off with the attitude of "Did you really think we would try to kill off Casey?" I'm not saying I would have enjoyed seeing more of Casey's recovery. But I do believe it was a narrative grossly overlooking in favor of a slight time jump to refuel the narrative for the back half of the season.

"Shoved in My Face" does introduce a lot of new material - the stuff at the Fire Academy, Casey's mental issues, Shay's new partner & the lawyer looking for her, Otis & Katie's blossoming flirtations and another take on the uncertainty of Molly's future as a business. So it's a pretty tame welcome back episode for the series. I'm looking forward to see where these stories go - even though right know most of it is introductory.

Some more thoughts:
  • Number of Calls: 3 - pipe to guy's neck, weird off-book medical procedural & failed attempt at a robbery. The hostage situation was interesting and more time could have been spent on it while the opening call proved to have a lot of thematic unity for Casey.
  • I'm surprised by how quickly Severide has grown into the big brother role as well as the overprotective glance. That moment with Otis was pretty great.
  • In Mouch news, he doesn't want to be called Mouch anymore and he's borrowing Boden's secretary from time to time.
  • As quickly as the Clarke-may-be-a-murderer plot was introduced, it was resolved. Good thing too. Plus it brought back Jay Halstead and Antonio Dawson just before their new spinoff debuts.