Tuesday, March 3, 2015

REVIEW: 'Chicago Fire' - Severide & Casey Fight Pridgen After a Critical Error is Made on a Call in 'Red Rag the Bull'

NBC's Chicago Fire - Episode 3.16 "Red Rag the Bull"

Chief Pridgen comes under fire after making a tactical error during an apartment fire for which he throws Casey under the bus, leading Severide to take it upon himself to clear the problem. Welch is faced with the choice of fitting in with the firehouse or following his superior's orders. Mouch is floored upon learning that he has a child. Brett and Cruz take Dawson out on a double date. Boden focuses his efforts on his duties at home as a father.

It is understandable that Chief Boden would need to take some time off from the job following the birth of his son and the death of his father. He needed to figure out some things in his personal life and not be as focused on the job as he once was. Because the job is so life-threatening, he had to take a step back from it for a little while. He wanted to be a good father for his son. He wanted to be present in his life. He didn't want his work to overcome his whole life. He's happy that he has Donna and Terrence in his life. He wants to spend as much time with them as possible.

But the show is never fully committed to the idea of Boden stepping down from his leadership role within the family. Firehouse 51 is a family. They have a pack mentality that isn't always kind to outsiders. In the past, they have had their differences with Welch. So his addition in the last two episodes had some weight too. However, the inclusion of Chief Pridgen had such a placeholder feeling to it. He was a character who's sole perhaps was to get under the skin of the entire firehouse and the audience. Make things so horrible that they would be begging for Boden to make a swift return to the job. He has no redeeming qualities. He is a jerk to the people now serving underneath him and is a horrible chief when it comes to making decisions in the field. He is so self-interested that he would risk civilians getting hurt just because of his personal vendetta against Casey. Usually in this type of situation, the character would have some quality about him that would make it difficult to fire him from this job. Pridgen has none. So just as quickly as he was introduced, he is walking out the door to welcome back Boden. It's a decision I was expecting to come. It just played out in a way that had no personal or professional stakes.

It's a story as much about Welch as it is about any other character. He gets some redemption following the horrible thing he did at the start of the season. Welch has been jerk to the people in the firehouse. And that cost him a lot of respect in this profession. Now, he just wants to do the job without causing any more controversy. Yes, he still gets on the nerves of Casey and Severide. But he's thrown into a unique position as the only person who can help Casey before Pridgen throws him under the bus. The uncertainty over whether or not he would sign the statement wasn't as big a moment as it could have been. But then, he gets his big change of heart when Casey saves him from being shot during another call. It's painfully transparent but it is still rewarding to see him do the right thing in this instance.

And lastly, it is easy for Boden to be convinced to return to the job because he is being too overbearing in his responsibilities as a father. He's still always plugged into what's happening at the firehouse. But he is 100 percent committed to being with his family. It's an admirable quality but also one that gets on Donna's nerves a little bit too much. Put that on top of caring for a newborn and it's enough to make her slightly desperate for him to leave her alone for a little bit. They both want him to return as chief, but they're also too proud to tell the other their true feelings. Herrmann knows the truth but he knows better than to get into the middle of their relationship. If he did that, then Boden may not be returning to the job as quickly. That shows how good a friend Herrmann is to the Boden family. And it also means, things will be returning to the status quo next week. This little story diversion was interesting but mostly just infuriating and pointless.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Red Rag the Bull" was written by Tiller Russell and directed by Sanford Bookstaver.
  • Casey seems to be in a bad mood for the entire episode. He's being punished by Pridgen and there's very little he can do to change it. He has to rely on Severide and Welch in order to clean up this mess that the Chief created for him.
  • Sylvie tries pushing Gaby back into the world of dating by setting up a double date with her and an attractive guy from the administrative part of Chicago Med. He's an instant dud, but Sylvie wants Gaby to keep exploring her options. Meanwhile, Gaby just wants a friend right now. Even though Casey had a nice fling doesn't mean Gaby is ready to commit to that next step.
  • Mouch learns that he has a kid from back in the days when he donated sperm. A technical error means his private information was released and the kid is able to contact him. Things are going well in Mouch's life right now. He's worried that by adding something new to the mix could ruin all of it for him. He doesn't want to consider the option that his life would become much better because he has a relationship with a son.
  • More importantly, Mouch lies to Platt about meeting his son for lunch. She's a smart and resourceful lady. So I'm sure she was able to figure that out, but this is definitely a turning point for their relationship.
  • Mills is hopeful that his upcoming medical checkup will clear him for squad duties again. He's still clinging onto the hope of being something more than an EMT.