Tuesday, October 13, 2015

REVIEW: 'Chicago Fire' - Antonio Finds Casey, Severide is Demoted & Gaby Shares Her Big News in 'Let It Burn'

NBC's Chicago Fire - Episode 4.01 "Let It Burn"

Casey finds himself in very dangerous territory. As a result of the high turnover rate on squad, Severide gets a rude awakening when Dallas Patterson is brought in. New candidate Jimmy Borrelli makes an unusual first impression. Citizens of Chicago band together to take charge of their neighborhood in protest of a drug den in their area, resulting in ramifications that hinder members of Firehouse 51 when called to the scene of a blazing fire.

Chicago Fire heads into its fourth season with a lot of confidence. It has found a really strong rhythm to operate in. It does a solid job of creating meaningful drama and pairing it with strong character work. And now, it has two spinoffs to completely flesh out this world. That's a very impressive accomplishment and proves that this show will be around for a long time. "Let It Burn" has to open with the resolution to last spring's big cliffhanger. The emotional consequences of that will have an impact on the next handful of episodes. But it's not soon after that that the show gets back into its normal routine. Like always, that means some moments work incredibly well and some less so. But it's still appreciated just how much of the focus remains on the characters.

It's a very good thing that the show doesn't linger in the ambiguity of Casey's disappearance. The hour opens with Gaby performing CPR on Katya and alerting Antonio to the situation. He and Voight are able to locate Casey swiftly. He was at the strip club because the mobsters wanted him to find Katya's book detailing the whole operation for them. He survives the ideal and is back in Gaby's embrace within the first few minutes of the premiere. Of course, the psychological ramifications of this night will continue to inform Casey for the immediate future. Just because he's no longer during undercover work for Voight doesn't mean the case is closed. In fact, the show just makes it more complicated in the aftermath. It's more important now than it was before. It wasn't that great of a story last spring. It should have had a simple resolution here that allowed Casey to move onto his next story arc - including Gaby's pregnancy. But it doesn't. The FBI swoop in to get Jack Nesbitt out of jail which leaves Casey furious and unable to process his emotions in a rational way. That largely means he's overly angry about the entire situation and nothing more than that.

Casey's attention should be on Gaby. He almost died and that made him realize just how much he cares about her. It was such a weird decision last season to break the two of them up. At times, it was even hard to remember why the two of them did it in the first place. Some vague reason about tension at work. It was silly. It's a good thing that the two of them are back together by the end of this premiere. It makes Gaby's big news even better now that Casey wants to make this relationship work. Of course, he reacts to the news as her boyfriend. The professional reaction is still coming. She took a pretty big fall during the call this week. She won't be able to do this job for the foreseeable future. That will be heartbreaking after she worked so hard to get to this point. She is no longer the candidate. She has proven herself out in the field. And now, she has to take a step back because she is pregnant. That will be complicated. It's a much more interesting story for the two of them in the next few episodes.

Elsewhere, Severide is struggling with the fact that he has been stripped of his command. He and Casey have proven themselves to be very good leaders at Firehouse 51. This story arc will show just how passionate Severide is about being the leader. It is a logistical concern for the higher ups regarding the amount of turnover on squad. They see it as a problem even though they don't personally know Severide at all. Boden doesn't agree with the decision but he has to enforce it nevertheless. Severide's replacement doesn't seem that approachable by the rest of the squad. These guys have a strong rapport. They trust each other. This new guy wants to make their casual hangouts mandatory. He's forcing them into a situation to build a connection. That may be the wrong way to lead. Severide is questioning whether or not he wants to return to the job after this surprising news. That did come about suddenly. He's great at this job. He loves it. He would never leave it like this. But if other people want him out, he must believe that on some level he's not good enough for the job.

The big action set piece of the premiere is also fraught with human drama instead of a nifty piece of production design and logistics for the firefighters to overcome. In this instance, they are incapable of getting to the house with the fire that needs to be put out because the neighborhood wants the house to burn. It's uncertain whether or not they started the fire. But they don't want anyone to stop it no matter what the consequences are. It's unlawful for them to block the fire trucks from getting to the scene. It's what makes the situation so tense. The team has to handle this fire no matter what the situation is. They are doing their best to protect the neighborhood. Stop the fire before it can spread. That's their noble cause. The citizens around them are solely fixated on eliminating this threat to their neighborhood. But it did get one man killed and almost took another. And now, they are uniting against the department with a trumped up cause. This firehouse is already being looked under scrutiny. So this latest inconvenience could have major repercussions for the season.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Let It Burn" was written by Michael Gilvary & Andrea Newman and directed by Joe Chappelle.
  • Once again, it appears that the folks at Firehouse 51 are actually the only good firefighters in the city. New candidate Jimmy Borrelli is dropped off at the front door by his older brother who is hazing them for the house. It's as if the brother who is also a firefighter doesn't have a respect for how serious the job is. He has a frat boy mentality which is irksome immediately. It's because of Jimmy's determination and willingness to serve that Boden gives him a second chance.
  • How soon until Brett or Chili make a play for Jimmy? He's an attractive young man and both of them are single. The only question is who he will ultimately be paired with.
  • The neighbors who complained about the noise from Molly's were just so ridiculous. They have a newborn. So, why did they buy an apartment next to a bar? Were they that naive? It just seems too silly to take seriously.
  • Brett and Chili also respond to a call with a young pregnant woman getting hit by a stray bullet on a train platform. They had to deliver her baby in the rig. The baby survived but she didn't. 
  • Severide meets an attractive woman at his management training seminar and is already seducing her by that night.