Wednesday, November 18, 2015

REVIEW: 'Chicago Fire' - Severide Questions Patterson's Orders While Mouch Gets Tickets to See Rush in '2112'

NBC's Chicago Fire - Episode 4.06 "2112"

Boden meets his new neighbor, who asks him for a favor that leads to serious consequences. Severide takes offense to being treated like a candidate by Patterson. Cruz receives a surprise visit from his past. The team is called to a house fire and receive thanks in the form of tickets to see the band Rush, much to Mouch and Herrmann's delight.

"2112" is a very clunky episode of Chicago Fire. It's reached the point in its season where the major ongoing story is just going around in circles without any purpose whatsoever. The hour also introduces a few new stories for the characters - with all of them initially playing horribly. Plus, an attempt at a comic relief story with Mouch felt way too distracting an episode that couldn't match the tone it was going for. This episode introduces stuff that will hopefully be important later on this season. But none of them feel particularly exciting right now. Not even the big calls of the week do much to drum up some tension. It is present but it also doesn't play into the ongoing stories in a very appealing or understandable way.

Basically every episode this season has mentioned that Chief Riddle is planning on running for Fire Commissioner. It's a fact known by anyone that also sets him up as opposition to Firehouse 51. He is the source for so much tension on the show right now. That only makes him a one note villain twirling his mustache as he makes the lives of the regular characters more complicated for seemingly no reason. He wants the house to be managed as a business with professional respect and responsibility. He sees one way of going about things. Boden doesn't match that vision for the department. It has never been a problem before. And now, Riddle is making it one. It's just an ongoing storyline that doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Every so often, Riddle comes into contact with a regular character to make their lives more difficult. But what's the purpose of that? It's not as if the regular characters are learning that they need to be more professional on this job. In fact, the show goes out of its way to make the main firefighters right in almost every argument. Riddle is only a source of tension because he's in a leadership position. It's just no longer a storyline with a ton of value.

The ongoing tension at the house is much more interesting when it focuses on the escalating conflict between Severide, Patterson and Boden. With those three characters, it is easier to understand where each of them is coming from. Patterson does seem more loyal to Riddle. And yet, he's working alongside the other two. He's not in an office who only sees this environment in an abstract way. He has to deal with these ongoing problems every shift. This conflict with Riddle has led to this tension between the lieutenants. Patterson operates under the assumption that he has full control over squad. Severide is a problem to him. That would be much more compelling if Severide questioned an order and was subsequently wrong in his assessment of the situation. Right now, the story wants to make sure the audience still sympathizes with Severide. So, he is always right. When a pretty big crash leads to a physical fight, Severide is the one with the right strategy. Patterson wants to reprimand him for not following orders in the field. That's understandable. But Patterson isn't being a good leader either. He's in charge and exerts that power all the time - even over the smallest stuff. He and Riddle talk about individuality fueling a team effort. And yet, the way they want to run things takes all personal connection out of it. It's a needlessly complicated story in order to rile the rest of the characters up into an angry state. A conflict is coming - but not soon enough.

Meanwhile, Mouch getting backstage passes to go see Rush perform was just too silly of a story. A man gave the house four tickets to see the band after they save his sister and nephew during a house fire. The sister was actually pretty stupid during that call too by throwing her baby to the firefighters instead of staying where she was like they told her to do. Everyone wounded up being okay. But it was still a very frustrating development that the show went into an act break with. And yet, it also had no stakes because this isn't a type of show that would needlessly kill a baby because of some dumb mistake. And despite the severity of this situation, Mouch and this guy go off to talk about Rush just moments later like something life-threatening didn't just happen. The rest of the story is just filled with comic hijinks. Mouch determines who else can go see the band with him and then becomes tongue-tied in a very twisted and annoying way when he actually meets the band. None of it was all that endearing. It was just creepy and didn't quite fit in with the rest of the episode. Just because Mouch won in the end didn't make it redeemable at all.

And lastly, the show seems to be recycling plots with two of its newest storylines. Chili and Jimmy figuring out if they want to explore this romantic connection further is the show's latest version of co-workers sleeping together. It's nothing new or different than what Casey and Gaby have done - or what Sylvie and Cruz had last season. It's hot because they make for one attractive couple. But that's really the only thing the story has going for it. Additionally, Cruz has already had a story about getting a young man out of the gangster life. And it was a horrible story too. Cruz has gotten slightly more interesting as a character since then. But there's still no reason why the show should want to repeat a story that didn't work at all the first time it happened. In fact, things can only go worse now that the guy he is helping isn't his younger brother. Plus, it didn't seem like the actor playing the character was all that good. And then, there is the new problem Boden runs into with a neighbor who is apparently crazy - or working with someone who wants to take him down. It's a story that will need to play out before it can be determined whether or not it has a meaningful purpose. But initially, it's just horrible. The less that can be said about it the better.

Some more thoughts:
  • "2112" was written by Ian McCulloch and directed by Holly Dale.
  • Every week it seems that Sylvie and Chili go out on a call by themselves. And every week it seems as if that story is important for a few minutes and then just vanishes. Here, it's a kid accidentally shooting his father with his gun. 
  • It would be way too easy to predict that Riddle is the person behind Boden getting arrested for assault. It could also be that real estate developer that Boden accused of being an arsonist. That's a story that hasn't been mentioned in weeks!
  • It was great to see Boden's wife again but what about his baby? He hasn't been seen in awhile. How big is he getting?
  • Severide has also been suspended from work simply because he continues to aggravate Patterson. These are just two guys who shouldn't work together. But the story will probably end with the two coming to understand each other in a much better way.
  • That cameo by Burgess in the end at Molly's was completely unnecessary. Why did she need to be the one to ask the guys about the big Rush concert? How did she even know about it? Is she even friends with those guys? Yes to Otis and Herrmann because they own Molly's. But it didn't seem all that important to include her here.