Tuesday, February 23, 2016

REVIEW: 'Chicago Fire' - Casey Learns How to Play Politics While Mouch Has His Bachelor Party in 'Two Ts'

NBC's Chicago Fire - Episode 4.16 "Two Ts"

A citywide propaganda attack against Casey's campaign makes him reconsider his candidacy. Squad is summoned to the scene of a man trapped inside of a burning car with suspicious evidence suggest that the fire may have been intentionally set. Mouch's upcoming bachelor party looms, but with Trudy's brother handling the details, everyone fears for the worst. Jimmy and Brett take a kidnapping investigation into their own hands.

Chicago Fire is currently relaxing into a number of its stories. Jimmy and Stella are getting adjusted to their new roles at Firehouse 51. Everyone is worried about Mouch's bachelor party before his upcoming wedding to Trudy. Casey is realizing just how complicated Chicago politics are and decides to actually start playing the game. All of this is meaningful story work for whatever comes next in all of these stories. There are still teases of potential romance between Jimmy & Brett and Stella & Severide. Casey is making promises to "community leaders" just in order to get elected as the district's alderman. And everyone else is just having fun. That fun is great throughout this episode. Plus, there are a couple great action set pieces in this hour as well. The show is a well-oiled machine at this point. But right now, the stories are all basically lingering a bit too much without enough to excite or engage for the future.

Again, it's still so frustrating to see Casey be so naive when it comes to politics. It's also questionable that the show is trying to portray the sketchy campaign tactics as being a Chicago thing. That's ridiculous. These types of things happen all across the country. Casey should know that. He's a smart man. And yet, his ideals are defining this story right now. He's running because he wants to make the community a better place and is surprised at the lengths people will go to in order to discredit him as a candidate. It's very weird. He's so resistant to the way politics actually happen. He sees all of these offers of support but they all come with strings attached. Casey just wants to do what's right. This position could be a very good thing. He could give back to the community in ways that he can't solely as a firefighter. This episode is about him compromising his ideals a little bit. Early on, he is told that's what he needs to do in order to be a politician and get stuff done. But it's mostly important because Casey is now willing to play the game that he has signed up for. He's already trying to use his influence to bring change to this community. He's gifted for this job. Now, he just needs a better understanding of the people he comes into contact with in this new world. It's a pretty formulaic story in this episode. Also, how many times can the audience reasonably watch Casey question whether or not he wants to be in this race? But this hour does set him up as a candidate that should be taken seriously - which should be good for the future and gives more legitimacy to this story.

Elsewhere, more clarity is given on Severide and Stella's secret past. Her debut last week quickly presented her as the latest sexual conquest for Severide. That was irksome because she could have been more than that. In this episode, she is still being presented that way too. She's somewhat a sexual object. Severide is interested in her and feels like apologizing for his actions in the past. Apparently, he tried to seduce her when she was still married and her husband doesn't believe that nothing happened between them. Her now ex-husband even shows up in this episode too. It plays solely as a very suggestive scene too. He shows up and Stella directs him to the supply closet. And yet, they don't have sex. He gets some type of shots that he feels more comfortable with when she does it for him. It's very manipulative on the show's part. It shows that Stella has a playful edge. But most of it just felt off because it was Gaby calling Stella out on her actions - when she's just as guilty with having sex in the firehouse. It's all too strange to really work at all.

It's much more promising to have Jimmy on the ambulance with Brett. Their sexual dynamic is quickly forgotten about as well. That's a good thing because it was really forced in the previous episode. Instead, this hour presents a new story opportunity for Brett as she becomes personally connected to a kidnapping case. The father-son victims in the first big action sequence of the episode show up at Chicago Med with contradictory stories. For some reason, Brett decides to investigate the case herself instead of informing the appropriate individuals of what's going on. That's never adequately explained. And yet, Brett is invested in this case. It's very consistent on the show's part to remember that she can sometimes struggle with just leaving these cases at the door. This little boy made an impact on her. She did her best to get to the bottom of this situation. Instead, she unearthed a very complicated family mess where the dad may have been taking his son away from a drug-addicted mother. There really isn't a whole lot of resolution to this story by the end of the hour. At least not in the way the show typically resolves stories. The mother wants to report Brett for the accusation of drug use she "randomly" brings up. So, that could be an interesting complication for the character moving forward.

And yet, most of the fun of this episode came from the antics surrounding Mouch's bachelor party. At first, the story somewhat painted Trudy as a horrible person for forcing Mouch to make her half-brother, Logan, his best man instead of anyone from 51. If that were the case, there would be no way these two would be a couple. So, that was always concerning as the show delved deeper into the nerdy plans that Logan had made for this party. But of course, all of it was leading up to the big reveal that Trudy and Herrmann were planning a surprise bachelor party for Mouch instead. That reveal was a ton of fun. It shows just how effective this show can be when it's just the characters interacting with each other in amusing ways. That worked really well here and helped overcome some of the clunky plot points of the story.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Two Ts" was written by Derek Haas & Ian McCulloch and directed by Reza Tabrizi.
  • The visual of all of those manhole covers popping up due to the fire below in the sewer was fantastic. It really added a nice level of tension to that first action set piece. However, there should have been more of an explanation for why that was happening in the first place.
  • Why is Brandon Jay McLaren's character so interested in getting Casey elected? He is the middleman in these negotiations between Casey and these gangsters. But he doesn't seem all that affiliated with them and has a strong sense of what politics actually mean. His motivation needs to be better explained.
  • The odds of the guys from 51 all leaving the bachelor party at the same time are pretty unlikely. And yet, it was worth it because of the visual of seeing them all in that elevator having experienced a party they weren't expecting at all.
  • During the call with the car on fire as a way to punish a gang member working on the wrong corner, why did the school administrators across the street let so many students out of those front doors? It could have been a dangerous situation and they were just willing to risk these kids safety? It was just a way to get Casey to realize just how important his current situation really is.
  • The guy with the chain wrapped around his head was probably one of the most gruesome injuries the show has ever done. But how did it happen again? It didn't make a whole lot of sense. It looked cool though.