Tuesday, January 3, 2017

REVIEW: 'Chicago Fire / Chicago P.D.' - Severide Gets Into Some Trouble in 'Some Make It, Some Don't' and 'Don't Bury This Case'

NBC's Chicago Fire - Episode 5.09 "Some Make It, Some Don't" & NBC's Chicago P.D. - Episode 4.09 "Don't Bury This Case"

Gabby and Casey deal with legal matters to remain Louie's legal guardians. When things don't go as planned with the bone marrow procedure, Severide finds himself slipping back into old habits. Severide is brought in for questioning after his car is found to have caused a deadly crash. Intelligence works to uncover a group of car-jackers who may be the key to his innocence.

Both Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. ended their fall runs with some pretty significant changes. Casey and Gabby finally got married so they both could adopt Louie while Antonio decided to leave the Intelligence unit to join the investigator's unit at the State's Attorney's office. The fallout from both of those moments are felt in the shows' return episodes. NBC starts the new year off with yet another crossover between the two shows. They're being aired back-to-back to create a special two-hour block of story. It's an effective programming strategy. The two episodes seamlessly flow into one another. The transition works wonderfully because the focus is so intently on Severide. He takes up a lot of attention in these first two episodes back for both shows. But the other characters are dealing with plenty of other things as well. Things that are just as interesting as what's going on with Severide. Of course, this may be one of the strongest crossovers between shows so far because the Severide story is pretty entertaining and compelling.

When he was last seen, Severide was having a bit of an existential crisis. After one hundred episodes as a cool and confident womanizer, he suddenly decided that was no longer enough for him. He was suddenly filled with uncertainty and doubt that his life had no meaning outside of work. It was an abrupt character shift in the previous episode. It largely just set up this new bone marrow storyline for him. It would give him purpose and meaning. It would give him a new story that wasn't ultimately about him sleeping with a beautiful woman. That was good storytelling growth even if it was forced. And now, Severide is completely committed to the procedure. He's getting his hopes up and actually meeting the woman who'll receive the marrow. Everyone talks about how great she is. And then, she and Severide form an instant rapport. Of course, it's all just setting up the devastating final reveal that her body can't handle the extreme chemo necessary for the procedure. What Severide was doing was honorable and noble but it ultimately can't happen for forces out of his control. That sends him into a dark tailspin of sorts. It's played in these episodes as him somewhat going on a binge and blocking out the rest of the world. It's played as a problem of his when it never really has been before. That's somewhat weird. It's all just setting up the bigger story of Severide's car being in an accident.

That's how the Fire episode ends. Firehouse 51 responds to the scene of the accident. They recognize Severide's vintage vehicle right away. But Severide is no where to be found. They have to focus on treating the victims of the minivan also in the accident. The hour ends with the members of squad and truck uncertain if Severide was involved in this horrifying accident and then fled the scene. Intelligence then picks up the action as Lindsay and Voight lead up the official investigation. It's always good when the show remembers its own history. Severide and Lindsay dated for a little while. They were a good couple too. It was the franchise's first attempt at characters dating across shows. And now, that has become more common as this world has opened up. And yet, the shows largely play their romance as this thing that happened that ultimately didn't mean much to either of them. They are friends now and that's all that matters. That's why Lindsay feels a duty to prove his innocence of vehicular homicide. Everyone feels the importance of this case. Everyone at Intelligence is friends with people from Firehouse 51. But Lindsay especially wants to crack this case and arrest the people truly responsible.

It's a story that ultimately leads to the busting of a group of car-jackers. Severide wasn't responsible for this crime. That's not surprising in the least. The show wouldn't just send one of its lead characters away like this. It could. That would have been a huge shock. It could have been Taylor Kinney being written off the show. But instead, it was just a story crafted to create an intense crossover between the two shows. Severide blacks out because of the blood loss, heavy drinking and pain pills. He's an unreliable witness. So, it's unclear if he ultimately did this or not. People want to believe he'd never run when people are injured. He's always shown a willingness to run into danger - even when he is impaired as well. But the evidence points to Severide being guilty. Until of course, it points elsewhere. The night also included Severide's car being stolen. That's how he got the injury on his forehead. He was car-jacked and the person who did it was ultimately the one who got into the accident. It's a pretty intense takedown because Intelligence struggles to find this guy. Voight has to make a deal with another criminal just to lure the guy out of hiding. But everything works out in the end. Severide is let out of jail and Lindsay is there to welcome him back to freedom.

The P.D. portion of the crossover is largely devoted to the Severide investigation. It's the main focus. There are a few little plot details elsewhere. But it's largely about Severide and needing to solve this case. This also happens to be Burgess' first day working in Intelligence. It's a move she and the show have earned by now. It will be weird to see the show lose the patrol aspect of things. But it's a good move for the character except she does seem a little too eager for the job and pushing for the other members to give her feedback on her performance. Burgess' story also sets up a nice conflict between her and Olinsky. Those two characters haven't had many interactions before. It's awkward seeing them as partners. It was bad when Platt suggested Olinsky was still a little sexist about the job. That didn't really work. But him doubting Burgess because he doesn't believe she earned a spot in Intelligence compared to others on the job does make sense. She was promoted because she's a main character. And yet, it's frustrating that he has these doubts about her but had no problem pulling Ruzek from the academy or working with Atwater when he was promoted. But still, it should be a fascinating story in the next few episodes of P.D.

Meanwhile, the Fire portion is able to be about other things as well. What's going on with Severide is only one of the stories happening. The other significant one is Casey and Gabby dealing with the revelation that Louie's father wants him back. They seemed to pass the biggest legal hurdle by getting married. And now, this whole new complication appears. This man really is Louie's father. As such, he has rights. He seems like a decent guy too. Once everyone moves past the stalking, he comes from a stable family environment. He didn't willingly abandon Louie. He was serving a tour overseas and didn't know Louie existed until he got back. He seems like a guy who could reasonably take care of Louie. That's difficult for Gabby and Casey. They are a family now. It's good for them. They love Louie so much. They can't bear to see him go. Louie's father being a good person makes this story interesting and more complicated for the future. And yet, the show takes the cheap way out by having the dad not show up for the scheduled visitation with Louie. The show had to find some way to keep Gabby and Casey as parents even though the courts side with the birth parents most of the time like they most certainly would do in this case.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Some Make It, Some Don't" was written by Andrea Newman and directed by Drucilla Carlson.
  • Herrmann, Otis, Mouch and Stella getting a ping-pong table and becoming very competitive over the game is really the only story with levity in it. It works as a simple and small story in a regular episode of Fire. It does stand out in a crossover like this though because it's not as serious as everything else going on.
  • Did Brett really need to reveal that she's adopted in order to get Gabby to see her situation from a new perspective? Was that detail about her life really necessary? She could have made the exact same point without it. Unless this is setting up a story for her where she searches for her own birth parents.
  • Things seemed to be getting pretty flirty again between Severide and Stella. They broke up for some pretty good reasons. Their lives were chaotic at the time. Has enough time really passed for them to try something again? Probably not. After this whole ordeal, it might be good for Severide to be single for awhile and get his life figured out. 
  • In addition to all of this, Lindsay is also thinking about whether or not she should meet her estranged father. She tells Jay and Voight that he wants to meet her. Voight even reveals that he knows who the guy is and has known Bunny for much longer than Lindsay thought. And yet, Lindsay still doesn't come to a decision over any of this because the case takes priority.
  • Burgess moving up to Intelligence means her romantic past with Ruzek comes to the foreground once more. It's been good not hearing about that relationship for awhile. But now, she's finding old photos of the two of them and Olinsky is using that as a reason for why he doesn't trust her. Hopefully, this isn't leading to some big reunion between the two.