Wednesday, May 15, 2019

REVIEW: 'Chicago Fire' - Severide Obsesses Over an Arson Case His Father Was Investigating in 'The White Whale'

NBC's Chicago Fire - Episode 7.21 "The White Whale"

A serial arsonist cold case is reopened when Severide finds a connection to a recent salon fire. Firehouse 51 celebrates a retirement party.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of NBC's Chicago Fire.

"The White Whale" was written by Andrea Newman & Michael Gilvary and directed by Joe Chappelle

Severide always had a complicated relationship with his father. He insisted that he was nothing like Benny. And yet, this season has brutally shown just how alike they were after Benny's shocking death. That loss has really shaken Severide in major ways. Sure, it's been annoying how the show keeps repeating itself when it comes to Kidd wanting to help Severide but not wanting to go down that particular romantic road again either. There is such a push-pull dynamic to that relationship but it has grown rather tiring. As such, it's meaningful that everyone isolates Severide a little bit because he is so determined to solve this arson case. Now, there have been many examples over the course of the series that prove that Severide is a good detective. He could easily make the transition to this special department that looks at fire-based crimes. But this particular story wants to cast him as the crazed shadow of his father. He may be seeing a connection that just isn't there. He isn't following good investigative practices. He is harassing the suspects who could be linked to the crime. He is obsessed over every detail and sharing every single hunch with the lead detective. It gets to the point where Boden has to put him on medical leave because his head is not in the right space. And yet, the show ultimately wants to validate Severide by saying that everything he has passionately been fighting for was actually correct. Sure, he was wrong in believing the neighbor was the arsonist. But he was right to see the connection to the old cold case. He interviews the one victim who gave a description of a possible suspect. She turned out to be the criminal. After that, it becomes a race against time to stop her from burning down a church. That is intense and precarious. However, it also shows the limitations the show has with painting its characters in an unflattering light. It wants everyone to be concerned about Severide and how this obsession is the only thing he cares about. Kidd knows he has to prioritize other things like dealing with Benny's estate and belongings. And yet, it sets up a finale in which it becomes a massive manhunt for the woman who lit these fires because she no longer had the emotional stability of her marriage. It's all very strange and doesn't entirely work. Elsewhere, the show continues to go full steam ahead with Casey and Brett as a potential couple. They are awkward around each other but they are flirting as well. She brings the subject up to Foster and Kidd who obviously see the attraction. And yet, Kyle being a presence around the firehouse once more could also stir up some drama. Plus, nothing has really happened yet between Casey and Brett. It just continues to be playful teasing with some big moment probably only happening at the end of the finale. However, this hour does have a strong story when it comes to the people doing this job recognizing the signs of someone potentially not doing well. At first, everyone wishes to celebrate the retirement of a star firefighter. Instead, it becomes a rallying cry to protect one of their own before the absolute worst happens. It proves that even the biggest and strongest need support too. It's because Ritter sees the pattern and concern that help is delivered in time. It's very emotional and highlights the value in speaking up and reaching out during times of need.