Wednesday, May 22, 2019

REVIEW: 'Chicago Fire' - Severide and Kidd Grow Closer While Tracking Down an Arsonist in 'I'm Not Leaving You'

NBC's Chicago Fire - Episode 7.22 "I'm Not Leaving You"

Severide and Kidd continue to investigate Benny's old arson case, unexpected news leads Brett to ponder a big decision and all hell breaks loose.

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 season finale of NBC's Chicago Fire.

"I'm Not Leaving You" was written by Derek Haas and directed by Reza Tabrizi

Not every season of this show closes on some big cliffhanger in which it's completely possible that the entire firehouse could die because of some dire emergency. However, it has become a known plot device over the years as well. In fact, the events of this finale may even call back to the close of the second season in which the paramedics were also in the building that could explode at any minute. Just because it's familiar though doesn't mean it's boring. It's still very effective because the action remains just as intense. These emergencies are still what the show fundamentally does best. Plus, these characters have all escaped some seemingly improbable situations before. As such, hope remains alive that all of them will safely make it out of this fire at a mattress factory. Sure, a death is always likely as well. This year dealt with a massive cast shakeup in the departure of Monica Raymund as Gabby. The show was perfectly able to navigate through that transition and still tell meaningful stories with its characters. It could do so once more. It's still a show at the end of its seventh season though. So, some things aren't as fresh or compelling as they used to be. The show is still essentially playing the same tricks it has always done in the past. This season was full of melodramatic moments for Severide and Kidd as a couple. They split up because he shut down completely after the death of his father. He is still recovering from that loss at this moment. He has become obsessed with solving this arson case and ensuring that the woman responsible won't hurt any more people. The previous episode closed on the idea that this would be a rallying cry for the entire department. The focus for this finale could be the firehouse working together to catch this criminal. Instead, it's just Severide and Kidd who are personally tasked with that job. That's a little odd but it does make it a more intimate experience for them. As such, it's not all that shocking to see them reunite as a couple after bringing this woman to justice. Plus, it even presents as Severide dealing with the emotional baggage left behind by his father in a healthy and positive way. All of that is rewarding. It's exactly what this season was buildings towards. That's what makes it so satisfying despite all of the drama along the way that prevented them from simply being a happy couple. But that's what makes it so odd to see how the show handles Casey and Brett as a potential couple. The last few episodes have heavily been teasing that that's the direction they will be pursuing. They have been interacting more and have even contemplated whether dating would actually be a good idea. Casey has the impulse to invite Brett as his plus one for an event. Meanwhile, Brett wants to explore how she really feels towards Casey. And then, Chaplain Kyle returns with a big declaration of love and a proposal. Brett accepts mostly because she is swept up in the moment and doesn't feel like explaining why she would decline to her co-workers. It's built around the idea that they could happily move to Indiana together because of a new job he has gotten. But it's very much the show taking a major turn instead of resolving what it was building towards for awhile now. And yet, all of that might change because of the big emergency at the end. This factory could explode. There are so many people who are still in danger. It's a very precarious situation. One that requires everyone to be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. That could be very illuminating to them as well should they survive it all. Herrmann and Ritter are on the frontline of trying to put out the fire before the building blows up. They are in jeopardy the most - which seems likely to hit the audience in different ways depending on how emotionally invested we are in those particular characters. To me, Herrmann has been the absolute worst for a long time while Ritter has been a very pleasant addition to the show this season.