Wednesday, September 25, 2019

REVIEW: 'Chicago Fire' - The Mattress Fire Grows Even More Dangerous and Lethal in 'Sacred Ground'

NBC's Chicago Fire - Episode 8.01 "Sacred Ground"

The mattress factory fire spirals out of control. Truck and squad lay it on the line in hopes of getting the trapped victims out alive.

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 premiere of NBC's Chicago Fire.

"Sacred Ground" was written by Derek Haas and directed by Reza Tabrizi

This show has closed many seasons on a major cliffhanger in which several main characters seemed trapped in dire circumstances and were facing imminent death. Now, it hasn't always been the same type of cliffhanger. Sometimes, it has been a response to a call. Sometimes, it happens in someone's personal life. Sometimes, a major character dies. Sometimes, all of the characters miraculously make it out alive. The audience can never be fully sure of what to expect. The uncertainty comes from these characters always being willing to lay their lives on the line in order to save as many as they can. The mattress fire seemed incredibly perilous. Everyone was essentially put into harm's way - especially once the call was made to bring the paramedics inside. That soon becomes a controversial decision. Sure, it also mirrors the cliffhanger at the end of the second season in which all of the major players except Boden were caught in a building when an explosive happened which ultimately claimed a life. The same outcome occurs here. Otis is the one caught in the crossfire. He is the one who makes the ultimate sacrifice. It is genuinely shocking and moving. At times, the show can make its characters seem capable of incredible feats. There was once a season finale fire that seemed inescapable for Casey. He did though. He is still alive too. But Otis' death hits the firehouse hard. It highlights the importance of remembering the lives lost in this profession. Cruz reflects on the power of legacy. He doesn't want to look up what Otis' final words translate to because he can't bear the thought of his best friend being in agonizing pain. Otis also endured so much across the series as well. He was shot at and had to recover his way back to being a firefighter. He developed a health condition that also threatened to take him away from this job. He kept fighting though. The action itself at the top of the premiere is a little hard to follow. The entire squad and truck have to duck for cover in the very room they were trying to break into to free those trapped inside. The boiler explodes and causes a huge section of the building to collapse. It's miraculous that the civilians all caught in this chaos and confusion make it out alive. The firefighters can simply focus on rescuing each other. Brett has a broken arm and Otis has fatal burns. Brett mounts a full recovery while Otis dies at the hospital. It is inherently tragic. It breaks the Firehouse 51 family apart once more. This isn't the first time it has happened. The action lingers on the memorials dedicated to Shay's memory. And now, it's just as important to leave something behind to best remember Otis. Boden's speech in the end is very moving. It's vital that these firefighters keep these stories alive to shine a light on the bright and brave souls lost on the job. That is a terrific moment. But that makes it more awkward when an official inquiry is conducted about how this fire was managed. The review board doesn't quite understand the calls that Casey, Severide and Boden made. None of them ultimately become an easy scapegoat. That may be more difficult for the department overall. And yet, it doesn't read as looming drama that can do even more damage. It just serves as a way to keep this tragedy in the minds of those who survived it. Afterwards, it becomes nothing more than a few details on paper. Casey may lament that but he also has to find a way forward. Elsewhere, Brett has actually moved back to Indiana with Kyle the chaplain. They are happy together. However, her status as a character the drama is still interested in basically tells the audience upfront that she'll return to Chicago at some point. The action also reminds the viewer that she left Indiana for the big city because of an engagement that wasn't right. She may be repeating that pattern once more if she decides to leave because she won't be as busy or excited here as she was in Chicago. That may make things complicated. And yet, it's annoying that the show brought Hope back to the proceedings in order to tell this story. She really didn't need to be brought up again. But now, Brett is forced to interact with her. It's either that or simply become a chaplain's wife which may set up its own problems for her.