Wednesday, October 16, 2019

REVIEW: 'Chicago Fire' - Firehouse 51 Responds to Numerous Calls Involving an Infectious Bacteria in 'Infection, Part I'

NBC's Chicago Fire - Episode 8.04 "Infection, Part I"

A rare but deadly bacteria takes its toll on numerous victims around the city, leaving Chicago's finest first responders to work together alongside the CDC to resolve the dangerous situation. Following a fire at a local university that ties into the outbreak, Severide has suspicions that something bigger is happening.

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.

"Infection, Part I" was directed by Reza Tabrizi with story by Dick Wolf & Derek Haas and teleplay by Derek Haas

The Chicago shows pride themselves on their shared universe. The characters from Fire, Med and P.D. frequently appear in all three hours. Airing them all on one night has proven to be a solid programming strategy for NBC as well. Dick Wolf dominates Wednesdays for the channel right now. These epic crossover events even further blend the boundaries of this extended world. At times, they have simply been shared stories that start on one show and are resolved in another. They would still feel distinct as episodes of Fire, Med and P.D. though. That makes this crossover event a little more unique. There are moments throughout this first hour designated as a Fire episode that feel plucked right out of Med and P.D. Again, that showcases how all of this essentially compliments all of the shows even though it shouldn't be a requirement for the audience to watch all three every week. They are very different from one another too. They each do their own unique things well. These crossover events bring it all together in a way that logistically seems complicated but rewarding because it highlights all of the first responders for the city. This year the threat to Chicago comes in the form of a rapidly spreading bacteria. The media reports it as a flesh-eating disease. That is the easiest way to digest this threat. The doctors at Med say it may not be the most accurate description. However, the bodies are already starting to overwhelm the hospital. There are six victims by the conclusion of this first hour. The firehouse and paramedics keep responding to calls only for it to all end in more tragedy. That establishes the stakes right away. This is a threat that is quickly spreading. Of course, there is already the suspicion that there is a human component involved. This isn't a disease spreading because the doctors and CDC haven't found a way to protect the public from it just yet. Instead, it seems like a spiteful former employee of a biological research center has weaponized the bacteria he used to be working on. But again, there are no easy answers right now. Only more questions are being introduced. That is the prime direction for this hour. It makes it a little less intense than what the Fire episodes of these crossover events usually entail. Sure, it's exciting to watch characters from Fire, Med and P.D. all tailgating outside of a Packers-Bears game. That highlights their pride for the city and that they all fundamentally understand each other. They enjoy being around each other. They are friendly. They trust each other and their abilities to do their jobs. That's a far cry from how Hank Voight was first introduced in this world. In fact, many of these characters have had plenty of off-putting moments over the years. But when disaster strikes such as this, the audience is mostly conditioned to be rooting for the people with the tools to stop it before even more lives are lost. The city can't celebrate just yet. In fact, it seems like this hour is foreshadowing some threats that may become more clear later on. Boden says the firehouse will be marching in the Octoberfest parade, which may be the event where this story reaches its climax. Meanwhile, Chloe starts having second thoughts about her relationship with Cruz. He is ready to marry her. That seems like drama introduced here just so that it's exciting and thrilling later on when this threat hits even closer to home. That drama is already apparent and more pressing though with Upton being exposed to the bacteria. That's terrifying. But there is a looming sense that things will get worse and even more personal before a resolution is found. This hour just has the burden of introducing all of that expected drama, which makes it a little more didactic instead of compelling television. Of course, Fire is able to incorporate humor amongst its characters better than Med or P.D. So, it's still appreciated to see Brett and Mouch forcing Cruz to admit why he is so nervous as well as the different reactions Brett and Foster have upon interacting with this deadly situation.