Wednesday, November 13, 2019

REVIEW: 'Chicago Fire' - Severide and Herrmann Fight for the Truth to Be Seen and Understood in 'Seeing Is Believing'

NBC's Chicago Fire - Episode 8.08 "Seeing Is Believing"

Severide begins his assignment at the Office of Fire Investigation and gets off on the wrong foot when, despite his orders, he reopens an old case. When the cause of an apartment fire hits close to home, Herrmann is on a mission to get to the bottom of it. Kidd finds herself burning the candle at both ends.

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.

"Seeing Is Believing" was written by Ron McCants and directed by Eric Laneuville

It's important to fight for the truth. That is the underlying mission statement of this hour. Sure, not everything ultimately revolves around that idea here. There are some storylines that are simply setting up new dynamics to keep the narrative refreshed and active. However, there are solid moments where the characters prove their heroism by continuing to take action to ensure that the best outcome is received moving forward. Severide has begun his new posting with the mentality that he isn't going to do whatever gets him back to 51 the fastest. He isn't going to just rubber stamp the files. He is actively going to investigate to prove that each case has the right conclusion. The audience is so accustomed to him working with the Office of Fire Investigation in relation to an arson case that he starts working on with the rest of Firehouse 51. This story is completely different though. He challenges the label of a suspicious fire. He doesn't think that there was a guilty party who should be denied an insurance payout. He is invested in this case. He is rewarded for investigating further. He and Seager may solve it a little too quickly. That makes it seem more systemic and galling that the insurance companies are paying former firefighters to lie for the documents so that they don't have to pay out any of these claims. That is a serious accusation that may only be alluded to here based on the actions. However, the story is much more focused on the personal impact Severide is having in this new job. His superior may disagree with his current work pace. He can't argue with the results though. Everyone can stand by the conclusions of this case with confidence. Elsewhere, the narrative creates an incredible conspiracy that plays into Otis' death. That loss continues to be felt throughout the firehouse. It doesn't quite feel the same without him. Sure, Boden may be lamenting the loss of Severide a little more simply because that has been the leadership structure of this place for a long time. There is a certain rhythm to the way that Boden, Casey and Severide can conduct themselves. They are capable of dealing with change. They just don't want to get too comfortable with it. They still want to feel something when tragedy sets in. Of course, Herrmann is the one most visibly upset over the revelation that the furniture company that created the mattresses uses products that are extremely flammable. Herrmann only discovers that after responding to yet another fire in which a house seems to go up much more quickly than it should have. The woman inside is pulled out to safety in time. She still has extensive injuries as a result of the fire though. Herrmann feels the importance of speaking up and holding companies accountable for the products they send out into the world. He wants these corporations to aspire for more than the bare minimum of standards. He understands the capitalist society he lives in. However, that shouldn't come at the expense of the health and safety of the public. He can speak passionately on this issue because he understands the physics involved. He wants to save as many lives as he can. The big confrontation with the CEO of this company is a little staged. The entire firehouse just happens to go unchallenged as they wait for the sole car to pull up carrying the most important man for this company. It was more reasonable when Herrmann and Casey first went to the building and were greeted with a system that already had protocols in place to handle such complaints. Sure, it's important that those in charge hear these concerns so they know how to improve their products. Sometimes, it does take visual learning. That can be exhausting to some. Brett and Kidd may not be able to keep up with the physical demands of their lives at the moment. And yet, Herrmann needs to do everything in his power to address this issue. It's to honor Otis. That ensures he isn't forgotten despite his departure from this world. That is a clear and concise resolution here. Meanwhile, the audience should be growing concerned about Kidd taking on too much and intrigued by Seager also presenting as a romantic interest for Casey.