REVIEW: Chicago Fire Raises the Bar with “Defcon 1”
By Lisa Casas
We’re only three episodes in and Chicago Fire is ratcheting up the heat level to new proportions. Last season the series began with a clunky premiere, simmering to a slow boil, then blowing up with two explosive episodes to end its freshman year. This season started off with a bang introducing an arsonist storyline, a couple of new villains, and of course some heartache.
“Defcon 1” moved several plot lines along to the point where a climax is inevitable in the next couple of episodes. Dawson seems to have moved on from Mills and Casey with bar regular and possible sleaze bag, Jay. We saw him checking out Molly’s cash register last eppy, so we know all is not right with our handsome friend, but Dawson seems so darn happy with him we can’t help but hope he has some good explanation.
Severide has his hands full from the get go with a water rescue. No time to dwell on the teary-eyed departure of Renee Royce who revealed in the last episode she’s carrying a not-Severide baby. Kelly just can’t seem to catch a break. He struggles trying to free a man from his sinking car eventually getting him out of the water. He can only watch as the victim can’t be revived by Dawson and Shay. Things are going from bad to worse for this lieutenant.
Chicago Fire has gotten darker this season, but we can still count on the usual suspects for a little comic relief. Last week, it was Hermann’s comments about “douchebag Greg Sullivan” who he met at “bowlin’ league” that had us rolling. David Eigenberg does more with two lines of dialogue than most actors do with two pages. If anyone deserves a spinoff, it’s Hermann. Who wouldn’t want to see a half hour comedy featuring Hermann and his 27 kids? This episode had Otis, Cruz, and Mouch vying for the much coveted third bedroom in Shay and Severide’s new place. “Residual tail” from Kelly and Shay’s leftovers is the official reason with Mouch saying he’s just lonely.
Treat Williams makes a welcome return as Benny Severide. His chemistry with Taylor Kinney is undeniable and the banter between the two is one of the most believable relationships on the show. He’s back to help his son nail the arsonist, who both peg as former 51 squad member Hadley.
Truck’s lieutenant Matt Casey has his hands more than full with the Darden boys whose mother’s been put away for involuntary manslaughter after driving drunk and killing a childhood friend. The older boy, Griffin, is having a harder time dealing with mom being locked up and acts up with Casey and at school. The storyline seems a bit forced; we get it. Casey’s a good guy, a great guy. We don’t need the surrogate father storyline to prove it. Hopefully, grandma will pick up the boys before Matt’s officially declared a saint. Jesse Spencer does get to flex his acting muscles with a heart wrenching scene where the boys visit their mother in jail.
As much as Dawson declares her “friend zone only” relationship status with Casey, she’s constantly there for him. Tonight, she shows up at Griffin Darden’s school to smooth things over with an administrator. Last week she saved the day with a granola bar, this week she sweet talks a principal. C’mon Casey, ask this girl out. It’s time. The viewers are running out of patience.
This episode also cemented Gail McLeod as a ball busting villain out to close Firehouse 51. She’s definitely got a mole and new squad member Clarke emerges as a prime suspect. McLeod seems to revel in bringing Boden down a notch almost to the point of a personal vendetta. Watching these two powerhouses go at it is a true pleasure. I smell an Emmy just not sure from which one.
Rivalling for the number one villain position is Hadley. He shows up at the station seemingly to tick off Severide. Then he pops up at the scene of a house fire with a smug grin on his face. Kelly gives his former squad member the biggest glove slap to the face before pushing him around roughly, all the while being recorded by onlookers. Uh oh, not good for a house trying to survive cut backs.
In the final scenes, Dawson discovers that her would be suitor, Jay, is in fact working for…wait for it…Arthur, the wannabe gangster taking a skim from Molly’s. Gabby tells Jay to “Get outta my bar. Now!” Betrayal and pain are written all over her face. Where’s Casey when YOU need him? Oh, yeah, he’s got kids now. They’re busy bonding over ice cream.
Overall, the episode continued to build on this season’s momentum moving the story lines along at warp speed. It was a satisfying turn with all the exciting rescues, old fashioned hero moments, and bittersweet scenes fans of the show have come to expect. Not surprisingly, ratings are up with viewers clamoring for more and digging for spoilers on Twitter. Next week’s episode “A Nuisance Call” proves to up the ante with the arsonist going at the firefighters with even more vehemence.
Shay has the badass moment of the episode when she uses power tools to free a not so smart victim from some wood he’s nail gunned his arm to. The only thing that would have made it better is if she had on the Indigo Girls plaid shirt she was sporting last week.
Mena Suvari is introduced as Dawson’s “girl” Isabella, a PR specialist brought in to help Mouch run for union president. Sparks are supposed to fly when she asks Mills out, but the two have no chemistry so the beginning romance lands with a definite thud.