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TV REVIEW: Chicago Fire “Keep Your Mouth Shut” Silences Our Inner Critic

By on March 5, 2014
Pictured: Jesse Spencer as Matthew Casey -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC)

Pictured: Jesse Spencer as Matthew Casey -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC)

I jumped on the Chicago Fire big red engine from the very beginning of season one.  I think the second episode when Severide tries unsuccessfully to save Peter, the elderly man stuck in a hole at a construction site, and then visits his widow at the end … yes, that’s when the show had me.  To be honest, it’s kind of lost me this season.  It seems like the feels aren’t as authentic; many of them are forced.  Some of the storylines have been better suited for a soap opera.  The ridiculousness of Casey’s head injury turning him into a badass could have been a clinic in how to jump the shark.

Well, Chicago Fire is back, baby.  Tonight’s episode was the strongest of the season, combining great action scenes with the characters behaving like the ones we fell in love with last season. “Keep Your Mouth Shut” had me telling everyone in the house to “shush it” for fear of miss something. It was edge of your seat suspense and plot points that make the wait for next week’s episode seem like a formidable task.

The episode begins with Gabriela Dawson (Monica Raymund) upset she didn’t cut it at the Fire Academy, feeling a little like a failure. The love of her life, or at least of the week, Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer) reassures her that she’s still hot.  Maybe he says something more like 51 is lucky to have her as a paramedic.  Yeah, Casey you know how to make a girl feel all better.

Fresh from the academy, candidate Rebecca Jones (guest star Daisy Betts) shows up with a huge smile and a box of donuts. She says she wants to be just one of the guys.  She opens the empty box saying they were delicious.  Was that a joke?  Mouch (Christian Stolte) was also unimpressed.  Things are getting much worse for you, Randy.

Meanwhile, Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) tries to calm down Otis (Yuri Sardarov) who’s furious that Vince Keeler got away with doing the unspeakable to Katie, Kelly’s sister. Revenge is a major theme of the night and at the forefront of one of the best storylines this season.  We discover that Emily Thorne’s got nothing on a bunch of pissed off firefighters.

After brushing off Otis, Kelly proceeds to ask Clarke for a little help explaining that Keeler’s making a free getaway, and he can’t live with that.  Clarke gets a twinkle in his eye and says he’s all in.  Why do I expect him to show up in a tux, saying “Bond.  James Bond”?

Pictured: Jeff Hephner as Clarke -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC)

Pictured: Jeff Hephner as Clarke — (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC)

The first call of the night is a young girl who’s fallen in a clothing drop.  The whole point is to drive home the fact that Dawson is the badass and Jones is an overeager idiot.  Dawson falls in the chute and discovers the barely alive victim. She saves the girl while Jones breaks a saw she wasn’t even supposed to touch. Nice move, candidate.

Now onto Mouch’s big mistake of the night, maybe even of his life.  He tells Connie (the uber excellent guest star DuShon Brown), Chief Boden’s secretary, that he’s expecting some important union paperwork, and she’ll have to sign for it.  He also asks for some coffee and a back rub.  She’ll get right on it, man/couch.  The theme of revenge continues. Connie’s having none of that talking to her like she’s a secretary. She commandeers Mouch’s best friend at 51 – his beloved couch saying Boden needs it for his waiting area by his office.  She’s truly hitting below the belt with this one.

Meanwhile, Casey wants the skinny from Severide on the new candidate Jones since Kelly played hot teacher at the academy.  Kelly tells him she’s got a chip on her shoulder, and he tried to bounce her from the program, but big shot daddy bailed her out.  “You’re just now telling me this?” asks Casey. “You’re just now asking,” responds Kelly. We won’t be adding CSI investigator to the resumé, Matt.

Pictured: Christian Stolte as Mouch -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC)

Pictured: Christian Stolte as Mouch — (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC)

Dawson tries to make nice with the girl who cheated her way into Gabby’s spot. That chip shows it’s more like a boulder when Jones tells Dawson she’s sorry she didn’t make the cut, but she better not be using her “sexy time” with Casey to talk trash about her.  Well, good morning to you too.  Can’t wait to see where this goes. Cat fight anyone?

Chief Boden (Eamonn Walker) congratulates Hermann (David Eigenberg) on finally passing the lieutenants test with a whopping 70. You better pack your stuff up now, Hermann.  Those firehouses are forming a line to the left to get at you.  I do think the show is going somewhere with this and before the end of the season it will play some significant role.

Jones just keeps those warm, fuzzy moments coming when she sasses back to her new boss like any respectable five year old would.  Casey says the showers need cleaning.  She responds with a no they don’t. The only thing missing was a stomp of the foot.  She clarifies that Hermann already had her scrubbing away.  Casey tells her to do it again.

Casey doesn’t seem to be the only one suffering from a head injury.  In the bonehead move of the night, usually reserved for Hermann, Jones goes to Kelly for help fitting in.  Do you have memory loss too?  This is the guy who kicked you out of the Academy.  He responds with, “You’re at the squad table.”  Later, he does give her a little advice in a hilarious scene telling her to “Do your job and keep your mouth shut.”  She tries to defend her actions with Kelly asking, “Why are you still talking. You’re still talking.”

The episode gets even better when Benny Severide (guest star Treat Williams) makes a surprise appearance.  He asks his son Kelly, what happened to Katie.  Uh, that was last episode, Papa Severide.  His son responds with, “You’re a day late and a dollar short.”  When Benny starts talking revenge, Kelly tells his dad to just go home, old man.  The banter between Williams and Kinney are always so good, and this week’s scenes don’t disappoint. Are we even sure that these two are not related in real life?

The next call aims to show that Jones can run fast therefore making the guys not hate her quite so much.  They’re called to the courthouse where a defendant handcuffed to a table has been stabbed and is bleeding out. The key breaks in the cuffs trapping the injured man.  You’ll never believe it, but these are maximum security cuffs.  No way.  They are made of stuff so strong that the mighty Casey can’t break them. He tells the guys to get a fire extinguisher because apparently that’s the kryptonite to these mighty handcuffs.  Jones is the first one to find an extinguisher, saving the day and freeing the poor criminal. She looks like she just won a marathon. The only thing missing was the Chariots of Fire music.

Pictured: (l-r) Jesse Spencer as Matthew Casey, Christian Stolte as Mouch, Joe Minoso as Joe Cruz, Monica Raymund as Gabriela Dawson -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC)

Pictured: (l-r) Jesse Spencer as Matthew Casey, Christian Stolte as Mouch, Joe Minoso as Joe Cruz, Monica Raymund as Gabriela Dawson — (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC)

Casey gives Boden a progress report on what a pain Jones is also giving his chief a little advice.  He awkwardly says he’s heard that Boden’s relationship with Donna has “hit a bump in the road.”  He says he spent so much time “fretting over dumb stuff” before his head injury. Casey can now add relationship counsellor to his resumé. He’ll need it by episode’s end. More on that in a bit.

We finally get a little Shayveride action when Shay checks on her best friend, asking Kelly if he’s had any dark thoughts.  “None, just puppies and unicorns,” Kelly deadpans.  Kinney has some of the funniest lines this week in an episode full of one liners.

Severide, Clarke, and Capp are plotting revenge. We know this because Kelly’s wearing a knit hat that looks like he’s doing something undercover and slightly shady.  Otis strolls up saying he wants in, that he “loves that girl.”  Kelly says go away, “you took her out for a milkshake once.”

Detective Erin Lindsay shows up during the revenge planning session.  She must’ve heard about Kelly’s knit hat.  Erin tells him that she’s not giving up on busting Keeler.  She also warns that she’ll haul Severide in if she sniffs any revenge.  Kelly says thanks for stopping by but don’t let the door hit you on the way out.  Aw, no Lindseride this episode.

There is some Dawsey, but I feel like that’s coming to an end sooner rather than later.  Dawson complains about the cheater who stole her spot and Casey doesn’t back her up.  He sort of defends the candidate making his girl furious.  “Gabby, take a breath,” he tells her.  Wow, just put a nail in that relationship coffin.  She gets crazy mad accusing Casey of being glad she didn’t make the cut.  Matt says he gives up, whatever he says is wrong. Good move.  You and Jones need to keep your mouths shut.

In the funniest scene of the night, Mouch brings Connie a cactus to make up because nothing says I’m sorry like a prickly plant.  He must really want that couch back.  “I owe you an apology. I piled even more on your plate,” he grovels.  He admits that he bit off more than he can chew with this union gig, erupting into tears and confessing it’s ruining his life.  Connie hands him a box of Kleenex saying, “Man up honey. You’re a firefighter.” The writers know how to add the funny.

The last call of the night is a huge fire in a highrise.  Jones looks shocked that she’s actually going in…to fight…the fire.  That’s what you signed up for, sweetie. Once inside, the guys are met with tons of smoke and flames that seem too realistic for our gorgeous actors to face.  Casey tells Jones to get a victim out of there.  She has the hardest time moving him, eventually having to rig a “straps on his wrists” device to slowly drag him.  Hermann comes to her rescue encouraging her and getting the guy out of there.

Back at 51, the guys, impressed with her determination, decide to accept her.  Casey says he asked Mills to compile some easy recipes for her to cook.  He adds that he hears she’s dyslexic.  Hmmm, way to let her know that you know that she cheated on her big exam.

Sweet Peter Mills (Charlie Barnett) says, “You’ll do fine.”  Jones says she thinks it’s going to take more than jalapeño poppers.

Finally off shift and out of 51, Casey’s looking for places he and Dawson can move into.  He finds one that looks good asking Gabby, “Hey, we’re good?”  She says, “Yeah” but the looks on both their faces say don’t sign a lease just yet.

The last scene shows Detective Lindsay showing up at Molly’s to let Kelly know that Vince Keeler’s car was found, keys still in the ignition.  He’s gone missing.  Uh oh.  Don’t tell me Kelly used his trusty halligan again.

“Keep Your Mouth Shut” has my critic’s mouth firmly shut.  I’ve been rough on the series this season citing lame storylines, individuals acting “out of character” and lack of the emotional scenes we loved from last season.  This episode had it roaring back in its best showing yet.  The writing by Michael Gilvory was spot on, creating a suspense seen more in its counterpart Chicago PD this season.  The promo for next week looks like the excitement continues, and I for one can’t wait.  Welcome back, Chicago Fire.  See you in seven, my friend.