This week's episode of Chicago Fire is everything that fans have come to love about the show. Chicago Fire Season 5 Episode 6 has great action sequences, tension for the main characters, wonderful laughs and a final sequence that will leave you in tears. It hits every mark and it all adds up to a near perfect hour.
"That Day" has something for everyone no matter what you watch the show for or who you're a fan of. The main plot that's trumpeted is the one involving Dawson, who hits a pedestrian with the ambulance. Of course it takes the man's son about thirty seconds to get a lawyer and demand six million dollars from her and the department.
It's obvious to the viewer that the pedestrian stepped out in front of the ambulance and that Dawson is not at fault here. The dilemma is if she can prove that to avoid the lawsuit and the wrath of the "white shirts" above her in the ranks. It's Antonio - already in the suit and tie that comes with moving to Chicago Justice - who comes to her rescue.
From a Fire fan's standpoint it would've been a little more rewarding if Dawson would have been able to work her own way out, instead of having her brother show up with a magical file that proves everything. But that's forgivable for two reasons: the plot is really about the angst that Dawson goes through, and the episode needs time to juggle its other stories too.
I saw the look in his eyes. They were blue.Dawson
Dawson is a character that can run hot and cold (Casey's line about going "Gabby Dawson" on the situation and getting herself in more trouble is funny because it's true), but "That Day" is another strong episode for her. She's suffering but it's not self-pity or expecting anyone to fix the situation. She gets angry and uses that to fuel her fight.
Of course the rest of the firehouse rallies around her and of course the supervisors don't, because that's what we expect. But again this still works because it then comes into play in several other stories. The episode quickly stops being about Dawson and becomes much bigger.
Boden: So what you're saying is, the Department doesn't have her back.
Hatcher: If it were me I'd be getting outside counsel.
The plot line that flies under the radar right until the fourth act is Boden's. He cancels a planned trip to New York to stay and not leave his firehouse in a time of need. We don't understand the real importance of that until he gets called out for it at the end and then it becomes the best part of the episode.
Boden being a 9/11 responder is a big step to take. You don't invoke that fateful day without a whole lot of thought and being sure that you can do justice to the real first responders. Chicago Fire does that beautifully, not only in Boden's journey but in the gesture of Casey and Severide accompanying him to New York.
Most importantly Boden's closing monologue is wonderfully written and delivered by Eamonn Walker. If you weren't crying by the end of this episode please check your pulse. It was poignant, respectful and not an ounce overwrought, and in a few moments reminded us of why we admire real firefighters.
That's also why we love Chicago Fire. It brings the bravery, heart, compassion and selflessness of actual firefighters into our homes each week. It's able to capture those qualities and the emotions that go with them, and transport them to us through fictional stories.
With those final scenes this wasn't a TV show anymore. It was a space for us to step back and appreciate the heroes that we have in real life, and so if I may I'd like to also take a few words in this review and say thank you to all first responders, law enforcement, military and other folks who dedicate themselves to helping others.
The comedic subplot in "That Day" comes from Hermann being up for possible promotion and thus being given the lead to see how he fares as lieutenant. There's plenty of ribbing that happens and lots of other laughs, like Hermann trying to act the part by moving all of his stuff into "my office."
David Eigenberg has the comedic part of Chicago Fire down and excels at showing Hermann the attempted lieutenant in all his quirky and slightly neurotic glory. He also gets great support from Christian Stolte, whose Mouch is sort of along for the ride.
By 'hitting your stride,' you mean pulling a hamstring, right?Mouch
But even under that there's some real heart. Hermann might be hilarious but we're also reminded of how damn good he is at his job when he makes a judgment call that saves a victim's life. And as funny as it is to see him explode in the face of the district chief, he's also speaking a lot of truth in that rant.
It's no surprise that he botches his opportunity to be promoted but after a speech like that you know you wouldn't want him anywhere else. And he probably wouldn't really belong anywhere else either.
"That Day" also goes back and wraps up the 'A' story from Chicago Fire Season 5 Episode 5 as a subplot. It turns out that both Casey and Severide are right to a degree. Casey is correct that the house fire was arson but Severide is right that the husband's grief was genuine. Having the truth be in the middle is a nice resolution that doesn't result in finger pointing on either side.
And the mutual respect between Casey and Severide is back by the end of the episode, as Casey compliments Severide on his ability to rescue a woman being crushed by a semi truck - in one of the big but also creative action sequences that make Chicago Fire so much fun to watch.
One thought: Did anyone else notice Stella join Casey and Severide at the end of that moment, and put her hand on Severide's back? Are we implying that Severide and Stella are still an item? They never broke up on screen but their relationship seemed to cool after the season opener. It'll be interesting to see if they stick together.
Truth always comes out for the innocent, right?Casey
Which leads to the one thing about this episode that didn't work: the decision to open it with Brett randomly showing up on Antonio's doorstep for sex. The actual plot development is fine; it's actually pretty funny once Dawson finds out and gets too much information from her partner.
But that's a strange place to kick this off. It has nothing to do with anything else going on, except to perhaps say hey, here's Antonio. First scenes of episodes really set the tone and with everything that the episode gets to dig into, it feels like there could have been a stronger open and that scene could've gone someplace else.
Having said that, that's a relatively minor quibble compared to all the other positives throughout the episode. All of the plots are fleshed out well (or in the Casey/Severide story, wrapped up well). All of them have real resonance for each of the characters. And the actors all take the script and run with it.
"That Day" is easily the best episode of Chicago Fire this season. If you want to rewatch it or catch up with any of Season 5 to date you can watch Chicago Fire online.
The Dawson drama continues next week with Chicago Fire Season 5 Episode 7, "Lift Each Other," in which a family secret comes out. That episode airs next Tuesday, November 30 at 10/9c on NBC.
Until then, let us know your thoughts on this week's episode in the comments. Did you enjoy it as much as we did?
Brittany Frederick is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.