Chicago Fire has been a roller coaster for the last few weeks, up and down and stomping on our heartstrings. Chicago Fire Season 5 Episode 11 starts out as a way for both the characters and audience to decompress from that - and then promptly goes nuts again because it can.
The major thrust of the episode is Casey and Dawson trying to resume their lives after losing Louie to his biological father Andre. Both of them take it badly but they express their grief in two totally different ways.
Casey gets the anger side of the equation, snapping at everyone else around him and turning into the world's biggest neat freak when Herrmann thinks there's a rat in Firehouse 51. Seriously, Niecy Nash would be proud of how much cleaning he makes everyone else do. After she gave him a talking-to about his attitude.
Hey, Lieutenant, is there something you want to get off your chest?Herrmann
The fact that Casey's seeing red makes the rest of the team doubt him at the scene of this week's fire, when he has to decide between saving a young girl and a man pointing a gun at him. Casey understandably chooses the girl but then doesn't find a body when he goes back for the man.
Just as the other characters wonder if Casey's hallucinating it's clear that the audience is supposed to question his sanity too, which is a really interesting idea. It'd be really weird if he was seeing phantom armed people so it's no surprise when Boden reveals that there was a hatch in the floor the guy escaped through, but that seed of doubt is a nice concept to play with.
Unfortunately Chicago Fire blows its surprise a little too fast. Boden tells Casey about the basement hatch about halfway through the episode. It would've been more interesting if that had been the next to last scene, leaving us wondering all episode - and reminding us that the guy is still out there.
Especially since the teaser for the next episode directly deals with this storyline (we'll avoid specifics if you didn't see it) it would have been more impactful to have that question in our minds near the end than in the middle. Besides, the almost bigger question is how did this guy manage to get through this miracle hatch at all?!?
Boden: A guy you try to rescue points a gun at you, you tell me right away.
Casey: You wouldn't let me go back in, Chief.
Boden: Damn right I wouldn't.
And speaking of still being alive, was anyone else disappointed that we never confirmed or denied the existence of the rat? It's reminiscent of the not so invisible fly that plagued the Sports Night studio in "Intellectual Property." It's a metaphorical, possibly invisible rat.
Although that brief moment with the rat trap did make me laugh thinking of that time Beavis and Butt-Head had a rat problem.
I'm confused. Am I supposed to see my face in this kind of surface or not?Stella
Dawson, being the more emotional half of Dawsey, gets to play the more internal half of the grieving process. Although because she's Dawson, she does get the scene snapping at a man who has a meltdown when he discovers that his daughter has just given birth to a baby neither of them knew about.
The episode has Dawson told off for not considering the father's point of view and going to his house to apologize, but we're not entirely against Gabby on this one. While the surprise baby is obviously a shock, saying things like you're kicking your daughter out of the house and don't want her to come crawling back are still hurtful and ill-timed at best.
It's obviously all said in the heat of the moment, but Dawson has a point when she says Darla needs support more than anything at the hospital. She did just give birth to a baby she had no idea about.
She needs your support right now, not your judgment.Dawson
It was also pretty obvious that Louie's things would find their way to Darla's baby. It's one of those moments that's easy to figure out if you've been paying attention the whole episode. Darla has a baby that needs stuff and Casey and Dawson have stuff but no kid. Point A to Point B.
Having said that, the fact that Darla named her baby Gabby was a nice touch and definitely an "aww" moment. Although did anyone else wonder if this was going to be a set-up for Casey and Dawson to adopt Darla's baby somehow? No dice, but it'd be cool if Gabby and Baby Gabby see each other again sometime.
The other half of "Who Lives and Who Dies" concerned Severide and Anna or as the Internet has dubbed them, Severanna. They finally kiss in this episode - which was pretty much given away by the preview anyway - and then she leaves. Weird but sort of fitting to have Severide be the one left holding the bag.
This may be a minority opinion but Severanna was never a big deal for me. As we've discussed in earlier episodes there never was a real need to turn the relationship into a romance and make it another notch in Severide's romantic history.
As for Anna leaving, well, Charlotte Sullivan was always billed as a recurring guest star so from an off-screen perspective you could guess that she wasn't going to stay in Chicago so Severide could have his happy ending. Of course, that Post-It does leave the door open for her to come back but let's hope she doesn't so that Chicago Fire doesn't keep dangling that in front of us.
It's going to take a lot more bacon cheeseburgers before I'm back to my fighting weight.Anna
And the whole concept of a love triangle between Severide, Stella and Anna never got off the ground. Stella was only seen with Severide once, at the start of the season premiere, so why would she be so bothered? If they had been a couple for more than five minutes it would've worked but we hardly saw them together either.
Maybe Severide should try being single for awhile. He probably needs some "me time" after everything Season 5 has done to him with Grant, Anna, and the car accident he wasn't actually involved in.
You're having contractions. Honey, do you know you're pregnant?Dawson
Overall "Who Lives and Who Dies" felt like a solid episode but a placeholder. It wrapped up the emotional fallout from "The People We Meet" and then set up a new storyline for the next installment, with a few good scenes inside it. This wasn't the pivotal episode it was teased to be but it at least held the audience's attention for 42 minutes.
And Herrmann should be made to give all the firehouse lectures slash pep talks from now on. When he's done finding the possibly invisible rat.
Chicago Fire is off next Tuesday but will return on Tuesday, February 7 at 10/9c with "An Agent of the Machine," which picks up where this episode left off. So if you want to re-watch this week's episode in preparation for part two or just catch up with any of Season 5, you can watch Chicago Fire online.
What did you think of "Who Lives and Who Dies"? Did you agree with Casey and Dawson's behavior or feel like they needed to take it down a notch? Do you think Severide will ever see Anna again? Leave us your thoughts on the episode in the comments and we'll see you in two weeks!
Brittany Frederick is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.