Everyone seems to be in a mood on Chicago Fire Season 5 Episode 12. "An Agent of the Machine" picks up where Chicago Fire Season 5 Episode 11 left off, with Casey's mystery man identified as a would-be terrorist. And the guy is pissed, and he's coming not only for Matt but the whole firehouse. Go big or go home.
The episode does a good job of answering the big questions right away. It identifies who the mystery man is and tells us why he's so off his rocker. It's up to you if you still believe the story about how he survived the fire, but we can chalk that up to dramatic license.
This guy must have creepy magical powers, though. First he disappears from a burning building, and then he disappears from a grocery store just moments after Dawson spots him in the popcorn aisle. Either he runs really fast or he's been working on his disappearing act. Thanks for ruining date night, Eddie!
Severide: You still haven't given that to her?
Casey: Every time I try, something gets in the way.
"An Agent of the Machine" has several strong points. The best is another one of those great "go team" moments that make the One Chicago franchise awesome.
Boden wants to shut down the firehouse, but Herrmann refuses, saying that would just mean another firehouse would have to respond to the trap Eddie has set for them. So the team keeps targets on their backs because it's the right thing to do.
It also features an assist from Detective Jay Halstead, who's got a big week this week since he's also the featured character in Wednesday's Chicago PD. These crossover cameos are always fun and they're better when they're more than a scene or two. This is one of the better ones.
Overall it feels like this plot could have paid off with more suspense. The final set piece with the shootout and the bombs is cool, yet seems like it's over too quick.
And the time 51 used to rescue the two idiots trying to steal copper wire proved to be a red herring. You can understand the idea of a fake-out, but it might have been cooler if that was Eddie was leaving threatening messages or slashing tires or something instead.
Heck, even Andre got to show up and menace the firehouse for a little bit. This could have gone full-on stalker movie but it didn't quite get there. There just wasn't enough time once the subplots were factored in.
Let's move on to the circus that is everyone's personal lives. The big news is that Brett and Antonio have broken up. Brett dumps him after a fight over his ex-wife Laura showing up at the firehouse in full claws-out mode. You know those TV fights where it feels like they exist just to have a fight? This is one of those.
It goes from zero to sixty in about two seconds and both characters jump to conclusions way too fast. Especially since this is the first real problem we've seen them have, they're awful quick to start snapping. You'd think one or both of them would take a deep breath and say that they can get through this.
Laura: What the hell do you think you're doing?
Brett: Playing chess with Diego. He's fine.
Laura: Well, I'm not.
Instead, not only do they break up, but Antonio finds Brett later to tell her they should stay broken up. He feels as if he has too much baggage for her with his ex-wife, his son and his new job at the State's Attorney's Office. Yet you know when Brett asks if she can "check and see" later, they're going to wind up getting back together.
This whole subplot feels forced and if they do end up reconciling, it winds up being irrelevant. What would be wrong with Brett and Laura just having some awkwardness between them and acting like mature adults who might have to co-parent? Except of course fighting makes for more dramatic TV.
Brett: She called me blonde.
Dawson: Well, you are.
Brett: I don't think she was being observational.
And just when you thought we had moved past Anna, Chicago Fire yanks that thread again. It is so convenient that Severide's father's friend just happens to be from the same city that Anna lives in. And just happens to be offering Kelly a job there. That's more than dramatic license. That's hitting the nail on the head. Repeatedly.
Setting aside whether or not you're on Team Severanna this is the kind of on the nose stuff that Fire just doesn't do. And it's not going to end well. Unless Taylor Kinney has decided he wants a new gig, Severide is not going to leave Chicago. Anna already said she's not moving.
So either it's long-distance relationship time or they're going to be back where they are right now: not together.
(And the hospital Anna works at is referred to as Springfield Med? We couldn't come up with another name that doesn't sound like Chicago Med? And does anyone else hear Springfield and keep thinking of The Simpsons?)
Mack: You got a problem with Springfield?
Severide: No. Just know a girl there.
Mouch: He knows a girl everywhere.
At least Casey and Dawson get to be happy. The surprise wedding party was a lovely touch, especially since it was thrown by Severide after a half-dozen jokes about his promiscuity.
The banter between Casey and Severide over Dawson's ring was classic Casey and Severide, too. Even five seasons in these two are still the heart of the show.
I know what you're thinking and whipped cream will not be a part of it.Casey
Witty banter aside, "An Agent of the Machine" had a great premise but ultimately didn't entirely live up to that potential. The main story did its job but could have been a lot better if it had more space to build.
And the subplots it had to make room for - aside from Casey and Dawson - could have easily been skipped over. Neither of them added anything huge to the story, unless you're a Severanna fan. Even so, this would have been a stronger episode if it were more focused and with some tweaks to the writing.
Chicago Fire will be back next Tuesday at 10/9c on NBC. Since next Tuesday is also Valentine's Day the focus is on Severide going to Springfield and deciding whether or not to pursue his interest in Anna. Break out your Clash records now and come right back here after the episode to share the love.
In the meanwhile, if you want to re-watch "An Agent of the Machine" or catch up on any of Season 5, you can watch Chicago Fire online. Tell us what you thought of the episode in the comments. And remember to always watch yourself in the popcorn aisle.
Brittany Frederick is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.