Where was the disclaimer warning fans they should have a box of tissues at the ready?
That would have been pertitent information to have beforehand as Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 9 was nothing short of a tearjerker.
You had a brief enough Dawsey reunion to break fans hearts, a never before seen video of Cruz and Otis, and Severide's life hanging in the balance. They don't call it going out with a bang for nothing -- or almost bang.
Despite all the heartbreak, it's still unclear: what was the intention behind Dawson’s reappearance?
Was it supposed to give fans closure? Stir up drama between Casey and Brett? Let fans know that Dawsey is still endgame?
If it was any of those three reasons, only one proved to be true.
Dawson’s abrupt exit in Chicago Fire Season 7 Episode 1 was due to Monica Raymund’s decision to leave the show.
The writers had backed themselves into a corner and were scrambling to find a way to make things work.
It was messy and lazy and completely unsatisfying for longtime shippers of the couple, but there was nothing that could have been done.
Dawson: New suit?
Dawson: It’s working.
Casey: You should see me in my captain’s shirt.
Dawson: You should see me in my mosquito net field fatigues.
Sure, the writers could have tried to make a long-distance relationship work or killed Dawson off during last year’s OneChicago crossover, but Casey and Dawson’s separation -- and ultimate divorce -- was the easiest solution.
And if viewers let bygones be bygones, then they could try to move on.
If the spark had dimmed or one of them was in a serious relationship, maybe fans could have gotten some closure, yet Dawson’s most recent appearance makes that impossible as everything about their reunion and tryst felt designed to drive viewers crazy.
Every scene between Jesse Spencer and Raymund oozed palpable chemistry, and the tension between them was ready to burst through the screen.
Dawson: Hey, is this a mistake? I’m leaving in the morning.
Casey: No. I’m staying, but that doesn’t make this a mistake.
It would have been so easy for the characters to pick right back up where they left off, given a few important conversations, but their short-lived affair was just that: short-lived.
It was nothing more than a trip down memory lane for the former lovers, yet it ripped an almost healed wound open in viewers’ hearts.
If anything, this was the opposite of closure.
It was just a cruel reminder of what could have been for shippers.
The one silver lining for fans is that Dawson’s reappearance means Raymund may be open to returning for future episodes, and she and Casey could still end up together.
Without an ending in sight, though, this reunion may have to tide fans over.
Hey, it was great seeing you, being with you. It brought back so many memories – good memories, best of my life. My only regret is that we didn’t have more time to spend together. So if you want to spend your next furlough in a disaster area, consider yourself invited. There will always be room in my tent Matt Casey.Dawson
There was also the speculation that Dawson’s return would drive a wedge between Casey and Brett’s burgeoning relationship.
However, Brett was nothing but encouraging when Casey sought her guidance.
With the captain on the fence, she could have convinced him against going to the charity gala; however, she put her feelings aside and did what she thought would make Casey happy.
This is exactly what Casey did when he encouraged Brett to give things another try with Kyle last season.
Casey: She asked me to go to her charity ball. I’m not sure it’s a good idea.
Casey: I don’t know. I don’t want to get too – ugh. I don’t know.
Brett: I think you should go.
Brett: She’s only in town for a couple of days. You’re both clear-eyed about that, right. I think you’ll regret it if you don’t see her; I know I would.
These two may be unsure of what their feelings mean and what to do about them, but they are always there for one another.
That is just one of the reasons why an eventual relationship between the pair has the potential to last: They’re friends first, anything else second.
Speaking of friends, how much did seeing Otis pull at your heartstrings.
You're either lying to yourself or are dead inside if the drone video of "Crotis forever" didn't get you.
Cruz: This website is indecipherable. What?
Ritter: We just weren’t sure if you wanted us to maybe … Oh, yeah, you just gotta run the site through a translator. Yep, there, done.
Gallo: Look there.
Ritter: Oh, yep, replacement propellers. And look, it’s not even that much: $29.99. It just needs your credit card, or you can do it.
Cruz: Thank you.
As frequent review readers will know, I'm usually opposed to pointless subplots, and Cruz's venture to make the broken drone fly again seemed to hit all the checkmarks: comic relief from side characters -- Ritter and Gallo -- along with being completely separate from everything else going on at 51.
However, the final scene made it all worth the wait.
The surprise Yuri Sardarov cameo was everything, and a great way to remind fans that Otis is still very much remembered.
Granted, there have been constant reminders that Otis lives on, from the literal memorial statue outside the firehouse to the continued references of 51 still dealing with their grief over his death and of course, Cruz wanting to fix the drone for Otis, as seen in this episode.
Though gone, his memory still lives on, which is more than can be said for Shay.
Otis: Prepare yourselves for the main voyage of the Starlight 5000. Superior technology developed by superior minds.
Herrmann: Hey, you two knuckleheads, you shouldn’t be anywhere near a flying object.
Otis: Back off Herrmann. You know what we have that you’ll never have?
Herrmann: What’s that?
Otis: Best friend magic. No one can take that away from us.
Cruz: Crotis forever baby.
Otis: Crotis forever.
After the late paramedic died, it was only Severide who seemed to grapple with her loss for more than an episode or two.
The lieutenant's downward spiral that included an impulsive wedding in Las Vegas to a stranger and the ambulance bearing Shay's name were the only lingering reminders of her passing.
Otis' death, though, has been mentioned or felt in every episode, so kudos to the writers for a such a realistic approach to dealing with grief.
He is still gone, but these little moments of reminiscing are much appreciated.
So I tell Otis, ‘Otis, if you want to get a girlfriend, you gotta lose the goatee.’ So he does and he looks about 12, and I’m like, ‘Grow it back, grow it back.’”Dawson
What's also appreciated is Kidd finally getting her act together.
She continued burning the candles at both ends this episode, and it almost cost her her life.
Maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but she did put herself in danger and was lucky no one was badly injured.
She was in no shape to be on duty, yet no one said or did anything about it. Brett and Foster only mentioned something to her after shift.
They had the common sense to send her home to bed but not the foresight to suggest she maybe shouldn’t be driving.
However, most of what happened doesn’t fall on those at 51; it falls on Stella Kidd herself.
Foster: Did eyeliner girl not teach you anything? She literally had a pencil jammed in her socket. There’s no need for either of us to be presentable to do the job.
Brett: Um, she did land on me, which is why this morning I put my lip gloss on at home and not in the car.
She knew she was overdoing it, but instead of asking for help or lightening her load, she tried to power through.
Her mistake last episode should have been the wakeup call she needed, but it wasn’t. Even the car accident was enough to get it through Kidd’s head that she can’t take on everything.
It was only during her talk with Boden that she realized that she had spread herself too thin.
No one ever wants to disappoint those who you respect, and Kidd respects the hell out of Boden.
However, I wish the series had delved more into why Kidd felt the need to overextend herself, as there is more to the story than was overtly stated.
Boden: Actually, it’s me who owes you an apology. Your accident was a wakeup call for me. Look, we were all dealing with Otis’ death in our own way – some quietly, some making big changes in their life. For me, I had to find myself a project, and that was you.
Boden: I piled on you, and I piled on you. It’s not fair, and I am truly, genuinely sorry.
Kidd: Hey, I liked being your project. You showed me that I could be a leader in the CFD. You gave me more confidence – real confidence – than I ever had before that, and I appreciate that more than you know.
Boden: I’ve got to find a better way from which to mentor you from now on. Agreed?
Kidd: I just don’t want you to regret choosing me.
Boden: No, never.
Kidd: Thank you, chief. You mean the world to me.
Sure him believing in her gave her a boost of confidence and made her felt seen, but it was her – a woman – that Boden chose to champion.
With so few women in positions of power within the CFD, the pressure to succeed was even greater for Kidd.
Though not discussed much in this episode or the series, the gender dynamics between men and women firefighters has always been lurking in the background.
When Dawson wanted to become a firefighter, not everyone was on board. Not because Dawson wasn’t capable, but because she was a woman.
Over this season, two instances of gender inequality that stand out.
Brett: Were you drinking that in the shower?
Brett: You know I can set up an IV to mainline caffeine directly into your system.
Kidd: Would you?
The first was on Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 5 when Kidd and another female lieutenant were the only women to a national leadership conference, and the second was on Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 6 when Kidd, Brett, and Foster wanted to create a women’s-only lounge.
While the first example was reflective of reality -- in 2018, only 4 percent of firefighters were women, according to the U.S. Department of Labor -- the second was insulting to the show’s female viewers.
As discussed in the "What Went Wrong" review, the whole plotline was set up as comic relief that failed to capture the importance of why women need their own space.
It’s those sort of things that show the audience the writers are cognizant enough to know what’s going on but too dense to realize its importance.
It’s one of the minor flaws of the series that is worth noting.
Severide: Hey so, Seager, she’s been asking about you.
Casey: You’re blind.
Severide: What do you mean?
Casey: If Kidd sees the way she was looking at you, Seager’s gonna get her ass kicked.
Another one happens to be the writers’ inability to create relationship drama without introducing a new “love” interest.
Yes, that line refers to Seager, and no, the focus of Severide’s time at OFI shouldn’t be about her.
It should be all about Severide being the badass that he is -- kicking ass and taking names -- which he still does get to do, despite Seager's unwanted flirtatious remarks.
Not only does Severide get to play cowboy and cop at the same time, he's also changed some people's lives along the way.
From allowing a woman to reopen her grocery store to getting an innocent man out of prison, Severide is on a roll.
Van Meter: Uh oh.
Van Meter: Are you about to blow something up?
Being detailed to OFI may not have the same feel as rescuing people from a burning building, but he is still helping people in dire circumstances.
Severide's time in OFI is different than expected, which is a good thing.
It's refreshing that while temporarily stuck at OFI, Severide hasn't had to deal with the constant pushback that usually follows during these power struggle-type situations.
Van Meter, while not always thrilled with where Severide's digging leads, essentially lets the lieutenant and Seager do whatever they want within the confines of the job description.
All those little voices you're hearing in your head, they're telling you to stay in arson. How many more like Dustin Caldwell are out there, getting railroaded, because someone as good as you wasn't there to help them?Seager
Seager, of course, is more than happy to come along for the ride.
And what a ride it has been, as the episode ended with what was supposed to a dramatic cliffhanger.
Viewers are supposed to believe Severide's life is in danger, but observant fans shouldn't worry.
After finally making good on their promises and actually killing off a main character at the start of the season, there's no way the writers would pull the trigger again so soon, especially with one of their leading men.
Brett: How'd it go with Dawson?
Casey: Great, actually.
Brett: Ah, that's so, so good to hear.
Casey: Yeah, thanks for talking me into that.
Foster: So, so good to hear.
Brett: Stop. He seems happy. That makes me happy.
Unless Taylor Kinney wants out of his contract, Severide will be sticking around for the long haul.
I can't guarantee it will be all sunshine and rainbows, but our favorite lieutenant isn't going anywhere anytime soon, except maybe taking a permanent position at OFI if Grissom has his way.
Some stray thoughts:
I was convinced the title of the episode applied to Dawson and Brett and assumed it meant there would be more focus on the non-love triangle. Things could have gotten messy, and I'm glad they didn't.
My being wrong also meant viewers got to see Otis on screen again, and that video of him and Cruz flying to drone was classic Crotis goals.
This episode confirmed that Kidd is done teaching at the Academy, right? Even though it wasn't explicitly stated, her time there is over for now.
Remember how Ritter mentioned he was gay a couple episodes ago, is anyone with me in shipping him and Gallo. They would be so cute together.
Chicago P.D. fans should be happy that Antonio is doing well, as Dawson updated Casey that all is fine with the former police detective. He's just chilling in the Bahamas, helping out with relief work.
After that update, did anyone else want to see a Dawson sibling spinoff where the new show follows Gabby and Antonio off on some humanitarian mission on some random island? Working title is definitely Dawsons' Island.
So what did you think Chicago Fire Fanatics?
Is this the last we've seen of Dawson?
Which reunion was more of a tearjerker: Dawsey or Crotis?
Would the writers really kill off Severide?
So hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts, and if you happened to miss the fall finale, don't worry. You can watch Chicago Fire online right here at TV Fanatic.
Jessica Lerner was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in October 2021.