It wasn't the OneChicago universe we're familiar with, but it was one Chicago all the same.
Even though we barely knew Gail Larson, there was something so moving about 51 and other Chicagoans showing up for her funeral on Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 13.
It's smaller moments like these that set the series apart.
In recent years, there have been a slew of firefighting dramas, but no one shows up like 51.
This time Casey and Brett went the extra mile.
From visiting Tim Larson in the hospital to finding his cat Dusty, and spreading the word about the funeral, these two went above and beyond the call of duty.
Frequent readers will know I'm not usually a fan of filler stories, but something about the plot got me right in the heart.
Maybe it was because Tim had nobody after losing his wife.
He was all alone in this world, with just his cat to keep him company, having outlived his friends and family.
Tim Larson: You didn’t have to come.
Brett: Chicago shows up for each other.
Hearing the tragedy of how he had no family or friends in the area and seeing all those empty seats in the funeral home was heartbreaking.
Or maybe I was drawn to the story due to the simple act of kindness 51 showed him.
In today's world, we have to watch as tragedy after tragedy strikes and feel helpless that we can't do anything about it.
In this instance, though fictional, viewers got to witness someone doing something that made a difference.
It wasn't an earth-shattering difference; it was just a small gesture, but it meant the world to Tim.
It meant that he didn't have to grieve alone, it meant he was no longer alone in a brand new city.
Waterworks aside, this episode was particularly strong, though confusing at some points.
As satisfying as it was to watch Boden and Severide take down Gorsch, I kept wondering why the character was brought back for just one episode, only to slink off at the end.
In a manner of speaking, 51 -- or rather the late Benny Severide -- already "defeated" Gorsch on Chicago Fire Season 7 Episode 6 when he was recalled to headquarters.
Casey: Is that who I thought it was?
Boden: Jerry Gorsch.
Severide: I thought he got booted to Siberia.
Boden: Yeah. Found his way back. I’d love to know why.
Though he vowed revenge, was it really necessary to have him follow through on his threat?
And since the series showed Gorsch making said threat on the "previously on" Chicago Fire recap at the beginning of the episode, did anyone ever really believe that Gorsch had changed?
He came sauntering into 51, his head held high, asking for Boden and Severide to trust him. Yeah right.
Gorsch did a decent enough job of covering his tracks, and to the layman, everything looked legitimate.
Severide, being the world's greatest
detective firefighter, was able to see right through him.
What made the whole situation worse than Gorsch was getting kickbacks while endangering the lives of firefighters.
Not that illegal deals are moral to begin with, but he prayed on Boden's desire to increase awareness about the dangerous carcinogens firefighters are exposed to over the years, thus increasing their odds of cancer.
If his initiative had gone through, who knows what kinds of medical issues those firefighters would have done the line, thanks to their untested turnout gear?
Casey: How was everyone’s weekend?
Cruz: I can confirm that Foster’s weekend was very good.
It was just despicable all around, and I can't believe all Gorsch got was fired.
If I was Boden, I would have been on the phone with Voight, asking if our favorite police sergeant could have a "word" with Gorsch.
Anything Voight deemed appropriate, I'd be on board with.
What I wasn't on board with was the continued fighting between Herrmann and Mouch.
It gets rather tiresome to watch two series regular get into it every few episodes over something stupid.
These are grown men, yet they're behaving like children. Ritter and Gallo were more mature than them this episode, which as a millennial is saying something.
Though fraught with unnecessary drama, the reasoning behind their squabble did make sense.
Mouch was jealous Herrmann surpassed him by making lieutenant, something that was especially hard since they had been at the same "level" for so long.
Herrmann then decided to let Mouch in on a well-known secret: The grass isn't always greener on the other side.
Mouch: You know how when you go waterskiing on a summer morning, and the boat just glides across the perfectly still lake, barely making a ripple? That’s what the suspension is like on the new 81.
Herrmann: You’ve never been waterskiing a day in your life.
Mouch: And the temperature control system, it’s like the micro-environment is in the Goldilocks zone – not too hot, not too cold.
Herrmann: You through?
Mouch: Well, I just assumed that you would like to hear about some of the features in the new …
Herrmann: I wouldn’t.
Mouch: Well, but we’re brothers here.
Mouch: One rig’s joy should be a source of pride and pleasure to all his fellow firefighters.
Herrmann: Well, we’re brothers all right – Cain and Abel.
Though a lieutenant, Herrmann is still treated pretty much the same.
He may command Engine 51, but he still finds himself feeling underappreciated in his new position.
Looking back, I can see Herrmann's point.
His promotion seems to be in name only, as he never rarely gets to join Boden, Casey, and Severide on their day-saving heroics.
The character is mostly relegated to being the grouchy old timer used for comic relief, which is supposedly part of Herrmann's charm.
In reality, he's not really any different than he was a year ago.
A man who is different than he was a year ago is Cruz. He's lost his best friend, got engaged, and now has a new roommate.
And with a new roommate, misunderstandings are bound to happen, like when Foster told Cruz about her party.
So Foster, my new roommate, is throwing a balls-to-the-wall rager tomorrow night to break in her new digs, so to speak, and I was wondering, should I dress up like going out to the club full-on or do I go kind of super cas[ual], you know like it’s my place too, so who needs to show off?Cruz
In Cruz's mind, he was just invited to some sort of lesbian rager, but in reality, he didn't even get an invitation.
Cue the arguing and hurt feelings and eventual reconciliation. Wash, rinse, repeat.
At the heart of this matter was Cruz's fear about marrying Chloe.
His wedding day jitters would be more understandable if viewers actually saw Chloe once and a while.
I'm pretty sure we haven't seen her since Cruz popped the question.
Is she ever going to return? Firehouse 51 would show up in full force for Cruz's wedding, so she has to be there for that at least, right?
At this speed, it seems like Cruz's wedding may happened toward the end of the season, which may bring about another game of musical apartments. Sounds like so much fun.
Some stray thoughts:
Is anyone else curious if, and when, we'll meet Brett's biological mother. I presume the series is setting that up for a future story arc, though it could have been just a throwaway line for the writers to give Casey and Brett another opportunity to have a heart to heart.
With each of these deep and personal conversations, I find myself more on board with the pairing. Let the slow burn continue.
Can Cruz never be allowed to go shopping alone again? In the future, he has to be accompanied by someone else before being allowed to enter a clothing store. Seriously, that track suit was hideous.
Is anyone else interested in watching a spin-off, or at least an animated short starring Tuesday and Dusty? I would be down to watch the animated hijinks a dog and cat get into at a firehouse. Any other takers?
So what do you think Chicago Fire Fanatics?
Were you as moved as me by 51's attendance at the funeral?
What was the exact point of bringing Gorsch back?
Which argument bothered you more: Mouch and Herrmann or Foster and Cruz?
Hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. If you happened to miss the latest episode, remember you can watch Chicago Fire online at TV Fanatic.
Jessica Lerner was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in October 2021.