Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 15 Review: Off the Grid

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Well, the episode gets an 'A' for effort, but a 'B-' at best in execution.

Part of the problem is the incompatibility of the series, as Chicago Fire has always been a serialized drama with procedural elements while Chicago P.D. is the opposite -- a procedural drama with serialized elements.

Finding a cohesive way to meld these two shows can be difficult, as evidenced by the first half of the crossover on Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 15.

Boden + Voight - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 15

In addition, some of the plot holes are difficult to overlook.

While viewers get some answers on Chicago PD Season 7 Episode 15, fans are still stuck scratching their heads during the first hour, such as why did Roman go to Firehouse 51 before Intelligence, and then fail to loop in Voight and the rest of the team, even after he had substantial proof.

Severide: We’re calling in Voight now, right? Or someone from Gang Unit? Roman, hey man, I get it: Finding your sister is your No. 1 priority, but we just got confirmation this guy’s a school dealer, and he could still have more of those pills. We got to call it in.
Roman: Last thing I want is a bunch of cruisers pulling up to those courts, scaring the guy off before I get a chance to talk to him.
Severide: You said it yourself: You’re not a cop anymore.
Roman: No, but I’m Sarah’s big brother.
Severide: You don’t have a badge to back yourself up, man.
Roman: And you can bow out at any time. This isn’t your crusade. They got a jump on me in there; could have gone sideways fast if I went in it alone.
Severide: It still could.
Roman: I’ll call it in after I get a chance to talk to the guy.

With each passing minute, Roman's excuses make even less sense.

It may have been believable at first that Roman would want to hold off until he had a solid lead, but then the former cop kept finding reasons not to let Intelligence know what was going on.

Roman - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 15

Voight may not be willing to let civilians get involved most of the time, but if it's for one of his people, and by extension characters on Chicago Fire and Chicago Med, then he's more than willing to bend the rules.

If anything, Voight has continually proven just how often he'll go to bat for those in his inner circle.

Roman may have been gone for four years, but he's still part of the family, so to speak.

And Burgess's theory about why Roman decided against apprising Intelligence of the situation doesn't hold up either.

Reunited at Last - Chicago PD Season 7 Episode 15

For one, Burgess and Roman were never that serious.

Their relationship had barely gotten off the ground when Roman was injured and decided to move to San Diego after learning he would most likely be behind a desk for the rest of his career.

Boden: So when did you last see her?
Roman: It’s been a few weeks over FaceTime. I don’t make it back to Chicago that much. My folks said she left for school last Thursday, and never came home.
Casey: File with Missing Persons?
Roman: As soon as I got to town three days ago, but you know how it is down there: They’re buried. I can’t sit around and just wait by the phone.
Severide: Yeah, I wouldn’t be able to.
Roman: Sarah was always a little wild, you know, tons of energy growing up. She was a happy kid. I guess she made some new friends, been in and out of trouble – shoplifting, drinking. Now she’s gone missing, and three of her friends OD on fentanyl.
Brett: That doesn’t mean she’s doing it too.
Roman: I hope not.
Severide: Intelligence is working the ODs right now.
Roman: I know, but I’m a civilian these days, so Voight doesn’t want me tagging along.

He asked Burgess to come with him, she said no, and that was that.

Also, all of that relationship drama happened four years ago. 

Burgess - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 15

Burgess has since moved on, and you'd think Roman had too. So any possible explanation about Roman's actions remains unclear throughout the hour.

While I guess this could be considered as "building suspense" or "setting the stage," this issue is compounded by the sudden reappearance of Roman.

Roman randomly showing up in Chicago makes sense given his sister is missing, but it also feels completely out of the blue.

Like I just mentioned, viewers haven't seen Roman or even heard his name mentioned in years.

Facing the Truth  - Chicago PD Season 7 Episode 15

After Chicago PD Season 3 Episode 23, it was like he didn't exist, because, well, he didn't within the OneChicago Universe. 

If you need a more recent example, look no farther than Antonio, whose name hasn't been uttered since Chicago PD Season 7 Episode 1.

Ruzek: Hey, I think we found our guy: Logan Peters. I have three sources who put him at the party. Halstead and Upton are out looking for him right now.
Severide: Check the basketball courts on 15th and Fillmore. We got intel he’s hanging with the Southside Hustlers. Roman said he’d call you once he found the guy, but he’s … he’s not thinking straight, and I’m worried he’s gonna to get himself killed.
Voight: Wait a second. Are you talking about Sean Roman, Kim’s ex-partner?
Severide: Yeah.
Voight: What’s he got to do with this?
Severide: Well, this dirt bag’s dating his sister -- his missing sister.
Ruzek: Wait, what now?
Severide: He said you guys were looking into it. I’ve been with Roman all day looking for her.
Burgess: Sean’s in Chicago?

You can almost forget Brian Geraghty ever starred on the series, and then seeing him show up on Chicago Fire first, is even more confusing.

It was just a mess all-around at times.

Severide - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 15

What did work, thankfully, was Severide's involvement. 

Though an unusual pairing, Severide and Roman teaming up makes complete sense.

As the firehouse's resident detective/cowboy, it was within character for Severide to chase down answers on his day off.

He could never resist solving "cases" and getting justice for the victims, and the rash of teen opioid overdoses checked all those boxes.

Severide handshake - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 15

Severide would have been by Roman's side regardless -- it's who he is -- but what really motivated the lieutenant to help was the experiences he went through with his own sister.

Longtime fans will remember Severide's half-sister Katie was kidnapped and assaulted on Chicago Fire Season 2, prompting her to move to Colorado for a fresh start.

Severide: So what now? Sit on the parking lot and wait for this guy to come back around?
Roman: School’s out. I don’t feel like waiting.
Severide: So how do we find him?
Roman: I worked a beat in this neighborhood. I know who to ask.
Severide: Maybe loop in Intelligence? Sounds like Logan could be the dealer they’re looking for.
Roman: I’ll check it out first; get a read on the guy. No use sending them down the wrong trail, having Voight come down on me for sticking my nose in. And if he’s dating my 17-year-old sister, we’re gonna have words. Hey look, next stop won’t be as friendly.
Severide: You’re gonna need backup.
Roman: Can’t hurt, but you’ve done enough already.
Severide: I got a sister too, went through some hard times.
Roman: All right then. Let’s do this.

So when Severide sees Roman going through something similar, he's more than willing to help.

It 's that similar experience that probably causes Severide to give Roman the benefit of the doubt for longer than he should have.

Severide field - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 15

All the red flags were there, yet Severide just kept overlooking them, being able to relate to Roman's plight.

In the end, though, Severide did the right thing in going to Intelligence, not that Roman is likely to see it that way.

Where we end the hour is with a desperate Roman.

Though it's faults, this episode did succeed in showing viewers that this is not the same Roman from four years ago.

Brian Geraghty Returns as Sean Roman - Chicago PD

His time away has hardened him, and as a civilian, he no longer feels bound to follow the law in the same way he had to as a cop.

He's become almost Voight-like in that he's willing to do whatever he has to find and protect his sister, even if it means breaking the law.

Ruzek: Look, the guy, his sister’s missing. I feel for him, I do. It’s awful, it sucks, but you know what else sucks: two more ODs came in last night to Chicago Med from counterfeit Oxy. And maybe it came from this guy Logan Peters and maybe Roman scares him off and he sells his stash and disappears. And then we got to start all over, bad Oxy on the streets, and no solid leads. What the hell?
Voight: You finished because I can’t blame Sean for putting his family first. I mean, let’s do what we can to help.

With this newfound attitude and desperation, there's no telling what Roman could do.

He is primed to do something dangerous, stupid, or both, and there's no telling who will get hurt if they get in his way.

As cliche as it sounds, Roman is a man on a mission and won't let anyone stop him, not even Voight and the rest of Intelligence.

Brett - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 14

The rest of the hour centered around Brett's continuing story arc of meeting her birth mother.

While I enjoyed this subplot, it felt out of place during the crossover, something that becomes more apparent during the second hour.

As I previously mentioned, though the two series exist within the same universe, they have different episodic structures.

If the following hour of Chicago PD was relatively even in splitting time between the "case of the week" and some of the characters' personal lives, the transition between episodes wouldn't have been as jarring.

Boden - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 15

Another, less successful option could have been solely devoting the entirety of the hour on Chicago Fire to the "case of the week."

The series has tried this before in other OneChicago crossovers but to little effect.

Brett: Could she really be so careless you wrote down the wrong address? It was in the past, buried, pretty deep. And I started feeling that little flutter feeling in my chest that I must have felt a hundred times when I was a kid. It happened every time I let myself wonder [about] the woman who had me, gave me away. What was she really like?
Foster: I’m so sorry, Sylvie.
Brett: Yeah, me too.

What usually happens is viewers -- or at least I do -- get bored watching our firefighters spend an entire hour tackling one emergency. 

It can drag on and stall the momentum of the crossover, which usually happens before it's forcefully ramped up on Chicago PD.

Casey 2 - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 15

It's a tight line to walk, and I would have been willing to give the crossover more of a break if I hadn't seen the OneChicago Universe pull off such a feat in the fall.

The three-hour crossover on Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 4, Chicago Med Season 5 Episode 4, and Chicago PD Season 7 Episode 4 was a thing of beauty, as The Powers That Be managed to expertly blend the disparate approaches of each show while having the "case of the week" progress at a steady pace.

By pulling off such a seamless transition, the OneChicago Universe proved it can handle such challenges, which made this week's fumble all the more disappointing. 

Mouch, Cruz, Kidd - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 15

Some stray thoughts:

  • I'm hoping Brett's birth mother didn't reach out to Brett because she needs something from her biological daughter. Too often on television, parents reach out to their biological children under the guise of reconciliation or regret, but in reality, they need and/or want something from them.

    Brett has been through a lot, and she doesn't deserve to be put through that kind of pain. However, Brett's birth mother being pregnant has me concerned that Brett's yet-to-be-born half-sibling needs an organ transplant, which is the only reason her birth mother reached out in the first place.

Ruzek 2 - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 15
  • Did anyone else pick up on Ruzek's hypocrisy? During Chicago PD Season 6, he was willing to spy on Voight to protect his sister, yet when Roman puts his family first, then suddenly the former officer becomes persona non grata. Guy has a short memory.

    It's also possible Ruzek's comment comes from a place of jealousy, especially after everything he and Burgess have been through recently. If that's the case, it doesn't excuse Ruzek being a jackass, but it does put things into context.

  • Casey being there for Brett as she went to visit her birth mother was everything. They now join Severide and Kidd in being the epitome of relationship goals, and they're not even a couple yet.

So what did you think Chicago Fire fanatics?

Did the episode feel off-kilter to you?

Why did Roman go to Firehouse 51? And why did he refuse to loop in Intelligence?

What do you make of Brett's birth mother: sweet woman wanting to reconnect with her biological daughter or a mother-to-be with an ulterior motive?

Hit the comments below to let me know you're thoughts. If you happened to miss the first part of the crossover, remember you can watch Chicago Fire online right here at TV Fanatic.

Off the Grid Review

Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
  • 3.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (53 Votes)

Jessica Lerner was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in October 2021.

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Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 15 Quotes

Mouch: Hey you two. Your food’s in the fridge.
Cruz: We had to keep it from Capp, so we wrote Tuesday on the tinfoil.
Kidd: Oh no, really. Ritter just asked me to feed her, and I just assumed.

Severide: He was acting pretty stranger. Something about him was off.
Ruzek: People don’t usually run when they’re innocent.