If there's something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call?
Why, Firehouse 51, of course.
Yes, Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 17 continued this season's "case of the week" with its signature good deed follow-up.
As touching as these stories are from time to time, I find myself growing weary of the "wash, rinse, repeat" format.
It works on other shows, mainly procedural dramas with serialized elements, but Chicago Fire has always been more serialized than procedural, which is one of the great things about the series.
Casey: This woman came here to check some boxes. Didn’t matter what I said.
Boden: You’re right. I didn’t like her attitude.
Casey: She wanted a few choice quotes so she could take a boy away from his disabled mother. Doesn’t sit right with me, chief. Doesn’t sit right with me at all.
Now in its eighth season, the show's age is beginning to show.
That's not to say that there weren't things I liked about the case, but some change to the monotony would be good.
It seems this is what happens when 51 doesn't have some "Big Bad" to battle; the series just becomes complacent, resting on its laurels.
Diatribe aside, the case worked well because it brought up memories of Louie for Casey.
Seasoned viewers will remember Louie was Dawson and Casey's foster son who they were going to adopt until Louie's biological father came back into the picture.
It was a sad ending for the newlyweds, and the trauma of losing Louie played heavy on Dawson's desire to have a biological child toward the end of Chicago Fire Season 6.
The series has never really explored what the loss of Louie meant to Casey, but this episode did give fans some insight.
Obviously, the loss of a child was traumatic for Casey, but it seems that hurt and pain are still there, not that anyone was expecting it vanish overnight.
Casey: You mean to tell me you called to have a child taken away from his mother because of some tree roots?
Neighbor: That woman almost got her son killed.
Casey: Do you know what it’s like to have a son taken away? ‘Cuz I do, and what you’re doing is reprehensible.
It was that pain that motivated Casey to keep Jenny, a disabled mother, and her son Noah together.
Having seen firsthand how heartwrenching it is when your child is taken away, Casey didn't want to see the same fate befall Jenny.
With an impassioned plea from Casey and a little OneChicago magic, the mother and son were reunited.
It was a sweet ending, and the show's attempt to tackle prejudice against those with disabilities was noted.
The neighbor was an atrocious human being, and the DCFS representative needed a good talking to before seeing the error of her ways.
However, these are just one-note characters who leave no real impact; viewers understand what the series is trying to say, but the message usually falls flat.
What I would like to see is having the series tackle some of these issues by introducing a recurring character who suffers from mental illness or has a disability, same as when it introduced Foster, a bisexual woman, and Ritter, a gay man.
It would take the series from being accepting of diversity to implementing it in the firehouse for a change.
Boden: Yes, Lt. Hermann?
Herrmann: Thank you chief for addressing me by rank there because it cuts to the heart of why I raised my hand. I was wondering about officer's quarters. You see, it's been over a year since I made lieutenant, you know, and Casey and Severide over there, they got their own officer's quarters down in the bunk room.
Boden: We only have two officer's quarters at 51.
Herrmann: I understand that, and I thought about that, and that's why I'd like to request the blue room down in the bullpen. I can be closer to you, and then...
Herrmann: That was a little quick.
Boden: New office is for storage, now and forever. It's not gonna be your officer's quarters or a women's lounge or whatever odd function you come up with by tomorrow.
Capp: Like a game room?
Just spitballing here, but what about introducing a deaf EMT?
That storyline could offer the series the ability to tackle these sorts of issues, such as educating every day Americans about Deaf culture, while affecting meaningful change.
TV shows have power, so they might as well use it for good.
Speaking of good, Kidd is hoping to do a lot of it by creating a program designed to recruit young girls to be junior firefighters.
It's a great idea on Kidd's part, and surprisingly, the series didn't bungle this storyline with any sort of anti-feminist crap that usually comes from Herrmann.
It was just straight-up women empowerment over there, which was greatly appreciated.
It showed that the series is taking women seriously and does believe they can excel in the fire services.
The only problem Kidd faced was finding a female officer to co-sponsor the program with her.
When the "previously on" Chicago Fire segment aired at the top of the episode, it seemed like Capt. Leone, who has her own beef with the women at 51, would be the person for the job.
Kidd: OK, so I just had some inspiration. The short version is I gotta do more for young women out there. Whatever is happening in the “women’s movement,” it’s not happening on streets like Marquette or West Garfield or South Ashland. So what if I set up a program where I recruit young women from Chicago Public Schools to be junior firefighters?
Boden: Sounds good, though I will say, as with anything of this nature at the CFD, you are gonna need an abundance of two things: patience and persistence.
Kidd: I got both those things. I mean I can when I need to.
There was potential there for Kidd and Leone to put aside their differences and start anew.
Instead, Leone conned Kidd out of a free breakfast, then had the nerve to call Kidd a schemer. What a hypocrite.
Who did end up stepping up was everyone's least favorite OFI lieutenant: Wendy Seager.
Yes, Severide's shadow is back, and while I want to believe her intentions are pure, her remark to Kidd about Severide makes me nervous.
Seager is a decent human being, but she keeps "forgetting" that Severide is in a committed relationship.
If the series is just bringing her back to cause more trouble for Stellaride, then that's just a waste of screentime and another instance of "wash, rinse, repeat" format.
This time, The Powers That Be couldn't even bother to introduce a new threat; they had to recycle a non-threat from the beginning of Chicago Fire Season 8.
Stellaride have continued to prove they're on solid ground, so it'd be a shame for the writers to torpedeo one of the show's endgame 'ships just for the drama.
Kidd: So the reason I reached out, I have a program I’m looking to start that’ll benefit young women and I need a female officer to co-sponsor. I’m calling it ‘Girls on Fire,’ and the idea is I reach out to public school girls and show them what a career in the fire service is all about. It’s hands on, direct, small groups…
Seager: Say no more.
Seager: I’m in.
Kidd: You are?
Seager: Are you kidding? My classmates at South Shore used to make fun of me when I said I wanted to be a firefighter.
Seager: ‘You’re a girl. You can’t lift a bag of feathers. It’ll never work.’ I heard it all. So young women need to see real role models at CFD, know this is a career choice, not just a dream for boys.
Seager: This program sounds badass. Whatever you need, sign me up.
As for the other endgame 'ship, Brettsey -- I've decided that is the 'ship name I'm using unless I hear otherwise -- stayed relatively the same in the will they/won't they tract.
A cute realtor named Nicholas Winter seemed like he could threat their burgeoning relationship, but it was just a red herring thankfully.
Giving Brett another love interest, even if only a temporary one, would have been overkill.
It would have felt like the series was pulling another Kyle.
There are plenty of ways to keep couples apart or cause drama that don't involve creating some unnecessary love triangle-esque situation.
Though this is a slow burn, any movement on the Brettsey front before the season's end would be greatly appreciated.
Even if it's just a drunken kiss, at least fans would know that something between the two will eventually happen.
Maybes and possibilities are no longer good enough.
Julie: And you should definitely say yes.
Brett: Well, I’m not really looking to date right now.
Julie: Ugh, I knew it. You’re hung up on Matt.
Brett: No. I, no, we’re friends. Just friends, trust me. He was married to my best friend. It’s a whole thing.
Julie: OK, I will leave it at that.
There needs to be heat, and it needs to be now.
OK, maybe not now, now, but sometime in the future would be nice.
Lastly, Herrmann's subplot was probably supposed to be for laughs, but it's sad that no one takes him seriously.
It's just completely ridiculous how Herrmann gets steamrolled.
He's been a lieutenant for over a year, and he still doesn't get the respect he deserves.
All he was asking for was his own space, and Boden couldn't be bothered to let hear him out.
And it's not like having his own officer's quarters was some outlandish request.
It was something reasonable, and even something the firehouse could accommodate, but Boden shut Herrmann down almost immediately.
The space Herrmann wanted to set up shop in wasn't even being used for anything other than storage.
Casey: What’s he doing?
Cruz: Apparently, he’s making his own officer’s quarters.
Herrmann: That is precisely what I am doing. If you guys want to get something done around here, you have stop asking for permission to start building your own future. Voila. OK, clap it up. Just know that where preparation meets perspiration, you have…
Sure, it was funny that Herrmann created a makeshift officer's quarters out of furniture from around the office and shower curtains, but the issue is it shouldn't have come to that.
The subplot had the opposite effect as I found myself getting mad for Herrmann, something which is odd because it can be hard to sympathize with him when he constantly puts his foot in his mouth.
Also, does anyone find it hypocritical how Boden had no problem greenlighting the women's only lounge but refused to let Herrmann have the same space.
There's an argument to be made that the situations were different, and the optics of denying Herrmann's request are nowhere near as bad as denying women a place for themselves in the firehouse, but still.
Even just this episode, Boden was all for Kidd's idea but rejected Herrmann.
Too much more of this, and Herrmann might just transfer houses to get the respect he deserves.
Some stray thoughts:
Did anyone else's internal warning meter tick when Julie mentioned she and Brett had all the time in the world? Now, I'm scared that Julie will die in some freak accident or labor, leaving a devastated Brett behind. That would be so cruel, but so on point for the OneChicago universe, who just happens to love offing parents.
Gallo and Violet are still going strong, and I'd be amenable to seeing more of her, but my heart still belongs to Gallo and Ritter. What can I say, except they're the best.
So what did you think Chicago Fire Fanatics?
Does the series need to shake things up?
Will Seager cause trouble for Stellaride?
Why doesn't Herrmann get the respect he deserves?
Hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. If you missed 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.