We are somehow inexplicably home.
There wasn't anything that special or out of the ordinary on Chicago Fire Season 9 Episode 8, but for the first time in a while, it felt like we were back.
All the pieces and various storylines managed to come together and coalesce in such a way that for just an hour we were transported back to a pre-pandemic Chicago, making me realize just how much I've missed those sorts of episodes.
It's hard to point to one thing that made this installment feel like it was shot during the good old days -- when the show was at its prime and before the world ended -- but one universality is that for the most part the storylines were character driven instead of plot based.
Sure, our favorite heroes responded to several calls, but they didn't subsume the episode in a way that overshadowed the regular cast.
Severide: You headed somewhere?
Dylan: Anywhere but here.
Severide: You gonna walk out on your parents like this? With your mom in the hospital?
Dylan: You don’t understand. I heard them talking. They try to keep their voices down, but I sat on the stairs and heard them. All the money went to medicine for me. They have nothing for themselves. They’re better off without me.
Severide: That where you hid your stuff?
Dylan: It was here before I moved in.
Severide: I made it. Used to steal cigars from my dad and hide it in there.
Dylan: There was a note in here when we first moved in. I don’t remember what it said.
Severide: I’m here anytime you need me. It was written by a girl who used to live up the street. I was going through some rough times back then, same age as you. You know what I learned? You gotta lean on the people who love you. I met your dad, and he loves you kid. It’s all over his face, and your mom, she’s gonna need you, now more than ever.
Dylan: I’ve caused enough problems.
Severide: The girl, the one who wrote that note, she saved me back then, and she’s still helping people, and she’s really good at it, and I think she can help you too.
Severide: Come on, let’s go see your old man. Let him know you’re OK. I’ll tell you about it on the way.
Take the "call of the week" plot line, for instance, which managed to set itself apart from the many other emergencies that 51 has responded to over the course of Chicago Fire Season 9 by anchoring the narrative to Severide.
Having Severide and the rest of 51 respond to a fire at the lieutenant's childhood house was a smart way to interweave the two storylines and allow Severide to be a focal point without putting his relationship with Kidd through unnecessary drama.
It's been a while since Severide has been forced to confront his parts of his past and surprisingly this time he didn't become undone in a bigger way.
I actually expected him to retreat inward and try to shoulder all of this on his own, so it was refreshing that he didn't.
Showing that our faith in him hasn't been misplaced -- at least not all of the time -- Severide leaned on those closest to him as he tried to help out the family who lived at his childhood home.
He confided in Kidd about the feelings that being in his childhood home stirred up from him, and instead of letting those painful memories drag him down, he was able to remember what, or rather who, helped pull him out during those dark times.
It's been seasons since Severide and Chicago Med's April have shared any scenes together -- so long that I almost forgot they were friends in their youth -- so their on-screen reunion of sorts was a welcome treat.
In fact, a big part of this plot's strength was having Chicago Med's April around for more than one scene.
For April was not only able to help Severide out in his quest to replace the family's lost insulin but also reminded her former neighbor that things are never as bad as they may seem.
Severide: It was so strange being in there. I guess most of the time I was busy sneaking out of that place.
April: Yeah or sneaking me in. I will never forget 2 in the morning. You thought you locked the door.
Severide: I did. Benny rigged the bolt so it wouldn’t latch.
April: I have never been out of a window so fast in my life.
Severide: I remember.
April: Your mom soured on me after that.
Severide: Ah, she was just going through it then.
Severide: You were there for me when I was at my lowest, you know that?
April: That year made me realize I should do this for a living ‘cause if I could help Kelly Severide, I could help anybody.
This came in especially handy as Severide confronted Dylan who, believing he was sparing his parents from further financial strain, was about to run away.
Severide was able to get through to Dylan because he had been in the young boy's shoes as a teenager, knowing better than anyone how hard adolescene can be.
But thanks to April, Severide was also reminded of just how things could improve, and he passed those words of wisdom onto Dylan.
Elsewhere, Casey let his feelings for Brett cloud his judgment when Granger temporarily subbed in for Herrmann.
At first, Casey's rudeness toward Granger could be overlooked, but as the episode progressed, it became harder and harder to back Casey after Granger went out of his way to make amends and still continued to bear the brunt of the captain's anger.
Yes, Granger overstepped his position when 51 first arrived on scene, but like he later told Casey, it was an honest mistake.
Granger acknowledged that he was wrong and apologized, and if it had been anyone else, Casey probably would have buried the hatchet then and there.
However, since Granger is maybe sort of seeing Brett, Casey couldn't help but let his jealousy get the better of him, going out of his way to give Granger a hard time.
And while calling Casey out while on shift wasn't the most professional thing to do, but Brett's new beau can hardly be blamed for wanting to lay into Casey.
Brett: What is wrong with you?
Brett: I heard the way you were talking to Granger before that last call.
Casey: Then you heard him out of line.
Brett: No, Matt, he wasn’t. You were. You’ve been riding him for two straight shifts.
Casey: I have not.
Brett: You have. What you’re not getting Matt is this doesn’t have anything to do with Greg Granger. It doesn’t even have to do with me. It has to do with the fact that you’re still in love with Dawson. I called you out, and you haven’t done anything about it. Maybe you should reach out and resolve that, so you can go back to being the Matt Casey that everyone looks up to around here and not this.
Casey, though, just saw this as another chance to flaunt his superiority over Granger, as if that will somehow make Brett want to be with him.
At this point in time, Casey either needs to man up and fight for Brett or let her go once and for all.
This impasse isn't doing either of them any favors, and Casey almost let his anger and jealousy bleed over onto a call.
Something like that can't happen again, and Casey needs to decide what he wants.
Brett keeps claiming that Casey still loves Dawson, so Casey should take that to heart and see if her words bear any weight.
If they do, Casey needs to address his unresolved feelings for his ex-wife, and if they don't, then he needs to tell Brett that.
This back and forth that they've been doing all season has begun to wear thin, and some resolution on this storyline would be nice.
If that means we get another appearance from Monica Raymund, then all the better.
Lastly, Cruz decided now was the time to expand his Slamigan brand in the most Herrmann way possible, having his fellow firefighters at 51 pitch him their various ideas.
This was a fun subplot at first, and it was entertaining to watch the guys pitch one ridiculous idea after another.
No one considers a woman’s body, do they? This is a job designed by men for men, and the equipment is no different, and so what, I got these girls looking up to me every week at Girls on Fire, and I gotta explain to them that the gear is designed for men only? How is that supposed to inspire them?Kidd
However, things hit a snag at the end when Cruz unveiled his designs for female-tailored firefighting equipment.
The idea itself was inspired, and I loved that it stemmed from Kidd's rant about the inequity female firefighters continue to face even in the form of something so seemingly mundane.
You'd think the manufacturers would have realized that women have different needs when it comes to equipment and turnout gear and such, but since they apparently still live in the 20th century with all of their patriarchal bullshit, Cruz's idea was simple yet elegant solution.
It seemed as if the show had finally produced a female-friendly storyline where the women weren't the punchline, but alas, I spoke too soon.
Cruz's mock designs were sexist to say the least, and I have a hard time believing he would actually draw such misogynistic clothing.
Coming from Herrmann, I could believe that, but Cruz, it just didn't make any sense. The father-to-be can be dense at times, but even he's not that stupid as to think that's how female firefighters dress.
The only explanation is the writers wanted to find a way to infuse more comedy into what turned out to be just another below average subplot tinged with sexist undertones. If that was the goal, then kudos.
Some stray thoughts:
Part of the magic of the OneChicago Universe was that it truly felt like one universe, what with all the little crossover moments and frequent cameos. However, those small but unparalleled moments have mostly disappeared during the 2020-21 TV season due to the pandemic.
With April appearing in a few episoded this season, I hope that means things are getting back to normal, or whatever version of normal it is now moving forward.
Brett is a badass with that axe. Forget kick axe. All we need is a regular axe for our girl.
Was anyone else hoping that when Brett was berating Casey he would spontaneously declare his love for her? Only me? It just felt like something Casey would have said in the heat of the moment after Brett claimed that he still loved Dawson if that's truly how he feels.
Part of me wishes that Casey had said those words, if only because it would have moved this storyline along and pushed Brettsey out of relationship limbo.
Herrmann should always appear on an iPad from now on that way we have the option of pulling the plug or muting him when he says something offensive or inconsiderate. That would improve his character by leaps and bounds.
So what did you think, Chicago Fire Fanatics?
How much of Severide's behavior impress you?
Can Casey let Brett go?
Was the subplot sexist or all in good fun?
Don't forget to 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 on TV Fanatic.
Jessica Lerner is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.