Chicago Fire Season 11 Episode 16 Review: Acting Up

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Severide's exit was so abrupt it was almost unbelievable. It was as if he had disappeared into thin air.

Stella and Cruz started to feel the consequences of this on Chicago Fire Season 11 Episode 16. Carver grew attached to a kid he met during a rescue leading to him making a selfless decision, while Cindy was reminded that as long as she's not dead, she's alive.

Many of the stories explored were quite emotional, but the action was huge enough to balance the feelings without making them depressive.

L - Carver and Tyler - Chicago Fire

When Severide left, it happened so fast that even we, the audience, didn't get a chance to process his absence.

It is almost as if we expected him to walk into the firehouse from grocery shopping, and it would be like he never left.

Stella - Chicago Fire Season 11 Episode 16

Severide has been a huge fixture in the house, so people had gotten used to him as if he was part of the physical material that makes the building that houses 51. And he might just as well be.

His primary role was leading members of Squad, but one can say his most important role was to be the support system for his wife, Stella.

His absence has left a massive gap in both roles, but 51 has been so busy they almost didn't notice how much it had affected them.

Every time Stella needed advice or just an ear to listen, it was instinctual that her first stop was Kelly.

Violet and Ritter - Chicago Fire Season 11 Episode 16

Kelly advised her effectively because he helped her figure things out. He listened, learned what she was missing, and guided her on how to find the missing piece. Now without that, Stella felt like a part of herself was missing.

His absence left a leadership gap in Squad, and with most of the other members being total goofs, it fell on Cruz to be the de facto leader.

Leading is not an easy job. And leading firefighters is an even harder task. It is a task Kelly had all the time to learn and master and, as a result, made it look like it was the easiest thing in the world.

Cruz never thought it'd be this hard to keep grown men in check. It didn't help that they didn't respect his authority, Bamford especially. He needs to plant his feet firmly on the ground so that they make that distinction between their friend Joe and Lieutenant Joe.

Cruz - Chicago Fire Season 11 Episode 16

The biggest mistake Joe made was putting too much pressure on himself. Of course, he wasn't going to be as good as Kelly. It was inevitable he would miss a report format once or twice. He took it too seriously even when no one expected him to overperform in his first leadership role.

Your job is not to be Severide. Your job is to be yourself.

Stella [to Joe]

In the meantime, Carver identified with the plight of a family caught in a very unfortunate situation.

How we grow up shapes our experiences as people. As much as we always want children to grow up in a stress-free and safe environment, sometimes these idealistic expectations might not be met.

No child should have to be scared like that. Ever.


Carver had a troubled childhood which was why that family struck a chord with him immediately.

Seager and Violet - Chicago Fire Season 11 Episode 16

The episode showed us another side of Carver, different from what we know.

Having that background of growing up in a rocky environment, he could almost see how it would end up for that kid if he stayed in that neighborhood.

I wish somebody had gotten me out of my bad situation when I was his age.


And that situation was absolutely wild. The chances of someone catching a stray bullet while at home, that person turning out to be a child, and emerging relatively unscathed as he was were astronomically small.

Carver selling his car just so the family could have money to move was one of the most selfless acts ever. Imagine how attached many people are to their cars. He didn't hesitate when he saw someone in need.

Mouch Season 11 Episode 16

An encounter such as this with such a person, even in real life, renews your confidence in humanity.

The cancer had done a number on Cindy, and her deteriorated physical health made her feel ugly. Even when it looked like she was improving, her mind was stuck viewing herself as the sickly bald woman she had gotten used to seeing every time she looked into the mirror.

It took Trudy working her Magic to make Cindy feel beautiful again and realize that life was still worth living no matter the outcome of the cancer results.

Extra thoughts:

Cindy - Chicago Fire Season 11 Episode 16
  • In Kelly's absence, Stella and Joe will have to start relying on each other for advice and emotional support as lieutenants. They were off to a great start and will only get better.
  • Wendy and Carver's relationship started developing cracks, and Wendy noticed. She didn't kid anyone pretending like Carver didn't smite her. We were really rooting for them but now would be a good time to manage expectations.

We're very casual. Um, I mean, he's not a settle-down kind of guy, and I'm not a settle down kind of girl. But if I was, I wouldn't let him (Carver) get very far.


  • The Blake-Violet of it all has not improved in the tiniest bit, and at this point, it has passed tiring and crossed to annoying. Before it becomes infuriating, I will ignore their tortured, twisted thing.
  • Wasn't Bramford very annoying? Being a jerk anywhere in the firehouse is never okay, but your presence should not be felt as a floater. You're there to be seen, not heard. Stay in your lane!
Herrmann - Chicago Fire Season 11 Episode 16

"Acting Up" was a solid episode that addressed one of the things it appeared as if the show was going to ignore, packed multiple emotional stories, and balanced them with great emergencies.

What did you think?

Will Cruz make a good lieutenant if he takes over, or will 51 need new blood?

Was selling his car a mistake on Carver's part?

Let us know in the comments section.

As always, you can watch Chicago Fire online anytime right here on TV Fanatic.

Chicago Fire airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.

Acting Up Review

Editor Rating: 4.4 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 (48 Votes)

Denis Kimathi was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He has watched more dramas and comedies than he cares to remember. Catch him on social media obsessing over [excellent] past, current, and upcoming shows or going off about the politics of representation on TV. Follow him on X.

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