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Chicago Fire - Always - Review

“We do a dangerous job. We all know that, but we signed up. We reach out to each other. Be there for each other. Always.”
– Chief Boden

The last scene of season two had all of Firehouse 51 (with the exception of Boden) running into a building that exploded moments later. Just before the scene faded to black, we heard the cries of Boden, “Anyone from House 51, report! Report!”

With flashes of the fallen laying inside the building the collapsed, we first see movement from Severide. As each member of 51 slowly rises, they realize everyone is account for, except Dawson and Shay. Casey and Severide find them Dawson, tears streaming down her face, giving Shay CPR. Shay doesn’t wake up.

For months now, the showrunners have been hinting at the death of a major character. When you have a finale that explosive (pun intended), you can’t diminish it by miraculously having everyone come out alive and unscathed. Someone had to die. That being said, I’m extremely impressed and saddened that they were bold enough to choose Shay. You can’t expect the death of a minor character to move fans and serve as a catalyst for the season, it has to be a major character.

The episode was brilliantly written, as it was ultimately a tribute to Shay but also set in motion several possible major plotlines to continue throughout the season.

We see a flashback to Shay’s first day at 51. She meets the team, including Andy Darden, who died in the show’s series premiere. I love that they bring him into it, even just for a second, because his death is what originally tore Casey and Severide apart; you can bet Shay’s death is going to bring them back together.

Shay then meets Kelly Severide, and it’s obvious he’s attracted to her. Shay overhears Severide saying he needs a roommate, and she volunteers. Before he can tell her that it might be a bad idea (because of course, what straight woman wouldn’t fall in love with him?), she tells him it won’t be a problem, she’s a lesbian.

The worst part about losing Shay is losing the relationship between her and Severide. In my opinion, it was by far the most interesting and entertaining relationship on the show.

We fast forward to six weeks after Shay’s death. Again, brilliant writing. Instead of showing the house during the initial grieving process, we skip to 51 getting back into the swing of things. Obviously, Shay’s death will not be forgotten, and the effects are still very much there, but we’ve skipped from grieving to coping. We learn that Mills is just now returning from an injury, Severide has been AWOL since Shay’s death, and Dawson is definitely not okay.

Boden calls Dawson into his office and lets her know that her paperwork at house 105 is going through. Dawson initially put the transfer on hold, and it seems she mixed feelings about the whole thing. Let’s be real, if Dawson goes through with the transfer (and part of me thinks she won’t), she won’t be at 105 long. We’ve seen the conflict with the members of House 105 building, and that’s not something that can drag on for an entire season.

The men of Truck 81 come across Truck 66, led by Lieutenant Welch (he’ll be Dawson’s boss when se transfers). He and Casey have never gotten along, and when both are called to a scene, tensions rise. This animosity will definitely play into Dawson’s transfer, though I hope it doesn’t drag out all season.

New paramedic (who looks a bit too much like Shay) Sylvie Brett learns from Dawson, and I’m left thinking, How can Dawson leave?! Sylvie asks to drive, and Dawson replies, “You gotta earn that.” As Dawson goes to the checklist, she sees Shay’s signature. I’m going to miss that duo.

Flashback – Shay and Dawson go into the building that’s moments away from exploding where they attend to a man with a broken neck. Dawson asks Shay what she thinks, because her transfer is imminent. She lets Shay take over, and they switch sides. The explosion goes off, and Shay is hit with a falling metal bar.

When Dawson comes out of the flashback, Sylvie tries to bond with her. To her credit, Sylvie says she isn’t trying to wear Shay’s shoes. Well good, Sylvie. Because you can’t.

Dawson goes to Casey and asks him to propose to her again. As you may recall, House 51 got the call just as Casey had popped the question, the day Shay died. Dawson says her answer will always be yes, but Casey wants to propose again, to do it right. Well at least we have something.

Casey goes to find Severide and comes across him in the woods, chopping wood, like such a man. They act like nothing has happened; Severide says he’s great. Great at chopping wood, not so great at lying. Casey asks if he’s coming back to 51, and Severide says the house is cursed, “Nothing but misery and heartbreak there.” Instead, he’s going to buy into a boat repair company. Of course, Casey doesn’t give up so easily. Instead, Casey gives Severide the book Boden keeps of all the calls they attend to. In the left column, Boden keeps count of the number of lives they save on each call.

“The badges on the wall at the Academy, Andy, Shay’s, they don’t represent death. They represent the lives we save.” He leaves the book with Severide.

Flashback – Severide sits on the couch and watches Shay give a kiss goodbye to a woman who was probably a one night stand. Severide tells Shay the girl is bad news, but of course, Shay already knows this. “Who wants to go through life without some heartbreak?” she asks. Severide raises his hand (and the tears begin flowing, once again). They decide to make a roommate pact, and The Contract is born.

While the episode was mostly dedicated to Shay, we had moments that were continuations of plotlines established last season.
Making good on a promise, Newhouse gives Mills information about his paternal grandfather, who lives outside of Chicago. Mills looks surprised and reveals that his mom told him that family lived in Seattle. Moments later, we see Mills scoping out his long lost family in the not-too-far town of Joliet.

Mouch and his relationship with Trudy (Sergeant Platt of Chicago PD) provide a comic relief to an otherwise heavy show, perhaps the series’ heaviest to date. Their brief, humorous moments let me break from all the crying, and showed potential for more future screen time. Mouch sets up a double date for he and Trudy along with Boden and Donna. Boden is clearly not in the mood. Trudy and Mouch are a brilliant pairing, props to the writers for this one. Mouch surprises them with tickets to Led Zeppagain (a Led Zeppelin cover band) while at dinner. Trudy asks for a very expensive wine and says dinner’s on them.

“Mouch, you sure one bottle’s gonna be enough?” asks Boden. Guys, I love this pairing.

When the team is called to an accident in which an overturned vehicle is covering a busted fire hydrant, new girl Sylvie gets a chance to show her stuff. With some tubing and a pair of scissors, she trachs the girl, says they had a lot of accidents on the interstate in Indiana. Dawson throws her the car keys. Okay, fine. But she will still never be Shay.

Dawson tells Casey she’s going to see Antonio, but it turns she’s been going to see a therapist. After five weeks of not saying anything, Dawson breaks down, “We traded places. I told her to switch with me. And she ended up right where I was standing. Where I should have been when the beam came down.” She breaks down, and the tears flow all over again. Great scene and very well done by Monica Raymund.

Severide comes back, and Casey helps him pack up his apartment. Casey invites him to stay with him and Dawson, which will be interesting, as Severide and Dawson are struggling with Shay’s death the most. I’m hoping for some Dawson/Severide bonding, we haven’t had much of that in the past.

Severide comes across a DVD, called The Contract. He puts it in the player, and sees the video he and Shay made years before. They came up with three rules, which are wonderful because of course they broke all of them.
1. We promise to never get in each other’s business
2. No matter how much work gets to us, we never bring it home
3. No matter how much life gets to us, we shouldn’t bring it to work. Because what we do is more important.

“We promise to be there for each other, always. No matter what.”

Oh, hey, tears. Welcome back.

About the Author - Meghan Reynolds
A Colorado native, Meghan was born a raised a Denver Broncos fan. Aside from football, she loves storytelling, whether it be movies, television, books, or music. Some of her favorite shows of the past and present include LOST, Friends, The Office, Scandal, Chicago PD, and Chicago Fire. She is excited to be reviewing two of those shows for SpoilerTV, Chicago PD and Chicago Fire.