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Throwback Thursday - Chicago Fire - Pilot



Throwback Thursday is a weekly article in which we look back at our favorite TV episodes from the past.

I have been in my feels a lot the last week due to what recently happened on Chicago fire. If you are new to the show, I won't say anything, but long-time viewers know EXACTLY what I am talking about. So, to mend my broken heart, I went back to the start and re-watched the pilot for some comfort and my oh my, was it enjoyable. So take a stroll down memory lane with me as we take a look back at the pilot for Chicago Fire.

Welcome to 51:

The pilot starts right off with the action. We hear the sirens of Truck, Squad and Ambo as they roll out to a call where we are slowly introduced to characters that will be with us for the next 10 seasons. Side note, I remember when this aired, it wasn't an out of the gate hit. In fact, critics were cool at best on this show and it is amazing that is where we started and now One Chicago is an anchor for NBC. Networks try to match what it does on Wednesday nights but are rarely triumphant and it all started with this show, and this pilot but I digress. Now back to the show, we see Andy Darden goofing off with his gear. This guy is very important to several characters. Next we meet LT. Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer), it was clear from the jump that Casey is the linchpin of the house. He is respected and knows his stuff. Casey calls Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) on the radio to mess around about thier mutual BFF Darden. This house is a family, a family that is about to change forever and we barely just met them.

The house fire they get to is a silent killer. It doesn't look horrible at first, but fires are unpredictable and rarely forgiving. The Homeowner says there is someone upstairs so Casey and Darden head up the ladder and Casey radios Severide to 'vent' the house. Casey and Darden wait but hear someone and need to make entry. The venting is unsuccessful and Severide tells Casey this, but before Casey can say anything Darden breaks the window and.... nothing happens. Andy insists on going in, but Casey knows it isn't vented but there is no stopping Andy. That is when the tragedy strikes, the fire has been fed with O2 and a huge fireball consumes the house and takes Andy with it. Casey watches in horror as his best friend is incinerated. The screen goes to black and we push ahead by a month.

Moving On:

The loss of Darden looms large especially for Severide and Casey. Both are playing the blame game when really, his death was neither of their faults. Casey cleans out Darden's locker and it is a somber reminder of what has been lost. But, time marches on and a new face is joining the house.... Peter Mills (Charlie Barnett). Mills is the new Candidate with eyes on rescue squad which irks Casey from jump. He also makes the mistake of falling for the prank of hitting on paramedic Leslie Shay (Lauren German) who is very much not interested given that she is a lesbian. All of this is busting chops but there is just something about Mills, his wonderment and eagerness are what we loved about him and it continued as he grew in the CFD. Oh and the busting of the chops was led by one of the more important chacters in the Chicagoverse... Paramedic Gabriella Dawson (Monica Raymund).

Gabby and Shay were the dream team with their teamwork and sisterhood. They are tested right when we meet them and it leads to Dawson getting in hot water. A child in dire straights needed a procedure in ambo that Dawson technically shouldn't be doing. She does it anyway and gets turned in. She spends the episode worrying about the girl first and her career second. This arc is two-fold as we see how Dawson will bend the rules for the greater good and it plants the seeds for something else, the Dawsey of it all. Dawson and Casey are clearly going to be more to eachother than colleagues. How is this evident? He makes sure to check in on her about the call and takes a vested interest in the outcome (the girl is fine BTW, thanks to Dawson). Even watching back then, you just knew these two were going to go on a journey. Yes Casey was engaged to Hallie, but Dawson and Casey's feelings were obviously bubbling right under the surface.

The Big One:

Severide and Casey's fighting just continues as they snipe at one another, but a fire of epic proportions is about to make that feud secondary. As 51 rolls up on the 'big one' it is clear we are reaching the climax of the episode. As the entire house works to rescue victims, two of their own are about to be victims themselves. As Casey and his team try to make it to the roof at the directon of Chief Boden (Eamonn Walker), Herrmann (David Eigenberg) and Casey fall through the floor and are knocked out. Can you guess who comes to save them? Yes it is Severide. He and his squad go in to get their guys. He comes upon Casey who is just waking up and they find a very battered and unconcious Herrmann. They put all else aside to save their own and get Herrmann out. Then it is just Casey and Severide trying to escape and it can't be easy.

As both firefighters try to climb back up from the basement where Casey and Herrmann landed, Casey makes it, but another mini explosion puts Severide in danger. Casey refuses to let Severide go even as he is slipping and about to fall down with him. It wasn't until Mouch (Christian Stolte) comes in with the assist that both are pulled to safety. Outside, Herrmann remains in bad shape, he has a collapsed lung and needs pressure released from his chest immediatley and the only one that can do it is Dawson. She second-guesses herself given what happened earlier, but with some encouragement from Shay, she performs the procedure to perfection and saves Herrmann's life.

The episode ends with all of 51 at the hospital awaiting word on Herrmann. This scene right here is the first of many 51 family moments. We are just meeting these characters, but in a way the audience is like Mills, new to the family, but want to be a part of it. Yes in the show's infancy, it just felt like family, a found family that would be there for you when you needed it. And this show has been like that for me at least. A dose of comfort each week. Is it always clear skies and smooth sailing? No, but this show has survived this long in part because of foundation built in this episode.

Odds and Ends:

* I had forgotten how bad Herrmann was with money when the show was new. His house was forclosed on in this episode. I am glad he got better at that.

* Chief was a certified badass right out of the gate. He was training for a CFD/CPD boxing match when we meet him. He also was a bit more edgy than I remembered. Not sure why they toned that down.

* I blocked out the whole Shay diverting drugs for Severide's ailing shoulder from the very first call.

* Casey made his famous Corn Beef Hash and his chicken parm was mentioned. Very full circle moment.

* I also forgot how little chemistry Casey and Hallie had. No shade at the actress, but I am glad that dynamic did not stick. Especially since we saw Casey and her priorities just did not match up.

* Casey was covering for Mouch for something. I vaguely remember why, but a re watch may be needed and I am not mad at that.

* Cruz call squad A-hole. LOL!

* Otis was a candidate until Mills came and he also hated his nickname.

* Heather Darden makes an appearance to pick up Andy's stuff and mentions that she needs several margaritas. If you are caught up, you know the significance of her using that as a crutch.

This pilot was actually very solid on this re watch. I don't know if it is because I have been a faithful viewer ever since, but I do not know what critics watched when they panned it. Who is laughing now?!? What are you memories of this one? Drop a comment below!

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