“Chicago Fire” is clearly a show with a pattern, given that you’ve got a few stories of the week, some long-term plot elements, Herrmann complaining about a lack of patrons at Molly’s, and eventually an uplifting moment or two that give you hope for the future.
Yet, at the same exact time this show somehow manages to make compelling television weekly despite the similarities, and “Lift Each Other” is the prime example of that almost from start to finish. It sets the stage for the 100th episode, and in the process reminds Dawson that Casey is pretty close to perfect, or at least as perfect as someone can be in an imperfect world.
Casey’s crisis – The dilemma that he had through most of the episode is a classic one: You can’t save everyone. Firefighters are human, they feel, and they at times do have to endure the suffering that comes with the job. On some occasions, that suffering may include having to handle the harsh reality of the fact that people die. Casey did what he could to try and save a young man who died in a warehouse accident, and it wasn’t even as though anyone was pressing or tormenting him hard over it. The family was incredibly sweet and understanding, and Maggie over at “Chicago Med” did what she could to relay information to him when she could.
Casey was clearly still struggling, but knowing that it was Dawson’s big night coming up courtesy of her parents’ 40th wedding anniversary, he did not want to make a spectacle out of his feelings. He put them aside in order to help her through the highs and lows of the night, with the latter coming in a big way courtesy of her father dropping the bomb that he and his wife were splitting up. The best part of this? Antonio trying to get into a fight with the guy on the spot with Brett watching on. (Brett was great in this episode talking about her anxiety she had beforehand and the surprisingly-great time she had afterwards.)
Ultimately, Casey comforted Dawson, and she couldn’t have been more grateful when she learned from Maggie after the fact what he had done in order to be there for her.
Boden learns the truth – For however much romance there was in the Casey storyline, we experienced some dark times tonight for Boden as his son James was showing a real interest in effectively running away from his mother’s home over to his. He didn’t quite understand why other than liking the firehouse, but it started to become clear when he figured out the source of some bruises that Severide identified on his body: His mother’s new man, a restauranteur with a fiery temper, was beating him. Boden, in turn, beat that guy to a pulp the moment he learned about it, which earned him a one-shift suspension from work. (It would’ve been more, but people understood what he was going through.)
Once it was clear that James’ mother was unaware of what the man was doing, she left him and James decided to go back and live with her. We’re sure he will still remain a part of the story, albeit in a different way. Eamonn Walker, as per usual, is a national treasure and not the Nicolas Cage kind.
Mud madness – As for this week’s ridiculous storyline, we combined a mud-run with the almost-weekly “let’s bring attention to Molly’s” plot as Stella and Otis took part in the event with the intention of passing around gear and promoting the bar. Plus, Herrmann got himself involved in a bet as to who would win — given that Stella had done it before, she seemed like the clear winner. Not so much. While we didn’t get to see any of the actual run (a slight bummer, though we’re assuming it was for budgetary reasons), we did see a muddy Otis and Stella return to Molly’s and cause Herrmann to have to shell out more money to clean it afterwards than he did serving all of the patrons.
Let this be a further reminder: Not all business is good business.
Overall, you have to say that this episode of “Chicago Fire” was fun at times, paralyzing at others, and entertaining overall. Casey’s now in a better place, Brett and Antonio are still going strong, and it never got so seriously that it was suffocating. We like to consider that some of the best of what the show has to offer, and for Casey and Dawson, maybe they’re running towards a future together now rather than allowing circumstances with her parents to force them apart. Grade: B+.